Edmond Fitzmaurice, 1st Baron Fitzmaurice

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The Right Honourable
The Lord Fitzmaurice
PC
Lord Fitzmaurice.JPG
"He does not under-estimate his own ability". Lord Fitzmaurice as depicted by "Spy" (Leslie Ward) in Vanity Fair, June 1906.
Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster
In office
13 October 1908 – 25 June 1909
Monarch Edward VII
Prime Minister H. H. Asquith
Preceded by The Viscount Wolverhampton
Succeeded by Herbert Samuel
Personal details
Born 19 June 1846
Lansdowne House, Mayfair, London
Died 21 June 1935
Nationality British
Political party Liberal
Spouse(s) Caroline FitzGerald (d. 1911)
Alma mater Trinity College, Cambridge

Edmond George Petty-Fitzmaurice, 1st Baron Fitzmaurice PC (19 June 1846 – 21 June 1935), styled Lord Edmond FitzMaurice from 1863 to 1906, was a British Liberal politician. He served as Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs from 1883 to 1885 and again from 1905 to 1908, when he entered the cabinet as Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster under H. H. Asquith. However, illness forced him to resign the following year.

Background and education[edit]

Born at Lansdowne House, Mayfair, London, Fitzmaurice was the second son of Henry Petty-FitzMaurice, 4th Marquess of Lansdowne and his second wife Emily de Flahault, daughter of the French statesman Charles Joseph, comte de Flahaut. His elder brother was the statesman Henry Petty-FitzMaurice, 5th Marquess of Lansdowne. Fitzmaurice was educated at Eton and Trinity College, Cambridge, where he was President of the Cambridge Union in 1866.[1] He was called to the Bar at Lincoln's Inn in 1871, but never practised.

Political career[edit]

In 1868 Fitzmaurice was elected unopposed to Parliament for the family constituency of Calne, a seat he would hold until 1885,[2] and served as Parliamentary Private Secretary to Robert Lowe, Chancellor of the Exchequer and later Home Secretary, from 1872 to 1874, when the Liberals fell from office. He was appointed Commissioner at Constantinople in 1880, overseeing the reorganisation of the European provinces of the Ottoman Empire under the Berlin Treaty of 1878. However, his ambitious plans and ideas for the area were never implemented.

The Liberals had returned to power in 1880, and in 1883 Gladstone appointed Fitzmaurice Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, succeeding Sir Charles Dilke, which he remained until the fall of the Liberal Government in 1885. The Calne constituency he had represented since 1868 was abolished in 1885, and he was instead chosen as the Liberal candidate for the Glasgow constituency of Blackfriars and Hutchesontown. However, illness forced Fitzmaurice into semi-retirement before the elections. He returned to public life in 1887 but was unsuccessful in his attempts to return to Parliament when he stood for Deptford in the 1892 general election and for Cricklade in the 1895 general election. However, in 1898 he was successfully returned for Cricklade in a by-election, a constituency he would represent until 1906.[3] When the Liberals came to power in late 1905 under Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman, Fitzmaurice was appointed to his old post of Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, but to the surprise of many he was overlooked for a Cabinet post. He was in fact offered the position of Foreign Secretary (which for five years prior had been held by his brother Lord Lansdowne) should Sir Edward Grey refuse it (which he did not). Fitzmaurice chose not to stand in the 1906 General Election, and was instead raised to the peerage as Baron Fitzmaurice, of Leigh in the County of Wiltshire.[4] He remained at the Foreign Office after Asquith became Prime Minister in April 1908 and was admitted to the Privy Council the same month.[5] In October 1908 he was appointed Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster,[6] with a seat in the Cabinet. However, a recurrence of his earlier illness forced him to resign the following year, marking the end of his political career.

Business appointments and writings[edit]

Apart from his participation in national politics, Lord Fitzmaurice was Chairman of Wiltshire County Council from 1896 to 1906. He was also a biographer, and published works on his great-grandfather, the Prime Minister the 2nd Earl of Shelburne and of his earlier ancestor, the economist, scientist and philosopher Sir William Petty, as well as on the 2nd Earl Granville. Moreover, he was a Trustee of the National Portrait Gallery and a Fellow of the British Academy.

Personal life[edit]

Lord Fitzmaurice married Caroline FitzGerald (d. 1911), daughter of William John FitzGerald of Connecticut, in 1889. Their marriage was annulled in 1894 and produced no children. He died in June 1936, two days after his 89th birthday. The title became extinct on his death.

References[edit]

External links[edit]

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Robert Lowe
Member of Parliament for Calne
18681885
Constituency abolished
Preceded by
Alfred Hopkinson
Member of Parliament for Cricklade
18981906
Succeeded by
John Massie
Political offices
Preceded by
Sir Charles Dilke, Bt
Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs
1883–1885
Succeeded by
Hon. Robert Bourke
Preceded by
Earl Percy
Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs
1905–1908
Succeeded by
Thomas McKinnon Wood
Preceded by
Sir Henry Fowler
Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster
1908–1909
Succeeded by
Herbert Samuel
Peerage of the United Kingdom
New creation Baron Fitzmaurice
1906–1935
Extinct