Francis Bertie, 1st Viscount Bertie of Thame

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
The Right Honourable
The Viscount Bertie of Thame
Francis Bertie 1915.jpg
Lord Bertie of Thame, 1915.
British Ambassador to France
In office
Monarch Edward VII
George V
Preceded by Sir Edmund Monson, Bt
Succeeded by The Earl of Derby
Personal details
Born 17 August 1844
Died 26 September 1919
Nationality British
Spouse(s) Lady Feodorowna Cecilia Wellesley (1838-1920)

Francis Leveson Bertie, 1st Viscount Bertie of Thame GCB GCMG GCVO PC (/ˈbɑrtɪ əv ˈtm/ "barty of tame";[1] 17 August 1844 – 26 September 1919), was a British diplomat. He was Ambassador to Italy between 1903 and 1905 and Ambassador to France between 1905 and 1918.

Background and education[edit]

Bertie was the second son of Montagu Bertie, 6th Earl of Abingdon, and Elizabeth Harcourt, daughter of George Harcourt. He was educated at Eton. From his great grandmother Charlotte Warren he had Dutch and Huguenot ancestral roots from the Schuyler family, the Van Cortlandt family, and the Delancey family of British North America.[2]

Diplomatic career[edit]

Bertie entered the Foreign Office in 1863. From 1874 to 1880 he served as Private Secretary to Robert Bourke, the Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, and in 1878 attended the Congress of Berlin. He served as acting senior clerk in the Eastern department from 1882 to 1885, and then later as senior clerk and assistant under-secretary in that department. In 1902 he was rewarded for his services by being made a Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath (KCB).[3]

In 1903, Bertie was appointed a Privy Counsellor[4] and made Ambassador to Italy,[5] and then in 1905 became Ambassador to France,[6] a post previously held by his father-in-law, Lord Cowley. Bertie would hold the Paris embassy for the next thirteen years. Having spent most of his career in the Foreign Office, he initially had some trouble adjusting to the role of ambassador, where he had far less control over the development of policy. But in his time at Paris Bertie was able to play a substantial role in strengthening the Entente Cordiale between France and Britain into a genuine alliance, encouraging strong British backing for France during the Moroccan Crises of 1905 and 1911. During these years, he was also showered with honors, being made Knight Grand Cross of the Royal Victorian Order (GCVO) in 1903,[7] a Knight Grand Cross of the Order of Saint Michael and Saint George (GCMG) in 1904,[8] and a Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Bath (GCB) in 1908, as well as receiving the French Legion of Honor.

Bertie was still ambassador in Paris when the First World War broke out in 1914. Although he was raised to the peerage as Baron Bertie of Thame, in the County of Oxford, in 1915,[9] during the war he was frequently bypassed by special missions directly from the British government, particularly the military mission of Lord Esher, with whom he also came into personal conflict. When Bertie fell ill in April 1918, he was replaced by the Secretary of State for War, Lord Derby, and returned to England. On his retirement, Bertie was made Viscount Bertie of Thame, in the County of Oxford.[10] He never fully recovered from his illness, dying in London on 26 September 1919.


Bertie married Lady Feodorowna Cecilia Wellesley (1838–1920), daughter of Henry Wellesley, 1st Earl Cowley and grandniece of the Duke of Wellington, in 1874. They had one child Vere, who succeeded in the viscountcy.


  1. ^ G.M. Miller, BBC Pronouncing Dictionary of British Names (Oxford UP, 1971), p. 14.
  2. ^ The Peerage: A genealogical survey of the peerage of Britain as well as the royal families of Europe Accessed February 11, 2015.
  3. ^ The London Gazette: no. 27453. p. 4441. 11 July 1902.
  4. ^ The London Gazette: no. 27534. p. 1672. 13 March 1903.
  5. ^ The London Gazette: no. 27518. p. 465. 23 January 1903.
  6. ^ The London Gazette: no. 27755. p. 415. 17 January 1905.
  7. ^ The London Gazette: no. 27560. p. 3525. 2 June 1903.
  8. ^ The London Gazette: no. 27732. p. 7256. 8 November 1904.
  9. ^ The London Gazette: no. 29262. p. 8015. 13 August 1915.
  10. ^ The London Gazette: no. 30968. p. 12490. 22 October 1918.

Primary sources[edit]

  • Francis Bertie, The Diary of Lord Bertie of Thame, 1914–1918, edited by Lady Algernon Gordon Lennox, D.B.E., with a foreword by Viscount Grey of Fallodon, New York, George H. Doran company [1924].

Secondary sources[edit]

  • Hamilton, Keith (1990). Bertie of Thame: Edwardian Ambassador. Woodbridge, Suffolk: Royal Historical Society. ISBN 0-86193-217-X. 
  • Hamilton, Keith (2004–2007). Bertie, Francis Leveson, first Viscount Bertie of Thame. Oxford: Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. 
  • Owen, David (2014). The Hidden Perspective: The Military Perspective 1906-1914. Haus Publishing. ISBN 978-1-908323-66-8. 
  • Steiner, Zara S. (1969). The Foreign Office and Foreign Policy 1898-1914. Cambridge. 

External links[edit]

Diplomatic posts
Preceded by
Baron Currie
British Ambassador to Italy
Succeeded by
Edwin Egerton
Preceded by
Sir Edmund Monson, Bt
British Ambassador to France
Succeeded by
The Earl of Derby
Peerage of the United Kingdom
New creation Viscount Bertie of Thame
Succeeded by
Vere Frederick Bertie
Baron Bertie of Thame