William Eden, 1st Baron Auckland
|The Right Honourable|
The Lord Auckland
FRS PC (Ire)
|President of the Board of Trade|
5 February 1806 – 31 March 1807
|Prime Minister||The Lord Grenville|
|Preceded by||The Duke of Montrose|
|Succeeded by||The Earl Bathurst|
|Born||3 April 1745|
28 May 1814 (aged 69)|
Eleanor Elliot |
|Alma mater||Christ Church, Oxford|
William Eden, 1st Baron Auckland, PC (Ire), FRS (3 April 1745 – 28 May 1814) was a British diplomat and politician who sat in the British House of Commons from 1774 to 1793. The subantarctic Auckland Islands group to the south of New Zealand, discovered in 1806, were named after him.
Background and education
A member of the influential Eden family, Auckland was a younger son of Sir Robert Eden, 3rd Baronet, of Windlestone Hall, County Durham, and Mary, daughter of William Davison. His brothers included Sir Robert Eden, 1st Baronet, of Maryland, Governor of Maryland, and Morton Eden, 1st Baron Henley. He was educated at Durham School, Eton and Christ Church, Oxford, and was called to the bar, Middle Temple, in 1768.
In 1771 Auckland published Principles of Penal Law, and soon became a recognized authority on commercial and economic questions. In 1772 he took up an appointment as Under-Secretary of State for the North, a post he held until 1778. He was Member of Parliament for Woodstock from 1774 to 1784 and served as a Lord of Trade from 1776 to 1782. In 1778 he carried an Act for the improvement of the treatment of prisoners, and accompanied the Earl of Carlisle as a commissioner to North America on an unsuccessful mission to bring an end to the American War of Independence. During the War, he was head of the British spies in Europe, his budget reaching £200,000 by 1778. He probably oversaw a small group of intelligence collectors for Lord Suffolk. On his return in 1779 he published his widely read Four Letters to the Earl of Carlisle. In 1780 Auckland became Chief Secretary for Ireland, which he remained until 1782, and was admitted to the Irish Privy Council in 1780. He represented Dungannon in the Irish House of Commons between 1781 and 1783 and was Joint Vice-Treasurer of Ireland between 1783 and 1784. While in Ireland he established the National Bank.
Between 1784 and 1793 Auckland was Member of Parliament for Heytesbury. He was sworn of the British Privy Council in 1784 and served as Envoy to France from 1785 to 1787 (on a mission dealing with commerce); he was Ambassador to Spain between 1787 and 1789 and Ambassador to the Netherlands between 1789 and 1793. In 1789 he was raised to the Peerage of Ireland as Baron Auckland and in 1793 he retired from public service, receiving a pension of £2300, and was further honoured when he was made Baron Auckland, of West Auckland in the County of Durham, in the Peerage of Great Britain.
During his retirement in the country at Beckenham, he continued his intimacy with William Pitt the Younger, his nearest neighbour at Holwood House, who at one time had thoughts of marrying his daughter (see below). With Pitt’s sanction he published his Remarks on the Apparent Circumstances of the War in 1795, to prepare public opinion for a peace.
He was later included in Pitt's government as Joint Postmaster General in 1798. He severely criticized Pitt’s resignation in 1801, from which he had endeavoured to dissuade him, and retained office under Henry Addington. This terminated his friendship with Pitt, who excluded him from his administration in 1804 though he increased his pension, but he later and served under Lord Grenville as President of the Board of Trade in the Ministry of All the Talents between 1806 and 1807.
His Journal and Correspondence, published in 1861–1862, throws much light on the political history of the time.
Eleanor Agnes, the eldest daughter, became the subject of intense public interest in 1797 when it was rumoured that she was about to marry William Pitt the Younger, the Prime Minister; when the matter became public, however, Pitt denied that he had proposed to Eleanor, much to her father's fury. In 1799 she married Robert Hobart, 4th Earl of Buckinghamshire. Pitt never married.
Their daughter Elizabeth Charlotte Eden (known by her middle name) married Francis Osborne, 1st Baron Godolphin. A description of the Godolphin life at their family seat, Gog Magog House (now destroyed), was captured in a letter by one of her younger sisters: "I invited myself of course, but [Lady] Charlotte bore it very well. I was there fifteen years ago in the capacity of a child: I therefore did not see much of her, or know anything of her and except that, have not seen her but for two or three morning visits per annum; so it was a voyage of discovery, in the style of a North Pole expedition. The Frost intense--and a good deal of hummocky ice to sail through. However, I really liked it better than expected. Lord Francis [Osborne] is particularly pleasant in his own house, and young Charlotte [the youngest child and only daughter] very civil and good-natured." Sons of the house included George, the eldest, who became 8th Duke of Leeds in 1859, and Sydney, later known for his letters to The Times on various political and social causes. He wrote about the workhouses in Ireland during the Great Famine and was with Florence Nightingale in Scutari during the Crimean War.
- Lee, Stephen M.; rev. Sinéad Agnew. "Eden, William, first Baron Auckland (1744–1814)". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Sept 2004; online edn, May 2009). Retrieved 8 November 2009.
Eden was educated at Durham School (1755–8) and Eton College (1758–62) before going up to Christ Church, Oxford, in 1762.
- One or more of the preceding sentences incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Auckland, William Eden". Encyclopædia Britannica. 2 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. pp. 893–894.
- Hague, William William Pitt the Younger Harper Collins 2004
- (Emily Eden. "Miss Eden's Letters." Violet Dickinson, ed. London: Macmillan, 1919, p. 93).
- Foster, Joseph. textsThe peerage, baronetage, and knightage of the British Empire : for 1882 (1883 ed.). Nicols & Sons. p. 646.