Thomas Dundas, 1st Baron Dundas

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Lord Dundas

Thomas Dundas, 1st Baron Dundas FRS (16 February 1741 – 14 June 1820), known as Sir Thomas Dundas, 2nd Baronet, from 1781 to 1794, was a powerful figure in the Kingdom of Great Britain, now remembered for commissioning the Charlotte Dundas, the world's "first practical steamboat".

Biography[edit]

Thomas was the only son of Sir Lawrence Dundas, 1st Baronet, the "Nabob of the North". Following education at Eton and St. Andrews University he did the Grand Tour, then became Member of Parliament for Richmond, 1763–1768, then for Stirlingshire, 1768–1794. He was elevated to the peerage as Baron Dundas of Aske in August 1794, and was also Lord Lieutenant and Vice Admiral of Orkney and Shetland, Councillor of state to the Prince of Wales (later George IV), President of the Society of Scottish Antiquaries and Colonel of the North York Militia. He acquired Marske Hall in Yorkshire in 1762 after the death of Sir William Lowther, 3rd Baronet.

Charlotte Dundas[edit]

Thomas Dundas followed his father in having an interest in Grangemouth and in the Forth and Clyde Canal, under construction from 1768 to 1790, and he would have been aware of the 1789 trials on the canal of Patrick Miller of Dalswinton's double-hulled paddle boat powered with a steam engine fitted by William Symington. In 1800 Dundas, as Governor of the Forth and Clyde Canal Company, engaged Symington to design a steam tug on the lines of a failed attempt by Captain John Schank for the Bridgewater Canal. At a meeting of the canal company's directors on 5 June 1800 Dundas "produced a model of a boat by Captain Schank to be worked by a steam engine by Mr Symington",[citation needed] and it was agreed this should be immediately put in hand.

The boat was built to Symington's design. It had successful trials on the River Carron in June 1801 and further trials towing sloops from the river Forth up the Carron and thence along the Forth and Clyde Canal. The other proprietors of the canal were concerned about wave damage to the canal banks, and the Committee decided that the boat would "by no means answer the purpose".[citation needed]

Symington had proposals for an improved boat which were presented in the form of a model, shown to Lord Dundas, of the boat which would become famous as the Charlotte Dundas, named in honour of one of his Lordship's daughters. One account states that Lord Dundas had advised Symington to prepare the model and bring it to his Lordship in London, where Symington was introduced to the Duke of Bridgewater who was enthusiastic enough to immediately order eight boats of similar construction for his canal. Unfortunately the Duke of Bridgewater died a few days before the first sailing, and nothing came of this order.

Lord Dundas and some of his relatives and friends were on board for the first sailing of the boat on the canal in 1803, but despite the success of the Charlotte Dundas fears of erosion of the banks prevailed, and the trials were ended leaving Symington out-of-pocket.

Family[edit]

He married Lady Charlotte FitzWilliam, the daughter of William FitzWilliam, 3rd Earl FitzWilliam, on 24 May 1764 and they had 14 children:

See also[edit]

External links[edit]

Parliament of Great Britain
Preceded by
Earl of Ancram
Sir Ralph Milbanke
Member of Parliament for Richmond (Yorkshire)
with Sir Ralph Milbanke

1763–1768
Succeeded by
Alexander Wedderburn
Sir Lawrence Dundas
Preceded by
James Campbell
Member of Parliament for Stirlingshire
1768–1794
Succeeded by
Robert Graham
Preceded by
William Norton
Charles John Crowle
Member of Parliament for Richmond (Yorkshire)
with Sir Lawrence Dundas 1774–1775
Charles Dundas 1775

1774–1775
Succeeded by
Charles Dundas
William Norton
Honorary titles
New office Lord Lieutenant of Orkney and Shetland
1794–1820
Vacant
Title next held by
The Lord Dundas
Preceded by
Sir Lawrence Dundas
Vice Admiral of Orkney and Shetland
1781–1820
Vacant
Title next held by
James Allan Maconochie
Peerage of Great Britain
New creation Baron Dundas
1794–1820
Succeeded by
Lawrence Dundas
Baronetage of Great Britain
Preceded by
Lawrence Dundas
Baronet
(of Kerse)
1781–1820
Succeeded by
Lawrence Dundas