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Posts Tagged ‘Henry Brougham 1st Baron Brougham and Vaux’

Regency Personalities Series

In my attempts to provide us with the details of the Regency (I include those who were born before 1811 and who died after 1795), today I continue with one of the many period notables.

Thomas Erskine 1st Baron Erskine
10 January 1750 – 17 November 1823

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Thomas Erskine

Thomas Erskine 1st Baron Erskine was the third and youngest surviving son of Henry Erskine, 10th Earl of Buchan, and was born in a tenement at the head of South Grays Close on the High Street in Edinburgh. His older brothers were David (Lord Cardross and later the 11th Earl of Buchan) and Henry (later Lord Advocate of Scotland). His mother, Agnes Steuart, was the daughter of a solicitor general for Scotland and undertook much of her children’s education as the family, though noble, were not rich. The family moved to St Andrews, where they could live more cheaply, and Erskine attended the grammar school there. The family’s money having been spent on the education of his older brothers, Erskine, aged fourteen, reluctantly abandoned his formal education for the time being and went to sea as a midshipman. His family meanwhile moved to Bath to become members of the Methodist community headed by Selina, Countess of Huntingdon. One of Erskine’s sisters, Anne Agnes, was to become treasurer of Selina, Countess of Huntingdon’s charities.

Erskine went to sea as a midshipman in the Tartar, under captain Sir David Lindsay, who was a nephew of Lord Mansfield and a friend of the Erskine family. The Tartar set sail for the Caribbean, where Erskine was to spend the next four years, rising to the rank of acting lieutenant. When Erskine was eighteen he resigned from the Navy. His ship had been paid off, there were no commissions available, and he didn’t want to return to sea as a midshipman after having been an acting lieutenant. The 10th Earl of Buchan had recently died, and Erskine now had just enough money to buy a commission in the army, becoming an ensign in the 1st (Royal) Regiment of Foot. He was stationed first at Berwick and then on Jersey. On 29 March 1770 Erskine married Frances Moore at Gretna Green, against the wishes of her father, Daniel Moore who was member of parliament for Great Marlowe. Frances was the granddaughter of John Moore, who had been attorney general of Pennsylvania. Erskine’s regiment was then posted to Minorca, and Frances went with him. Before meeting Frances, Erskine had written about the qualities he was looking for in a bride: “Let then my ornament be far from the tinsel glare, let it be fair yet modest, let it rather delight than dazzle, rather shine like the mild beams of the morning than the blaze of the noon. I seek in my fair one a winning female softness both in person and mind”. Erskine appears to have found these qualities in Frances: she is described on her memorial in Hampstead Church as “the most faithful and affectionate of women”. The couple had four sons and four daughters.

While he was stationed in Jersey and Minorca, Erskine had on occasion preached sermons to his men, prompting one biographer to say that “a taste for oratory that ultimately would lead on to his true career originated in those soldier sermons”.

He also demonstrated his future skills as an advocate in a pamphlet entitled “Observations on the Prevailing Abuses in the British Army Arising from the Corruption of Civil Government with a Proposal toward Obtaining an Addition to Their Pay“.

Whilst on leave in London in 1772, the charming and well-connected young officer was able to mix in literary circles and met Dr Johnson. James Boswell, in his Life of Johnson, recalled meeting “a young officer in the regimentals of the Scots royal, who talked with a vivacity, fluency and precision so uncommon, that he attracted particular attention. He proved to be the Honorable Thomas Erskine, youngest brother to the Earl of Buchan, who has since risen into such brilliant reputation at the Bar in Westminster-hall”. Although Erskine was appointed a lieutenant in April 1773, he decided to leave the army and, with the encouragement of his family and Lord Mansfield, study for the Bar.

Erskine was admitted as a student of Lincoln’s Inn on 26 April 1775. He discovered that the period of study required before being called to the Bar could be reduced from five years to three for holders of a degree from Oxford or Cambridge universities. He therefore on 13 January 1776 entered himself as a gentleman commoner on the books of Trinity College, Cambridge where, as the son of an earl, he was entitled to gain a degree without sitting any examinations. He did however win the English declamation prize for an oration on the “glorious revolution” of 1688. At the same time, he was a pupil in the chambers of first Francis Buller and then George Wood. These were years of poverty for Erskine and his growing family: he installed Frances and the children in cheap lodgings in Kentish Town and survived on a gift of £300 from a relative, and the sale of his army commission. Jeremy Bentham, who knew Erskine at this time, described him as “so shabbily dressed as to be quite remarkable”.

In the summer of 1778 Erskine was awarded a degree and was called to the Bar on 3 July. While many newly qualified barristers, especially those without contacts to put briefs their way, took years to establish themselves, Erskine’s success was immediate and brilliant. His first case, that of Thomas Baillie, came to him by chance. The case involved the Greenwich Hospital for Seamen, of which Captain Baillie was lieutenant-governor. Baillie had uncovered abuses in the management of the hospital and, having failed to interest the directors and governors of the hospital or the lords of the Admiralty, he published a pamphlet and was then sued by the agents of John Montagu, 4th Earl of Sandwich who was first lord of the Admiralty and had been placing his agents in positions of authority in the hospital. Hearing of a newly qualified barrister who had himself been a seaman and was sympathetic to his cause, Baillie appointed Erskine to his team although he already had four counsel. Erskine was the most junior, but it was his brilliant speech that won the case and exonerated Baillie. Despite a warning from the judge, Erskine attacked Lord Sandwich calling him “the dark mover behind the scene of iniquity”. After his success in the Baillie case, Erskine had no shortage of work and a few months later was retained by Admiral Augustus Keppel in his court martial at Portsmouth. Keppel was acquitted and gave Erskine £1,000 in gratitude. For the first time in his life Erskine was financially secure.

In 1781 Erskine had his first opportunity to address a jury when he defended Lord George Gordon who had been charged with high treason for instigating the anti-Catholic riots of 1780. Erskine’s defence not only achieved Gordon’s acquittal but also dealt a blow to the English legal doctrine of constructive treason. The case established Erskine as the country’s most successful barrister. By 1783, when he received a patent of precedence, he had earnt enough to pay off all his debts and accumulate £8–9,000. He could afford a country house, Evergreen Villa, in Hampstead as well as a house in Lincoln’s Inn Fields.

In 1783, when the Fox-North Coalition came into power, Erskine entered parliament as Whig member for Portsmouth. Erskine’s friend Charles James Fox had been eager to have such a brilliant lawyer join the ranks of Whig members, but Erskine’s speeches failed to make the impact in parliament that they did in court. Erskine lost his seat the following year in the general election, becoming one of “Fox’s martyrs” when Pitt’s party made large gains, although he would regain the seat in 1790.

The loss of his parliamentary seat enabled Erskine to concentrate on his legal practice. In 1786, when he was thirty-six years old and had been practising at the Bar for only eight years, he was able to write: “I continue highly successful in my profession, being now, I may say, as high as I can go at the Bar. The rest depends on politics, which at present are adverse.” Amongst his notable cases in 1780s was his successful defence of William Davies Shipley, dean of St Asaph (and son of Jonathan Shipley) who was tried in 1784 at Shrewsbury for seditious libel for publishing Principles of Government, in a Dialogue between a Gentleman and a Farmer, a tract by his brother-in-law Sir William Jones advancing radical views on the relationship between subjects and the state. Erskine’s defence anticipated the Libel Act 1792, which laid down the principle that it is for the jury (who previously had only decided the question of publication) and not the judge to decide whether or not a publication is a libel.

In 1789 he was counsel for John Stockdale, a bookseller, who was charged with seditious libel in publishing John Logan’s pamphlet in support of Warren Hastings, whose impeachment was then proceeding. Erskine’s speech, which resulted in the Stockdale’s acquittal, argued that a defendant should not be convicted if his composition, taken as a whole, did not go beyond a free and fair discussion, even if selected passages might be libellous. Henry Brougham considered this to be one of Erskine’s finest speeches: “It is justly regarded, by all English lawyers, as a consummate specimen of the art of addressing a jury”.

Three years later he would, against the advice of his friends, take on the defence of Thomas Paine who had been charged with seditious libel after the publication of the second part of his Rights of Man. Paine was tried in his absence; he was in France. Erskine argued for the right of a people to criticise, reform and change its government; he made the point that a free press produces security in the government. But in this case his arguments failed to convince the special jury, who returned a verdict of guilty without even retiring.

Erskine’s speech is also remembered for a passage on the duty of barristers to take on even unpopular cases:

“I will for ever, at all hazards, assert the dignity, independence, and integrity of the English Bar, without which impartial justice, the most valuable part of the English constitution, can have no existence. From the moment that any advocate can be permitted to say that he will or will not stand between the Crown and the subject arraigned in the court where he daily sits to practise, from that moment the liberties of England are at an end.”

Erskine’s decision to defend Paine cost him his position as attorney-general (legal advisor) to the Prince of Wales, to which he had been appointed in 1786.

In 1794 William Pitt’s government, fearful of a revolution, decided to take action against people who were campaigning for parliamentary reform. Habeas corpus was suspended and twelve members of radical societies were imprisoned and charged with a variety of offences amounting to high treason. Erskine and Vicary Gibbs were assigned as counsel to seven of them. They were not paid for their services, as it was considered unprofessional to take fees for defending people charged with high treason. The treason trials began on 28 October before Lord Chief Justice Eyre at the Old Bailey with the trial of Thomas Hardy, a shoemaker and secretary of the London Corresponding Society. After eight days of evidence and speeches, including Erskine’s seven-hour speech on the final day, and several hours deliberation, the jury returned a verdict of not guilty. Erskine was hailed as a hero by the crowds outside who unharnessed his horses (which he never saw again ) and pulled his carriage through the streets. Although it was usual in cases where several people were jointly charged with high treason to discharge the rest if the first was acquitted, the government persisted with the trials of John Horne Tooke and John Thelwall. They too, defended by Erskine and Vicary Gibbs, were acquitted and it was only then that the prosecution was halted. A disappointed government had to scrap a further 800 warrants of arrest.

Notable amongst the later cases of Erskine’s career was that of James Hadfield, a former soldier who had fired a shot at the king in Drury Lane Theatre. The shot missed and Hadfield was charged with treason. Erskine called a large number of witnesses who testified to Hadfield’s sometimes bizarre behaviour, a surgeon who testified to the nature of the head injuries that Hadfield had sustained in battle, and a doctor, Alexander Crichton, who gave evidence that Hadfield was insane. Erskine argued that, although Hadfield could appear rational, he was in the grip of a delusion and could not control his actions. He summed up: “I must convince you, not only that the unhappy prisoner was a lunatic, within my own definition of lunacy, but that the act in question was the immediate unqualified offspring of the disease”. The judge, Lord Kenyon, was convinced by Erskine’s evidence and argument and stopped the trial, acquitted Hadfield and ordered him to be detained. The trial led to two acts of parliament: the Criminal Lunatics Act 1800 which provided for the detention of people who were acquitted of a crime by reason of insanity, and the Treason Act 1800.

In 1806 Erskine was offered the Lord Chancellorship in the Ministry of All the Talents formed by Lord Grenville and Charles Fox on the death of William Pitt. Fox’s original plan had been to offer Erskine the chief judgeship of the Common Pleas or the King’s Bench when one of the holders was elevated to Lord Chancellor. But both Lord Ellenborough, chief justice of the King’s Bench and Sir James Mansfield, Chief Justice of the Common Pleas, declined the chancellorship. Erskine was therefore appointed although he had no experience in Chancery. He was created a peer to become Lord Chancellor. The Prince of Wales, who had inherited the Duchy of Cornwall, chose Erskine’s title, Baron Erskine of Restormel Castle, while the motto, “trial by jury” was Erskine’s own. Frances Erskine did not live to enjoy the title of Lady Erskine; she died a few weeks before her husband took the seals of office.

Although Erskine lacked experience in equity, only one of the judgements he made during his brief tenure as Lord Chancellor was appealed against and that, concerning Peter Thellusson’s will, was upheld. His handling of the impeachment of Lord Melville was generally admired. Along with Lords Grenville, Spencer and Ellenborough, Erskine was commissioned by the king to enquire into the morals of his daughter-in-law Caroline of Brunswick in what became known as the “delicate investigation”.

Erskine was Lord Chancellor for only fourteen months, having to give up the seals of office when the ministry of all the talents resigned over a disagreement with the king concerning the question of Catholic Emancipation. The king gave Erskine a week to finish pending cases, and Erskine took advantage of this to appoint one of his sons-in-law, Edward Morris, as master of Chancery.

As ex-chancellor, Erskine was not permitted to return to the Bar. He was awarded a pension of £4000 a year and remained a member of the House of Lords. He was only 57 when the ministry of all the talents fell, and hoped that he might return to office when the Prince of Wales became regent. In the event, however, the regent retained the ministry of Spencer Perceval and the Whigs would not be in power again until 1830, seven years after Erskine’s death. Erskine largely retired from public life, rarely speaking in the House of Lords. In 1818 he married for the second time. His bride was a former apprentice bonnet-maker, Sarah Buck, with whom he had already had two children. The couple travelled to Gretna Green for the marriage, with an angry adult son in hot pursuit. It was a tempestuous relationship, and the marriage ended in separation a few years later. In spite of his generous pension and the enormous sums he had earnt at the Bar, Erskine experienced financial difficulties in his later years, having to sell his villa in Hampstead and move to a house in Pimlico. He also bought an estate in Sussex, but his agricultural efforts were not a great success. He wrote a political romance, Armata, which ran to several editions.

Causes which Erskine took up in his retirement were animal rights, Greek independence, and the defence of Queen Caroline. He had always been an animal lover; amongst his favourite animals were a Newfoundland dog called Toss who used to accompany him to chambers, a macaw, a goose and two leeches. He introduced a bill in the House of Lords for the prevention of cruelty to animals, arguing that humanity’s dominion over them was given by God as a moral trust. It was the first time he had proposed a change in the law. The bill was accepted in the Lords but opposed in the Commons; William Windham arguing that a law against cruelty to animals was incompatible with fox-hunting and horse racing. Eventually the bill was introduced in the Commons and passed as statute 3 Geo 4 c71. When Caroline was being prosecuted for divorce Erskine spoke against the Bill of Pains and Penalties and, when the government dropped the bill, expressed his approval: “My Lords, I am an old man, and my life, whether it has been for good or evil, has been passed under the sacred rule of Law. In this moment I feel my strength renovated by that rule being restored”. He was invited to a public dinner in Edinburgh in February 1820, and made his first trip to Scotland since he had left it on the Tartar over fifty years before.

In 1823 Erskine set out by sea on another visit to Scotland with one of his sons, hoping to see his brother the Earl of Buchan. But he became ill with a chest infection on the journey and was put ashore at Scarborough. He managed to travel to the home of his brother Henry’s widow in Almondell in West Lothian, where they were joined by the earl. He died at Almondell on 17 November 1823 and was buried in the family burial-place at Uphall in Linlithgowshire. His widow survived him by over thirty years. She, as reports in the Times revealed, was reduced to poverty and had to rely on a small charitable allowance to survive. Even these meagre payments were withheld by Erskine’s executors when she tried to prevent them sending her son Hampden away to school, and she had to appeal to the lord mayor of London. She died in 1856.

Erskine’s first marriage produced four sons and four daughters:

  • David Montagu Erskine (1776–1855) was a member of parliament and diplomat;
  • Henry David (1786–1859) was Dean of Ripon;
  • Thomas (1788–1864) became a judge of the Court of Common Pleas;
  • Esmé Steuart (1789–1817) fought at the Battle of Waterloo where he lost an arm (his widow Eliza married Admiral James Norton, who also lost an arm in action).
  • Frances (d. 1859) married Samuel Holland, Precentor of Chichester and Rector of Poynings, Sussex (a grandson of Frances and Samuel was Thomas Erskine Holland the jurist);
  • Elizabeth (d, 1800) married her cousin Captain (later Sir) David Erskine, the illegitimate son of the 11th Earl of Buchan;
  • Mary (d. 1804) married lawyer Edward Morris.

With his second wife Erskine had one legitimate son, Hampden (b. 1821) and two children, Agnes and Erskine, born before the marriage.

Erskine’s eldest brother the 11th Earl of Buchan had no legitimate sons and was succeeded by a nephew, the son of Erskine’s brother Henry. When all Henry’s descendants in the direct male line died out in 1960 the seventh Baron Erskine (Donald Cardross Flower Erskine, Erskine’s great-great-greatgrandson) became the sixteenth Earl of Buchan.

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Regency Personalities Series

In my attempts to provide us with the details of the Regency, today I continue with one of the many period notables.

Sir George Wood
13 February 1743 – 7 July 1824

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George Wood

Sir George Wood was born at Roystone, near Barnsley in Yorkshire, he was the son of George Wood (1704–1781), vicar of Roystone, by his wife Jane, daughter of John Matson of Roystone. He was intended for a career as a solicitor, and was articled to an attorney at Cawthorn named West. At the end of his articles West urged him to study for the bar.

Entering the Middle Temple, Wood began as a special pleader and established a reputation. He many pupils, among whom were Edward Law, Thomas Erskine, Charles Abbott, James Scarlett, and John Williams. Immediately on being called to the bar he was engaged by the Crown for all the state prosecutions beginning in December 1792. He joined the northern circuit, and on 5 November 1796 he was returned to parliament for Haslemere in Surrey, retaining his seat until 1806.

In April 1807 Wood was appointed a baron of the exchequer and was knighted; as a judge he was painstaking. He was a supporter of prerogative power and took a strong stand against free criticism of the executive by the press; Henry Brougham threatened to move his impeachment.

Wood resigned his office in February 1823, and died on 7 July 1824 at his house in Bedford Square. He was buried in the Temple church. By his wife Sarah he left no issue.

Wood printed for private circulation Observations on Tithes and Tithe Laws, which he later published in 1832 (London).

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Regency Personalities Series

In my attempts to provide us with the details of the Regency, today I continue with one of the many period notables.

Thomas Denman 1st Baron Denman
23 July 1779 – 26 September 1854

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Thomas Denman

Thomas Denman 1st Baron Denman was born in London, the son of Dr Thomas Denman. In his fourth year he attended Palgrave Academy in Suffolk, where his education was supervised by Anna Laetitia Barbauld and her husband. He continued to Eton and St John’s College, Cambridge, where he graduated in 1800. In 1806 he was called to the bar at Lincoln’s Inn, and at once entered upon practice.

His success was rapid, and in a few years he attained a position at the bar second only to that of Henry Brougham and James Scarlett. He distinguished himself by his defence of the Luddites; but his most brilliant appearance was as one of the counsel for Queen Caroline. His speech before the House of Lords was very powerful, and some competent judges even considered it not inferior to Brougham’s. It contained one or two daring passages, which made the King his bitter enemy, and retarded his legal promotion. Unfortunately he made a notable gaffe when he compared the Queen to the Biblical woman taken in adultery, who was told to “go away and sin no more”. This suggested that her counsel had no belief in the Queen’s innocence, and produced the mocking satire:

“Most Gracious Queen, we thee implore
To go away and sin no more
Or if that effort be too great
To go away at any rate”.

At the general election of 1818 he was returned Member of Parliament for Wareham, and at once took his seat with the Whig opposition. In the following year he was returned for Nottingham, which seat he represented until 1826 and again from 1830 until his elevation to the bench in 1832. His liberal principles had caused his exclusion from office till in 1822 he was appointed Common Serjeant of London by the corporation of London. In 1830 he was made Attorney General under Lord Grey’s administration. Two years later he was made Lord Chief Justice of the King’s Bench, and in 1834 he was raised to the peerage as Baron Denman, of Dovedale in the County of Derby. As a judge he is best remembered for his decision in the important privilege case of Stockdale v. Hansard.

In 1841 he presided, as Lord High Steward, over the trial in the House of Lords of the Earl of Cardigan for attempted murder. In O’Connell v the Queen, in 1844, he led the majority of the Lords in quashing the conviction for sedition of Daniel O’Connell. This is a tribute to his integrity since O’Connell was regarded with aversion by the British ruling class; but Denman, as he made clear, could not accept that he had received a fair trial. In 1850 he resigned his chief justiceship and retired into private life. He was a Governor of the Charter House, and a Vice-President of the Corporation of the Sons of the Clergy. He also strove with great energy, both as a writer and as a judge, to effect the abolition of the slave trade.

Lord Denman married Theodosia Anne, daughter of Reverend Richard Vevers, in 1804. His Derbyshire seat was Middleton Hall, Stoney Middleton. He died at Stoke Albany, Northamptonshire aged 75, and was succeeded in the barony by his son Thomas.

One son, Joseph Denman, was a British Naval officer and another, George Denman, was an MP and High Court Judge.

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Regency Personalities Series
In my attempts to provide us with the details of the Regency, today I continue with one of the many period notables.

Henry Thomas Cockburn of Bonaly Lord Cockburn
26 October 1779 – 18 July 1854

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Henry Thomas Cockburn

Henry Thomas Cockburn of Bonaly Lord Cockburn’s father Archibald Cockburn, a keen Tory, was Sheriff of Midlothian and Baron of the Court of Exchequer, and his mother Janet Rannie was connected by marriage with the influential Lord Melville. He was educated at the Royal High School and the University of Edinburgh.

Cockburn contributed regularly to the Edinburgh Review. In this popular magazine of its day he is described as: “rather below the middle height, firm, wiry and muscular, inured to active exercise of all kinds, a good swimmer, an accomplished skater, an intense lover of the fresh breezes of heaven. He was the model of a high-bred Scotch gentleman. He spoke with a Doric breadth of accent. Cockburn was one of the most popular men north of the Tweed.” He was a member of the famous Speculative Society, to which Sir Walter Scott, Henry Brougham and Francis Jeffrey belonged.

The extent of Cockburn’s literary ability only became known after he had passed his seventieth year, on the publication of his biography of lifelong friend Lord Jeffrey in 1852, and from his chief literary work, the Memorials of his Time, which appeared posthumously in 1856. His published work continued with his Journal, published in 1874. These constitute an autobiography of the writer interspersed with notices of manners, public events, and sketches of his contemporaries, of great interest and value.

Cockburn entered the Faculty of Advocates in 1800, and attached himself, not to the party of his relatives, who could have afforded him most valuable patronage, but to the Whig party, and that at a time when it held out few inducements to men ambitious of success in life. He became a distinguished advocate, and ultimately a judge. He was one of the leaders of the Whig party in Scotland in its days of darkness prior to the Reform Act of 1832, and was a close friend of Sir Thomas Dick Lauder.

On the accession of Earl Grey’s ministry in 1830 he became Solicitor General for Scotland. During his time here he drafted the First Scottish Reform Bill. In 1834 he was raised to the bench, and on taking his seat as a Judge in the Court of Session he adopted the title of Lord Cockburn as a Scottish Law Lord of Session.

Cockburn married Elizabeth Macdowall (Glasgow, Lanarkshire, 1 March 1786 – 1857), daughter of James Macdowall and second wife Margaret Jamieson, in Edinburgh, Midlothian, on 12 March 1811. As was common in the period he had both a town house and country house. The country house was at Bonaly, on the south-west edge of Edinburgh. His town house was a hugely impressive house at 14 Charlotte Square, designed by Robert Adam and lying at the heart of the fashionable west end of the city. They had five sons and five daughters:

  • Margaret Day Cockburn (Edinburgh, Midlothian, 24 January 1812, bap. Edinburgh, Midlothian, 25 February 1812 – 1818)
  • Jane Cockburn (Edinburgh, Midlothian, 1813, bap. Edinburgh, Midlothian, 22 July 1813 – )
  • Dr. Archibald William Cockburn, FRCSE (Edinburgh, Midlothian, 5 December 1814, bap. Edinburgh, Midlothian, 23 December 1814 – Murrayfield, Midlothian, 13 January 1862), Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh, married Mary Ann Balfour (2 November 1816 – ?)
  • James Macdowell Cockburn (bap. Edinburgh, Midlothian, 7 March 1816 – ?)
  • Graham Cockburn, a daughter (bap. Edinburgh, Midlothian, 7 March 1817 – ?), married Rev. Robert Walter Stewart
  • George Ferguson Cockburn (Edinburgh, Midlothian, 31 January 1818 – 1866), married to Sarah Charlotte Bishop
  • Henry Day Cockburn (Edinburgh, Midlothian, 21 April 1820 – ?), married at South Yarra, Victoria, in 1857 to Mary Ann Matherley
  • Lawrence Cockburn (Edinburgh, Midlothian, 25 February 1822 – Brighton, Victoria, 2 September 1871), a squatter, married at Brighton, Victoria, in 1859 to Annie Maria Smith, and had one son:
  • Francis Jeffrey Cockburn (Edinburgh, Midlothian, 8 January 1825 – Brentford, London, 10 July 1893), a Judge in India and with the Bengal Civil Service, and wife (Calcutta or Westbury, Tasmania, 25 January 1855) Elizabeth Anne (Eliza Ann) Pitcairn (Hobart, Tasmania, 23 September 1831, bap. Hobart, Tasmania, 7 November 1831 – Wycombe, Oxfordshire, 1923), daughter of Robert Pitcairn (Edinburgh, Midlothian, 17 July 1802 – Hobart, Tasmania, 1868) (son of David Pitcairn and Mary Henderson) and wife (m. Hobart, Tasmania, 30 September 1830) Dorothy/Dorothea Jessy Dumas
  • Elizabeth Cockburn (Edinburgh, Midlothian, 30 June 1826 – 6 April 1908), married in Edinburgh, Midlothian, on 27 December 1848 Thomas Cleghorn (Edinburgh, Midlothian, 3 March 1818 – 18 June 1874), a practising Advocate
  • Johanna Richardson Cockburn (Edinburgh, Midlothian, 14 January 1831 – 1888), married in Edinburgh, Midlothian, on 21 October 1856 to her cousin Archibald David Cockburn (Edinburgh, Midlothian, 6 September 1826 – 1886), son of John Cockburn and wife Eliza Dewar, and had issue

The authors Alec Waugh and Evelyn Waugh, the journalist Claud Cockburn, Claudia Cockburn (wife of actor Michael Flanders) and author Sarah Caudwell were all descended from Cockburn, as are journalists Laura Flanders, Stephanie Flanders, Alexander Cockburn (husband of author Emma Tennant), Andrew Cockburn (husband of journalist Leslie Cockburn) and Patrick Cockburn (son-in-law of Bishop Hugh Montefiore) and actress Olivia Wilde (former wife of Tao Ruspoli).

Cockburn died on 26 April 1854, at his mansion of Bonaly, near Edinburgh and is buried in the city’s Dean Cemetery. A statue of Cockburn by local sculptor William Brodie stands in the north-east corner of Parliament Hall.

Cockburn Street, built in the 1850s to connect the High Street with the North British Railway’s ‘Waverley’ station, is also named after him, and the building at its foot (formerly the “Cockburn Hotel”) bears his image in profile in a stone above the entrance.

Cockburn had a strong interest in architectural conservation, particularly in Edinburgh, where several important historic buildings such as “John Knox’s House” and Tailors’ Hall in the Cowgate owe their continued existence to the change in attitude towards conservation which he helped bring about. The Cockburn Association (Edinburgh Civic Trust), founded in 1875, was named in his honour.

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Regency Personalities Series
In my attempts to provide us with the details of the Regency, today I continue with one of the many period notables.

Francis Jeffrey, Lord Jeffrey
23 October 1773 – 26 January 1850

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Francis Jeffrey

Francis Jeffrey Lord Jeffrey was born in Edinburgh, the son of a clerk in the Court of Session. After attending the Royal High School for six years, he studied at the University of Glasgow from 1787 to May 1789, and at Queen’s College, Oxford, from September 1791 to June 1792. He had begun the study of law at Edinburgh before going to Oxford, and returned to it afterwards. He became a member of the Speculative Society, where he measured himself in debate with Sir Walter Scott, Lord Brougham, Francis Horner, the Marquess of Lansdowne, Lord Kinnaird and others. He was admitted to the Scottish bar in December 1794, but, having abandoned the Tory principles in which he had been educated, he found that his Whig politics hampered his legal prospects.

In consequence of his lack of success at the bar he went to London in 1798 to try his hand at journalism, but without success; he also failed in his attempts to obtain a salaried position. His marriage to Catherine Wilson in 1801 made the question of a settled income even more pressing. A project for a new review, brought up by Sydney Smith in Jeffrey’s flat (on Buccleuch Place) in the presence of Henry Brougham (afterwards Lord Brougham), Francis Homer and others, resulted in the appearance on 10 October 1802 of the Edinburgh Review.

At the outset the Review did not have an editor. The first three numbers were effectively edited by Sydney Smith. On his leaving for England the work devolved chiefly on Jeffrey, who, by an arrangement with Archibald Constable, the publisher, was eventually appointed editor at a fixed salary. Most of those involved were Whigs; but, although the general bias of the Review was towards social and political reforms, it was at first so little of a party organ that it numbered Sir Walter Scott among its contributors; and no distinct emphasis was given to its political leanings until the publication in 1808 of an article by Jeffrey himself on the work of Don Pedro Cevallos on the French Usurpation of Spain. This article expressed despair of the success of the British arms in Spain, and Scott at once withdrew his subscription, the Quarterly being soon afterwards started in opposition. According to Lord Cockburn the effect of the first number of the Edinburgh Review was “electrical.” The English reviews were at that time practically publishers’ organs, with articles by hack writers instructed to obey the publishers’ interests. The Edinburgh Review, on the other hand, enlisted a brilliant and independent staff of contributors, guided by the editor, not the publisher. They received sixteen guineas a sheet (sixteen printed pages), increased subsequently to twenty-five guineas in many cases, instead of the two guineas earned by London reviewers. The review was not limited to literary criticism but became the accredited organ of moderate Whig public opinion. The particular work which provided the starting-point of an article was in many cases merely the occasion for the exposition, always brilliant and incisive, of the author’s views on politics, social subjects, ethics or literature. These general principles and the novelty of the method ensured the success of the undertaking even after the original circle of exceptionally able men who founded it had been dispersed. It had a circulation of 12,000. Jeffrey’s editorship lasted about twenty-six years, ceasing with the ninety-eighth number, published in June 1829, when he resigned in favour of Macvey Napier.

Jeffrey’s own contributions numbered two hundred, all except six being written before his resignation of the editorship. He wrote quickly, at odd moments of leisure and with little special preparation. Great fluency and ease of diction, considerable warmth of imagination and moral sentiment, and a sharp eye to discover any oddity of style or violation of the accepted canons of good taste, made his criticisms pungent and effective. But the essential narrowness and timidity of his general outlook prevented him from detecting and estimating latent forces, either in politics or in matters strictly intellectual and moral; and this lack of understanding and sympathy accounts for his distrust and dislike of the passion and fancy of Shelley and Keats, and for his praise of the half-hearted and elegant romanticism of Samuel Rogers and Thomas Campbell.

A criticism in the fifteenth number of the Review on the morality of Thomas Moore’s poems led in 1806 to a duel between the two authors at Chalk Farm. The proceedings were stopped by the police, and Jeffrey’s pistol was found to contain no bullet. The affair led to a warm friendship, and Moore contributed to the Review, while Jeffrey made ample amends in a later article on Lalla Rookh (1817).

Jeffrey’s wife had died in 1805, and in 1810 he became acquainted with Charlotte, daughter of Charles Wilkes of New York, and great-niece of John Wilkes. When she returned to the United States, Jeffrey followed her, and they were married in 1813. Before returning to Scotland, they visited several of the chief American cities, and his experience strengthened Jeffrey in the conciliatory policy he had advocated towards the States.

Notwithstanding the increasing success of the Review, Jeffrey continued to look to the bar as the chief field of his ambition. His literary reputation helped his professional advancement. His practice extended rapidly in the civil and criminal courts, and he regularly appeared before the general assembly of the Church of Scotland. As an advocate his sharpness and rapidity of insight gave him a formidable advantage in the detection of the weaknesses of a witness and the vulnerable points of his opponent’s case, while he grouped his own arguments with an admirable eye to effect, especially excelling in eloquent closing appeals to a jury. Jeffrey was twice, in 1820 and 1822, elected Rector of the University of Glasgow. In 1829 he was chosen dean of the Faculty of Advocates. On the return of the Whigs to power in 1830 he became Lord Advocate, and entered parliament at a by-election in January 1831 as member for the Perth burghs. The election was overturned on petition, and in March he was returned at a by-election for Malton, a borough in the interest of Lord Fitzwilliam. He was re-elected in Malton at the general election in May 1831, but was also returned for the Perth burghs and chose to sit for the latter. After the passing of the Scottish Reform Bill, which he introduced in parliament, he was returned for Edinburgh in December 1832. At this time he was living at 24 Moray Place in the west end of Edinburgh.

His parliamentary career, which, though not brilliantly successful, had won him high general esteem, was terminated by his elevation to the judicial bench as Lord Jeffrey in May 1834. In 1842 he was moved to the first division of the Court of Session. On the disruption of the Scottish Church he took the side of the seceders, giving a judicial opinion in their favour, afterwards reversed by the House of Lords.

He died at Edinburgh and was buried in the “Lords Row” near the western wall in Dean Cemetery on the west side of the city.

Some of his contributions to the Edinburgh Review appeared in four volumes in 1844 and 1845. This selection includes the essay on “Beauty” contributed to the Ency. Brit. The Life of Lord Jeffrey, with a Selection from his Correspondence, by Lord Cockburn, appeared in 1852 in 2 vols. See also the Selected Correspondence of Macvey Napier (1877); the sketch of Jeffrey in Carlyle’s Reminiscences, vol. ii. (1881); and an essay by Lewis E Gates in Three Studies in Literature (New York, 1899).

Jeffrey Street (a planned street of 1868) in Edinburgh is named in his memory.
A bust by Sir John Steell stands on the east wall of Parliament Hall in Edinburgh.

His sister, Marian, married Dr Thomas Brown of Lanfine and Waterhaughs FRSE in 1800.

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Regency Personalities Series
In my attempts to provide us with the details of the Regency, today I continue with one of the many period notables.

Benjamin Robert Haydon
26 January 1786 – 22 June 1846

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Benjamin Robert Haydon

Benjamin Robert Haydon was born in Plymouth, the only son of another Benjamin Robert Haydon, a prosperous printer, stationer and publisher, and his wife Mary, the daughter of the Rev. Benjamin Cobley, rector of Dodbrooke, near Kingsbridge, Devon. At an early age he showed an aptitude for study, which was carefully fostered by his mother. At the age of six he was placed in Plymouth grammar school, and at twelve in Plympton Grammar School, where Sir Joshua Reynolds had received most of his education. On the ceiling of the school-room was a sketch by Reynolds in burnt cork, which Haydon loved to sit and look at. Reading Albinus inspired him with a love for anatomy, and from childhood he wanted to become a painter.

Full of energy and hope, he left home, on 14 May 1804, for London, where he entered the Royal Academy Schools. He was so enthusiastic that Henry Fuseli asked when he found time to eat. In 1807, at the age of 21, Haydon exhibited, for the first time, at the Royal Academy. The painting he entered, The Repose in Egypt, was bought by Thomas Hope a year later for the Egyptian Room at his townhouse in Duchess Street. This was a good start for the Haydon, who shortly afterwards received a commission from Lord Mulgrave and an introduction to Sir George Beaumont. In 1809 he finished his picture of Dentatus, which, though it increased his fame, resulted in a lifelong quarrel with the Royal Academy, whose committee hung it in a small side-room instead of the in great hall. That same year, he took on his first pupil, Charles Lock Eastlake, later a leading figure in the British art establishment.

The financial difficulties which were to dog him for the rest of his life began in 1810 when, in response to Haydon having achieved a certain amount of commercial success, his father stopped paying him his annual allowance of £200. He also became involved in disputes with Beaumont, for whom he had painted a picture of Macbeth, and with Richard Payne Knight, who had outraged Haydon by denying both the aesthetic and the financial value of the sculptures from the Parthenon, recently brought to Britain by Lord Elgin. Haydon was fascinated by the “Elgin Marbles”, and believed that they provided evidence that ancient Greek artists had studied anatomy. The Judgment of Solomon, his next production, was sold for £700, to two Plymouth bankers, and also brought £100 voted to him by the directors of the British Institution, and the freedom of the borough of Plymouth. The income was not enough to pay off all his debts, but it maintained his credit, allowing him to continue borrowing.

At the end of May 1814 he took advantage of the cessation of hostilities with France to visit Paris with his friend David Wilkie, and see the art collections gathered by Napoleon from across Europe at the Louvre. Much of what he saw there disappointed him: he described Raphael’s Transfiguration, a painting he had particularly wanted to see, as “small & insignificant”. At François Gerard’s studio he saw a portrait of Napoleon, and began to develop a fascination with the defeated French leader, although, unlike some of his more radical friends such as William Hazlitt, Haydon never admired him politically.

On returning to England, he produced Christ’s Entry into Jerusalem, which was later to form the nucleus of the American Gallery of Painting, erected by his cousin, John Haviland of Philadelphia. While painting another large work, the Resurrection of Lazarus, his financial problems increased, and he was arrested but not imprisoned, the sheriff-officer taking his word for his appearance. In October, 1821, he increased his commitments when he married Mary Hyman, a widow with two young children, whom he had known for some years. In 1823 Haydon spent two months imprisoned for debt in the King’s Bench Prison, where he received consoling letters from leading men of the day. While there, he drew up a petition to Parliament in favour of the appointment of “a committee to inquire into the state of encouragement of historical painting”, which was presented by Lord Brougham.

During 1825, following an agreement for his financial support with his lawyer, Thomas Kearsey, Haydon turned, rather unwillingly, to portrait painting, and at first he had considerable success. His works in the genre were, however, attacked in a savage review in Theodore Hook’s weekly newspaper John Bull. Haydon later blamed the article for his loss of clientele, and falling back into unmanageable levels of debt. Following a second period of incarceration at the King’s Bench Prison in 1827, he painted the Mock Election inspired by an incident he had witnessed there. The picture was bought by King George IV for £500. Encouraged by this success, he painted a companion picture, Chairing the Member, returning to the prison to make drawings of some of the inmates. A third painting of contemporary life showed the audience at a Punch and Judy show in the New Road at Marylebone. His hopes that the king would buy this work were disappointed, a setback he blamed on the actions of the Keeper of the King’s Pictures, William Seguier.

Among Haydon’s other pictures were: Eucles (1829); Napoleon at St Helena, for Sir Robert Peel; Xenophon, on his Retreat with the ‘Ten Thousand,’ first seeing the Sea; and Waiting for the Times, purchased by the Marquis of Stafford (all 1831); and Falstaff and Achilles playing the Lyre (1832). Curtius Leaping into the Gulf, and Uriel and Satan. (1843) As a supporter of parliamentary reform, he had the idea of painting a grand canvas of a meeting on Newhall Hill, addressed by Thomas Attwood, leader of the Birmingham Political Union. Attempts to raise subscriptions to fund the painting failed, and only sketches were ever made, but Haydon did receive a commission from the new Whig prime minister, Lord Grey, for a picture of the Reform Banquet held at the Guildhall. Completed In 1834, the painting contained 597 individual portraits. He also made a painting of the Meeting of the Anti-Slavery Society, now in the National Portrait Gallery.

Haydon became well known as a lecturer on painting, and from 1835 onwards travelled throughout England and Scotland on lecture tours. He campaigned to have the country’s public buildings decorated with history paintings showing the glories of the nation’s past, and within three days of the destruction of the Palace of Westminster by fire in 1834 he visited the prime minister, Lord Melbourne, in order to impress on him the importance of government patronage of art, especially in relation to the opportunities offered by the rebuilding made necessary by the disaster. Although a scheme along the lines of his suggestions was in fact carried out at the new Houses of Parliament, Haydon played no part in it. When, in 1843, an exhibition was held at Westminster Hall, to choose designs for paintings to decorate the Houses of Parliament. he submitted two cartoons, The Curse of Adam and Edward the Black Prince, but the commission charged with artists to carry out the work (which including his former pupil, Eastlake) found neither suitable.

He then painted The Banishment of Aristides, which was exhibited, along with other works, at the Egyptian Hall in Piccadilly, where he had hired a gallery several times over the years. The American dwarf General Tom Thumb was then appearing at the same venue; over the Easter week 12,000 people paid to see him, while only 133 visited Haydon’s exhibition.

The artist’s difficulties increased to such an extent that, whilst employed on his last grand effort, Alfred and the Trial by Jury, overcome by debts of over £3,000, disappointment, and ingratitude, he wrote “Stretch me no longer on this rough world,” and attempted suicide by shooting himself. The bullet failed to kill him, and he finished the task by cutting his throat. He left a widow and three surviving children, who were generously supported by Haydon’s friends, including Sir Robert Peel, the Count d’Orsay, Thomas Talfourd, and Lord Carlisle. A resident of Paddington, he was buried just to the north-west of the grave of Sarah Siddons at St Mary’s Church, Paddington, London. The cemetery was converted to a park, St Mary’s Gardens, in 1885. Haydon’s is one of the few preserved stones. It is modest and eroded but his name is still (2014) just legible.

In 1839 Haydon began work on an autobiography, drawing on materials from his extensive diaries. Before his death he had completed the story of his life up to the year 1820. It was published in three volumes in 1853, edited by Tom Taylor, with additional material from the diaries, under the title Life of Benjamin Robert Haydon, Historical Painter, from his Autobiography and Journals.

The autobiography was assessed by the Encyclopædia Britannica Eleventh Edition this way:

Haydon’s autobiography is one of the most natural books ever written, full of various and abundant power, and fascinating to the reader. His love for his art was both a passion and a principle. He found patrons difficult to manage; and did not have the tact to lead them gently. He failed, abused patrons and patronage, and intermingled talk of the noblest independence with acts not always dignified. He was self-willed to perversity, but his perseverance was such as is seldom associated with so much vehemence and passion. He had confidence in his own powers and in the ultimate triumph of art. He proclaimed himself the apostle and martyr of high art, and believed himself to have a claim on the sympathy and support of the nation.

Readers of his autobiography were struck by the frequency and fervour of the short prayers interspersed throughout the work. Haydon had an overwhelming sense of a personal, overruling and merciful providence, which influenced his relations with his family, and to some extent with the world. He had many enemies, actuated by motives as unworthy as his own were always high-pitched and on abstract grounds laudable.

Haydon’s Lectures, published shortly after their delivery, showed that he was as bold a writer as painter. He also wrote the long and elaborate article on “Painting,” in the 7th edition of the Encyclopædia Britannica.

Charles Dickens wrote in 1846 that “All his life [Haydon] had utterly mistaken his vocation. No amount of sympathy with him and sorrow for him in his manly pursuit of a wrong idea for so many years — until, by dint of his perseverance and courage it almost began to seem a right one — ought to prevent one from saying that he most unquestionably was a very bad painter, and that his pictures could not be expected to sell or to succeed.”

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Regency Personalities Series
In my attempts to provide us with the details of the Regency, today I continue with one of the many period notables.

Robert Stewart 2nd Marquess of Londonderry, Viscount Castlereagh
18 June 1769 – 12 August 1822

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Robert Stewart

Robert Stewart 2nd Marquess of Londonderry Viscount Castlereagh was an Irish and British statesman. As British Foreign Secretary, from 1812 he was central to the management of the coalition that defeated Napoleon and was the principal British diplomat at the Congress of Vienna. Castlereagh was also leader of the British House of Commons in the Liverpool government from 1812 until his suicide in August 1822. Early in his career, as Chief Secretary for Ireland, he was involved in putting down the Irish Rebellion of 1798 and was instrumental in securing the passage of the Irish Act of Union of 1800.

His foreign policy from 1814 was to work with the leaders represented at the Congress of Vienna to provide a peace in Europe consistent with the conservative mood of the day. Much more than prime minister Lord Liverpool, he was responsible for the repressive domestic measures.

Robert Stewart acquired the courtesy title Viscount Castlereagh in 1796 when his father was created Earl of Londonderry in the Irish peerage. Upon his father’s death in 1821, he succeeded as 2nd Marquess of Londonderry, a title to which his father had been raised in 1816. His younger half-brother, the soldier, politician and diplomat Charles Stewart (later Vane) succeeded him as 3rd Marquess of Londonderry.

Robert Stewart was born in Henry Street, Dublin, Ireland, in 1769 the son of Robert Stewart (1739–1821) of Newtownards and Comber in County Down, with properties in Counties Donegal and Londonderry. The family seat was Mount Stewart, County Down.

The elder Stewart was an Irish politician and prominent Ulster landowner He was created Baron Londonderry in 1789, Viscount Castlereagh in 1795, and Earl of Londonderry in 1796 by King George III. In 1771 he was elected in the Whig interest to the Irish House of Commons, where he was a supporter of Lord Charlemont and his allies who called for greater independence from Britain. From the Act of Union of 1800, however, he sat in the British House of Lords as an Irish representative peer. In 1816 he was created Marquess of Londonderry by the Prince Regent.

Stewart’s mother, who died in childbirth when he was a year old, was Lady Sarah Frances Seymour, daughter of Francis Seymour-Conway, 1st Marquess of Hertford (a former British Ambassador to France (1764–65) and Lord Lieutenant of Ireland (1765–66)) and Isabella Fitzroy, daughter of Charles FitzRoy, 2nd Duke of Grafton. His father remarried five years later to Frances Pratt, daughter of Charles Pratt, 1st Earl Camden (1714–94), a leading English jurist and prominent political supporter of both the 1st Earl of Chatham and his son, William Pitt the Younger. Through the elder Stewart’s marriages, he linked his family with the upper ranks of English nobility and political elites. The Camden connection was to be especially important for the political careers of both him and his elder son. By Frances Pratt, Stewart’s father had three children who survived to adulthood, including Stewart’s half-brother, Charles William Stewart (later Vane), Baron Stewart of Stewart’s Court and Ballylawn in County Donegal (1814) and 3rd Marquess of Londonderry (1822).

In 1794, Stewart married Amelia (Emily) Hobart a daughter of John Hobart, 2nd Earl of Buckinghamshire, a former British Ambassador to Russia (1762–65) and Lord Lieutenant of Ireland (1776–80). Her mother, Caroline Conolly, was the granddaughter of William Conolly, Speaker of the Irish House of Commons in the early 18th century and one of the wealthiest landowners in Ireland. Caroline’s brother, Thomas Conolly, was married to Louisa Lennox, sister of Emily FitzGerald, Duchess of Leinster, whose son and Emily’s cousin-by-marriage, the aristocratic rebel Lord Edward FitzGerald, was a leader of the United Irishmen and one of their martyrs in the early stages of the Irish Rebellion of 1798.

Emily Stewart was well known as a hostess for her husband in both Ireland and London and during some of his most important diplomatic missions. In later years she was a leader of Regency London high society as one of the Lady Patronesses of Almack’s. She is noted in contemporary accounts for her attractiveness, volubility and eccentricities. By all accounts, the two remained devoted to each other to the end, but they had no children. The couple did, however, care for the young Frederick Stewart, while his father, Stewart’s half-brother, Charles, was serving in the army.

Stewart had recurring health problems throughout his childhood, and his family elected to send him to The Royal School, Armagh, rather than to England for his secondary education. At the encouragement of Earl Camden, who took a great interest in him and treated him as a grandson by blood, he later attended St. John’s College, Cambridge (1786–87), where he applied himself with greater diligence than expected from an aristocrat and obtained first class in his last examinations. He left Cambridge due to an extended illness, and after returning to Ireland did not pursue further formal education.

In 1790, Stewart was elected as a Member of the Irish Parliament for Down in one of the most expensive elections in Irish history. Though for a time he was associated with the Northern Whig Club, he entered the Irish House of Commons as an Independent. He ran on a platform supporting Whig principles of electoral reform and opposing the Irish policies of the British Government. But even from the outset of his career, he was a personal supporter of the Prime Minister, William Pitt. Stewart was a lifelong advocate of Catholic concessions, though his position on the specific issue of Catholic Emancipation varied depending on his assessment of the potential repercussions on other policy priorities.

When war with France forced British Government attention on Ireland as a possible place of French invasion, the Irish Volunteers, seen as a potential source of disaffection, were disbanded by Dublin Castle, and a reorganised Militia was created in 1793. Stewart enrolled as an officer, a matter of course for a young Protestant aristocrat, and served as Lieutenant Colonel under the command of his wife’s uncle, Thomas Conolly. Between Stewart’s attendance to his militia duties, his pursuit of cultural, family and political interests in London, two trips to the Continent (in 1791, when he visited revolutionary Paris, and 1792), and the courtship of his wife whom he married in 1794, his life during this period was not centred on the activities of the Irish House of Commons, where he was listened to with respect but where he was not yet an important player. He was also beginning to disappoint some of his more radical original supporters in his constituency. As the French Revolution grew more bloody and Ireland more rebellious, Stewart increasingly worried about Ireland’s future if the threats from France succeeded in breaking Ireland’s links to Britain. He became further inclined to support not only Pitt personally but the British Government, even when he did not approve of a specific line taken in Irish policy.

In 1794, partly as a result of the promotion of Stewart’s interests by his Camden connections, he was offered the Government-controlled seat of Tregony in Cornwall, where he was elected to the British House of Commons on a similar platform of reform principles and support for Pitt, on whose side he sat in Westminster. In 1796, he transferred to a seat for the Suffolk constituency of Orford, which was in the interest of his mother’s family, the Seymour-Conways (Marquess of Hertford).

In 1795, Pitt replaced the popular Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, Lord Fitzwilliam, with Stewart’s uncle, the 2nd Earl Camden. Camden’s arrival in Dublin was greeted with riots, and that year Stewart crossed the floor to join the supporters of the British Government. Stewart became an essential adviser to the inexperienced and unpopular Lord Lieutenant, who was Stewart’s senior by only ten years.

In 1796, when the French invasion of Ireland failed at Bantry Bay due to bad weather and not to Ireland’s military preparations or the British Navy, Castlereagh as a leader of the Militia saw first hand how ripe Ireland was for breaking from Britain and becoming another French satellite. Despairing of obtaining timely military support from Britain if Ireland were again threatened with invasion, for the next several years, he was increasingly involved in measures against those promoting a Rising, but his initial principles of reform and emancipation continued to hold a place in his political thought.

In 1797, Castlereagh was at last appointed to office, as Keeper of the King’s Signet for Ireland. As martial law was declared in the face of growing turmoil, he was made both a Lord of the Treasury and a Member of the Privy Council of Ireland (1797–1800). At the urging of Camden, Castlereagh assumed many of the onerous duties of the often-absent Chief Secretary for Ireland who was responsible for day-to-day administration and asserting the influence of Dublin Castle in the House of Commons. In this capacity, and after March 1798 as Acting Chief Secretary, Castlereagh played a key role in crushing the Irish Rebellion of 1798, offering clemency to commoners who had supported the rebellion, and focusing instead on pursuing rebel leaders.

In 1799, in furtherance of both his own political vision and Pitt’s policies, Castlereagh began lobbying in the Irish and British Parliaments for an official union between the two, convinced that it was the best way to soothe the long-standing divides in Ireland, insulate Ireland from further radical disaffection, and protect Britain from French military threats via Ireland. His first attempt, at the opening of the Irish session of 1799, met with failure during long, heated debates. A year of further intense preparation followed, with an impressive display of Machiavellian tactics that included the common practice of bribery through peerages, honours and money, but bribery on a truly uncommon scale. In the summer of 1800, Castlereagh together with the Lord Lieutenant, Marquess Cornwallis, finally succeeded in steering the Irish Act of Union through both Parliaments.

During the campaign for the Act of Union, both Castlereagh and Cornwallis had, in good faith, forwarded informal assurances they had received from Pitt’s Cabinet to the Irish Catholics that they would be allowed to sit in Parliament. Both Castlereagh and Cornwallis knew Catholic emancipation would be critical if their objectives for Union were to be realised. Emancipation was, however, opposed by much of the British establishment, including George III, who was convinced that it would violate his royal oath as protector of the Protestant faith. Pitt tried to follow through on his commitment, but when it came to light that the King had approached Henry Addington, an opponent of Catholic emancipation, about becoming Prime Minister to replace the pro-emancipation Pitt, both Castlereagh and Pitt resigned in protest. Castlereagh would long be held personally responsible by many Catholics in Ireland for the breach of promise and the British Government’s betrayal of their rights.

In Dublin, he was a member of the Kildare Street Club. He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1802.

When the newly united Parliament of the United Kingdom met in 1801, Castlereagh took his seat in the House of Commons from his Down constituency. By 1802, tensions between Tories supporting emancipation and those opposing had relaxed, and Addington had obtained his desired cessation of hostilities with France (the Peace of Amiens). At a shift in the composition of Addington’s Government, Castlereagh accepted the offer to enter the Cabinet as President of the Board of Control, where he mediated bitter disputes between the Governor-General of India, Richard Wellesley, and the Directors of the East India Company, smoothing quarrels while generally supporting Lord Wellesley’s policies.

After the renewal of the war against Napoleon, at the urging of Castlereagh and other long-time supporters, in 1804 Pitt returned as Prime Minister, and Castlereagh was promoted to Secretary of State for War and the Colonies. As the only other member of Pitt’s Government in the House of Commons, Castlereagh became Pitt’s political deputy, taking on ever more burdens as Pitt’s health continued to decline. After Pitt’s death in 1806, Castlereagh resigned amid the chaos of the Ministry of All the Talents. When that Government collapsed, Castlereagh again became Secretary of State for War and the Colonies in 1807, this time in the ministry of the Duke of Portland.

As minister for War, he became involved in disputes with Foreign Secretary George Canning over the Walcheren Expedition and its failure. Canning saw it as a diversion of troops from the Peninsular War based on a hopeless plan. However, Castlereagh had the support of Lord Wellesley’s younger brother General Arthur Wellesley (future Duke of Wellington), and evidence later surfaced that Canning himself had interfered with the plan, selecting the Earl of Chatham to command the expedition. The Portland government became increasingly paralysed by disputes between the two men. Portland was in deteriorating health and gave no lead, until Canning threatened resignation unless Castlereagh was removed and replaced by Lord Wellesley. Wellesley himself was neither complicit with nor even aware of the arrangement, but Portland secretly agreed to make this change when it became possible.

Castlereagh discovered the deal in September 1809 and demanded redress. He challenged Canning to a duel, which Canning accepted. Canning had never before fired a pistol. The duel was fought on 21 September 1809 on Putney Heath. Canning missed but Castlereagh wounded his opponent in the thigh. There was much outrage that two cabinet ministers had resorted to such a method, and they both felt compelled to resign from the government. Six months later, Canning published a full account of his actions in the affair, and many who had initially rallied to him became convinced Castlereagh had been betrayed by his cabinet colleague.

Three years later, in 1812, Castlereagh returned to the government, this time as Foreign Secretary, a role in which he served for the next ten years. He also became leader of the House of Commons in the wake of Spencer Perceval’s assassination in 1812.

In his role of Foreign Secretary he was instrumental in negotiating what has become known as the quadruple alliance between Britain, Austria, Russia, and Prussia at Chaumont in March 1814, in the negotiation of the Treaty of Paris that brought peace with France, and at the Congress of Vienna. The Treaty of Chaumont was part of the final deal offered to Napoleon Bonaparte in 1814. Napoleon rejected it and it never took effect. However, the key terms reaffirmed decisions that had been made already. These decisions were again ratified and put into effect by the Congress of Vienna of 1814–1815. The terms were largely written by Lord Castlereagh, who offered cash subsidies to keep the other armies in the field against Napoleon. Key terms included the establishment of a confederated Germany, the division into independent states, the restoration of the Bourbon kings of Spain, and the enlargement of Holland to include what in 1830 became modern Belgium. The treaty of Chaumont became the cornerstone of the European Alliance which formed the balance of power for decades.

At the Congress of Vienna, Castlereagh designed and proposed a form of collective and collaborative security for Europe, then called a Congress system. In the Congress system, the main signatory powers met periodically (every two years or so) and collectively managed European affairs. This system was used in an attempt to address the Polish-Saxon crisis at Vienna and the question of Greek independence at Laibach. The following ten years saw five European Congresses where disputes were resolved with a diminishing degree of effectiveness. Finally, by 1822, the whole system had collapsed because of the irreconcilable differences of opinion among Britain, Austria, and Russia, and because of the lack of support for the Congress system in British public opinion. The Holy Alliance, which Castlereagh opposed, lingered for some time, however, and even had effects on the international stage as late as the Crimean war. The order created by the Congress of Vienna was also more successful than Congresses themselves, preventing major European land wars until the First World War a century later. Scholars and historians have seen the Congress system as a forerunner of the modern collective security, international unity, and cooperative agreements of NATO, the EU, the League of Nations, and the United Nations.

In the years 1812 to 1822, Castlereagh continued to manage Britain’s foreign policy, generally pursuing a policy of continental engagement uncharacteristic of British foreign policy in the nineteenth century. Castlereagh was not known to be an effective public speaker and his diplomatic presentation style was at times abstruse. Henry Kissinger says he developed a reputation for integrity, consistency, and goodwill, which was perhaps unmatched by any diplomat of that era.

Despite his contributions to the defeat of Napoleon and restoration of peace, Castlereagh became extremely unpopular at home. He was attacked for his construction of a peace that gave a free hand to reactionary governments on the Continent to suppress dissent. He was also condemned for his association with repressive measures of the Home Secretary, Lord Sidmouth (the former Prime Minister Addington). As Leader of the House of Commons for the Liverpool Government, he was often called upon to defend government policy in the House. He had to support the widely reviled measures taken by Sidmouth and the others, including the infamous Six Acts, to remain in cabinet and continue his diplomatic work.

After the death of his father in 1821, Castlereagh became the 2nd Marquess of Londonderry. As a non-representative Irish peer Londonderry was eligible to sit in the House of Commons though he had to leave his Irish seat and instead be elected to an English seat. In 1822, he began to suffer from a form of paranoia or a nervous breakdown, possibly as a result of an attack of gout combined with the stress of public criticism. He was also severely overworked with both his responsibilities in leading the government in the House and the never-ending diplomacy required to manage conflicts among the other major powers. At the time, he said “My mind, is, as it were, gone.” Londonderry returned to his country seat at Loring Hall in Water Lane, North Cray, Kent on the advice of his doctor. On 9 August 1822 he had an audience with King George IV in which he appeared distracted and mentally disturbed. Among other surprising remarks he revealed to the King that he thought he was being blackmailed for homosexuality.

On 12 August, although his wife had succeeded in removing razors from his possession and even though his doctor was in attendance, Castlereagh managed to find a pen knife with which he committed suicide by cutting his own throat.

An inquest concluded that the act had been committed while insane, avoiding the harsh strictures of a felo de se verdict. The verdict allowed Lady Londonderry to see her husband buried with honour in Westminster Abbey near his mentor, William Pitt. Some radicals, notably William Cobbett, claimed a “cover-up” within the government and viewed the verdict and Castlereagh’s public funeral as a damning indictment of the elitism and privilege of the unreformed electoral system. His funeral on 20 August was greeted with jeering and insults along the processional route, although not to the level of unanimity projected in the radical press. A funeral monument was not erected until 1850 by his half-brother and successor, Charles Stewart Vane, 3rd Marquess of Londonderry.

And yet, some of Castlereagh’s political opponents were gracious in their epigrams. Henry Brougham, a Whig politician and later the Lord Chancellor, who had battled frequently with Castlereagh, once almost to the point of calling him out, and had denigrated his skills as Leader, wrote in the week following Castlereagh’s death:

Put all their other men together in one scale, and poor Castlereagh in the other – single he plainly weighed them down… One can’t help feeling a little for him, after being pitted against him for several years, pretty regularly. It is like losing a connection suddenly. Also he was a gentleman, and the only one amongst them.

An English Heritage blue plaque is displayed at the entrance to the listed building Loring Hall, now a care facility for those with learning disabilities, in commemoration of Castlereagh, who occupied the property from 1811 until his death

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