CollectionMelville Papers
TitlePapers of 2nd Viscount Meville
Date7 September 1809-30 April 1829
Extent15 documents
Admin HistoryRichard Saunders Dundas, later 2nd Viscount Melville, was born on 14 March 1771 in Edinburgh, son of Henry Dundas, 1st Viscount Melville, and Elizabeth Rannie. He attended the Royal High School, and enrolled at the University of Göttingen whilst on his Continental tour in 1786. He continued his education in the University of Edinburgh, at Emmanuel College, Cambridge, and finally he matriculated from Lincoln's Inn in 1788.
After serving as his father's private secretary, Melville became Member of Parliament for Hastings in 1794, Rye in 1796, and Midlothian in 1801. In 1800 he was created Keeper of the Signet in Scotland.
In 1796 Melville married Ann Saunders, whose name he took alongside his own. They had four sons, one of whom succeeded him, and two daughters.
Melville became a Privy Counsellor in 1807, the same year in which he was made President for the Board of Control for India, where he played an important strategic role in ensuring that Napoleon did not attempt to take control of British India. Dundas took a six-month hiatus from this role to act as Chief Secretary for Ireland. He was also made Keeper of the Privy Seal of Scotland in 1811, securing his position as one of the most powerful men in Scotland. This was the same year in which he succeeded as Viscount Melville. On his return to the role of President of the Board of Control he also dealt with the financial decline of the East India Company, and drafted the legislation which would block the renewal of the company's charter in 1813.
Lord Melville garnered several other accolades; he was made Chancellor of the University of St. Andrews from 1814 (and remained so until 1851), became a fellow of the Royal Society in 1817, a Knight of the Thistle in 1821, a Governor of the Bank of Scotland, and was promoted to First Lord of the Admiralty between 1812-1827 and 1828-1830. He died on 10 June 1851 at Melville Castle.
ArrangementCatalogued in original order, Summer 2020.
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