Dictionary of National Biography, 1912 supplement/Stanley, Henry Edward John

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STANLEY, HENRY EDWARD JOHN, third Baron Stanley of Alderley (1827–1903), diplomatist and orientalist, born at Alderley Park, Cheshire, on 11 July 1827, was eldest son of Edward John, second Baron Stanley of Alderley [q. v.], by Henrietta Maria [q. v.], daughter of the thirteenth Viscount Dillon. Of his three brothers, Edward Lyulph became fourth Baron Stanley of Alderley, and fourth Baron Sheffield of Roscommon, and Algernon Charles became] Roman catholic bishop of Emmaus in 1903. Of his six sisters, Katharine Louisa married in 1864 John Russell, Viscount Amberley [q. v.]; and Rosalind Frances, in the same year, George James Howard, ninth earl of Carlisle [q. v. Suppl. II]. Henry Edward entered Eton in 1841, but owing to illness was removed in the following year, and placed under the care of Henry Alford [q. v.], afterwards dean of Canterbury, at that time vicar of Wymeswold, Leicestershire. He proceeded to Cambridge in 1846 as a fellow-commoner of Trinity College, and during his stay at the university showed his early predilection for Oriental subjects by devoting himself to the study of Arabic.

Stanley left Cambridge in December 1847 to enter the foreign office with the object of qualifying himself for the diplomatic service. He was appointed precis writer to Lord Palmerston, then foreign secretary. In 1851 he was sent as an attache to Constantinople, where Lord Stratford de RedclifEe was ambassador. He had charge of the consulate of Varna from June to August 1853, and was appointed secretary of legation at Athens in 1854, holding that position during the critical period of the Crimean war. From July 1856 till May 1858 he was attached as secretary to Sir Henry Bulwer's special commission to the Danubian provinces, when the free navigation of the river was secured and the new Russo-Turkish frontier delimited by an international cormnission appointed at the Congress of Paris. He resigned his post at Athens on 27 Feb. 1859.

During his diplomatic career Stanley acquired most of the European, as well as the Arabic, Turkish, Persian, and Chinese tongues. Of the last-named language he published a manual in 1854. He now began extensive travels in the East, stimulated by the example of his intimate friend. Sir Richard Burton [q. v. Suppl. I]. He visited Tartary, Persia, Kurdistan, Ceylon, the Malay Peninsula, Siam, and Java, everywhere studying the languages, customs, and religions of the countries. The East appealed to his imagination and sympathies; and he came to appreciate the Eastern character, value Eastern customs, and accept the Moslem religion for his faith. He was awarded the collar and star of the Turkish order of Osmanieh. He became a prominent member of the Asiatic and Hakluyt Societies, for the latter of which he translated and edited several volumes.

Succeeding to the peerage on the death of his father on 16 June 1869, Stanley settled down to the life of a country gentleman, devoting much care to the improvement of his Cheshire and Anglesey estates, which were largely augmented on the death of his uncle, William Owen Stanley, in 1884. He gave close personal attention to his property, kept his farm buildings in excellent order, and made a hobby of improved dairy accommodation. On the Penrhos estate he adorned a farm-dairy with scenes from an Indian epic. In spite of a somewhat imperious manner he was esteemed by his tenants.

Though he was a Mussulman, he was an ardent supporter of the Church of England especially in Wales. In the. diocese of Bangor in general, and the island of Anglesey in particular, he rebuilt or restored many churches. He also worked energetically to increase the endowments of poor parishes, himself contributing largely to this object.

In the House of Lords, although a frequent questioner and speaker, he was handicapped by deafness, a weak voice, and hurried articulation. Despite conservative predilections he sat on the cross benches, declining to identify himself with either political party. Stanley took an active interest in the welfare of the native races of India. His knowledge of Indian life and institutions was wide, and he maintained a constant correspondence with educated Indians and regularly studied Indian newspapers. He was always ready to bring Indian grievances before the party leaders, the press, or parliament. He was a warm supporter of the National Congress movement, and would often quote the Arabic proverb that 'a child that does not cry gets no milk.' To Indians resident in England he was a friend and frequent host. He was a keen sportsman and a strict total abstainer, closing three inns on his Alderley estate. Stanley died at Alderley from pneumonia on 10 Dec. 1903. He was buried, by his own desire, in Alderley Park with Moslem rites, the Imam of the Turkish embassy officiating. His death was announced to the Indian National Congress, which was meeting at the time, and the assembly, numbering 1800 persons, rose as a mark of respect. He married in August 1862 Fabia, daughter of Don Santiago Federico San Roman of Seville, by whom he left no children. Lady Stanley survived her husband till 15 May 1905. His eldest surviving brother, Edward Lyulph, succeeded him in the peerage.

Besides the works mentioned Stanley edited:

  1. 'Rouman Anthology,' 1856.
  2. 'Essays on East and West,' 1865.

He translated for the Hakluyt Society: ’Barbosa's Description of the Coasts of E. Africa and Malabar in the 16th Century,' from the Spanish (1865); 'The Philippine Islands, Moluccas, etc.,' from the Spanish (1868); 'Vasco da Gama's Three Voyages,' from the Portuguese (1869); ’Barbaro and Contarini's Travels to Tana and Persia,' from the Italian (1873); 'Magellan's First Voyage round the World' (1874); 'Alvarez' Narrative of the Portuguese Embassy to Abyssinia, 1520-1527,' from the Portuguese (1881). He also translated Lamennais's ’Essay on Religious Indifierence' (1895), and wrote introductions to Hockley's 'Tales of the Zenana' (1874) and Plumer-Ward's 'Rights and Duties of Belligerents and Neutrals' (1875). He was a contributor to the 'Nineteenth Century' and a constant writer of letters to the 'Morning Post.'

[G. E. C[okayne]'s Peerage; Burke's Peerage; Reis and Rayyet, 9 Jan. 1904; family information; personal knowledge.]

F. S.