Granville Leveson-Gower, 2nd Earl Granville

Granville Leveson-Gower, 2nd Earl Granville

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Granville George Leveson Gower, 2nd Earl Granville KG
Order of the Garter
The Most Noble Order of the Garter, founded in 1348, is the highest order of chivalry, or knighthood, existing in England. The order is dedicated to the image and arms of St...

, PC
Privy Council of the United Kingdom
Her Majesty's Most Honourable Privy Council, usually known simply as the Privy Council, is a formal body of advisers to the Sovereign in the United Kingdom...

 FRS (11 May 1815 – 31 March 1891), styled Lord Leveson until 1846, was a British
United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland was the formal name of the United Kingdom during the period when what is now the Republic of Ireland formed a part of it....

Liberal Party (UK)
The Liberal Party was one of the two major political parties of the United Kingdom during the 19th and early 20th centuries. It was a third party of negligible importance throughout the latter half of the 20th Century, before merging with the Social Democratic Party in 1988 to form the present day...

A statesman is usually a politician or other notable public figure who has had a long and respected career in politics or government at the national and international level. As a term of respect, it is usually left to supporters or commentators to use the term...

. In a political career spanning over 50 years, he was thrice Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, led the Liberal Party in the House of Lords for almost 30 years and was joint Leader of the Liberal Party between 1875 and 1880.

Background and education

Leveson-Gower was born in London
London is the capital city of :England and the :United Kingdom, the largest metropolitan area in the United Kingdom, and the largest urban zone in the European Union by most measures. Located on the River Thames, London has been a major settlement for two millennia, its history going back to its...

, the eldest son of Granville Leveson-Gower, 1st Earl Granville
Granville Leveson-Gower, 1st Earl Granville
Granville Leveson-Gower, 1st Earl Granville GCB PC , known as Lord Granville Leveson-Gower from 1786 to 1814 and as the Viscount Granville from 1814 to 1833, was a British Whig statesman and diplomat....

, by Lady Harriet Cavendish, daughter of William Cavendish, 5th Duke of Devonshire
William Cavendish, 5th Duke of Devonshire
William Cavendish, 5th Duke of Devonshire, KG was a British aristocrat and politician. He was the eldest son of the William Cavendish, 4th Duke of Devonshire by his wife the heiress Lady Charlotte Boyle, suo jure Baroness Clifford of Lanesborough, who brought in considerable money and estates to...

. His father was a younger son of Granville Leveson-Gower, 1st Marquess of Stafford
Granville Leveson-Gower, 1st Marquess of Stafford
Granville Leveson-Gower, 1st Marquess of Stafford PC , known as Viscount Trentham from 1746 to 1754 and as The Earl Gower from 1754 to 1786, was a British politician.-Background:...

, by his third wife; an elder son by the second wife (a daughter of the 1st Duke of Bridgwater) became the 2nd Marquess of Stafford
George Leveson-Gower, 1st Duke of Sutherland
George Granville Leveson-Gower, 1st Duke of Sutherland KG, PC , known as Viscount Trentham from 1758 to 1786, as Earl Gower from 1786 to 1803 and as The Marquess of Stafford from 1803 to 1833, was a British politician, diplomat, landowner and patron of the arts. He is estimated to have been the...

, and his marriage with the daughter and heiress of the 18th Earl of Sutherland (Countess of Sutherland in her own right) led to the merging of the Gower and Stafford titles in that of the Dukes of Sutherland
Duke of Sutherland
Duke of Sutherland, derived from Sutherland in Scotland, is a title in the Peerage of the United Kingdom held by the head of the Leveson-Gower family. It was created by William IV in 1833 for George Leveson-Gower, 2nd Marquess of Stafford...

 (created 1833), who represent the elder branch of the family. He was educated at Eton
Eton College
Eton College, often referred to simply as Eton, is a British independent school for boys aged 13 to 18. It was founded in 1440 by King Henry VI as "The King's College of Our Lady of Eton besides Wyndsor"....

 and Christ Church, Oxford
Christ Church, Oxford
Christ Church or house of Christ, and thus sometimes known as The House), is one of the largest constituent colleges of the University of Oxford in England...


Political career

Leveson-Gower went to Paris for a short time under his father, and in 1836 was returned to parliament in the Whig
British Whig Party
The Whigs were a party in the Parliament of England, Parliament of Great Britain, and Parliament of the United Kingdom, who contested power with the rival Tories from the 1680s to the 1850s. The Whigs' origin lay in constitutional monarchism and opposition to absolute rule...

 interest for Morpeth
Morpeth (UK Parliament constituency)
Morpeth was a borough constituency centred on the town of Morpeth in Northumberland represented in the House of Commons of the Parliament of England until 1707, the Parliament of Great Britain from 1707 to 1800, and then the Parliament of the United Kingdom....

. For a short time he was Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs
Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs
|The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs has been a junior position in the British government since 1782, subordinate to both the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs and since 1945 also to the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs...

 in Lord Melbourne's
William Lamb, 2nd Viscount Melbourne
William Lamb, 2nd Viscount Melbourne, PC, FRS was a British Whig statesman who served as Home Secretary and Prime Minister . He is best known for his intense and successful mentoring of Queen Victoria, at ages 18-21, in the ways of politics...

 ministry. From 1841 till his father's death in 1846, when he succeeded to the title, he sat for Lichfield
Lichfield (UK Parliament constituency)
Lichfield is a constituency represented in the House of Commons of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. It elects one Member of Parliament by the first past the post system of election.- Boundaries :...


In the House of Lords
House of Lords
The House of Lords is the upper house of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. Like the House of Commons, it meets in the Palace of Westminster....

 he distinguished himself as a Free Trader, and Lord John Russell
John Russell, 1st Earl Russell
John Russell, 1st Earl Russell, KG, GCMG, PC , known as Lord John Russell before 1861, was an English Whig and Liberal politician who served twice as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom in the mid-19th century....

 made him Master of the Buckhounds
Master of the Buckhounds
The Master of the Buckhounds was an officer in the Master of the Horse's department of the British Royal Household. The holder was also His/Her Majesty's Representative at Ascot. It was a political office, so the holder, who was always a nobleman, changed with every change of government. The office...

 (1846). He became Vice-President of the Board of Trade
Vice-President of the Board of Trade
The office of Vice-President of the Board of Trade was a junior ministerial position in the government of the United Kingdom. The office was created in 1786 and abolished in 1867. From 1848 onwards the office was held concurrently with that of Paymaster-General...

 in 1848, and took a prominent part in promoting the Great Exhibition of 1851. In the latter year, having already been admitted to the cabinet, he for about two months at the first of the year succeeded Palmerston as Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs until Russell's defeat in 1852; and - when Lord Aberdeen
George Hamilton-Gordon, 4th Earl of Aberdeen
George Hamilton-Gordon, 4th Earl of Aberdeen KG, KT, FRS, PC , styled Lord Haddo from 1791 to 1801, was a Scottish politician, successively a Tory, Conservative and Peelite, who served as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1852 until 1855.-Early life:Born in Edinburgh on 28 January 1784, he...

 formed his government at the end of the year, he became first Lord President of the Council
Lord President of the Council
The Lord President of the Council is the fourth of the Great Officers of State of the United Kingdom, ranking beneath the Lord High Treasurer and above the Lord Privy Seal. The Lord President usually attends each meeting of the Privy Council, presenting business for the monarch's approval...

, and then Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster
Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster
The Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster is, in modern times, a ministerial office in the government of the United Kingdom that includes as part of its duties, the administration of the estates and rents of the Duchy of Lancaster...

 (1854). Under Lord Palmerston (1855) he was again president of the council.

His interest in education (a subject associated with this office) led to his election (1856) as chancellor of the University of London
University of London
-20th century:Shortly after 6 Burlington Gardens was vacated, the University went through a period of rapid expansion. Bedford College, Royal Holloway and the London School of Economics all joined in 1900, Regent's Park College, which had affiliated in 1841 became an official divinity school of the...

, a post he held for thirty-five years; and he was a prominent champion of the movement for the admission of women, and also of the teaching of modern languages.

From 1855 Lord Granville led the Liberals in the Upper House, both in office, and, after Palmerston's resignation in 1858, in opposition. He went in 1856 as head of the British mission to the tsar's
Alexander II of Russia
Alexander II , also known as Alexander the Liberator was the Emperor of the Russian Empire from 3 March 1855 until his assassination in 1881...

 coronation in Moscow
Moscow is the capital, the most populous city, and the most populous federal subject of Russia. The city is a major political, economic, cultural, scientific, religious, financial, educational, and transportation centre of Russia and the continent...

. In June 1859 the Queen
Victoria of the United Kingdom
Victoria was the monarch of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland from 20 June 1837 until her death. From 1 May 1876, she used the additional title of Empress of India....

, embarrassed by the rival ambitions of Palmerston and Russell, sent for him to form a ministry, but he was unable to do so, and Palmerston again became prime minister, with Russell as foreign secretary - and Granville once again as president of the council.

He received an honorary degree from Cambridge University
University of Cambridge
The University of Cambridge is a public research university located in Cambridge, United Kingdom. It is the second-oldest university in both the United Kingdom and the English-speaking world , and the seventh-oldest globally...

 in 1864. He retained his office when, on Palmerston's death in 1865, Lord Russell (now a peer) became prime minister and took over the leadership in the House of Lords. Granville, now an established Liberal leader, was made Lord Warden of the Cinque Ports
Lord Warden of the Cinque Ports
The Lord Warden of the Cinque Ports is a ceremonial official in the United Kingdom. The post dates from at least the 12th century but may be older. The Lord Warden of the Cinque Ports was originally in charge of the Cinque Ports, a group of five port towns on the southeast coast of England...


During the American Civil War, Granville was non-interventionist along with the majority of Palmerston's cabinet. His memorandum against intervention in September 1862 drew Prime Minister Palmerston's attention. The document proved to be a strong reason why Palmerston refused to intervene, and why Britain's relations with the North remained basically stable throughout the rest of the conflict despite tensions.

From 1866 to 1868 he was in opposition, but in December 1868 he became Colonial Secretary
Secretary of State for the Colonies
The Secretary of State for the Colonies or Colonial Secretary was the British Cabinet minister in charge of managing the United Kingdom's various colonial dependencies....

 in Gladstone's
William Ewart Gladstone
William Ewart Gladstone FRS FSS was a British Liberal statesman. In a career lasting over sixty years, he served as Prime Minister four separate times , more than any other person. Gladstone was also Britain's oldest Prime Minister, 84 years old when he resigned for the last time...

 first ministry. His tact was invaluable to the government in carrying the Irish Church and Land Bills through the House of Lords. On June 27, 1870, on Lord Clarendon's death, he became foreign secretary. With war clouds gathering in Europe, Granville worked to authorize preliminary talks to settle American disputes and in appointing the British High Commission to sail to the United States and negotiate the most comprehensive treaty of the nineteenth century in Anglo-American relations with an American commission in Washington.

Lord Granville's name is mainly associated with his career as foreign secretary (1870–1874 and 1880–1885). His Gladstonian foreign policy based on patience, peace, and no alliances kept Britain free from European wars. It brought cemented better relations with the United States, and it was innovative in supporting Gladstone's wish to settlement British-American fisheries and Civil War disputes over the Confederate cruisers built in Britain, like the Alabama, through international arbitration in 1872. For example, the long-standing San Juan Island Water Boundary Dispute in Puget Sound, which had been left ambiguous in the Oregon Treaty of 1846 to salve relations and get a treaty sorting out the primary differences, was arbitrated by the German Emperor also in 1872. In putting British-American relations up to the world as a model for how to resolve disputes peacefully, Granville helped create a breakthrough in international relations.

The Franco-Prussian War
Franco-Prussian War
The Franco-Prussian War or Franco-German War, often referred to in France as the 1870 War was a conflict between the Second French Empire and the Kingdom of Prussia. Prussia was aided by the North German Confederation, of which it was a member, and the South German states of Baden, Württemberg and...

 of 1870 broke out within a few days of Lord Granville's quoting in the House of Lords (11 July) the curiously unprophetic opinion of the permanent under-secretary (Mr. Hammond) that "he had never known so great a lull in foreign affairs."

Russia or , officially known as both Russia and the Russian Federation , is a country in northern Eurasia. It is a federal semi-presidential republic, comprising 83 federal subjects...

 took advantage of the situation to denounce the Black Sea
Black Sea
The Black Sea is bounded by Europe, Anatolia and the Caucasus and is ultimately connected to the Atlantic Ocean via the Mediterranean and the Aegean seas and various straits. The Bosphorus strait connects it to the Sea of Marmara, and the strait of the Dardanelles connects that sea to the Aegean...

 clauses of the Treaty of Paris
Treaty of Paris (1856)
The Treaty of Paris of 1856 settled the Crimean War between Russia and an alliance of the Ottoman Empire, the British Empire, Second French Empire, and the Kingdom of Sardinia. The treaty, signed on March 30, 1856 at the Congress of Paris, made the Black Sea neutral territory, closing it to all...

, and Lord Granville's protest was ineffectual. In 1871 an intermediate zone between Asiatic Russia and Afghanistan
Afghanistan , officially the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, is a landlocked country located in the centre of Asia, forming South Asia, Central Asia and the Middle East. With a population of about 29 million, it has an area of , making it the 42nd most populous and 41st largest nation in the world...

 was agreed on between him and Shuválov
Shuvalov is a Russian noble family which, although documented since the 16th century, rose to distinction during the reign of Empress Elizabeth and was elevated to counts on 5 September 1746.-Members of Shuvalov noble family:The notable Shuvalovs include:...

; but in 1873 Russia took possession of the Khanate of Khiva
Khanate of Khiva
The Khanate of Khiva was the name of a Uzbek state that existed in the historical region of Khwarezm from 1511 to 1920, except for a period of Persian occupation by Nadir Shah between 1740–1746. It was the patrilineal descendants of Shayban , the fifth son of Jochi and grandson of Genghis Khan...

, within the neutral zone, and Lord Granville had to accept the aggression (See also: The Great Game
The Great Game
The Great Game or Tournament of Shadows in Russia, were terms for the strategic rivalry and conflict between the British Empire and the Russian Empire for supremacy in Central Asia. The classic Great Game period is generally regarded as running approximately from the Russo-Persian Treaty of 1813...


When the Conservatives came into power in 1874, his part for the next six years was to criticize Disraeli's "spirited" foreign policy, and to defend his own more pliant methods. He returned to the foreign office in 1880, only to find an anti-British spirit developing in German policy which the temporizing methods of the Liberal leaders were generally powerless to deal with.

Lord Granville failed to realize in time the importance of the Angra Pequeña
Angra Pequena
Angra Pequena was a small coastal area in what is now known as Lüderitz, Namibia.First discovered by Europeans in 1487 by the Portuguese explorer Bartolomeu Dias. On April 10, 1883 Heinrich Vogelsang first landed at Angra Pequena...

 question in 1883-1884, and he was forced, somewhat ignominiously, to yield to Bismarck
Otto von Bismarck
Otto Eduard Leopold, Prince of Bismarck, Duke of Lauenburg , simply known as Otto von Bismarck, was a Prussian-German statesman whose actions unified Germany, made it a major player in world affairs, and created a balance of power that kept Europe at peace after 1871.As Minister President of...

 over it. Whether in Egypt
Egypt , officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, Arabic: , is a country mainly in North Africa, with the Sinai Peninsula forming a land bridge in Southwest Asia. Egypt is thus a transcontinental country, and a major power in Africa, the Mediterranean Basin, the Middle East and the Muslim world...

, Afghanistan or equatorial and south-west Africa
Africa is the world's second largest and second most populous continent, after Asia. At about 30.2 million km² including adjacent islands, it covers 6% of the Earth's total surface area and 20.4% of the total land area...

, British foreign policy was dominated by suavity rather than by the strength which commands respect. Finally, when Gladstone took up Home Rule
Home rule
Home rule is the power of a constituent part of a state to exercise such of the state's powers of governance within its own administrative area that have been devolved to it by the central government....

 for Ireland, Lord Granville, whose mind was similarly receptive to new ideas, adhered to his chief (1886), and gracefully gave way to Lord Rosebery when the latter was preferred to the foreign office; the Liberals had now realized that they had lost ground in the country by Lord Granville's occupancy of the post.

He went to the Colonial Office for six months, and in July 1886 retired from public life.


Lord Granville married Lady Acton (Marie Louise Pelline de Dalberg), widow of Sir Richard Acton, and mother of the historian Lord Acton, in 1840. She died in 1860. He married as his second wife Miss Castalia Campbell in 1865. He died in London on 31 March 1891, being succeeded in the title by his son, born in 1872.


  • Granville was the name of the present Canadian
    Canada is a North American country consisting of ten provinces and three territories. Located in the northern part of the continent, it extends from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west, and northward into the Arctic Ocean...

     city of Vancouver
    Vancouver is a coastal seaport city on the mainland of British Columbia, Canada. It is the hub of Greater Vancouver, which, with over 2.3 million residents, is the third most populous metropolitan area in the country,...

     from 1870 until its incorporation in 1886. Granville Street
    Granville Street
    Granville Street is a major street in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, and part of Highway 99.-Location:Granville Street runs generally north-south through the centre of Vancouver, passing through several neighbourhoods and commercial areas, differing appreciably in their land value and the...

     is a major north-south thoroughfare in the city.
  • Granville
    Granville, New South Wales
    Granville, is a suburb in western Sydney, Australia. Granville is located west of the Sydney central business district, in the local government area of the City of Parramatta. A small part in the north-west is located in the Local Government Area of the City of Holroyd.South Granville is a...

     is also the name of a suburb of Sydney
    Sydney is the most populous city in Australia and the state capital of New South Wales. Sydney is located on Australia's south-east coast of the Tasman Sea. As of June 2010, the greater metropolitan area had an approximate population of 4.6 million people...

    . It was named in 1880.

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