Edward Goschen

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For others of this name, see Goschen Baronets.

Sir William Edward Goschen, 1st Baronet GCB, GCMG, GCVO, PC (18 July 1847 – 20 May 1924), was a British diplomat.

Background and education[edit]

Goschen was born at Eltham, England, the twelfth child and sixth son of Wilhelm Heinrich Göschen, originally of Leipzig, Saxony, and Henrietta Ohmann, who was born in London. At the time of his birth his father was 54. The Liberal Unionist politician Lord Goschen was Goschen's elder brother. He was educated at Rugby and Corpus Christi College, Oxford. He twice represented Oxford at real tennis, played five matches of first-class cricket as a right-handed batsman for the University of Oxford and throughout his life was a keen sportsman.

Diplomatic service[edit]

Goschen entered the Diplomatic Service in 1869 and after an initial few months at the Foreign Office he served in Madrid, as Third Secretary in Buenos Aires, Paris, Rio de Janeiro, Constantinople, Peking, Copenhagen as secretary to the legation, (1888–1890), Lisbon as secretary to the legation, Washington (1893–1894) as secretary and Saint Petersburg (1895–1898).

Ambassador to Belgrade[edit]

Goschen was offered the Belgrade legation and took up post in Serbia in September 1899. He was later to recall that his only instructions from the Foreign Secretary Lord Salisbury was to "keep [an] eye [on] King Milan". He remained in Serbia until 1900.

Ambassador to Copenhagen[edit]

According to Goschen himself he was initially less than happy to be offered the Copenhagen Legation. "Oh dear, oh dear! I am not thrilled and later accepted but with misgivings". He served as Minister to Denmark from 1900 until 1905 and although recognising the posting as something of a diplomatic backwater he at least revelled in the social aspects of his position.

Ambassador to Vienna[edit]

Goschen's appointment as Ambassador to Austria-Hungary was seemingly made at the behest of King Edward VII. Goschen most probably expected the Vienna posting to be his last but the imminent retirement of Sir Frank Lascelles at the Berlin embassy posed problems for the Foreign Secretary.

Ambassador to Berlin[edit]

Finding a successor for Lascelles was not easy. Berlin made it clear that Sir Arthur Nicolson would be unacceptable as the successor and although the Permanent Under-Secretary for Foreign Affairs Charles Hardinge had initially favoured Fairfax Cartwright, the Minister at Munich, he was in his turn vetoed by the Germans who wanted a public figure. Eventually a reluctant Kaiser was persuaded to accept Goschen. In Goschen's last conversation with the German Chancellor Theobald von Bethmann-Hollweg before asking for his passports, on 4 August 1914, Bethmann famously expressed his astonishment that England would go to war for "a scrap of paper" (the 1839 treaty guaranteeing Belgium's neutrality).

Sir Edward Goschen Fund[edit]

During World War I, Goschen established a relief fund for British citizens still living in Germany who had lost their means of income and for British POWs being held prisoner in Germany. The fund was primarily administered through the United States Consular Service, now the United States Foreign Service.[1][2]


British honours and decorations

  • He was created a Baronet, of Beacon Lodge, Highcliffe, in the County of Southampton, in 1916.

Foreign decorations

Personal life[edit]

Goschen married Harriet Hosta Clarke, an American from Michigan, in 1874. They had two sons, Edward Henry Goschen born in 1877 and George Gerard Goschen born in 1887. Lady Goschen died in February 1912. In later life he became an enthusiastic if untalented violinist. He notes in his diary playing duets with the German Crown Prince in 1910. Goschen died in Chelsea, London, in May 1924, aged 76, and was succeeded in his title by his eldest son, Edward Henry Goschen.


  1. ^ "The Sir Edward Goschen Fund in Germany: relief payments". Retrieved 17 November 2013. 
  2. ^ American Consular Service; Wiesbaden Germany; Miscellaneous Correspondence, National Archives and Records Administration, 1915, Record Group: 84; NAID: 1328655 
  3. ^ The London Gazette: no. 27356. p. 6102. 17 September 1901.
  • Baring, Maurice, The Puppet Show of Memory (London, 1922)
  • Bruce, Henry, Silken Daliance (London, 1946)
  • Howard, C.H.D (ed.), The Diary of Sir Edward Goschen 1900-1914 (London, 1980)
  • Jones, Raymond A., The British Diplomatic Service 1815-1914 (Waterloo Ontario, 1983)
  • Kennedy, Paul M., The Rise of the Anglo-German Antagonism, 1860-1914 (London, 1981)
  • Rattigan, Frank, Diversions of a Diplomat (London, 1924)
  • Rumbold, Horace, War Crisis in Berlin (London, 1940)
  • Steiner, Zara S., The Foreign Office and Foreign Policy 1898-1914 (Cambridge, 1970)
  • Steiner, Zara S., Britain and the Origins of World War I (London, 1978)
  • First World war primary documents - Britain's Breaking Off of Diplomatic Relations with Germany, 4 August 1914
Diplomatic posts
Preceded by
Edmund Fane
British Ambassador to Serbia
Succeeded by
George Bonham
Preceded by
Edmund Fane
British Ambassador to Denmark
Succeeded by
Hon. Sir Alan Johnstone
Preceded by
Francis Richard Plunkett
British Ambassador to Austria-Hungary
Succeeded by
Fairfax Cartwright
Preceded by
Sir Frank Lascelles
British Ambassador to Germany
World War I
Court offices
Title last held by
Sir Spencer Ponsonby-Fane
Gentleman Usher to the Sword of State
Succeeded by
Sir Reginald Brade
Baronetage of the United Kingdom
New creation Baronet
(of Beacon Lodge)
Succeeded by
Sir Edward Goschen, 2nd Baronet