Page:Dictionary of National Biography volume 42.djvu/336

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pole was already in Paris on a negotiation with France concerning St. Eustatia, and he resented the presence of Oswald. Thomas Grenville was despatched by Fox to treat for peace with the French government, and he was very soon incensed against Oswald as the exponent of the views of Fox's opponent in the English ministry. Grenville on 4 June despatched an angry epistle to his leader, who answered it with equal indignation; but Fox could not succeed in obtaining the recall of Oswald, and the situation ended in the withdrawal of Grenville from his mission and the retirement of Fox and his friends from the cabinet on the death of the Marquis of Rockingham. Ultimately a commission, dated 25 July 1782, was granted to Oswald, authorising him to make peace with the American colonies, and he was afterwards assisted in the negotiations by Alleyne Fitzherbert, baron St. Helens [q. v.], and Henry Strachey. After much difficulty, preliminary articles of peace were signed at Paris by Oswald and the American commissioners on 30 Nov. 1782. The definitive Treaty of Versailles between England and France, Spain and the United States, was concluded on 3 Sept. 1783, but the signature of Oswald was not affixed to it, as by that time his patron was out of office. The earlier proceedings respecting the appointment of a negotiator were marked by the tortuous ways for which Lord Shelburne was conspicuous, and the conduct of Oswald himself was sometimes indiscreet; but the outcome was not unsatisfactory. England acknowledged the independence of the revolted colonies, who relinquished their claims on Canada and Nova Scotia on condition that England abandoned her claim of compensation for the loyal colonists. Oswald's correspondence with Lord Shelburne forms part of vols. lxx. and lxxi. of the manuscripts of the Marquis of Lansdowne, and is set out in the 'Historical Manuscripts Commission,' 5th Rep. App. pp. 239–42, and in Fitzmaurice's 'Life of Lord Shelburne,' iii. 175–302, 413–16. On the conclusion of the preliminary agreement Franklin and Oswald exchanged portraits; the portrait of the former was given by Oswald's nephew to Mr. Joseph Parkes (Mag. of American Hist. xxvii. 472-3; Lewis, Administrations, p. 43).

Oswald died at Auchincruive on 6 Nov. 1784 without issue, and the estate is now in the possession of the descendant of his elder brother. His widow died at Great George Street, Westminster, their town house, on 6 Dec. 1788, and her remains were carried to Scotland for burial. Burns, who spent his 'early years in her neighbourhood and among her servants and tenants,' wrote a bitter ode in her memory, dwelling on her 'unhonour'd years,' and her hands 'that took but never gave.' But he candidly confesses in a letter to Dr. John Moore (23 March 1789) that his 'poetic wrath' was roused by the fact that the arrival of her funeral pageantry at the inn at Sanquhar forced him and horse, both much fatigued, to ride twelve miles further to the next inn on 'a night of snow and drift.'

George Oswald (d. 1819) of Scotstoun, near Glasgow, who died on 6 Oct. 1819, aged 84, was Oswald's nephew. He was head of the tobacco firm of Oswald, Dennistoun, & Co. at Glasgow, and partner in the old 'Ship Bank.' In 1797 he was elected rector of Glasgow University, and he sat for his portrait to Gainsborough.

[Gent. Mag. 1784 pt. ii. p. 878, 1788 pt. ii. p. 1129; Burns's Works (1842 ed ), pp. 283, 672; Parton's Franklin, ii. 456-504; Burke's Landed Gentry; Notes and Queries, 1st ser. viii. 649; Appleton's American Cyclopaedia; Paterson's County of Ayr, ii. 417; Calder's Caithness, pp. 230-4; information from Mr. W. A. S. Hewins. Further information about the squabbles and negotiations preceding the Treaty of Versailles in 1783 is in the Memorials and Correspondence of C. J. Fox, iv. 199 et seq.; Lewis's Administrations of Great Britain, pp. 31-48, 81-4, where some extracts from a diary kept by Oswald are given; Memoirs of Court and Cabinets of George III, by the Duke of Buckingham; Jay's Life and Correspondence, vols. i. and ii.; Works of John Adams, vols. iii. vii. and viii.; Franklin's Works, ix. 240-408; the manuscripts of Sir Edward Strachey in the Hist. MSS. Comm. 6th Rep. App. pp. 403-4; the Whitefoord papers now in course of printing at the Clarendon Press; Lecky's History of England in the Eighteenth Century, iv. 226-68.]

W. P. C.

OSWELL, WILLIAM COTTON (1818–1893), 'the Nimrod of South Africa,' was born at Levtonstone, Essex, on 27 April 1818. His father, William Oswell, was the third son of the Rev. Thomas Oswell, whose family had for generations lived at Oswestry. His mother was the daughter of Joseph Cotton, master of the Trinity House and grandson of Dr. Nathaniel Cotton [q. v.] From Rugby, where he was under Arnold, Oswell proceeded to the East India Company's training college at Haileybury, and, passing out head of his year, started for Madras in 1837, having obtained an appointment through his uncle, John Cotton, one of the company's directors (Prinsep, Services of Madras Civilians, v. 110). During his ten years' residence in Madras he won celebrity as an elephant-catcher, and first exhibited a