'Dun deas’ in Gaelic means ‘south fort’. The Dundas family occupied lands on the southern shores of the Firth of Forth near Edinburgh. The family is thought to have descended from Helias, son of Hutred, a younger son of Gospatrick, Prince of Northumberland. The families of Dunbar and Moncreiff also descend from this stock.
Records from the reign of William the Lion mention Serle de Dundas, Serle and Robertus de Dundas both signed Edward I’s Ragman Roll. However Sir Hugh Dundas fought with William Wallace and Sir George Dundas was one of the eight Lairds who fought with Robert the Bruce (top), but was killed at the battle of Duplyn.
Sir James Dundas was governor of Berwick during the reign of James VI. His son, Sir James Dundas, knighted in 1641 was a loyal subject but was opposed to the king’s interference with the Church. As a result of this he signed the National Covenant. After the restoration he took a seat on the supreme court but the position didn’t last long due to his continued support for the Covenant. Lord Arniston was awarded at this time.
William Dundas of Kincavel was descended from the Dundases of Blair. He was imprisoned for his part in the 1715 Jacobite Rebellion.
George Dundas, the eighteenth Laird fought in the Wars of the Covenant and was on the committee that tried Marquess of Montrose. The twenty-third Laird, George Dundas, was a sea captain who died in a shipwreck off Madagascar in 1792.
One of the most famous Dundas family members was Henry Dundas, Viscount Melville also known as Uncrowned King of Scotland” and “King Harry the 9th”. After a long political career which included the lifting of the highland dress proscription act and a spell as Lord Advocate he took over the post of Secretary of State in 1791. He was made a peer in 1802. His mark can been found easily in Edinburgh’s St Andrews Square where the impressive building now owned by The Royal Bank of Scotland was built as his home and the imposing statue of the viscount stands on a large column in the centre of the square.
Other notable Dundas members were Sir David Dundas (above) who was commander-in-chief of the British army in 1809, Sir Thomas Dundas, Lord Dundas of Skea, the second Marquess who was Secretary of State for India from 1935 to 1937 and Admiral Sir Charles Dundas of Dundas who was an aide-de-camp to George V.
The present chief of the clan lives in South Africa.