Maurice de Bunsen

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"Photo of Sir Maurice de Bunsen"
Sir Maurice de Bunsen in 1909

Sir Maurice William Ernest de Bunsen, 1st Baronet GCMG, GCVO, CB, PC (8 January 1852 – 21 February 1932),[1] was a British diplomat.

Background and early life[edit]

De Bunsen was the son of Ernest de Bunsen, second son of Baron von Bunsen, Prussian ambassador to London, by Elizabeth Gurney. He was educated at Rugby School, and Christ Church, Oxford, and entered the diplomatic service in 1877.

Diplomatic career[edit]

De Bunsen was appointed Third Secretary in 1879 and Second secretary in 1883, then served as Secretary of Legation in Tokyo 1891–1894, and as Consul- General in Siam 1894–1897. He was Secretary at Constantinople 1897–1902, Secretary of Embassy and Minister Plenipotentiary at Paris 1902–1905, and saw his first posting as head of station when he was appointed British Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary at Lisbon in 1905. He was British Ambassador to Spain between 1906 and 1913 and to Austria between 1913 and 1914, when he was recalled after the outbreak of the First World War.

On 16 July 1914, reporting on what he had been told the previous day at a lunch with Count Heinrich von Lützow (who had learned of the planned aggression against Serbia and was trying to derail what he saw as a coming war), he told Sir Edward Grey that "a kind of indictment is being prepared against the Servian Government for alleged complicity in the conspiracy which led to the assassination of the Archduke" and that "the Servian Government will be required to adopt certain definite measures in restraint of nationalistic and anarchistic propaganda, and that Austro-Hungarian Government are in no mood to parley with Servia, but will insist on immediate unconditional compliance, failing which force will be used. Germany is said to be in complete agreement with this procedure." However, when he visited Berchtold the next day, the Foreign Minister was reassuringly "charming," and the British showed no further curiosity about the leak of vital information.[2]

He headed the De Bunsen Committee in 1915, established to determine British wartime policy toward the Ottoman Empire, and was also head of a special mission to South America in 1918. He retired from the diplomatic service in 1919.[1]


Sir Maurice de Bunsen and his wife, c. 1905.

De Bunsen was sworn of the Privy Council in 1906[3] and created a baronet, of Abbey Lodge, Hanover Gate, in the Metropolitan borough of Saint Marylebone, in 1919.[4] He died in February 1932, aged 80, when the baronetcy became extinct.


De Bunsen married, in 1899, Bertha Mary Lowry-Corry. They had four daughters, including:[1]

  • Hilda Violet Helena de Bunsen, married firstly Major Guy Yerburgh (d 1926), and secondly Major-General Sir Guy Salisbury-Jones
  • Elizabeth Cicely de Bunsen, married Lieutenant Colonel Archibald Vivien Campbell Douglas (1902–1977)


  1. ^ a b c de BUNSEN, Rt Hon. Sir Maurice (William Ernest)’, Who Was Who, A & C Black, Oxford University Press, Dec 2007
  2. ^ Sean McMeekin, July 1914: Countdown to War (Basic Books, 2014; ISBN 0465038867), Ch. 8.
  3. ^ The London Gazette: no. 27886. p. 1133. 16 February 1906.
  4. ^ The London Gazette: no. 31255. p. 4008. 28 March 1919.
Diplomatic posts
Preceded by
Sir Arthur Nicolson, Bt
British Ambassador to Spain
Succeeded by
Sir Arthur Henry Hardinge
Preceded by
Sir Fairfax Cartwright
British Ambassador to Austria
No representation due to the First World War
Baronetage of the United Kingdom
New creation Baronet
(of Abbey Lodge)