Sir Lawrence Dundas, 1st Baronet

Sir Lawrence Dundas, 1st Baronet (c. 1710 – 21 September 1781) was a Scottish businessman, landowner and politician.


He was the son of Thomas Dundas and Bethia Baillie.[1] He made his first fortune as Commissary General: supplying goods to the British Army during their campaigns against the Jacobites and in Flanders during the Seven Years' War, 1756-1763. He subsequently branched out into banking, property (he developed Grangemouth in 1777) and was a major backer of the Forth and Clyde Canal which happened to run through his estate, centered on Kerse House,[2] near Falkirk. He left his son an inheritance worth £900,000. Sir Lawrence was also a man of taste, elected a member of the Society of Dilettanti in 1750.

He bought the Aske Estate, near Richmond in North Yorkshire in 1763 from Lord Holderness for £45,000 and proceeded to enlarge and remodel it in Palladian taste by the premier Yorkshire architect, John Carr, who also designed new stables.

In 1768 he acquired a tavern "Peace and Plenty" on the land destined to become Edinburgh's New Town. This was shown on James Craig's plan as a potential site for a church, but Dundas's wealth and ownership of the site allowed him to design his own mansion here, somewhat off the grid of the New Town.[3] This house, now Dundas House in St. Andrew Square, was designed by Sir William Chambers, became the headquarters of the Royal Bank of Scotland in 1825.[4] The facade and later 1857 ceiling feature on the current designs of the banknotes issued by the Royal Bank.[5][6]

He purchased Leoni's grand house near London, Moor Park, for which he ordered a set of Gobelins tapestry hangings with medallions by François Boucher and a long suite of seat furniture to match, for which Robert Adam provided designs: they are among the earliest English neoclassical furniture.[7] Other new furnishings, for Aske and for Sir Lawrence's magnificently appointed London house at 19 Arlington Street, were supplied by Thomas Chippendale (1763–66), and Chippendale's rivals, the royal cabinet-makers William Vile and John Cobb, and Samuel Norman (Gilbert). A pair of marquetry commodes in the French taste by a French cabinet-maker working in London, Pierre Langlois, is at Aske.[8] Capability Brown worked on the park at Aske and provided a design for a bridge.[9] In the 1770s, Sir Lawrence turned to Robert Adam for further remodelling and designs for furnishings.

The Aske estate included the pocket borough of Richmond, so Sir Lawrence was therefore able to appoint the Member of Parliament. Sir Lawrence married Margaret Bruce, and they had one son, Thomas Dundas.

James Boswell described Dundas as "a comely jovial Scotch gentleman of good address but not bright parts ... I liked him much".[10]

Dundas was a great collector of art. Long after his death Messrs Greenwood sold 116 of his paintings on 29-31 May 1794 from their room in Leicester Square. They included works by Cuyp, Murillo, Raphael, Rubens and Teniers.[11] Some of the Murillos and perhaps other works would have been bought on commission by Dundas's friend John Blackwood.

Sir Lawrence died in 1781 and is buried in the Dundas Mausoleum at Falkirk Old Parish Church where his wife Margaret and son Thomas eventually joined him.


  2. Robertson, A 2012 The rediscovery of ‘Carss Castell’: A medieval hall-house within, Kerse House, Grangemouth. Vernacular Building 36, pp. 41-60
  4. Gilbert, p. 154
  5. "Our Banknotes - The Ilay Series". The Royal Bank of Scotland Group. 2008. Archived from the original on 15 March 2008. Retrieved 14 October 2008.
  6. "Dundas Mansion, Edinburgh". Edinburgh Architecture. Retrieved 14 October 2008.
  7. Some of the seat furniture is at the Philadelphia Museum of Art.
  8. One is illustrated in Anthony Coleridge, Chippendale Furniture 1964, pl. 51.
  9. Colvin
  10. Lewis Namier; John Brooke (1985). The House of Commons 1754-1790. Boydell & Brewer. p. 361. ISBN 978-0-436-30420-0.
  11. Greenwood, Messrs (1794). A Catalogue of the Magnificent Collection of Pictures of the late Sir Lawrence Dundas, Bart. London: Messrs Greenwood.


Parliament of Great Britain
Preceded by
John Mackye
Member of Parliament for Lanark Burghs
Succeeded by
James Carmichael
Preceded by
John Waldegrave
Henry Vernon
Member of Parliament for Newcastle-under-Lyme
With: John Waldegrave 1762–63
Thomas Gilbert 1763–68
Succeeded by
John Wrottesley
Alexander Forrester
Preceded by
James Coutts
Member of Parliament for Edinburgh
Succeeded by
William Miller
Preceded by
William Norton
Charles Dundas
Member of Parliament for Richmond
With: Marquess of Graham
Succeeded by
Marquess of Graham
George Fitzwilliam
Preceded by
William Miller
Member of Parliament for Edinburgh
Succeeded by
James Hunter-Blair
Baronetage of Great Britain
New creation Baronet
(of Kerse)
Succeeded by
Thomas Laurence Dundas
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