George Eden, 1st Earl of Auckland

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The Earl of Auckland

George Eden, 1st Earl of Auckland.png
Governor-General of India
In office
4 March 1836 28 February 1842
Monarch William IV
Victoria
Preceded by Sir Charles Metcalfe, Bt
As Acting Governor-General
Succeeded by The Lord Ellenborough
President of the Board of Trade
In office
22 November 1830 5 June 1834
Monarch William IV
Prime Minister The Earl Grey
Preceded by John Charles Herries
Succeeded by Charles Poulett Thomson
Personal details
Born25 August 1784 (1784-08-25)
Beckenham, Kent, England
Died1 January 1849 (1849-02) (aged 64)
Hampshire, England
Nationality British
Political party Whig
Alma mater Christ Church, Oxford
Profession Lawyer, Politician

George Eden, 1st Earl of Auckland, GCB , PC (25 August 1784 – 1 January 1849) was an English Whig politician and colonial administrator. He was thrice First Lord of the Admiralty and also served as Governor-General of India between 1836 and 1842.

Contents

Background and education

Born in Beckenham, Kent, Auckland was the second son of William Eden, 1st Baron Auckland, and Eleanor, daughter of Sir Gilbert Elliot, 3rd Baronet. His sister was the traveller and author Emily Eden, who would visit India for long periods and write about her experiences. He was educated at Eton, and Christ Church, Oxford, and was called to the Bar, Lincoln's Inn, in 1809. He became heir apparent to the barony after his elder brother William Eden drowned in the Thames in 1810. [1]

Political career, 1810–1836

Auckland was returned to Parliament for Woodstock in 1810 (succeeding his elder brother, William), a seat he held until 1812, and again between 1813 and 1814. The latter year he succeeded his father in the barony and took his seat in the House of Lords, supporting the reform party. In 1830 he became President of the Board of Trade and Master of the Mint under Lord Grey.

He was First Lord of the Admiralty under Grey and then Lord Melbourne in 1834 and again under Melbourne in 1835. He gave a commission to William Hobson to sail for the East Indies, which Hobson ultimately rewarded in the naming of his newly-created city of Auckland, New Zealand in 1840. [2] Mount Eden in Auckland, the town of Eden, New South Wales and Auckland County, New South Wales were also named after him.

Governor-General of India, 1836–1842

In 1836 Lord Auckland was appointed of Governor-General of India. His private secretary was John Russell Colvin, who rose to be lieutenant-governor of the North-West Provinces and named his son Auckland Colvin after him. As a legislator, he dedicated himself especially to the improvement of native schools and the expansion of the commercial industry of India.

But complications in Afghanistan interrupted this work in 1838. Lord Auckland decided on war, and on 1 October 1838 in Simla published the Simla Manifesto, dethroning Dost Mahommed Khan. After successful early operations he was created Baron Eden, of Norwood in the County of Surrey, and Earl of Auckland. However the Afghan campaign ultimately ended in disaster. He handed over the governor-generalship to Lord Ellenborough and returned to England the following year.

Political career, 1842–1849

In 1846 he again became First Lord of the Admiralty, this time under Lord John Russell. In the words of a modern historian: "[M]inisterial talent in the House of Lords was not so plentiful as to disqualify the author of one of the worst disasters in British military history". [3] He held this office until his death three years later.

Personal life and character

Lord Auckland died on New Year's Day 1849, following what was described as a fit. [4] He was aged 64. Lord Auckland was unmarried and on his death the earldom became extinct, while he was succeeded in the barony by his younger brother, Robert. [5]

In a recently published (2013) history Lord Auckland is described as "a clever and capable but somewhat complacent and detached Whig nobleman". In appearance he was slim and younger looking than his years. As a respected First Lord of the Admiralty Lord Auckland depended heavily on competent staff but his indecisive personality and indifference to Indian history and culture led to disastrous decisions being made during his term as Governor-General there. [6]

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References

  1. thepeerage.com
  2. Simpson, K. A. "Hobson, William". Dictionary of New Zealand Biography . Ministry for Culture and Heritage . Retrieved 12 July 2015.
  3. Mount, Ferdinand. The Tears of the Rajas: Mutiny, Money and Marriage in India, 1805-1905. p. 389. ISBN   978-1-4711-2946-9.
  4. letter from his Admiralty assistant John Dunds
  5. thepeerage.com
  6. Dalrymple, William. Return of a King. p. 109. ISBN   978-1-4088-3159-5.

Further reading

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Sir Henry Dashwood, Bt
Hon. William Eden
Member of Parliament for Woodstock
1810–1812
With: Sir Henry Dashwood, Bt
Succeeded by
Sir Henry Dashwood, Bt
William Thornton
Preceded by
Sir Henry Dashwood, Bt
William Thornton
Member of Parliament for Woodstock
1813–1814
With: Sir Henry Dashwood, Bt
Succeeded by
Sir Henry Dashwood, Bt
William Thornton
Political offices
Preceded by
John Charles Herries
President of the Board of Trade
1830–1834
Succeeded by
Charles Poulett Thomson
Preceded by
John Charles Herries
Master of the Mint
1830–1834
Succeeded by
Hon. James Abercromby
Preceded by
The Lord Grenville
Auditor of the Exchequer
1834
Office abolished
Preceded by
Sir James Graham, Bt
First Lord of the Admiralty
1834
Succeeded by
The Earl de Grey
Preceded by
The Earl de Grey
First Lord of the Admiralty
1835
Succeeded by
The Earl of Minto
Preceded by
The Earl of Haddington
First Lord of the Admiralty
1846–1849
Succeeded by
Sir Francis Baring, Bt
Government offices
Preceded by
Sir Charles Metcalfe, Bt (acting)
Governor-General of India
1836–1842
Succeeded by
The Lord Ellenborough
Peerage of the United Kingdom
New creation Earl of Auckland
1839–1849
Extinct
Baron Eden
1839–1849
Peerage of Ireland
Preceded by
William Eden
Baron Auckland
1814–1849
Succeeded by
Robert John Eden
Peerage of Great Britain
Preceded by
William Eden
Baron Auckland
1814–1849
Succeeded by
Robert John Eden