Lawrence Dundas, 2nd Marquess of Zetland

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The Marquess of Zetland

Lord Zetland.jpg
Secretary of State for India
In office
7 June 1935 – 28 May 1937
MonarchGeorge V
Edward VIII
George VI
Prime MinisterStanley Baldwin
Preceded bySir Samuel Hoare, Bt
Succeeded byOffice renamed Secretary of State for India and Burma
Secretary of State for India and Burma
In office
28 May 1937 – 13 May 1940
MonarchGeorge VI
Prime MinisterNeville Chamberlain
Preceded byNew office
Succeeded byLeo Amery
Personal details
Born(1876-06-11)11 June 1876
Died6 February 1961(1961-02-06) (aged 84)
Political partyConservative
Spouse(s)Cicely Archdale (1886–1973)
Alma materTrinity College, Cambridge

Lawrence John Lumley Dundas, 2nd Marquess of Zetland, KG, GCSI, GCIE, PC, JP, DL (11 June 1876 – 6 February 1961), styled Lord Dundas until 1892 and Earl of Ronaldshay between 1892 and 1929, was a British Conservative politician. An expert on India, he served as Secretary of State for India in the late 1930s.

Background and education[edit]

Zetland, born in London,[1] was the son of Lawrence Dundas, 1st Marquess of Zetland, and Lady Lillian, daughter of Richard Lumley, 9th Earl of Scarbrough.[2] He was educated at Harrow School and Trinity College, Cambridge.[3] At Cambridge, he was a member of the University Pitt Club.[4]

Political career[edit]

Zetland as a Governor of Bengal in Dhaka (1919)

In 1900 Zetland became aide-de camp to Lord Curzon, Viceroy of India. While working for Curzon in the British Raj, Zetland travelled widely through Asia, having experiences which would later inform his fictional and non-fictional writing.[5]

Zetland was returned to Parliament for Hornsey in 1907, a seat he held until 1916. Much of his public career centred on British India. In September 1912, he was appointed (with Lord Islington, Herbert Fisher, Mr Justice Abdur Rahim, and others) as a member of the Royal Commission on the Public Services in India of 1912–1915.[6] He was Governor of Bengal between 1917 and 1922 and Secretary of State for India between 1935 and 1940. Although a member of the Conservative Party, his belief was that Indians should be allowed to take ever-increasing responsibility for the government of the country, culminating in Dominion status (enjoyed by Canada, Australia, and other formerly self-governing parts of the British Empire).

Zetland played an important role in the protracted negotiations which led to the Government of India Act 1935, which began, subject to the implacable opposition of Winston Churchill and the "diehards" to anything that might imperil direct British rule over India, to implement those ideals.

Lord Ronalshay as Governor of Bengal (1917-22).

Zetland was also an author: Rab Butler, who served as his Parliamentary Under-Secretary at the India Office, records that he asked how he could understand better his chief's thinking about the future of India and received the answer: "Read my books!" Zetland kept Butler, who had helped to pass the Government of India Act and had enjoyed great influence under Zetland's predecessor Samuel Hoare, at arm's length, requiring him to book an appointment in advance if he wanted to see him. Butler continued to serve under him for another two years, but devotes only a single paragraph to this period in his memoirs.[7]

Zetland was ideally placed as Secretary of State for India to implement the new Act, although the two Viceroys with whom he served, Lords Willingdon and Linlithgow, were rather less idealistic than he. In the event, Willingdon and Linlithgow were proved right when the Congress Party won the 1937 Provincial elections, much to the dismay of Zetland. Zetland's term as Secretary of State — and the experiment with democracy represented by the 1935 Act — came to an end with Churchill's assumption of the Prime Ministership in 1940: Zetland then offered his resignation, feeling that his ideas and Churchill's regarding India were so different that "I could only end by becoming an embarrassment to him."

Zetland, who was known to favour good relations between the UK and Germany, was associated with the Anglo-German Fellowship during the late 1930s.[8]

Zetland was sworn of the Privy Council in 1922[9] and made a Knight of the Garter in 1942. He also bore the Sword of State at the coronation of George VI in 1937[10] and was Lord Lieutenant of the North Riding of Yorkshire between 1945 and 1951.[11] He was elected President of the Royal Geographical Society in 1922 and President of the Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and Ireland for 1928–31.[12] From 1932 to 1945, he was chairman of the National Trust.[13]


Garter-encircled coat of arms of Lawrence Dundas, 2nd Marquess of Zetland, KG, as displayed on his Order of the Garter stall plate in St. George's Chapel.

Lord Zetland married Cicely, daughter of Mervyn Henry Archdale, on 3 December 1907 and lived at Snelsmore at Chieveley in Berkshire. Zetland died in February 1961, aged 84, and was succeeded by his son, Lawrence Dundas, 3rd Marquess of Zetland. The Marchioness of Zetland died in January 1973.[2] They had five children:

  • Lawrence Aldred Mervyn Dundas, 3rd Marquess of Zetland (b. 12 November 1908 - d. 5 October 1989)
  • Lady Viola Mary Dundas (4 January 1910 - d. 21 March 1995)
  • Lady Lavinia Margaret Dundas (b. 31 December 1914 - d. 4 January 1974)
  • Lady Jean Agatha Dundas (b. 4 May 1916 - d. 13 May 1995) married on 2 September 1939 to Hector Lorenzo Christie.
  • Lord Bruce Thomas Dundas (b. 18 October 1920 - d. 24 February 1942), killed on active service.


  • A Wandering Student in the Far East. 1904
  • The heart of Âryâvarta; a study of the psychology of Indian unrest. Constable, London, 1925
  • Lands of the Thunderbolt: Sikhim, Chumbi & Bhutan. Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston, 1923
  • The Life Of Lord Curzon. (2 vols). Ernest Benn Ltd, London, 1928
  • Essayez: The Memoirs of Lawrence. John Murray, London, 1956


  1. ^ Woods, Philip (January 2011). "Dundas, Lawrence John Lumley, second marquess of Zetland (1876–1961)". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/32932.
  2. ^ a b Lundy, Darryl. " Sir Lawrence John Lumley Dundas, 2nd Marquess of Zetland". The Peerage.[unreliable source]
  3. ^ "Dundas, Lawrence John Lumley, Earl of Ronaldshay (DNDS894LJ)". A Cambridge Alumni Database. University of Cambridge.
  4. ^ Fletcher, Walter Morley (2011) [1935]. The University Pitt Club: 1835-1935 (First Paperback ed.). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. p. 92. ISBN 978-1-107-60006-5.
  5. ^ Lawrence John Lumley Dundas, Making Britain. Accessed 11 July 2020.
  6. ^ London Gazette, Issue 28642 of 6 September 1912, p. 6631
  7. ^ Jago 2015, p.83
  8. ^ Richard Griffiths, Fellow Travellers on the Right, Oxford University Press, 1983, p. 220
  9. ^ "No. 32677". The London Gazette. 21 April 1922. p. 3135.
  10. ^ "No. 34453". The London Gazette. 10 November 1937. p. 7051.
  11. ^ "No. 36965". The London Gazette. 2 March 1945. p. 1210.
  12. ^ Sardella, Ferdinando. Modern Hindu Personalism: The History, Life, and Thought of Bhaktisiddhanta . p. 152.
  13. ^ Jenkins, Jennifer; James, Patrick (1994). From acorn to oak tree: the growth of the National Trust 1895-1994. London: Macmillan. p. 335.


  • Jago, Michael Rab Butler: The Best Prime Minister We Never Had?, Biteback Publishing 2015 ISBN 978-1849549202


External links[edit]

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Charles Balfour
Member of Parliament for Hornsey
Succeeded by
Kennedy Jones
Political offices
Preceded by
The Lord Carmichael
Governor of Fort William
Succeeded by
The Earl of Lytton
Preceded by
Sir Samuel Hoare, Bt
Secretary of State for India
Succeeded by
Secretary of State for India and Burma
Preceded by
New office
Secretary of State for India and Burma
Succeeded by
Leo Amery
Honorary titles
Preceded by
The Lord Bolton
Lord Lieutenant of the North Riding of Yorkshire
Succeeded by
Sir William Worsley, Bt
Peerage of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Lawrence Dundas
Marquess of Zetland
Succeeded by
Lawrence Aldred Mervyn Dundas