Eric Barrington

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Sir Eric Barrington KCB (5 June 1847 – 24 February 1918) was a British civil servant who was principal private secretary to three Foreign Secretaries.

Career[edit]

The Honourable Bernard Eric Edward Barrington, youngest son of William Barrington, 6th Viscount Barrington, was educated at Eton College and joined the Foreign Office (FCO) in 1867. He was Private Secretary to two Parliamentary Under-Secretaries of State for Foreign Affairs, Arthur Otway and Viscount Enfield, 1868–1874. In 1874 he became précis writer to the Foreign Secretary, the Earl of Derby, and continued under Derby's successor, Lord Salisbury. He accompanied Salisbury to the Congress of Berlin in 1878 and was given the diplomatic rank of Second Secretary for the purpose.[1] When Salisbury became Prime Minister for the first time in 1885, Barrington became Principal Private Secretary to the new Foreign Secretary, Lord Iddesleigh, 1885–86. He was Principal Private Secretary to Lord Salisbury (in his role as Foreign Secretary) in 1886–92 and 1895–1900, and then to the Marquess of Lansdowne 1900–05. When Sir Edward Grey succeeded Lord Lansdowne as Foreign Secretary in December 1905 Barrington was appointed Assistant Under-Secretary for Africa, but retired in July 1907.

Save during the short period when he was attached to the special British Embassy that attended the Congress of Berlin in 1878, the whole career of Sir Eric Barrington was passed in the Foreign Office. He was a distinguished representative of the class of higher permanent officials who are the custodians of tradition and the wardens of continuity in the great Departments of State. The public at large knows little or nothing of their work. From time to time their names appear as the recipients of a C.B. or a K.C.B., but their contact with the world, outside the walls of their office, is limited and intermittent. Their names and qualities are, as a rule, far better known to foreign Governments and to foreign diplomatists than to their own fellow-countrymen. Their reward consists in the confidence of their chiefs and the esteem of their colleagues. Though they sometimes wield great influence, they have no direct responsibility, and the chief guarantee against any misuse of their powers lies in their own patriotism and conscientiousness.
The Times, 26 February 1918

Eric Barrington was appointed CB in the 1889 Birthday Honours[2] and knighted KCB in 1902.[3]

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Diplomatic posts
Preceded by
Thomas Sanderson
Principal Private Secretary to the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs
1885–1886
Succeeded by
Francis Hyde Villiers
Preceded by
Francis Hyde Villiers
Principal Private Secretary to the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs
1886–1892
Succeeded by
Francis Hyde Villiers
Preceded by
Armine Wodehouse
Principal Private Secretary to the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs
1895–1905
Succeeded by
Louis du Pan Mallet