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Henry Dundas papers
mssDUN 1-104  
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Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Descriptive Summary
  • Administration Information
  • Biographical Note
  • Biographical Note
  • Arrangement
  • Scope and Content
  • Indexing Terms

  • Descriptive Summary

    Title: Henry Dundas papers
    Dates: 1772-1814
    Collection Number: mssDUN 1-104
    Extent: 136 items in five boxes
    Repository: The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens. Manuscripts Department
    1151 Oxford Road
    San Marino, California 91108
    Phone: (626) 405-2191
    Email: reference@huntington.org
    URL: http://www.huntington.org
    Abstract: A collection of correspondence, manuscripts and documents related to Henry Dundas and his work as Home Secretary, Secretary of War and First Lord of the Admiralty.
    Language of Material: The records are in English and French.

    Administration Information


    Open to qualified researchers by prior application through the Reader Services Department. For more information, contact Reader Services.

    Publication Rights

    The Huntington Library does not require that researchers request permission to quote from or publish images of this material, nor does it charge fees for such activities. The responsibility for identifying the copyright holder, if there is one, and obtaining necessary permissions rests with the researcher.

    Preferred Citation

    [Identification of item], Henry Dundas Papers, The Huntington Library, San Marino, California.

    Acquisition Information

    Purchased by the Library Collectors' Council from Maggs Bros. Ltd, London, January 2018.

    Biographical Note

    Henry Dundas, 1st Viscount Melville (1742-1811), politician, was born on April 28, 1742 in Edinburghshire, Scotland. He married Elizabeth (1751-1843), coheir of David Rannie, merchant and shipbuilder. They had four children. In May 1775, Dundas became Lord Advocate, and in 1782 he became Treasurer of the Navy. He was elected to Parliament for Scotland in 1790; Dundas was a close political all of William Pitt, the Younger. He became Home Secretary in 1791, President of the Board of Control in 1793, and Secretary of State for War in July 1794. In 1805, Dundas was impeached after a commission of inquiry uncovered accounting transgressions in naval records. Dundas returned to Edinburgh where he died on May 27, 1811.

    Biographical Note

    Robert Saunders Dundas, 2nd Viscount Melville (1771-1851), politician, was born in Edinburgh on March 14, 1742, the only son of Henry Dundas and his wife Elizabeth. Robert served as his father's private secretary from 1794; he was brought in as MP for Hastings in 1794, Rye in 1796, and Midlothian in 1801. He married the heiress Anne Saunders on August 29, 1796; the couple had four sons and two daughters. In 1807, after his father's "retirement," he became President of the Board of Control for India; in 1811, he was promoted to First Lord of the Admiralty. In 1814, he was appointed a governor of the Bank of Scotland, and he was elected Chancellor of the University of St. Andrews, and was made a Knight of the Thistle in 1821. He resigned his political offices in 1830, over debates about the Reform Act, never to hold office again. He died on June 10, 1851 at Melville Castle.


    The collection is organized in the following series: Correspondence, Manuscripts and Documents (Boxes 1-4); Ephemera (Box 5); arranged chronologically.

    Scope and Content

    The collection contains letters, manuscripts and documents sent mostly to Henry Dundas, 1st Viscount Melville (Home Secretary, Secretary of State for War, First Lord of the Admiralty) and some to his son Robert Saunders Dundas, 2nd Viscount Melville (President of the Board of Control for India, First Lord of the Admiralty). The collection principally focuses on British possessions in India, the East Indies and the West Indies; relations with the United States; and hostilities, negotiations, and political maneuvers with other European powers, especially with France and Russia. The material also deals with the British navy admiralty, maritime history, East India Company, Atlantic World, slavery, and early North America. A significant amount of material deals with the War of 1812, Tipu Sultan, Fath 'Ali, Nawab of Mysore and the 3rd and 4th Mysore Wars. Additional significant correspondents include, among others, Charles Cornwallis, 1st Marquis Cornwallis; Frederick Augustus, Prince, Duke of York and Albany; Andrew James Cochrane Johnstone; Richard Wellesley, 1st Marquess Wellesley; and Arthur Wellesley, Duke of Wellington. The box of Ephemera contains tape, ribbons and string removed from the material, autograph and printed notes about various items in the collection and Maggs' brown paper wrappers.


    Cataloger's notes
    1. This material includes 21 letters written by Andrew Cochrane Johnstone, as Governor of Dominica, to Henry Dundas. Maggs held this material as a separate series within the collection. Once acquired by The Huntington, the decision was made to catalog all the materials chronologically, thus integrating the Cochrane Johnstone letters into the whole collection.
    2. The collection was initially housed in annotated Maggs' brown paper wrappers. The decision was made to remove the wrappers during cataloging and place them in Ephemera. Also, a number of manuscripts were tied together with tape, ribbon or thread and for conservation reasons these were removed and placed in Ephemera.
    3. In 1923, Henry E. Huntington acquired 42 items from The Dundas Papers pertaining to the War of 1812 (cataloged as the Robert Saunders Dundas, Viscount Melville, Papers, mssHM 81125-81166). In 2014, the Library Collectors' Council purchased the Harford Jones Collection (mssHJ 1-88). At the time of both of those acquisitions, no one at The Huntington nor the seller, Maggs, knew that all of these manuscripts were actually part of a larger collection. The acquisition of the Henry Dundas Papers allowed the Library to reunite all of this material and places the bulk of The Dundas Papers at the Huntington Library.

    Indexing Terms

    Personal Names

    Dundas, Henry, 1742-1811
    Tipu Sultan, Fath 'Ali, Nawab of Mysore, 1753-1799

    Corporate Names

    East India Company -- History -- 18th century
    East India Company -- History -- 19th century
    Great Britain. Admiralty
    Great Britain. Royal Navy


    Antislavery movements -- West Indies -- History -- 18th century
    Coinage -- Great Britain -- History
    Coinage -- India -- History
    Diplomats -- Correspondence
    Mines and mineral resources
    Napoleonic wars, 1800-1815
    Slave insurrections -- West Indies, British
    Slavery -- West Indies
    Soldiers, Black -- West Indies, British -- History

    Geographic Areas

    America -- Commerce -- Great Britain
    East Indies -- History
    France -- History -- Revolution, 1789-1799
    Great Britain -- Commerce -- America
    Great Britain -- Commerce -- India
    India -- Commerce -- Great Britain
    India -- History -- Mysore War, 1790-1792
    India -- History -- Mysore War, 1799
    United States -- History -- Revolution, 1775-1783
    United States -- History -- War of 1812
    West Indies, British -- Defenses
    West Indies (Federation) -- History


    Documents -– 18th century
    Documents -– 19th century
    Letters (correspondence) –- 18th century
    Letters (correspondence) -– 19th century
    Manuscripts -– 18th century
    Manuscripts -– 19th century
    Official reports -– 18th century
    Official reports -– 19th century
    Professional papers -– 18th century
    Professional papers -– 19th century

    Additional Contributors

    Baird, David, Sir, 1757-1829.
    Baldwin, George, 1743?-1826.
    Beatson, Alexander, 1759-1833.
    Braithewaite, John, Sir, 1739-1803.
    Chetwynd, Richard Chetwynd, Viscount, 1757-1821.
    Close, Barry, Sir, 1756-1813.
    Cochrane, Alexander Forrester Inglis, Sir, 1758-1832.
    Colpoys, John, Sir, 1742?-1821.
    Cornwallis, Charles Cornwallis, Marquis, 1738-1805.
    Cuyler, Cornelius, Sir, 1740-1819.
    Dalrymple, Alexander, 1737-1808.
    Dundas, Henry, 1742-1811.
    Elphinstone, George Keith, 1746-1823.
    Frederick Augustus, Prince, Duke of York and Albany, 1763-1827.
    Harris, George Harris, Baron, 1746-1829.
    Hartley, James, 1745-1799.
    Hobart, Robert, Earl of Buckinghamshire, 1760-1816.
    Johnstone, Andrew James Cochrane, 1767-.
    Kirkpatrick, James Achilles, 1764-1805.
    Mackenzie, Colin, 1753?-1821.
    Maitland, Thomas, 1759?-1824.
    Malcolm, John, 1769-1833.
    Melville, Robert Saunders Dundas, Viscount, 1771-1851.
    Minto, Gilbert Elliot, Earl of, 1751-1814.
    Oswald, Richard, 1705-1784.
    Portland, William Henry Cavendish-Bentinck, Duke of, 1738-1809.
    Prinsep, John, 1746-1830.
    Tipu Sultan, Fath 'Ali, Nawab of Mysore, 1753-1799.
    Wellesley, Richard Wellesley, Marquess, 1760-1842.
    Wellington, Arthur Wellesley, Duke of, 1769-1852.
    Woodford, Ralph James.
    East India Company.
    Great Britain. Admiralty.
    Great Britain. Royal Navy.