The correspondence is composed of: a letter to N. Auld, 1816; a letter to Capt. Dillon, 1819; a letter to Sir Patrick Walker requesting him to call at the Admiralty, 1820; a letter to Rear-Admiral Otway with instructions of what to do in case of the death of Queen Caroline, 1821; letter to T. Dench, 1821; and, a letter to Messrs. Spottiswoode and Robertson about coal-weighing, 1834. There is also an engraving, and a franked postal cover to Messrs. Drummond, 1823, with a signed engraving of Viscount Melville.
Correspondence relating to Robert Saunders Dundas, 2nd Viscount Melville (1771-1851)
Scope and Content
Administrative / Biographical History
Robert Saunders Dundas was born on 14 March 1771. He was the only son of Henry Dundas, 1st Viscount Melville (1742-1811) - 'Henry the Ninth, the uncrowned King of Scotland'. He was educated at the Royal High School. Dundas entered Parliament as M.P. for Hastings in 1794, and had received his first taste of political life as Private Secretary to his father who was Secretary of State for War and the Colonies and President of the Board of Control for the Affairs of India, 1794-1801. In 1796 he became M.P. for Rye. His first official appointment was that of Keeper of the Signet for Scotland in 1800. In 1801 Dundas was M.P. for Midlothian, his father's former constituency. He began to make his mark in the Commons in 1805 and 1806 when he spoke up in support of his father who was criticised and impeached for 'high crimes and misdemeanours' while Treasurer of the Navy. In 1807 he became a member of the Privy Council and President of the Board of Control in the Cabinet formed by the Duke of Portland. In 1809 he was Secretary for Ireland for a brief period and then was back at the Board of Control during the Perceval administration. In 1811, Dundas succeeded his father as 2nd Viscount Melville, and the same year he became Lord Privy Seal in Scotland. In 1812, he was appointed First Lord of the Admiralty by Lord Liverpool. While at the Admiralty he became particularly interested in Arctic affairs which was acknowledged when Melville Sound was named after him. After the death of Lord Liverpool he refused to serve in Canning's government, but was re-appointed to the Admiralty when the Duke of Wellington took office. He retired from political life in 1830. Earlier, in 1821, Dundas had been made a Knight of the Thistle. Robert Dundas, 2nd Viscount Melville, died at Melville Castle, Edinburgh, on 10 June 1851.
Conditions Governing Access
Generally open for consultation to bona fide researchers, but please contact repository for details in advance.
Micellaneous letters, purchased 1964, Accession no. E64.6. Miscellaneous letters, purchased June 1971, Accession no. E71.17.
The biographical/administrative history was compiled using the following material: (1) Stephen, Leslie. and Lee, Sidney (eds.). Dictionary of national biography. Vol.6. Drant-Finan. London: Smith, Elder and Co., 1908.
Compiled by Graeme D Eddie, Edinburgh University Library, Special Collections Division.
Other Finding Aids
Important finding aids generally are: the alphabetical Index to Manuscripts held at Edinburgh University Library, Special Collections and Archives, consisting of typed slips in sheaf binders and to which additions were made until 1987; and the Index to Accessions Since 1987.
Check the local Indexes for details of any additions.