Secretary of War Henry Bathurst

Henry Bathurst was born May 22, 1762 in England and died on July 27, 1834 in London, England. He was a British Politian during the War of 1812

Bathurst, Henry
May 22, 1762
July 27, 1834
London, England
British Secretary of War

BATHURST, HENRY, third Earl Bathurst(1762-1834), politician, was born on 22 May 1762, the son of the second Earl Bathurst (1714-1794), who was lord chancellor from 1771 to 1778. Bathurst was a member of the House of Commons from 1783 to 1794 when he succeeded to the earldom. He was lord of the admiralty 1783-89, lord of the treasury 1789-91, commissioner of the board of control 1793-1802, and was a member of the cabinet as president of the board of trade 1807-12, and briefly foreign secretary in 1807. In Lord Liverpool's ministry he was secretary of state for the colonies from 1812 to 1827. In 1828-30 he was lord president of the council in Wellington's ministry. He died on 27 July 1834.

Bathurst was a capable minister and a Tory of moderate opinions. He opposed parliamentary reform, was a strong supporter of the Church of England in the colonies, was sympathetic to William Wilberforce and the Evangelicals, and strove to ameliorate the conditions of slaves in British possessions, though he did not favour immediate abolition of slavery.

With Henry Goulburn, under-secretary in 1812-21, Bathurst reorganized the Colonial Office, introduced Blue Books and established routines. He was a conscientious and clear-headed administrator, though his habitual jocularity and self-effacing manner tended to conceal these qualities from casual observers. Wilmot Horton, who succeeded Goulburn as under-secretary, praised his 'first-rate practical good sense' and 'rapid yet discreet view of intricate subjects' and affirmed that 'for a daily sedulous discharge of the peculiar duties of his office as Colonial Secretary, no public man who has ever filled that situation has been more remarkable' (Exposition and Defence of Earl Bathurst's Administration … London, 1838). Bathurst delegated much responsibility to his under-secretaries, yet his crabbed writing appears on countless dispatches. By 1817 he was worried that 'transportation to New South Wales was becoming neither an object of Apprehension … nor the means of Reformation', and that the colony was becoming too expensive. He therefore decided to send out a commission of inquiry. The three reports by John Thomas Bigge persuaded him that transportation should be continued, but he ordered changes in the administration and in the land policy of the colony.

This article was written by Thomas Edward Kebbel and was published in 1885

Henry Bathurst, statesman, son of Henry Bathurst, second Earl Bathurst, was born 22 May 1762. His mother was daughter of Thomas Scawen, Esq., of Manwell, in the county of Northampton. Bathurst married, April 1789, Georgina, daughter of Lord George Henry Lennox, and succeeded to the family honours on 6 August 1794. He was M.P. for Cirencester 1793-4, and from 1790 till death he was a teller of the exchequer. He was a personal friend of Pitt, was lord of the admiralty (1783-9), lord of the treasury (1789-91), and commissioner of the board of control (1793-1802). On the formation of Pitt's second ministry in 1804 he accepted the mastership of the mint. Subsequently he became president of the board of trade under the Duke of Portland (1807-9) and under Perceval (1809-12), holding concurrently the mastership of the mint. From October to December 1809 he was also foreign secretary. In Lord Liverpool's ministry he occupied the responsible position of secretary for war and the colonies, and finished his political career under the Duke of Wellington, 1828-30, as lord president of the council.

He was made K.G. in 1817. He was an able and useful minister, and for the improvement in the conduct of the Peninsular war which began contemporaneously with his acceptance of the secretaryship he must be allowed his share of credit. His correspondence with the Duke of Wellington, to be found in the ‘Wellington Despatches,’ is very interesting, and shows great quickness in apprehending the military questions brought before him, as well as promptitude in dealing with them. It likewise devolved upon Lord Bathurst to defend the policy of the government in their treatment of the first Napoleon, which was bitterly assailed by Lord Holland in the House of Lords in the year 1817. His speech on that occasion was clever and simple, but was thought by the friends of the ex-emperor to savour too much of pleasantry for so solemn a subject. His name of course will frequently be found in connection with the slave trade; and he was one of the tories who supported in principle the repeal of the Roman Catholic disabilities. In politics he was a tory of the old school, and ceased to take any active part in parliament after the passing of the Reform Bill. He spoke and voted against the second reading of that measure on the ground that it would not reform but destroy the constitution. He was through life, however, a man of moderate views, and enjoyed the esteem and respect of his contemporaries of both political parties. He died 27 July 1834.

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