Sir Lawrence Dundas

1712 - 1781

Merchant, entrepreneur and politician. The son of an Edinburgh Baillie, Dundas was educated at the High School of Edinburgh. He made his fortune through stock speculation and by provisioning the British army, under the Duke of Cumberland, during their campaign against the Jacobites (1745-6) and in Flanders during the Seven Years War (1756 - 1763). Dundas was created a Baronet in 1762.

In 1749, he bought estates at Kerse (Falkirk), now largely overtaken by the Grangemouth Oil Refinery. He was a major backer of the Forth and Clyde Canal, indeed it was Dundas who cut the first sod in its construction on the 10th June 1768. He went on to build Grangemouth (1777) as the key port on the River Forth which lay at the east end of the canal.

Dundas invested in property and works of art and was also Member of Parliament for Edinburgh. He also famous for breaking the symmetry of James Craig's New Town. He used his influence to preview Craig's plan and purchased a prime site on the E side of what was to become St Andrew's Square to build his home. Dundas House, built by Sir William Chambers (1723-96), is now the headquarters of the Royal Bank of Scotland. However, shortly after moving into his new house, he lost it in a game of cards with a military crony, General John Scott. Dundas had to build the General a new house in nearby Dublin Street in order to keep his home.

Dundas also purchased a number of properties in England: notably Moor Park (Hertfordshire) bought in 1763 and improved by Robert Adam (1728-92); Aske Hall (Richmond, Yorkshire), which remains the family home, and in London. By the time he died he owned eight major properties, most of which were sold by his son, Thomas, who was created Baron Dundas in 1794.

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