Dictionary of National Biography, 1901 supplement/Ford, Francis Clare

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FORD, Sir FRANCIS CLARE (1828–1899), diplomatist, born in 1828, was the son of Richard Ford [q. v.], author of the 'Handbook for Travellers in Spain.' He spent much of his boyhood in Spain, for which country he inherited his father's affection. He was appointed a cornet in the 4th light dragoons on 8 May 1846, was promoted lieutenant on 20 April 1849, but sold out on 9 June 1851 and entered the diplomatic service in the modest position of unpaid attaché. To climb to the position of secretary of legation took him fifteen years, during which he resided at Naples (1852), Munich (1855), and Paris (1856); became paid attaché at Lisbon on 9 March 1857, and was transferred thence to Brussels, Stuttgardt, Carlsruhe, and Vienna (25 June 1864). He served as secretary of legation at Buenos Ayres, Copenhagen, and Washington, where he was acting chargé d'affaires during the winter of 1867-8. In March 1871, having already begun to acquire a reputation as a specialist in affairs where economic and commercial interests were concerned, he was promoted to be secretary of embassy and proceeded to St. Petersburg, whence he was transferred to Vienna on 26 Oct. 1872. On 26 July 1875 he was appointed agent to represent the British government before the international commission created for the purpose of estimating the amount of compensation which should be paid by the United States for the fishery rights acquired under the 22nd and 23rd articles of the Washington treaty of 8 May 1871. The commission sat at Halifax from June until November 1877, when it was decided that the United States should within a year pay five and a half million dollars. For his services in preparing the British case Ford was made a C.B. (3 Jan.) and a C.M.G. on 24 Jan. 1878. He was promoted to be envoy extraordinary and minister plenipotentiary to the Argentine Republic (9 Feb. 1878), and undertook some rather delicate negotiations for renewing diplomatic relations between Uruguay and Great Britain, which ended in his being made British minister at Montevideo as well as in Buenos Ayres. In June 1879 he was appointed to Brazil, and in March 1881 to Athens. On 15 Dec. 1884 he was appointed minister at Madrid, and when the legation there was raised to the rank of an embassy he became ambassador on 8 Dec. 1887. He felt at home in Spain, the art treasures of which country appealed to him both as a connoisseur and a collector. During his eight years' tenure of office there he acted in 1884 and 1885 as British commissioner at Paris for the settlement of the Newfoundland fisheries dispute, a subject which he had studied with minute care. Unfortunately the conventions which he drew up, and in which he got his French fellow-commissioners to concur, were never carried out.

He was more successful in the negotiations which terminated with the signature of the Anglo-Spanish commercial convention of 26 April 1886. For these services he was made a G.C.M.G. in 1886, was sworn a privy councillor on 10 Aug. 1888, and promoted G.C.B. on 29 April 1889.

In January 1892 he was transferred from Madrid to Constantinople. The promotion was unsought by Ford, who soon found himself unequal to the strain of a position so difficult, and in December 1893 he procured his transference to Rome, where he remained until he was superannuated in 1898.

He received the Jubilee medal in 1897. He died at Paris on 31 Jan. 1899. His bedside was attended by his son, John Gorman Ford, who was nominated an attaché on 16 Feb. 1892, and became third secretary of the embassy at Rome on 8 Feb. 1897.

[Times, 1 Feb. 1899; Foreign Office List; Men of the Time, 13th ed.; Camden Pratt's People of the Period, i. 402; Fraser's Magazine, October 1858.]

T. S.

Dictionary of National Biography, Errata (1904), p.294
N.B.— f.e. stands for from end and l.l. for last line

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225 i 28 Ford, Sir Francis C: after made insert K.C.M.G. in 1885
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