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Dundas


It has been said of the House of Dundas that "any Prime Minister can raise a man to the House of Lords but it takes seven centuries of Scottish history to make a Dundas of Dundas"; the Dundases are certainly one of the oldest historical families in existence. Helias, son of Uctred who obtained the charter of the lands of Dundas in west Lothian in the reign of Malcolm IV (1153-65), or a little later, is the first name recorded. From earliest times the Dundases played a prominant role in the affairs of Scotland; most remarkable was the legal dynasty beginning with Sir James, 1st Lord Arniston who died in 1679. His grandson Robert held the posts of Solicitor General, Lord Advocate and Lord President; he was succeeded by his son who, as Lord Arniston, was a judge. His son, like him called Robert, was Solicitor General in 1784, Lord Advocate in 1789 and Chief Baron of the Exchequer in 1801. The statesman Henry Dundas was known as "the uncrowned King of Scotland" and "managed" Scotland f or William Pitt. Through his offices many estates forfeited after the 1745 rebellion were restored and the ban on the wearing of tartan was lifted. Arniston House at Gorebridge is owned by the Dundas family. Dundas Castle near South Queensferry was built by James Dundas of that Ilk in 1424. In the 15th century the Dundas family garrisoned Inchgarvie Island in the Firth of Forth having been given special permission to do so by James IV. The present chief, David Duncan Dundas of Dundas, lives in South Africa.


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