Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Pleydell-Bouverie, Edward

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PLEYDELL-BOUVERIE, EDWARD (1818–1889), politician, second son of William Pleydell-Bouverie, third earl of Radnor, by his second wife, Anne Judith, third daughter of Sir Henry Paulet St. John Mildmay, bart., was born on 26 April 1818. Educated at Harrow and at Trinity College, Cambridge, whence he graduated M.A. in 1838, he was a précis writer to Lord Palmerston from January to June 1840. He was called to the bar at the Inner Temple on 27 Jan. 1843, and in the following year he was returned to parliament in the liberal interest as member for Kilmarnock. That constituency he represented until 1874, when his candidature proved unsuccessful. He was a prominent figure in the House of Commons. From July 1850 to March 1852 he was under-secretary of state for the home department in Lord John Russell's administration, and from April 1853 to March 1855 he was chairman of committees, while Lord Aberdeen was prime minister. In March 1855, when Palmerston became premier, Pleydell-Bouverie was made vice-president of the board of trade, and in August was transferred to the presidency of the poor-law board. That position he held until 1858. In 1857 he was appointed one of the committee of the council on education. He was second church estate commissioner from August 1859 to November 1865, and from 1869 he was one of the ecclesiastical commissioners for England.

Though a staunch liberal, he belonged to the old whig school, and in his last parliament he often found himself unable to agree with the policy of the liberal prime minister, Mr. Gladstone. In 1872, when a charge of evasion of the law was made against Mr. Gladstone in connection with the appointment he made to the rectory of Ewelme, Bouverie expressed regret ‘that the prime minister should amuse his leisure hours by driving coaches-and-six through acts of parliament, and should take such curious views of the meaning of statutes’ (Hansard, 8 March 1872, p. 1711; see art. Harvey, William Wigan).

When the Irish university bill was introduced, Bouverie finally broke with Mr. Gladstone (March 1873). He denounced the measure as miserably bad and scandalously inadequate to its professed object. He voted against the second reading on 10 March, when the government was defeated (ib. 11 March 1873, p. 1760). Subsequently, in letters addressed to the ‘Times,’ he continued his attacks on the measure and on its framers.

After his retirement from parliament he became in 1877 associated with the corporation of foreign bondholders, and was soon made its chairman. Under his guidance the debts of many countries were readjusted; and the corporation's scheme for dealing with the Turkish debt was confirmed by the sultan's iradé of January 1882. Bouverie was also director of the Great Western railway company and of the Peninsular and Oriental company. He addressed numerous letters to the ‘Times’ newspaper under the signature of ‘E. P. B.’ He died at 44 Wilton Crescent, London, on 16 Dec. 1889. He married, on 1 Nov. 1842, Elizabeth Anne, youngest daughter of General Robert Balfour of Balbirnie, Fifeshire, and had issue Walter, born on 5 July 1848, a captain in the 2nd Wiltshire rifle volunteers, Edward Oliver, born 12 Dec. 1856, and three daughters.

[Debrett's House of Commons, ed. Mair, 1873, p. 28; Times, 17 Dec. 1889.]

G. C. B.