William Eden, 1st Baron Auckland

British diplomat and politician

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The Lord Auckland
President of the Board of Trade
In office
5 February 1806 – 31 March 1807
Monarch George III
Prime Minister The Lord Grenville
Preceded by The Duke of Montrose
Succeeded by The Earl Bathurst
Chief Secretary for Ireland
In office
Monarch George III
Prime Minister Lord North
Preceded by Richard Heron
Succeeded by Richard FitzPatrick
Personal details
Born (1745-04-03)3 April 1745
Died 28 May 1814(1814-05-28) (aged 69)
Beckenham, Kent
Political party Tory (Pittite)
Whig (Grenvillite)
Spouse .mw-parser-output .marriage-line-margin2px{line-height:0;margin-bottom:-2px}.mw-parser-output .marriage-line-margin3px{line-height:0;margin-bottom:-3px}.mw-parser-output .marriage-display-ws{display:inline;white-space:nowrap}

Eleanor Elliot

(m. 1776)​

Relations George Osborne, 8th Duke of Leeds (grandson)
Children Eleanor Eden
Catharine Isabella Eden
Elizabeth Charlotte Eden
Caroline Eden
William Eden (MP)
George Eden, 1st Earl of Auckland
Henry Eden
Mary Louisa Eden
Mary Dulcibella Eden
Emily Eden
Robert Eden, 3rd Baron Auckland
Frances Eden
Education Durham School
Eton College
Alma mater Christ Church, Oxford

William Eden, 1st Baron Auckland, PC (Ire), FRS (3 April 1745 – 28 May 1814) was a British diplomat and politician who sat in the House of Commons from 1774 to 1793.[1]

Early life[edit]

A member of the influential Eden family, Auckland was a younger son of Sir Robert Eden, 3rd Baronet, of Windlestone Hall, County Durham, and Mary, daughter of William Davison. His brothers included Sir John Eden, 4th Baronet, also an MP; Sir Robert Eden, 1st Baronet, of Maryland, the last royal Governor of Maryland; and Morton Eden, 1st Baron Henley, diplomat.

He was educated at Durham School, Eton and Christ Church, Oxford,[2] and was called to the bar, Middle Temple, in 1768.


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In 1771, Auckland published Principles of Penal Law, and soon became a recognized authority on commercial and economic questions. In 1772 he took up an appointment as Under-Secretary of State for the North, a post he held until 1778. He was Member of Parliament for Woodstock from 1774 to 1784 and served as a Lord of Trade from 1776 to 1782.

In 1778, he carried an Act for the improvement of the treatment of prisoners, and accompanied the Earl of Carlisle as a commissioner to North America on an unsuccessful mission to bring an end to the American War of Independence.

During the War, he was head of the British spies in Europe, his budget reaching £200,000 by 1778. He probably oversaw a small group of intelligence collectors for Lord Suffolk. On his return in 1779 he published his widely-read Four Letters to the Earl of Carlisle.

In 1780, Auckland became Chief Secretary for Ireland, which he remained until 1782, and was admitted to the Irish Privy Council in 1780. He represented Dungannon in the Irish House of Commons between 1781 and 1783 and was Joint Vice-Treasurer of Ireland between 1783 and 1784. While in Ireland he established the National Bank.[3]

Between 1784 and 1793, Auckland was Member of Parliament for Heytesbury. He was sworn of the British Privy Council in 1784 and served as Envoy to France from 1785 to 1787 (on a mission dealing with commerce); he was Ambassador to Spain between 1787 and 1789 and Ambassador to the Netherlands between 1789 and 1793.

In 1789, he was raised to the Peerage of Ireland as Baron Auckland and in 1793 he retired from public service, receiving a pension of £2300, and was further honoured when he was made Baron Auckland, of West Auckland in the County of Durham, in the Peerage of Great Britain.

During his retirement in the country at Beckenham, he continued his friendship with William Pitt the Younger, his nearest neighbour at Holwood House, who at one time had thoughts of marrying his daughter (see below). With Pitt’s sanction he published his Remarks on the Apparent Circumstances of the War in 1795, to prepare public opinion for a peace.[3]

He was later included in Pitt’s government as Joint Postmaster General in 1798. He severely criticized Pitt’s resignation in 1801, from which he had endeavoured to dissuade him, and retained office under Henry Addington. This terminated his friendship with Pitt, who excluded him from his administration in 1804 though he increased his pension. Auckland later served under Lord Grenville as President of the Board of Trade in the Ministry of All the Talents between 1806 and 1807.[3]

His Journal and Correspondence, published in 1861–1862, throws much light on the political history of the time.[3] The subantarctic Auckland Islands group to the south of New Zealand, discovered in 1806, were named after him, as was Eden Quay in Dublin.[4]

Personal life[edit]

Eden’s daughter Eleanor Agnes, by John Hoppner

In 1776, Lord Auckland married Eleanor Elliot, daughter of Sir Gilbert Elliot, 3rd Baronet and Agnes Dalrymple-Murray-Kynynmound (daughter and heiress of Hugh Dalrymple-Murray-Kynynmound). Eleanor was a sister of Gilbert Eliott, 1st Earl of Minto. They had six sons and eight daughters, including:[5]

Lord Auckland died in May 1814 and was succeeded by his second but eldest surviving son, George, who was created Earl of Auckland in 1839. Lady Auckland died in May 1818.[11]



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  1. ^ A description of the Godolphin life at their family seat, Gog Magog House (now destroyed), was captured in a letter by one of her younger sisters: “I invited myself of course, but [Lady] Charlotte bore it very well. I was there fifteen years ago in the capacity of a child: I therefore did not see much of her, or know anything of her and except that, have not seen her but for two or three morning visits per annum; so it was a voyage of discovery, in the style of a North Pole expedition. The Frost intense–and a good deal of hummocky ice to sail through. However, I really liked it better than expected. Lord Francis [Osborne] is particularly pleasant in his own house, and young Charlotte [the youngest child and only daughter] very civil and good-natured.”[8] Sons of the house included George, the eldest, who became 8th Duke of Leeds in 1859, and Sydney, later known for his letters to The Times on various political and social causes. He wrote about the workhouses in Ireland during the Great Famine and was with Florence Nightingale in Scutari during the Crimean War.
  1. ^ .mw-parser-output cite.citation{font-style:inherit;word-wrap:break-word}.mw-parser-output .citation q{quotes:”””””””‘””‘”}.mw-parser-output .citation:target{background-color:rgba(0,127,255,0.133)}.mw-parser-output .id-lock-free.id-lock-free a{background:url(“//upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/6/65/Lock-green.svg”)right 0.1em center/9px no-repeat}body:not(.skin-timeless):not(.skin-minerva) .mw-parser-output .id-lock-free a{background-size:contain}.mw-parser-output .id-lock-limited.id-lock-limited a,.mw-parser-output .id-lock-registration.id-lock-registration a{background:url(“//upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/d/d6/Lock-gray-alt-2.svg”)right 0.1em center/9px no-repeat}body:not(.skin-timeless):not(.skin-minerva) .mw-parser-output .id-lock-limited a,body:not(.skin-timeless):not(.skin-minerva) .mw-parser-output .id-lock-registration a{background-size:contain}.mw-parser-output .id-lock-subscription.id-lock-subscription a{background:url(“//upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/a/aa/Lock-red-alt-2.svg”)right 0.1em center/9px no-repeat}body:not(.skin-timeless):not(.skin-minerva) .mw-parser-output .id-lock-subscription a{background-size:contain}.mw-parser-output .cs1-ws-icon a{background:url(“//upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/4/4c/Wikisource-logo.svg”)right 0.1em center/12px no-repeat}body:not(.skin-timeless):not(.skin-minerva) .mw-parser-output .cs1-ws-icon a{background-size:contain}.mw-parser-output .cs1-code{color:inherit;background:inherit;border:none;padding:inherit}.mw-parser-output .cs1-hidden-error{display:none;color:#d33}.mw-parser-output .cs1-visible-error{color:#d33}.mw-parser-output .cs1-maint{display:none;color:#2C882D;margin-left:0.3em}.mw-parser-output .cs1-format{font-size:95%}.mw-parser-output .cs1-kern-left{padding-left:0.2em}.mw-parser-output .cs1-kern-right{padding-right:0.2em}.mw-parser-output .citation .mw-selflink{font-weight:inherit}html.skin-theme-clientpref-night .mw-parser-output .cs1-maint{color:#18911F}html.skin-theme-clientpref-night .mw-parser-output .cs1-visible-error,html.skin-theme-clientpref-night .mw-parser-output .cs1-hidden-error{color:#f8a397}@media(prefers-color-scheme:dark){html.skin-theme-clientpref-os .mw-parser-output .cs1-visible-error,html.skin-theme-clientpref-os .mw-parser-output .cs1-hidden-error{color:#f8a397}html.skin-theme-clientpref-os .mw-parser-output .cs1-maint{color:#18911F}}“EDEN, William, 1st Baron Auckland [I] (1744-1814), of Eden Farm, Beckenham, Kent”. historyofparliament.
  2. ^ “Eden, William, first Baron Auckland”. Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/8459. Eden was educated at Durham School (1755–8) and Eton College (1758–62) before going up to Christ Church, Oxford, in 1762. (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  3. ^ a b c d  One or more of the preceding sentences incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainChisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). “Auckland, William Eden“. Encyclopædia Britannica. Vol. 2 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. pp. 893–894.
  4. ^ “Eden Quay Dublin – Archiseek – Irish Architecture”. Archiseek – Irish Architecture.
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h i j “Auckland, Baron (GB, 1793)”. www.cracroftspeerage.co.uk. Heraldic Media Limited. Retrieved 14 September 2021.
  6. ^ Hague, William William Pitt the Younger Harper Collins 2004
  7. ^ “Buckinghamshire, Earl of (GB, 1746)”. www.cracroftspeerage.co.uk. Heraldic Media Limited. Retrieved 27 November 2019.
  8. ^ (Emily Eden. “Miss Eden’s Letters.” Violet Dickinson, ed. London: Macmillan, 1919, p. 93).
  9. ^ Foster, Joseph. textsThe peerage, baronetage, and knightage of the British Empire : for 1882 (1883 ed.). Nicols & Sons. p. 646.
  10. ^ The Nautical Magazine and Naval Chronicle for 1849. Cambridge University Press. 2013. p. 61. ISBN 978-1-108-05436-2. Retrieved 27 November 2019.
  11. ^ Ranieval, The Marquis of Ruvigny and (2013). The Plantagenet Roll of the Blood Royal: The Mortimer-Percy Volume. Heritage Books. pp. 274–275. ISBN 978-0-7884-1872-3. Retrieved 27 November 2019.

External links[edit]

See also[edit]

Parliament of Great Britain
Preceded by

Member of Parliament for Woodstock
With: John Skynner 1774–1777
Viscount Parker 1777–1784
Succeeded by

Preceded by

Member of Parliament for Heytesbury
With: William à Court 1784–1790
Michael Angelo Taylor 1790–1791
The Earl of Barrymore 1791–1793
Charles Ellis 1793
Succeeded by

Parliament of Ireland
Preceded by

Member of Parliament for Dungannon
With: Charles O’Hara
Succeeded by

Political offices
Preceded by

Chief Secretary for Ireland
Succeeded by

Preceded by

Postmaster General
With: The Earl of Leicester 1798–1799
The Baron Gower 1799–1801
Lord Charles Spencer 1801–1804
Succeeded by

Preceded by

President of the Board of Trade
Succeeded by

Diplomatic posts
Preceded by

British Ambassador to Spain
Succeeded by

Preceded by

British Ambassador to the Netherlands
Succeeded by

Peerage of Ireland
New creation Baron Auckland
Succeeded by

Peerage of Great Britain
New creation Baron Auckland
Succeeded by