Heneage Dundas

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Heneage Dundas was Jack Aubrey's closest friend amongst his Royal Navy peers. They had served together as young midshipmen in HMS Bellerophon. Although Aubrey became a lieutenant five years earlier than his friend, Dundas quickly passed him in the ranks of promotion due to his influential family. His father was Henry Dundas, 1st Viscount Melville, First Lord of the Admiralty, and his elder brother Robert Dundas, 2nd Viscount Melville, later held the same position. Heneage Dundas was made commander of the sloop HMS Calpe before Aubrey received a similar promotion, and Dundas was promoted to post captain (in HMS Franchise) after little more than a year, while Aubrey remained only a commander. Dundas was frequently encountered in the pages of the Aubrey-Maturin novels, in command of various ships such as HMS Ethalion, HMS Excellent, HMS Eurydice, HMS Orion, HMS Berenice, HMS Hamadryad, and HMS Lion.

Given Heneage Dundas's seniority, it is certain that he received his flag as Rear Admiral before Aubrey, although this is not specifically mentioned in the novels.

In general, Heneage Dundas is presented as a genial, well-liked man, a particular friend of Stephen Maturin, but at one point a statement is made that he was known in the Service as "Vinegar Joe" because of his shrewish nature. Like a number of other naval officers, Dundas had a decided weakness for the fair sex, and he fathered a number of bastard children.

SPOILER WARNING:  Plot or ending details for "Reverse of the Medal to end"  follow.

Occasionally, Dundas played an important role in Jack Aubrey’s career. When the Admiralty decided to reinstate Aubrey on the list of post captains, it was Dundas who was chosen to carry word to Aubrey and to conduct the necessary negotiations. Later, as captain of HMS Berenice, he rescued Aubrey in his crippled Surprise off Cape Horn, after a nearly fatal encounter with a powerful American frigate.

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