DASHWOOD, Sir Henry Watkin, 3rd Bt. (1745-1828), of Kirtlington Park, Oxon.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1790-1820, ed. R. Thorne, 1986
Available from Boydell and Brewer



23 Mar. 1775 - 1780
1784 - 1820

Family and Education

b. 30 Aug./1 Sept. 1745, 1st surv. s. of Sir James Dashwood, 2nd Bt., of Kirtlington Park by Elizabeth, da. and coh. of Edward Spencer of Rendlesham, Suff. educ. Brasenose, Oxf. 1763; Grand Tour 1768. m. 17 July 1780, Mary Helen, da. of John Graham of Kinross, and of the Supreme Ct. of Calcutta, 4s. 2da. suc. fa. as 3rd Bt. 10 Nov. 1779.

Offices Held

Gent. of privy chamber Mar. 1783-d.


Dashwood was ‘entirely ruin’d’ by 1791 and therefore found it very necessary to remain in Parliament. Despite a rental of over £8,000 a year, his extravagance, after that of his father who burdened the family with ‘a great Italian palace’, reduced and encumbered the estate. According to the 6th Baronet:

During the half century of his baronetcy he sold all the most valuable portions of the estates which had been for generations in the Chamberlayne family: he sold a large part of the estates carefully selected and acquired by Sir Robert [1st Baronet] and sold a large portion of the estates which he inherited through his grandmother from Sir James Read of Brocket Hall; and he left heavy encumbrances on that portion of the Dashwood unsettled estates which was not sold by him. During the last years of his life he was further crippled by one of those periodical visits of agricultural depression which afflicted the country and greatly reduced the rents.1

Dashwood owed his quiet possession of a seat for 36 years to his friendship and connexion (by marriage) with the 4th Duke of Marlborough’s family: like the duke he was a courtier and gave a silent support to administration. In April 1791 he was listed hostile to the repeal of the Test Act in Scotland. His beautiful wife was a lady-in-waiting to the royal princesses and appointed governess to Princess Charlotte shortly before her death in 1796. She lived ‘on affectionate and intimate terms with the royal family’ and Sir Henry did not hesitate to ask Pitt for a peerage (1 Aug. 1794), though he did not get one.2

He seldom voted with the minority, though on 28 Feb. 1797 he supported Sheridan’s motion on specie and on 23 Mar. Fox’s on the state of Ireland, as if he inclined to the ‘armed neutrality’ in that crisis. The party lists made him a supporter of Pitt’s administration in 1804 and 1805, when he was in the government minority on Melville’s case, 8 Apr., though he was suspected of independence in 1806, when he was alleged to have favoured Arthur Annesley’s* candidature at Woodstock.3 In 1807 he was confined with gout and his attitude to Portland’s administration was uncertain.4 No vote of his is known in that Parliament, but the Whigs were ‘doubtful’ of him in March 1810, when Canning reported that it was difficult for Lord Francis Spencer to induce him to abstain on the Scheldt question.5 The Treasury were sure of him in 1812. He supported Catholic relief, 13, 24 May 1813, like Lord Francis Spencer. On 2 June 1817 he unsuccessfully supported Charles Watkin Williams Wynn for Speaker and on 23 June he voted for the suspension of habeas corpus. He was absent ill before Easter in 1819. Dashwood retired in 1820. He died 10 June 1828. His ‘kindness of disposition, and mild and gentlemanly manners’ were remarked upon.6

Ref Volumes: 1790-1820

Author: R. G. Thorne


  • 1. J. Townsend, The Oxfordshire Dashwoods (1922), 32, 38, 49; M. Elwin, Noels and Milbankes, 389, 395, 397, 405.
  • 2. Gent. Mag. (1828), i. 641; Townsend, 33; PRO 30/8/128, f. 186.
  • 3. Add. 34457, f. 123.
  • 4. Fortescue mss, Auckland to Grenville, 4 Apr. 1807.
  • 5. Harewood mss, Canning to his wife, 12 Mar. 1810.
  • 6. Gent. Mag. loc. cit.