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Stratford Canning 29 years old(1815)

Stratford Canning, 1st Viscount Stratford de Redcliffe KG GCB PC (4 November 1786 – 14 August 1880) was a British diplomat and longtime ambassador to the Sublime Porte.

Contents

Biography

Son of Stratford Canning, Jr. (1744–1787), an Irish born merchant based in London, and the first cousin of future prime minister George Canning and the future 1st Baron Garvagh, Stratford studied at Eton College and King's College, Cambridge.[1] In 1807, he was given a minor role in the Foreign Office by his cousin, and was sent on a mission to Denmark later that year.

His first trip to Constantinople in 1808, when he accompanied the mission of Robert Adair that restored peace between Britain and the Turks. When Adair left Constantinople in 1810, Canning became minister-plenipotentiary, and it was Canning who helped mediate the Treaty of Bucharest between the Ottomans and Russia on 28 May 1812.

Canning returned to London later that year, and helped to found the Quarterly Review, and in June 1814 was appointed minister-plenipotentiary to Switzerland, where he, along with the other allied representatives, helped negotiate Swiss neutrality and a new Swiss federal constitution. In October he went to Vienna, where he acted as an aid to Lord Castlereagh, the British representative at the Congress of Vienna.

After the negotiation of Swiss neutrality in 1815, Canning's role there became dull to him, but he stayed until 1819, when he was recalled and sent to Washington as Minister-Plenipotentiary to the United States. Although he hoped for major accomplishments in Washington that would allow him to move up to a larger position, he was largely unsuccessful. The initiative of his cousin George, now once again Foreign Secretary, for a join Anglo-American guarantee of Latin American independence, led to the promulgation of the Monroe Doctrine. In 1820, Canning was made a member of the Privy Council.

Canning returned to London in 1823, and the next year was sent on a mission to Russia, where he negotiated a treaty on the border between Russian and British North America, but failed to come to any agreement regarding the Greek Revolt.

In 1825, Canning was sent to Constantinople once again, this time as Ambassador. He fled the city following the Battle of Navarino in 1827, but after a brief return to London he, along with the French and Russian ambassadors who had also fled, set up camp at Poros. In 1828 he and the other ambassadors signed the Poros Protocols, which granted the new Greek state the islands of Crete, Samos, and Euboea. Although he had been encouraged in this generous position towards the Greeks by his superior, Lord Aberdeen, this move was disavowed by the government, and Canning resigned.

Entry into British politics

Following his return, Canning attempted to enter British politics, entering the Commons in 1831, but was not a particularly notable figure in the Commons. When the Whigs entered office and the Canningite Lord Palmerston became British foreign secretary, Canning returned again to Constantinople in 1831, but returned in 1832, disapproving of Palmerston's lack of consultation with him and the choice of Prince Otto of Bavaria as King of Greece. That year, he was appointed ambassador to Russia, but never took the office, as Tsar Nicholas I refused to receive him.

Canning was, however, sent on a new diplomatic mission, to Madrid, where he was to deal with the rival claimants to the Portuguese throne, but was largely unsuccessful. He turned again, attempting again to pursue a course in domestic politics, associating himself with Lord Stanley's band of renegade Whigs, but when Stanley's followers entered government with Robert Peel in 1841, Canning again was not offered a post. Going to Lord Aberdeen, the new Foreign Secretary, with whom his relations remained ambiguous, Canning was once again offered the Constantinople embassy.

Ambassador to Constantinople

Canning's term in Constantinople lasted from 1842 to 1852, and in this period he came to be seen as one of the leading figures in Constantinople, as British influence over the Porte increased and the Turks came to be seen more and more as British clients.

When Canning's old ally Stanley, now Earl of Derby, formed a government in 1852, Canning hoped to receive the foreign office, or at least the Paris embassy. Instead, he was raised to the peerage as Viscount Stratford de Redcliffe, in the County of Somerset. He returned home in 1852, but when Aberdeen's coalition government was formed, Stratford de Redcliffe was sent back to Constantinople once again.

In Constantinople for the last time, Stratford came in the midst of a crisis caused by the dispute between Napoleon III and Nicholas I over the protection of the holy places. This crisis ultimately led to the Crimean War. Stratford is accused of encouraging the Turks to reject the compromise agreement during the Menshikov mission. It appears that he was consistently urging the Turks to reject compromises arguing that any Russian treaty, or facsimile thereof, would be to subject the Ottoman Empire to protectorate status under Tsar Nicholas I. He left Constantinople for the last time in 1857, and resigned early the next year.

Retirement

For the next twenty-two years Lord Stratford de Redcliffe lived in retirement, pursuing scholarly activities and deeply bored by his absence from public life. He attended the House of Lords regularly and spoke frequently on foreign policy matters as a cross-bencher. In 1869 he was made a Knight of the Garter. During the Eastern Crisis of the 1870s, Stratford wrote frequent letters in The Times on the subject.

Family

Stratford Canning was the youngest of five children, several of whom achieved distinction, even if none of his siblings wrote as prodigiously about their work as Stratford did. His eldest brother, Henry Canning (1774–1841), became British Consul in Hamburg in 1823, a posting he retained for the rest of his life. His brother Charles Fox Canning (1784–1815) was at the time of his death ADC to the Duke of Wellington at the Battle of Waterloo.

Canning was twice married. His first wife, Harriet daughter to Thomas and Harriet Raikes, died in her 27th year at Lausanne in February 1817, probably in childbirth. His second wife, Eliza Charlotte Alexander (1805–1882), bore him (at least) five children of whom four survived to adulthood. These were:

  • Louisa Charlotte Canning (1828–1908)
  • George Stratford Canning (1832–1878)
  • Catherine Jane Canning (1835–1884)
  • Mary Elizabeth Canning (1837–1905)

All Stratford Canning's children died unmarried. Canning himself died at the age of 93 in 1880, his peerage becoming extinct. He is buried underneath a large very grey monument on the western side of the grave yard at Frant in Sussex, England.

References

  1. ^ Canning, Stratford in Venn, J. & J. A., Alumni Cantabrigienses, Cambridge University Press, 10 vols, 1922–1958.

External links

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
James Alexander
Josias du Pre Alexander
Member of Parliament for Old Sarum
1828–1830
With: James Alexander
Succeeded by
James Alexander
Josias du Pre Alexander
Preceded by
George Wilbraham
William Sloane-Stanley
Member of Parliament for Stockbridge
1831–1832
With: John Foster-Barham
Constituency abolished
Preceded by
Lord George Bentinck
Lord William Lennox
Member of Parliament for King's Lynn
1835–1842
With: Lord George Bentinck
Succeeded by
Lord George Bentinck
Viscount Jocelyn
Diplomatic posts
Preceded by
The Viscount Strangford
British Ambassador to the Ottoman Empire
1825–1828
Succeeded by
Sir Robert Gordon
Preceded by
Sir John Ponsonby
British Ambassador to the Ottoman Empire
1841–1858
Succeeded by
Sir Henry Bulwer
Peerage of the United Kingdom
New creation Viscount Stratford de Redcliffe
1852–1880
Extinct
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