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Henry Bathurst, third Earl Bathurst (1762-1834)

This article was written by Thomas Edward Kebbel and was published in 1885

Henry Bathurst, statesman, son of Henry Bathurst, second Earl Bathurst, was born 22 May 1762. His mother was daughter of Thomas Scawen, Esq., of Manwell, in the county of Northampton. Bathurst married, April 1789, Georgina, daughter of Lord George Henry Lennox, and succeeded to the family honours on 6 August 1794. He was M.P. for Cirencester 1793-4, and from 1790 till death he was a teller of the exchequer. He was a personal friend of Pitt, was lord of the admiralty (1783-9), lord of the treasury (1789-91), and commissioner of the board of control (1793-1802). On the formation of Pitt's second ministry in 1804 he accepted the mastership of the mint. Subsequently he became president of the board of trade under the Duke of Portland (1807-9) and under Perceval (1809-12), holding concurrently the mastership of the mint. From October to December 1809 he was also foreign secretary. In Lord Liverpool's ministry he occupied the responsible position of secretary for war and the colonies, and finished his political career under the Duke of Wellington, 1828-30, as lord president of the council.

He was made K.G. in 1817. He was an able and useful minister, and for the improvement in the conduct of the Peninsular war which began contemporaneously with his acceptance of the secretaryship he must be allowed his share of credit. His correspondence with the Duke of Wellington, to be found in the ‘Wellington Despatches,’ is very interesting, and shows great quickness in apprehending the military questions brought before him, as well as promptitude in dealing with them. It likewise devolved upon Lord Bathurst to defend the policy of the government in their treatment of the first Napoleon, which was bitterly assailed by Lord Holland in the House of Lords in the year 1817. His speech on that occasion was clever and simple, but was thought by the friends of the ex-emperor to savour too much of pleasantry for so solemn a subject. His name of course will frequently be found in connection with the slave trade; and he was one of the tories who supported in principle the repeal of the Roman Catholic disabilities. In politics he was a tory of the old school, and ceased to take any active part in parliament after the passing of the Reform Bill. He spoke and voted against the second reading of that measure on the ground that it would not reform but destroy the constitution. He was through life, however, a man of moderate views, and enjoyed the esteem and respect of his contemporaries of both political parties. He died 27 July 1834.

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