Crampton, John Fiennes Twisleton (DNB00)

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CRAMPTON, Sir JOHN FIENNES TWISLETON (1805–1886), diplomatist, born on 12 Aug. 1805, was the elder son of Sir Philip Crampton [q. v.], M.D., F.R.S., surgeon-general to the forces, and surgeon in ordinary to the queen, in Ireland, who was created a baronet on 14 March 1839. He entered the diplomatic service as an unpaid attaché at Turin on 7 Sept. 1826, and was transferred to St. Petersburg on 30 Sept. 1828. He became a paid attaché at Brussels on 16 Nov. 1834, and at Vienna on 9 May 1839, and was promoted to be secretary of legation at Berne on 13 Dec. 1844, and transferred to Washington, where his most important diplomatic services were rendered, in the same capacity on 3 July 1845. He served at first under Sir Richard Pakenham, and then under Sir Henry Lytton Bulwer, successive ministers plenipotentiary, and acted as chargé d'affaires from May 1847 to December 1849, and again from August 1850, when Sir Henry Bulwer left America after concluding the well known Clayton-Bulwer treaty, until January 1852, when Crampton was himself appointed minister plenipotentiary and envoy extraordinary to the United States of America. He did not succeed in making himself agreeable to American statesmen, and at the time of the Crimean war nearly caused an open rupture between Great Britain and the United States. At that time the exigencies of the Crimean war brought about the raising of various foreign corps in English pay, notably the German, Swiss, and Italian legions, and Crampton actively forwarded the schemes of his government by encouraging and even engaging in the recruiting of soldiers within the territories of the United States. It was not until the very close of the Crimean war, in 1856, that the behaviour of Crampton was seriously regarded. It has been said that the whole proceedings were encouraged by President Franklin Pierce, in order to gain popularity and possibly a fresh term of office, by showing a vigorous front towards, and even inflicting an insult on, England. At any rate Mr. Marcy, the American secretary of state, while accepting Lord Clarendon's apologies for the breach of American law in enlisting soldiers in the United States, declared nevertheless that Crampton and three English consuls, who had been active in the proceedings, must be recalled, and on 28 May 1856 President Pierce broke off diplomatic relations with the English minister. Crampton at once returned to England, and rumours of a war became rife, especially as a large reinforcement was sent to the North American squadron by Lord Palmerston. Mr. Marcy justified the conduct of his government in an elaborate despatch, in which he argued that Crampton had been ‘from the beginning the prime mover in a scheme which he had full means of knowing was contrary to the law of the United States;’ and that ‘Mr. Crampton had continued the recruiting after it had been pronounced unlawful, and in fact did not desist until commanded by his government so to do.’ The British nation was certainly not inclined to go to war on account of the personal affront to Crampton, and so, in spite of Lord Palmerston's threatening attitude, he had to consent to the appointment of a successor at Washington. Nevertheless Lord Palmerston insisted on rewarding Crampton, who was made a K.C.B. on 20 Sept. 1856 and appointed minister plenipotentiary and envoy extraordinary at Hanover on 2 March 1857. He was transferred to the embassy at St. Petersburg on 31 March 1858, and succeeded his father as second baronet on 10 June of the same year. On 31 March 1860 he married Victoire [see Crampton, Victoire], second daughter of Michael Balfe, the composer, from whom he was divorced in 1863, and on 11 Dec. 1860 he was appointed minister plenipotentiary and envoy extraordinary at Madrid. He remained there until 1 July 1869, when he retired on a pension, after more than forty years' diplomatic service. He died, at the age of eighty-one, at his seat, Bushey Park, near Bray, co. Wicklow, on 5 Dec. 1886.

[Foreign Office List; Foster's Baronetage; and the newspapers of 1856 for the dispute regarding his conduct at Washington.]

H. M. S.