Francis Osborne, 5th Duke of Leeds

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His Grace
The Duke of Leeds
Francis Osborne, 5th Duke of Leeds by Benjamin West.jpg
Portrait by Benjamin West, circa 1769
Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs
In office
23 December 1783 – May 1791
Monarch George III
Prime Minister The Right Hon. William Pitt
Preceded by The Earl Temple
Succeeded by The Lord Grenville
Leader of the House of Lords
In office
Preceded by The Lord Sydney
Succeeded by The Lord Grenville
Personal details
Born 29 January 1751 (1751-01-29)
Died 31 January 1799(1799-01-31) (aged 48)
London, Great Britain
Nationality British
Political party Tory
Spouse(s) (1) Lady Amelia Darcy
Catherine Anguish
Alma mater Christ Church, Oxford

Francis Godolphin Osborne, 5th Duke of Leeds, KG, PC (29 January 1751 – 31 January 1799), styled Marquess of Carmarthen until 1789, was a British politician. He notably served as Foreign Secretary under William Pitt the Younger from 1783 to 1791. He also was Governor of Scilly. As a statesman he is generally regarded as a failure, and his deep hostility to the newly independent United States of America damaged relations between the two countries.

Background and education[edit]

Carmarthen was the only surviving son of Thomas Osborne, 4th Duke of Leeds, by his wife Lady Mary, daughter of Francis Godolphin, 2nd Earl of Godolphin, and Henrietta Godolphin, 2nd Duchess of Marlborough. He was educated at Westminster School and at Christ Church, Oxford.

Political career[edit]

Carmarthen was a Member of Parliament for Eye in 1774 and for Helston from 1774 to 1775; in 1776 having received a writ of acceleration as Baron Osborne, he entered the House of Lords, and in 1777 Lord Chamberlain of the Queen's Household and Captain of Deal Castle. In the House of Lords he was prominent as a determined foe of the prime minister, Lord North, who, after he had resigned his position as chamberlain, deprived him of the office of Lord Lieutenant of the East Riding of Yorkshire in 1780. He regained this, however, two years later.[citation needed]

Early in 1783 Carmarthen was selected as ambassador to France, but he did not take up this appointment, becoming instead Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs under William Pitt the Younger in December of the same year. Historian Jeremy Black says that in terms of foreign policy, Pitt and other leaders were disappointed with his performance as a minister. Leeds, as he became upon his father's death in 1789, was anti-French but did not develop an active and aggressive foreign policy. Instead, King George III himself set the main lines of foreign policy before he became mentally disabled.[1] Pitt's rejection of Leeds' anti-Russian policy was the final blow and he left office in April 1791.[2]

Leeds had done nothing to foster good relations with the newly independent United States of America: two future Presidents, John Adams and Thomas Jefferson, as envoys from the United States, both complained of his obstructive attitude and "aversion to having anything to do with us".[3] While Adams, who was rather Anglophile by inclination, was prepared to forgive and forget, Jefferson was not, and it can be argued that Leeds's only lasting achievement was to foster Jefferson's implacable hostility as President to Great Britain and its rulers.[4]

Subsequently Leeds took little part in politics: in 1792, hearing rumours that a new coalition might be formed, he unwisely offered himself as its head and met with a firm rebuff from both Pitt and the King.[5]


Ancestral arms of the Osborne family, Dukes of Leeds

Leeds married firstly in 1773 Lady Amelia Darcy, daughter of Robert Darcy, 4th Earl of Holderness on 29 November 1773. Lady Amelia became Baroness Darcy de Knayth and Baroness Conyers in her own right in 1778. They were divorced in 1779. Their marriage produced three children:

He married secondly Catherine, daughter of Thomas Anguish, in 1788 and had two more children:

  • Lord Sidney Godolphin Osborne (1789–1861); unmarried.
  • Lady Catherine Anne Sarah Osborne (1791–1878); married Major John Whyte-Melville on 1 June 1819 and had issue. .

Leeds died in London in January 1799, aged 48, and was buried in the Osborne family chapel at All Hallows Church, Harthill, South Yorkshire. He was succeeded in the dukedom by his eldest son from his first marriage, George Osborne, 6th Duke of Leeds. His second son from his first marriage, Lord Francis Osborne, was created Baron Godolphin in 1832. The dowager Duchess of Leeds died in October 1837, aged 73. Leeds's Political Memoranda were edited by Oscar Browning for the Camden Society in 1884, and there are eight volumes of his official correspondence in the British Museum.


  1. ^ Jeremy Black, British Foreign Policy in an Age of Revolutions, 1783-1793 (1994) p 55-56
  2. ^ William Hague William Pitt the Younger
  3. ^ McCullough, David John Adams Simon and Schuster New York 2001
  4. ^ McCullough John Adams
  5. ^ Hague, William William Pitt the Younger Harper Collins 2004
  •  This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainChisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Leeds, Thomas Osborne, 1st Duke of". Encyclopædia Britannica. 16 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. pp. 366–368.
Parliament of Great Britain
Preceded by
Richard Burton Phillipson
William Cornwallis
Member of Parliament for Eye
With: Richard Burton Phillipson
Succeeded by
Richard Burton Phillipson
John St John
Preceded by
William Evelyn
The Earl of Clanbrassil
Member of Parliament for Helston
With: Francis Owen
Succeeded by
Francis Cockayne Cust
Philip Yorke
Court offices
Preceded by
The Earl De La Warr
Lord Chamberlain to The Queen
Succeeded by
The Earl of Ailesbury
Political offices
Preceded by
The Earl Temple
Foreign Secretary
Succeeded by
The Lord Grenville
Preceded by
The Lord Sydney
Leader of the House of Lords
Honorary titles
Title last held by
The Viscount of Irvine
Lord Lieutenant of the East Riding of Yorkshire
Succeeded by
The Earl of Carlisle
Preceded by
The Earl of Carlisle
Lord Lieutenant of the East Riding of Yorkshire
Succeeded by
The Earl of Carlisle
Title last held by
The Marquess of Rockingham
Vice-Admiral of Yorkshire
Title next held by
The Lord Mulgrave
Preceded by
The Lord Godolphin
Governor of the Isles of Scilly
Succeeded by
The Duke of Leeds
Peerage of England
Preceded by
Thomas Osborne
Duke of Leeds
Succeeded by
George Osborne
Baron Osborne
(writ in acceleration)