Dictionary of National Biography, 1912 Supplement/Hertslet, Edward
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Dictionary of National Biography, 1912 Supplement/Hertslet, Edward

HERTSLET, Sir EDWARD (1824-1902), librarian of the foreign office, born at 16 College Street, Westminster, on 3 Feb. 1824, was youngest son of Lewis Hertslet [q. v.], of Swiss descent, by his first wife, Hannah Harriet Jemima Cooke. Educated privately near Hounslow, he was on 23 March 1840 temporarily attached to the library of the foreign office under his father, who was then librarian. On 8 Jan. 1842 he received a permanent appointment, on 28 Aug. 1844 became second clerk, and a little later the senior clerk. On 1 April 1855 he became sub-librarian, and on 19 Nov. 1857 librarian.

Hertslet carried on his father's tradition. He was long a main pivot of the foreign office work. Preliminary memoranda by him (now in the foreign office archives) focussed the history, geography, or international law incident to the chief public questions which came before the government while he held office. With the post of librarian he combined up to 1870 the agency for members of the diplomatic and consular services, and received an annual compensation on its abolition in that year.

He was attached to the special mission of Lord Beaconsfield to the Berlin congress in 1878, and was knighted for his services. He was one of the delegates for the examination of the question of boundary between British and Dutch territory in Borneo in June 1889.

Hertslet was retained at the foreign office long after the normal retiring age of sixty-five, discharging his duties up to 2 Feb. 1896. He was made C.B. on 21 Feb. 1874, and K.C.B. on 20 Aug. 1892. He died at his residence, Bellevue, Richmond, after an operation, on 4 Aug. 1902. He had resided at Richmond since 1852 and was active in local affairs.

Hertslet married Eden (d. 1899), daughter of John Bull, clerk of the journals of the House of Commons. Of his nine sons and three daughters, six sons and a daughter survived him. His third son, Mr. Godfrey L. P. Hertslet, in the library of the foreign office, succeeded him as editor of the 'Foreign Office List' and is also assistant editor of 'Hertslet's Commercial Treaties.' Hertslet continued many publications which his father began; the principal were: 1. The 'Foreign Office List,' of which he was joint-editor from its third year (1865), and sole editor and proprietor from 1864 to his death. 2. Vols. xii.-xvi. with the index to the whole series and with the help of his eldest son, Sir Cecil Hertslet, vols. xvii.-xix. of the collection of treaties and conventions, known as 'Hertslet's Commercial Treaties' (1871-1895). 3. 'British and Foreign State Papers,' of which he was responsible for vols. 27-82, though his name appears only on the later volumes. These state papers are now government publications. Hertslet also compiled 'The Map of Europe by Treaty,' vols, i.-iii. 1875; vol. iv. 1896, as well as 'The Map of Africa by Treaty,' 2 vols. 1894. He was author of 'Recollections of the Old Foreign Office' (1901).

[The Times, 5 Aug. 1902; Who's Who, 1902; Foreign Office List, 1902; notes from a private biography given by Mr. Godfrey Hertslet; personal knowledge.]

C. A. H.

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