Who, then, was Melville? Born in 1742 to Robert Dundas, fourth Laird of Arniston in Midlothian and his second wife. His father was a powerful political figure in his own right, being appointed Solicitor General for Scotland in 1717 and Lord Advocate some three years later. Young Henry was thrust into legal politics at an early age on the background of his father’s power and influence and became Solicitor General for Scotland when a mere 24 years of age despite not having qualified at the bar and being un elected politically ! It appears that politics of that day were more than a little into favours, intrigue and corruption! Dundas married into money and the estate of Melville Castle and became a Member of Parliament for Edinburgh. He became closely aligned with the Prime Minister, William Pitt the Younger. His influence and power were considerable. As Lord Advocate of Scotland he had the right to determine which Scottish Peers should sit in the House of Lords and as a Tory grandee he was empowered to choose Tory candidates for election to the House of Commons. His abuse of power continued when he appointed himself as Lord Privy Seal with a salary of £4 000 per annum!
Dunira House about 1910