Beilby Francis Alston was the son of a civil servant at the Foreign Office (not a diplomat), Sir Francis Alston KCMG. Beilby Alston started as a clerk in the Librarian's Department of the Foreign Office in 1890 and later that year in the Political Division. In 1895 he was posted to Copenhagen as acting 3rd Secretary in the Diplomatic Service. He was Secretary to the British Plenipotentiaries at a conference in Paris in 1896 to revise the Berne Convention, then acting 2nd Secretary and chargé d'affaires at Buenos Aires 1896–97. He was Secretary to British representatives at conferences at Brussels in 1898, 1901, and 1902, leading to the Brussels Sugar Convention of 5 March 1902. Returning to London, Alston was attached to Prince Tsai Suun of China on his mission to England in 1909, and to Prince Tsai-Chen who represented the Emperor of China at the coronation of King George V in June 1911. In December 1911 he was with Prince Alexander of Teck who represented the King at the coronation of King Rama VI of Siam (Thailand), moving on to Peking where he was Counsellor of the Legation 1911–17, and chargé d'affaires in 1913 and 1916–17 when the Minister, Sir John Jordan, was absent. Alston was Deputy High Commissioner in Siberia 1918–19 (during the Siberian Intervention), then Minister Plenipotentiary in Tokyo 1919–20 (under the Ambassador, Sir Charles Eliot), then Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary to China 1920–22, then Minister to Argentina and to Paraguay 1923–25, then Ambassador to Brazil from 1925 until his death.
Beilby Alston was appointed CB in the King's Birthday Honours of 1913 and knighted KCMG in the Birthday Honours of 1920 and GBE in the Birthday Honours of 1929. He was made a Privy Counsellor in 1925. The Emperor of China gave him the Grand Cross of the Order of the Double Dragon in 1909, and the King of Siam made him a Commander of the Order of the White Elephant in 1911.
- ALSTON, Rt. Hon. Sir Beilby Francis, Who Was Who, 1920–2008; online edn, Oxford University Press, Dec 2007
- Sir Beilby Alston – British Ambassador In Brazil (obituary), The Times, London, 29 June 1929, page 14
- Sir Beilby Francis ALSTON G.B.E. K.C.M.G. C.B. P.C. (family site)
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- "No. 26777". The London Gazette. 15 September 1896. p. 5139.
- "No. 31802". The London Gazette. 2 March 1920. p. 2455.
- "No. 32781". The London Gazette. 29 December 1922. p. 9161.
- "No. 33124". The London Gazette. 15 January 1926. p. 367.
- "No. 28724". The London Gazette (Supplement). 3 June 1913. p. 3905.
- "No. 31931". The London Gazette (Supplement). 5 June 1920. p. 6317.
- "No. 33501". The London Gazette (Supplement). 3 June 1929. p. 3677.
- "No. 33115". The London Gazette. 18 December 1925. p. 8359.
Sir John Jordan
|Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary to the Republic of China
Sir Ronald Macleay
|Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary to the Argentine Republic, and Minister Plenipotentiary to the Republic of Paraguay
Sir Malcolm Robertson
Sir John Tilley
|Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to the United States of Brazil
Sir William Seeds