The descendants of Henry Dundas say they are “surprised and disappointed” that plans to install a “false and misleading” plaque on the Melville Monument, in Edinburgh, have been approved – and are insisting their ancestor was in fact an abolitionist.
Bobby Dundas, the 10th Viscount Melville and a professional Polo player, and Jennifer Dundas, a Canadian broadcast journalist, say Edinburgh City Council has “blundered” in its decision to allow the installation of a plaque on their distant relatives’ monument, which outlines his role in delaying the abolition of slavery.
The Category A-listed monument pays tribute to Henry Dundas, the 1st Viscount Melville, the trusted right hand man of Prime Minister William Pitt and at one time the most powerful politician in Scotland.
Dundas is a controversial figure in Scottish history, due to his role in subjugating indigenous populations in the British Empire and for his part in delaying the abolition of the slave trade.
He was the Scottish Lord Advocate, an MP for Edinburgh and Midlothian, and the First Lord of the Admiralty.
As first lord of the admiralty, Dundas deliberately prolonged slavery to protect the elite in the 1800s – forcing about 630,000 slaves to wait more than a decade for their freedom.