John Ponsonby, 1st Viscount Ponsonby

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For other people named John Ponsonby, see John Ponsonby (disambiguation).
Lord Ponsonby in a painting by John Frederick Lewis, 1841.

John Ponsonby, 1st Viscount Ponsonby, GCB (1770 – 22 February 1855) was a longtime British diplomat and politician.

Political career[edit]

Ponsonby, eldest son of the 1st Baron Ponsonby, and brother of Sir William Ponsonby, was born about 1770. He served as a Member of Parliament (MP) in the Irish House of Commons for Tallow between 1793 and 1797. Elected in 1798 for both Banagher and Dungarvan, he elected to sit for the latter from 1798 to the Act of Union in 1800/01. He then represented Galway Borough in the United Kingdom House of Commons until 1802.

Diplomatic career[edit]

On the death of his father on 5 November 1806, he succeeded him as Baron Ponsonby, and for some time held an appointment in the Ionian Islands. On 28 February 1826 he went to Buenos Aires as envoy-extraordinary and minister-plenipotentiary until 1828 and moved then to Rio de Janeiro in the same capacity. An exceptionally handsome man, he was sent, it was reported, to South America by George Canning to please George IV, who was envious of the attention paid him by Lady Conyngham. Once there he greatly fostered the creation of a buffer state between Argentina and Brazil to the benefit of British commerce: Uruguay. In 1830, he was entrusted with a special mission to Belgium on 1 December 1830, in connection with the candidature of Prince Leopold of Saxe-Coburg to the throne, and remained in Brussels until Leopold was elected king on 4 June 1831. His dealings with this matter were adversely criticised in ‘The Guet-à-Pens Diplomacy, or Lord Ponsonby at Brussels, …’ London, 1831. But Lord Grey eulogised him in the House of Lords on 25 June 1831. Thus, as a diplomat, he was sent twice by the British Empire to promote the instauration of buffer states to protect its interests, Uruguay and Belgium, both of which survive to this very day, still deeply similar to their bigger neighbours. In addition to this, Ponsonby was envoy to Naples from 8 June to 9 November 1832, ambassador at Constantinople from 27 November 1832 to 1841, and ambassador at Vienna from 10 August 1846 to 31 May 1850.

Later life[edit]

Through Lord Grey, who had married his sister Mary Elizabeth, he had great influence, but his conduct as an ambassador sometimes occasioned embarrassment to the ministry. He was, however, a keen diplomatist of the old school, a shrewd observer, and a man of large views and strong will (LOFTUS, Diplomatic Reminiscences, 1892, i. 129–30). He was gazetted G.C.B. on 3 March 1834, and created Viscount Ponsonby, of Imokilly in the County of Cork on 20 April 1839. The viscount had married, on 13 January 1803, Elizabeth Frances Villiers, fifth daughter of George Villiers, 4th Earl of Jersey. She died at 62 Chester Square, London, on 14 April 1866, having had no issue. Ponsonby published ‘Private Letters on the Eastern Question, written at the date thereon,’ Brighton, 1854, and died at Brighton on 21 February 1855. The viscounty thereupon lapsed, but the barony devolved on his nephew William, son of Sir William Ponsonby.

References[edit]

  • Mosley, Charles (editor). (1999). Burke's Peerage & Baronetage, 106th edition
Attribution

 This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain"Ponsonby, John (1770?-1855)". Dictionary of National Biography. London: Smith, Elder & Co. 1885–1900. 

Parliament of Ireland
Preceded by
John Egan
Hugh Cane
Member of Parliament for Tallow
1793–1798
With: John Egan
Succeeded by
John Egan
John Metge
Preceded by
Edward Hoare
John Metge
Member of Parliament for Banagher
1797 - 1798
With: John Metge 1797–1798
Arthur Dawson 1798
Succeeded by
John Metge
Arthur Dawson
Preceded by
Marcus Beresford
Chambre Brabazon Ponsonby
Member of Parliament for Dungarvan
1798 – 1801
With: Marcus Beresford 1798
Edward Lee 1798–1801
Succeeded by
Parliament of the United Kingdom
Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
St. George Daly
Member of Parliament for Galway Borough
1801–1802
Succeeded by
Denis Bowes Daly
Diplomatic posts
Preceded by
Woodbine Parish
British Minister at Buenos Aires
1826–1828
Succeeded by
Woodbine Parish
as Chargé d'Affaires
Preceded by
Sir Robert Gordon
British Minister to Brazil
1828–1832
Succeeded by
Stephen Henry Fox
Preceded by
William Noel Hill
British Minister at Naples
1832–1833
Succeeded by
Hon. William Temple
Vacant
No diplomatic relations
Title last held by
Stratford Canning
British Ambassador to the Sublime Porte
1833–1837
Succeeded by
Sir Charles Richard Vaughan
Preceded by
Sir Robert Gordon
British Ambassador to Austria
1846 – 1850
Succeeded by
The Earl of Westmorland
Peerage of the United Kingdom
New creation Viscount Ponsonby
1839–1855
Extinct
Preceded by
William Ponsonby
Baron Ponsonby
1806–1855
Succeeded by
William Ponsonby