The Marquess of Londonderry
|Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs|
4 March 1812 - 12 August 1822
|The Marquess Wellesley|
|Leader of the House of Commons|
8 June 1812 - 12 August 1822
|The Earl of Liverpool|
|Secretary of State for War and the Colonies|
25 March 1807 - 1 November 1809
|The Duke of Portland|
|The Earl of Liverpool|
10 July 1805 - 5 February 1806
|William Pitt the Younger|
|The Earl Camden|
|President of the Board of Control|
2 July 1802 - 11 February 1806
|The Earl of Dartmouth|
|The Lord Minto|
|Chief Secretary for Ireland|
14 June 1798 - 27 April 1801
|William Pitt the Younger|
|The Marquess Cornwallis|
18 June 1769
|Died||12 August 1822 (aged 53)|
Woollet Hall, Kent, England, UK
|Cause of death||Suicide|
|Resting place||Westminster Abbey|
|Spouse(s)||Lady Amelia Hobart|
|Alma mater||St. John's College, Cambridge|
Robert Stewart, 2nd Marquess of Londonderry, (18 June 1769 - 12 August 1822), usually known as Lord Castlereagh, derived from the courtesy title Viscount Castlereagh[a] ( KAH-s?l-ray) by which he was styled from 1796 to 1821, was an Anglo-Irish statesman. As British Foreign Secretary, from 1812 he was central to the management of the coalition that defeated Napoleon. He 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. 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.
Castlereagh's challenge at the foreign office was to organise and finance an alliance to destroy Napoleon. He successfully brought Napoleon's enemies together at the Treaty of Chaumont in 1814. Thereafter he worked with Europe's leaders at the Congress of Vienna to provide a peace consistent with the conservative mood of the day. At Vienna he was largely successful in his primary goal of creating a peace settlement that would endure for years. He saw that a harsh treaty based on vengeance and retaliation against France would fail, and anyway the conservative Bourbons were back in power. He employed his diplomatic skills to block harsh terms. He held the Chaumont allies together, most notably in their determination to finally end Napoleon's 100 Days in 1815. He had a vision of long-term peace in Europe that united efforts of the great powers. At the same time he was watchful of Britain's overseas interests. He purchased the Cape Colony and Ceylon from the Netherlands. France's colonies were returned, but France had to give up all its gains in Europe after 1791. In 1820 he enunciated a policy that Britain would not intervene in European affairs - a policy that was largely adopted down to 1900.
As the Irish Secretary during the Rebellion of 1798, he took the lead in suppressing the rebellion and restoring order. Castlereagh encouraged lenient treatment of the rebels after they surrendered, but many Irish denounced him as a traitor. Criticism increased when he supported Pitt's Act of Union which abolished the Irish Parliament. Castlereagh was a consistent supporter of Catholic emancipation. In 1805 he became the Secretary of State for war and proved to be highly effective in reforming recruitment, and securing the appointment of Arthur Wellesley as commander in Spain. He resigned in 1809 after government splits and an unsuccessful war. He then fought a duel with George Canning, a fellow Tory; they both survived. With intense devotion to multiple duties from both the foreign office and as leader of Commons, he was badly overworked and he came under deep psychological distress in 1822. Castlereagh committed suicide just before he was to represent Britain at an international Congress.
After 1815 Castlereagh was the leader in imposing repressive measures at home. He was hated for his harsh attacks on liberty and reform. John Bew stresses the paradox:
No British statesman of the 19th century reached the same level of international influence....But very few have been so maligned by their own countrymen and so abused in history. This shy and handsome Ulsterman is perhaps the most hated domestic political figure in both modern British and Irish political history.
Robert was born on 18 June 1769 in 28 Henry Street, in Dublin's Northside. He was the only child of Robert Stewart (the elder) and his wife Sarah Frances Seymour-Conway. His parents married in 1766.
Unusually for a Presbyterian (a "Dissenter") the elder Robert Stewart was a prominent Ulster landowner.[b] 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. He would be created Baron Londonderry in 1789, Viscount Castlereagh in 1795, and Earl of Londonderry in 1796 by King George III, enabling him from the Act of Union of 1800 onwards to sit at Westminster in the House of Lords as an Irish representative peer. In 1816 he was created Marquess of Londonderry by the Prince Regent of Newtownards and Comber in County Down, with properties in Counties Donegal and Londonderry. The family seat was Mount Stewart, County Down.
Young Robert's mother died in childbirth when he was a year old. She was Lady Sarah Frances Seymour-Conway, daughter of Francis Seymour-Conway, 1st Marquess of Hertford and Isabella Fitzroy. Lord Hertford was a former British Ambassador to France (1764-65) and Lord Lieutenant of Ireland (1765-66). Isabella Fitzroy was a daughter of Charles FitzRoy, 2nd Duke of Grafton.
His father remarried five years later to Lady Frances Pratt, daughter of Charles Pratt, 1st Earl Camden (1714-94), a leading English jurist and prominent political supporter of both William Pitt, 1st Earl of Chatham, and his son, William Pitt the Younger. The marriages of the elder Robert Stewart 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 the older and the younger Robert Stewart. By Frances Pratt, his father's second wife, young Robert had eleven half-siblings, including his 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).
The younger Robert Stewart suffered from recurring health problems throughout his childhood, and was sent to The Royal School, Armagh, rather than to England for his secondary education. At the encouragement of Charles Pratt, first Earl of Camden, who took a great interest in him and treated him as if he had been 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 his family's Down constituency. Because of the county seat's large number of forty-shilling freeholders it was an exceptionally competitive and expensive election.[c] He ran on a platform supporting Whig principles of electoral reform and opposing the Irish policies of the British Government, but he entered the Irish House of Commons as an Independent and was from the outset a personal supporter of 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). He held these seats simultaneously with his Down seat.
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.[d] The couple did, however, care for the young Frederick Stewart, while his father, Stewart's half-brother, Charles, was serving in the army.
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.[e] 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 at 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 to breakup and suppress the United Irishmen. Originating, and well organised, in the Presbyterian northeast, the growing republican conspiracy commanded the allegiance of tenants and acquaintances of his family at Mount Stewart, County Down.
In 1797, Castlereagh was at last appointed to the Dublin Castle administration as Keeper of the King's Signet for Ireland.[f] Following a declaration of martial law he was made both a Lord of the Treasury and a Member of the Privy Council of Ireland (1797-1800).[g] 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.[h] In this capacity, and after March 1798 as Acting Chief Secretary, Castlereagh played a key role in crushing the United Irish rising, the Rebellion of 1798.
Castlereagh's general policy was to offer clemency to the rebel rank-and-file (many of whom were then inducted into the yeomanry) while focusing on the politically committed leadership. He nonetheless won a reputation for personal vindictiveness with the execution in July 1798 of the Reverend William Porter. Porter had canvassed for Castlereagh in the election of 1790, and had been a frequent visitor at Mount Stewart.
In the intervening years Porter had penned a popular and politically pointed satire of the County Down landed-interest Billy Bluff, serialised in the United Irish Belfast paper, the Northern Star. In February 1798, he asked his Presbyterian congregation, next to Mount Stewart (then under armed guard, and with tenants withholding rent), why Ireland was at war: "it is in consequence of our connection with England". A French invasion, he declared, threatened only the government, not the people. Together with uncertain evidence of consorting with the rebels, this was sufficient to have Porter condemned for treason. Despite the pleas of his wife Lady Castlereagh and her sister Lady Elizabeth, then dying of tuberculosis, Castlereagh refused to allow an appeal for clemency. Porter was hung in front of his own church with, it was later claimed, Mount Stewart tenants, by order, in attendance.
In 1799, in furtherance of both his own political vision and Pitt's policies, Castlereagh began lobbying in the Irish and British Parliaments for a union that would incorporate Ireland with Great Britain in a United Kingdom. In addition to security against the French, Castlereagh saw the principal merit of a bringing Ireland directly under the Crown in the Westminster Parliament as a resolution of what ultimately was the key issue for the governance of the country, the Catholic question. "Linked with England", he reasoned that "the Protestants, feeling less exposed, would be more confident and liberal", while Catholics, reduced to a minority within the larger kingdom, would lower their expectations and moderate their demands.
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 the new United Kingdom Parliament. However, opposition in England, and not least from the King, George III, obliged Castlereagh to defy what he saw as "the very logic of the Union." The Union bill that, with a generous distribution of titles and favours, he helped put through the Irish Parliament omitted the provision for Catholic emancipation. A separate Irish executive in Dublin was retained, but representation, still wholly Protestant, was transferred to Westminster constituted as the Parliament of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland.
Pitt had 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 him, both Castlereagh and Pitt resigned. 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.
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 cabinet 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, Castlereagh 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.[page needed]
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 the Netherlands 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.
Historian G. M. Trevelyan argues:
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 a little longer. The order created by the Congress of Vienna was a mood that lasted much longer and worked to prevent major European wars until the First World War in 1914. Some 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.[page needed]
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 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.[page needed]
Abolitionist opinion in Britain was strong enough in 1807 to abolish the slave trade in all British possessions--although slavery itself persisted in the colonies until 1833. Abolitionists after 1807 focused on international agreements to abolish the Atlantic slave trade. Castlereagh switched his position and became a strong supporter of the movement. Britain arranged treaties with Portugal, Sweden and Denmark, 1810-1814, whereby they agreed to restrict their trading. These were preliminary to the Congress of Vienna negotiations that Castlereagh dominated and which resulted in a general declaration condemning the slave trade. The problem was that the treaties and declarations were hard to enforce, given the very high profits available to private interests. As Foreign Minister, Castlereagh cooperated with senior officials to use the Royal Navy to detect and capture slave ships; the freed slaves were sent to freedom in a new British colony of Sierra Leone. He used diplomacy to conclude search-and-seize agreements with all the countries whose ships were trading. There was serious friction with the United States, where the southern slave interest was politically powerful. Washington recoiled at British policing of the high seas. Spain, France and Portugal also relied on the international slave trade to supply their colonial plantations. As more and more diplomatic arrangements were made by Castlereagh, the owners of slave ships started flying false flags of nations that had not agreed, especially the United States. It was illegal under American law for American ships to engage in the slave trade, but the idea of Britain enforcing American laws was unacceptable to Washington. Lord Palmerston continued the Castlereagh policies. Eventually, in 1842 in 1845, an arrangement was reached between London and Washington. With the arrival of a staunchly anti-slavery government in Washington in 1861, the Atlantic slave trade was doomed. In the long run, Castlereagh's strategy on how to stifle the trade proved successful.
In May 1820 Castlereagh circulated to high officials a major state paper that set the main British policy for the rest of the century. Temperley and Penson call it, "the most famous State Paper in British history and the one of the widest ultimate consequences." Castlereagh called for no British intervention in continental affairs. He argued that the purpose of the Quadruple Alliance was to contain France and put down revolutions. But the Spanish revolt did not threaten European peace nor any of the great powers. Castlereagh said that in actual practice the powers would seldom be able to agree on concerted action, and he pointed out that British public opinion would not support interventions. He admitted that individual states could indeed intervene in affairs in their recognized sphere of interest, such as Austria's intervention in Italy.
As a press, or squib, writer for the Whigs, Thomas Moore, better remembered as Ireland's national bard, mercilessly lampooned Castlereagh. In what were the "verbal equivalents of the political cartoons of the day",Tom Crib's Memorial to Congress (1818) and "Fables for the Holy Alliance" (1823), Moore savages Castlereagh's pirouetting with Britain's reactionary continental allies.
Widely read, so that Moore eventually produced a sequel, was his verse novel The Fudge Family in Paris (1818). The family of an Irishman working as a propagandist for Castlereagh in Paris, the Fudges are accompanied by an accomplished tutor and classicist, Phelim Connor. An upright but disillusioned Irish Catholic, his letters to a friend reflect Moore's own views. Connor's regular epistolary denunciations of Castlereagh had two recurrent themes. First is Castlereagh as "the embodiment of the sickness with which Ireland had infected British politics as a consequence of the union": "We sent thee Castlereagh--as heaps of dead Have slain their slayers by the pest they spread". The second is that at the time of the Acts of Union Castlereagh's support for Catholic emancipation had been disingenuous. Castlereagh had been master of "that faithless craft" which can "cart the slave, can swear he shall be freed", but then "basely spurns him" when his "point is gain'd."
This imputation that he had betrayed his country, bloodied his hands in 1798 and deliberately deceived Catholics at the time of the Union, reportedly wounded Castlereagh. Moore learned from a mutual connection that Castlereagh had said that "the humorous and laughing things he did not at all mind, but the verses of the Tutor in the Fudge Family were quite another sort of thing, and were in very bad taste indeed".
Despite his contributions to the defeat of Napoleon and restoration of peace, Castlereagh became extremely unpopular at home. He was attacked in the House of Commons by the Opposition for his support of repressive European governments, while the public resented his role in handling the Commons side of the divorce of George IV and Queen Caroline. 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. For these reasons, Castlereagh appears with other members of Lord Liverpool's Cabinet in Shelley's poem The Masque of Anarchy, which was inspired by, and heavily critical of, the Peterloo Massacre:
After the death of his father in April 1821, which "greatly afflicted him", Castlereagh became the 2nd Marquess of Londonderry. Although ineligible to continue sitting for an Irish constituency, as a non-representative Irish peer he was eligible to sit in the House of Commons for an English seat. Preparations had already been made, and he was able to vacate Down and swiftly win a by-election for his uncle Lord Hertford's borough of Orford (of which he had been an MP between 1796 and 1797). He also stood in good favour with the new King, George IV, who openly proposed to dismiss Lord Liverpool and appoint Castlereagh in his stead. Castlereagh's relations with his colleagues, however, were beginning to break down, possibly under the influence of paranoia. In March 1821, he told his brother he lacked able support on the government benches, and that his parliamentary labours were 'difficult to endure'. Yet he was becoming increasingly suspicious of a rising star of the Tory Party, Robert Peel, vigorously fending off attempts to give Peel a Treasury role (including Chancellor of the Exchequer) because he feared Peel would use his new role as an opportunity to plot against him; Lord Liverpool had to pacify him with a promise that he would "consult Lord Castlereagh's wishes and feelings in preference to any one else" before appointing Peel to any post.
By 1822, he was showing clear signs of a form of paranoia or a nervous breakdown. He was 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. His oratory in the House had never been of the highest calibre, but now he was considered to be practically incoherent. He spoke of resigning his office if matters did not improve.
Castlereagh began confessing to what was at the time criminal activity. He had already told his friend Mrs Arbuthnot that he was being blackmailed for an alleged homosexual offence; and at a 9 August meeting with the King, Castlereagh was distracted, said he was being mysteriously watched by a servant, that he had committed all manner of crimes, and remarked, "I am accused of the same crime as the Bishop of Clogher." Percy Jocelyn, who had been the Bishop of Clogher until the previous month, was prosecuted for homosexuality. The King surmised that Castlereagh believed he was being blackmailed for the same reason, but also concluded he was unwell, and urged him to see a physician. The King then sent a message to Lord Liverpool warning him of Castlereagh's illness; Liverpool initially failed to take the matter seriously and dismissed the message. Later that day, however, Castlereagh met with the Duke of Wellington, his cabinet colleague. Castlereagh behaved much as he had done with the King; Wellington bluntly told Castlereagh he was not in his right mind, advised him to see a doctor, and alerted Castlereagh's personal physician Dr. Charles Bankhead, as well as Castlereagh's friends the Arbuthnots.
On the advice of Dr Bankhead, Castlereagh went to his country seat at Woollet Hall in Water Lane, North Cray, Kent, for a weekend stay. He continued to be distressed, ranting wildly about conspiracies and threats to his life, to the concern of his friends and family. No special watch was kept on him, however, though his pistols and razors were hidden away. At about 7:30am on the morning of 12 August 1822 he sent for Bankhead, who found him in a dressing room seconds after he had cut his own throat, using a small knife which had been overlooked. He collapsed when Bankhead entered, and died almost instantly.
Retrospective speculative diagnoses vary. At the time, his brother blamed "the intrigues that were carried on by the women surrounding the king" (the King's mistress, Lady Conyngham, was not on good terms with Castlereagh's wife). George Agar Ellis, on the other hand, concluded Castlereagh was disillusioned by "the nothingness of human grandeurs... the sad effects which disappointment and chagrin may have on a mind in which religion is not uppermost, for I have no doubt that the sad and apparently irretrievable state of affairs in England was the real cause of ... [his] unfortunate state of mind." Later verdicts attribute the problem to overwork and mental stress, or to "a psychotic depressive illness". Other theories link various instances of (at the time) little explained illness to syphilis, possibly contracted at Cambridge.
An inquest concluded that the act had been committed while insane, avoiding the harsh strictures of a felo de se verdict.[i] The verdict allowed Lady Londonderry to see her husband buried with honour in Westminster Abbey near his mentor, William Pitt. The pallbearers included the Prime Minister Lord Liverpool, the former Prime Minister Lord Sidmouth and two future Prime Ministers, the Duke of Wellington and Frederick Robinson. 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. At his funeral on 20 August, the crowds which lined the funeral route were generally respectful and decorous, but some jeering and insults were heard (although not to the level of unanimity projected in the radical press); and there was cheering when the coffin was taken out of the hearse at the Abbey door. A funeral monument was not erected until 1850 when his half-brother and successor, Charles Stewart Vane, 3rd Marquess of Londonderry did so.
Some time after Castlereagh's death, Lord Byron wrote a savage quip about his grave:
Some of his opponents were damning in their verdicts. Thomas Creevy defied "any human being to discover a single feature of his character that can stand a moment's criticism. By experience, good manners and great courage, he managed a corrupt House of Commons pretty well, with some address. This is the whole of his intellectual merit. He had a limited understanding and no knowledge, and his whole life was spent in an avowed, cold-blooded contempt of every honest public principle." Sir Robert Wilson believed that there had never been "a greater enemy to civil liberty or a baser slave."
Others of Castlereagh's political opponents were more 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:
Modern historians stress the success of Castlereagh's career in spite of the hatred and ignominy he suffered. Trevelyan contrasts his positive achievements and his pitiful failures. His diplomacy was applauded by historians. For example, in 1919 diplomatic historians recommended his wise policies of 1814-1815 to the British delegation to the Paris peace conferences that ended the First World War. Historian Charles Webster underscores the paradox:
There probably never was a statesman whose ideas were so right and whose attitude to public opinion was so wrong. Such disparity between the grasp of ends and the understanding of means amounts to a failure in statesmanship.
|0||1769, 18 Jun||Born at 28 Henry Street, Dublin|
|1||1770, 17 Jul||His mother died.|
|6||1775, Jun||His father remarried.|
|11||1781, 22 Apr||His grandfather Alexander Stewart died.|
|20||1789, 9 Sep||His father created Baron Londonderry.|
|21||1790||Elected MP for County Down.|
|26||1795, 10 Oct||His father created Viscount Castlereagh.|
|27||1796, 10 Aug||His father created Earl of Londonderry.|
|46||1816, 13 Jan||His father created Marquess of Londonderry.|
|50||1820, 29 Jan||Accession of King George IV, replacing King George III.|
|51||1821, 6 Apr||Succeeded his father as the 2nd Marquess of Londonderry.|
|53||1822, 12 Aug||Died at Woollet Hall, North Cray, County Kent.|
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 in 1822.
The Right Honourable Robert Stewart, Baron Londonderry
To Robert Lord Londonderry, and the Heirs Male of his Body lawfully begotten, the Dignity of Viscount Castlereagh, of Castlereagh in the County Down
To Robert Lord Viscount Castlereagh, and the Heirs Male of his Body lawfully begotten, by the Name Stile and Title of Earl of Londonderry, of the County of Londonderry
This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Londonderry, Robert Stewart, 2nd Marquess of". Encyclopædia Britannica. 16 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. pp. 969-972.
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The Earl of Hillsborough
Hon. Edward Ward
| Member of Parliament for Down
With: The Earl of Hillsborough 1790-1793
Francis Savage 1794-1801
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Hon. Richard Trench
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With: Hugh Carncross
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|Parliament of Great Britain|
| Member of Parliament for Tregony
With: Matthew Montagu
| Member of Parliament for Orford
With: Robert Seymour-Conway
The Earl of Yarmouth
|Parliament of the United Kingdom|
|New constituency|| Member of Parliament for Down
With: Francis Savage
Edward Berkeley Portman
| Member of Parliament for Boroughbridge
With: Edward Berkeley Portman
William Henry Clinton
| Member of Parliament for Plympton Erle
With: Sir Stephen Lushington, Bt 1806-1807
Hon. William Harbord 1807-1810
Henry Drummond 1810-1812
Ranald George Macdonald
| Member of Parliament for Clitheroe
With: Robert Curzon
Hon. Robert Ward
| Member of Parliament for Down
With: John Meade 1812-1817
Lord Arthur Hill 1817-1821
Lord Arthur Hill
Edmond Alexander MacNaghten
| Member of Parliament for Orford
With: Edmond Alexander MacNaghten
Edmond Alexander MacNaghten
The Earl of Shannon
Sir John Parnell, Bt
Hon. Thomas Pelham
John Monck Mason
| Commissioner of the Treasury for Ireland
With: The Earl of Shannon
Hon. Thomas Pelham
John Monck Mason
The Earl of Shannon
The Lord Frankfort
| Commissioner of the Treasury for Ireland|
With: The Earl of Shannon
Hon. Thomas Pelham
| Chief Secretary for Ireland
The Earl of Dartmouth
| President of the Board of Control
The Lord Minto
The Earl Camden
| Secretary of State for War and the Colonies
| Secretary of State for War and the Colonies
The Earl of Liverpool
The Marquess Wellesley
| Foreign Secretary
Hon. Spencer Perceval
| Leader of the House of Commons|
|Peerage of Ireland|
| Marquess of Londonderry
Charles (Stewart) Vane