1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Dufferin and Ava, Frederick Temple Hamilton-Temple-Blackwood, 1st Marquess of

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1911 Encyclopædia Britannica, Volume 8
Dufferin and Ava, Frederick Temple Hamilton-Temple-Blackwood, 1st Marquess of
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DUFFERIN AND AVA, FREDERICK TEMPLE HAMILTON-TEMPLE-BLACKWOOD, 1st Marquess of (1826-1902), British diplomatist, son of Price Blackwood, 4th Baron Dufferin, was born at Florence, Italy, on the 21st of June 1826. The Irish Blackwoods were of old Scottish stock,[1] tracing their descent back to the 14th century. John Blackwood of Bangor (1591-1663), the ancestor of the Irish line, made a fortune and acquired landed property in county Down, and his great-grandson Robert was created a baronet in 1763. Sir Robert’s son, Sir John, married the heiress of the Hamiltons, earls of Clanbrassil and viscounts of Clandeboye (“clan of yellow Hugh”), and thus brought into the family a large property in the borough of Killyleagh and barony of Dufferin, county Down. Sir John Blackwood (d. 1799) declined a peerage, and so did his heir James at the time of the Union, but the Irish title of Baroness Dufferin was conferred (1800) on Sir John’s widow, and James (d. 1836) succeeded as second baron in 1808. His brother Hans (d. 1839) became third baron, and by his marriage with Miss Temple (a descendant of the Temples of Stowe) was the father of Price Blackwood, 4th baron. Among other distinguished members of the family was Admiral Sir Henry Blackwood, Bart. (1770-1832)—a brother of James and Hans—one of Nelson’s captains, who commanded the “Euryalus” at Trafalgar. Price Blackwood, too, was in the Navy; his marriage in 1825 with Helen Selina Sheridan, a daughter of Thomas Sheridan, and granddaughter of Richard Brinsley Sheridan, the dramatist and politician, was against his parents’ wishes, but his young wife’s talents and beauty soon won them over.

Frederick went to Eton (1839-1843) and Christ Church, Oxford (1845-1847), where he took a pass school and was President of the Union. His father died in 1841, and the influence of his mother—one of three unusually accomplished sisters, the other two being the duchess of Somerset and Mrs Norton (q.v.)—was very marked on his mental development; she lived till 1867 and is commemorated by the “Helen’s Tower” erected by her son in her honour at Clandeboye (the Irish seat of the Blackwoods) in 1861, and adorned with epigraphical verses written by Tennyson, Browning and others. On leaving Oxford Lord Dufferin busied himself for some little while with the management of his Irish estates. In 1846-1848 he was active in relieving the distress in Ireland due to the famine, and he was always generous and liberal in his relations with his tenants. In 1855 he already advocated compensation for disturbance and for improvements; but while supporting reasonable reform, he demanded justice for the landowners. In later years (1868-1881) he wrote much, in opposition to J. S. Mill, on behalf of Irish landlordism, and, when Gladstone adopted Home Rule, Lord Dufferin, who had been attached throughout his career to the Liberal party, regarded the new policy as fatal both to Ireland and to the United Kingdom, though, being then an ambassador, he took no public part in opposing it.

Starting with every personal and social advantage, Lord Dufferin quickly became a favourite both at Court and in London society; and in 1849 he was made a lord-in-waiting. In political life he followed Lord John Russell, and in 1850 was further attached to the party by being created a peer of the United Kingdom as Baron Clandeboye. In 1855 Lord John Russell took him as attaché on his special mission to the Vienna Conference. Meanwhile Lord Dufferin was enlarging his experience by foreign travel, and in 1856 he went on a yachting-tour to Iceland, which he described with much humour and graphic power in his successful book, Letters from High Latitudes; this volume made his reputation as a writer, though his only other purely literary publication was his memorial edition (1894) of his mother’s Poems and Verses. In 1860 Lord John Russell sent him as British representative on a joint commission of the powers appointed to inquire into the affairs of the Lebanon (Syria), where the massacres of Christian Maronites by the Mussulman Druses had resulted in the landing of a French force and the possibility of a French occupation. Lord Dufferin was associated with French, Russian, Prussian and Turkish colleagues, and his difficult diplomatic position was made none the less delicate by his conscientious endeavour to be just to all parties. Even if he had not satisfied himself that the Mahommedans were by no means wholly to blame, the question of punishment was in any case complicated by the problem of future administration. His own proposal to put the whole Syrian province under a responsible governor, appointed by the sultan for a term of years, with unfettered jurisdiction, was rejected; but at last it was agreed to place a Christian governor, subordinate to the Porte, over the Lebanon district, and to set up local administrative councils. In May 1861 the French forces departed, and Lord Dufferin was thanked for his services by the government.

In 1862 he married Hariot, daughter of Captain A. Rowan Hamilton, of Killyleagh Castle, Down. He held successively the posts of under-secretary for India (1864-1866) and under-secretary for war (1866) in Lord Palmerston’s and Earl Russell’s ministries; and he was chancellor of the duchy of Lancaster, outside the cabinet, under Mr Gladstone (1868-1872). In 1871 he was created earl of Dufferin.

In 1872 he was appointed governor-general of Canada. There his tact and personal charm and genial hospitality were invaluable. He had already become known as a powerful and graceful orator, and a man of culture and political distinction; and his abilities were brilliantly displayed in dealing with the problems of the newly united provinces of the Canadian Dominion. At a time when a weak or unattractive governor-general might easily have damaged the imperial connexion, he admittedly strengthened and consolidated it. Lord Dufferin left Canada in 1878, and in 1879, rather to the annoyance of his old party leader, he accepted from the conservative prime minister, Lord Beaconsfield, the appointment of ambassador to Russia. At St Petersburg he did useful diplomatic work for a couple of years, and then, in 1881, was transferred to Constantinople as ambassador to Turkey. He was soon involved in the negotiations connected with the situation in Egypt caused by Arabi’s revolt and the intervention of Great Britain. It was Lord Dufferin’s task to arrange matters at Constantinople, so that no international friction should be created by any inconvenient assertion by the sultan of his position as suzerain, while it was also necessary to avoid offending either the sultan or the other powers by any appearance of ignoring their rights. He was considerably helped by Turkish ineptitude, and by the accomplished fact of British military successes in Egypt, but his own diplomacy was responsible for securing the necessary freedom of action for the British government.

From October 1882 to May 1883 he was himself in Egypt as British commissioner to report on a scheme of reorganization; and his recommendations—drawn up in a somewhat elaborate State paper—formed the basis of the subsequent reforms. In 1884 he was appointed viceroy of India, succeeding Lord Ripon, whose zeal on behalf of the natives had created a good deal of antagonism among the officials and the Anglo-Indian community. Lord Dufferin, though agreeing in the main with Lord Ripon’s policy, was excellently fitted for the task of restoring confidence without producing any undesirable reaction, and in domestic affairs his viceroyalty was a period of substantial progress, in the reform of the evils of land tenure and in other directions. He was responsible also for initiating stable relations with Afghanistan, and settling the crisis with Russia arising out of the Panjdeh incident (1885), which led to the delimitation of the north-west frontier (1887). The most striking event of his administration was, however, the annexation of Burma, resulting from the Burmese War of 1885; and this procured him, on his resignation, the title of marquess of Dufferin and Ava (1888). His viceroyalty was also memorable for Lady Dufferin’s work, and the starting of a fund called by her name, for providing better medical treatment for native women. In 1888 he was made ambassador at Rome, and in 1892 he was promoted to be ambassador in Paris, a post which he retained till 1896, when he retired from the public service.

Lord Dufferin was one of the most admired public servants of his time. A man of great natural gifts, he had a special talent for diplomacy, though he has no claim to a place in the first rank of statesmen. He was remarkable for tact and amiability, and had a florid and rather elaborately literary style of oratory, which also characterized his despatches and reports. For purposes of ceremony his courtliness, dignity and charm of manner were invaluable, and both in public and in private life he was a conspicuous “great gentleman.” His last years, spent mainly at his Irish home, were clouded by the death of his eldest son, the earl of Ava, at Ladysmith in the Boer War (1900), and by business troubles. He was so ill-advised as to become chairman in 1897 of the “London and Globe Finance Corporation,” a financial company which most good judges in the city of London thought to be too much in the hands of its managing director, Mr Whitaker Wright, whose methods had been a good deal criticized. At last there came a complete crash, and an exposure before the liquidator, which ultimately led to Mr Whitaker Wright’s trial for fraud in 1904, and his suicide within the precincts of the court on being found guilty. Lord Dufferin did not live to see this final catastrophe. The affairs of the company were still under investigation in bankruptcy when, on the 12th of February 1902, he died. He had been in failing health for two or three years, but, having once become chairman of the “London and Globe,” he had insisted upon standing by his colleagues when difficulties arose. Incautious as he had been in accepting the position, no reflections were felt to be possible on Lord Dufferin’s personal honour; he was a serious loser by the failure, and he had followed his predecessor in the chairmanship, Lord Loch, in confiding too wholly in the masterful personality of Mr Wright. He was succeeded in the title by his second son Terence (b. 1866).

The official Life of Lord Dufferin, by Sir Alfred Lyall, appeared in 1905. There are two Canadian histories of his Canadian administration, one by George Stewart (1878), the other by W. Leggo (1878). Lady Dufferin brought out Our Viceregal Life in India in 1889, and My Canadian Journal in 1891. See also the articles on India; History; Canada: History; and Egypt: History.

(H. Ch.)


  1. One branch of the Blackwood family emigrated to France; the head of this line being Adam Blackwood (d. 1613), jurist, poet and divine, and senator of the presidial court of Poitiers.