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Significant Scots
Robert Dinwiddie

Lt. Governor Robert Dinwiddie Lt. Governor Robert Dinwiddie

Robert Dinwiddie was born of an old Scottish family. His father was a prosperous merchant, and his mother also came from a commercial family. Robert was educated at the University of Glasgow and entered his father's countinghouse. He later carried on a successful carreer as a merchant..

Dinwiddie's role as a colonial administrator began in 1721, when he was appointed British representative in Bermuda. After 16 years of service in Bermuda, he received the important position of surveyor genal, which included jurisdiction over Pennsylvania and the southern colonis of British North America. By tradition the surveyor general was entitled to a seat on the Virginia Council, a post Dinwiddie insisted on assuming. Characteristic of Dinwiddie's service in the Colonies was his zealous attention to the offices under his authority and a tendency to maximize his position by emphasizing the royal prerogative. In recognition of these qualities, he was appointed lieutenant governor of Virginia, England's largest colony, and took office on July 4, 1751.

As lieutenant governor, Dinwiddie saw the beginnings of the conflict on Virginia's fronties that led to the French and Indian War. He was a firm advocate of British expansion into the west. He sought the help of the Indians and the other British colonies in the struggle against the French, pressed the legislature for defense funds, and favored the use of regular armed forces in place of the less reliable militia. Dinwiddie made George Washington a lieutenant colonel in 1754.

Generally, Dinwiddie was able to work in harmony with the Virginia Legislature. He did, however, prompt a serious conflict with the House of Burgess shortly after he took office. In hope of increasing the British King's revenues, Dinwiddie tried to levy a fee for land patents, which would also require landholders to pay quitrents to the Crown. This precipitated the famous "Pistole Fee" controversy, in which the lower house charged that the governor had imposed an unlawful tax that endangered colonial liberty-a precursor of the arguements of the American Revolution.

The pressures of office and the war badly taxed Dinwiddie's health. At his own request he was relieved of office in 1758, and with his wife and two daughter's returned to Britain. He died in London on July 27, 1770.


In this church are deposited the remains of Robert Dinwiddie,
  Esq. formerly Governor of Virginia.
Who Deceased July 27th 1770 in the 78th years of his age.

  The annals of that country will testify
With what Judgement, Activity, and Zeal he exerted himself
  In the Public cause when the whole of the North American Continent
Was involved in a French & Indian War
  The rectitude of Conduct in his Government
And integrity in other Public employments
  Add a lustre to his Character which was revered while he lived
And will be held in estimation whilst his name survives
  His mere private virtues and amiable social qualities he possessed
Were the happiness of his numerous friends and relations,
  Many of whom shared his bounty
All lament his loss
  As his happy dispositions for domestic life
Were best known to his affectionate Wife & Daughters
  They have, erected this monument
To the memory of his Conjugal and Paternal Love
  Which they will ever cherish and revere
With that piety and tenderness he so greatly merited.

Farwell Blest shade, no more will grief oppress
Propitious Angels guide thee to thy rest.

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