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Lord Granville Leveson-Gower, first Earl Granville (1773-1846)

This article was written by John Andrew Hamilton and was published in 1892

Lord Granville Leveson-Gower, diplomatist, was born on 12 October 1773. He was third and youngest son of Granville, first marquis of Stafford by his third wife, Lady Susannah Stewart, second daughter of Alexander, sixth earl of Galloway. Granville was said to have been the most handsome man in Regency England. Though Granville served in the House of Commons, his most distinguished service came through the diplomatic corps, his highest post being ambassador to France.

Granville matriculated at Christ Church 29 April 1789, and ten years later became a D.C.L. Pitt early befriended him for his father's sake, and appointed him a lord of the treasury in 1800, in succession to the Hon. J. T. Townshend. He had sat for Lichfield from January 1795 to February 1799, when he resigned his seat to be elected for Staffordshire, which he continued to represent for sixteen years.

On 19 July 1804 he was sworn of the privy council, and appointed ambassador extraordinary at St. Petersburg. He concluded a treaty, which, however, proved practically inoperative, and in 1805 returned to England. It was Lord Leveson-Gower that Bellingham, the assassin of Perceval in 1812, had intended to kill in revenge for some fancied ill-treatment in Russia. Upon the reconstruction of the ministry it was proposed that he should be made a peer with a seat in the cabinet. In 1815 he was created Viscount Granville, and subsequently became minister at Brussels.

Canning was his intimate friend, and in Canning's favour he, on 24 April 1823, carried an amendment in the House of Lords to Lord Ellenborough's motion for an address of censure. In the autumn of 1824 Canning appointed him to succeed Sir Charles Stewart as ambassador at Paris. He received the grand cross of the Bath, and was invested with it by the king of France at the Tuileries on 9 June 1825. Canning had frequent occasion to find fault with him for indolence in forwarding information, but found him in the main a highly trustworthy representative. In 1827 he was recalled, but Earl Grey, when he became prime minister, reappointed him, and he continued to be ambassador at Paris, with a short interval in 1834, until the fall of Lord Melbourne's administration in 1841.

At one time he was on bad terms with Thiers, but for the most part he was highly popular. He was addicted to play, once losing £23,000 at a sitting at Crockford's, and was one of the best whist players of his time. In Paris he was called le Wellington des joueurs. On 2 May 1833 he was created Earl Granville and Baron Leveson of Stone. He died 8 January 1846 in Bruton Street, Mayfair, and was buried at Stone in Staffordshire.

He was in early life a follower of Pitt and Canning, but in 1832 was a staunch whig, and came over from Paris to vote for the Reform Bill. He married, on 24 December 1809, Lady Harriet Elizabeth Cavendish, second daughter of William, fifth duke of Devonshire, who survived him, by whom he had three sons and two daughters. The eldest son was Granville George, second Earl Granville. He left £160,000. His wife's ‘Letters 1810-1845’ were edited by her second son, the Hon. F. L. Gower, in 1894. Granville also had two illegitimate children by his lover, Lady Bessborough.

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