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Ashburton, Alexander Baring

ASHBURTON, ALEXANDER BARING, 1st Baron [1] (1774-1848), English politician and financier, 2nd son of Sir Francis Baring (the founder of the house of Baring Brothers & Co.) and of Harriet, daughter of William Herring, was born on the 27th of October 1774, and was brought up in his father's business. He was sent by the latter to the United States; married Anne, daughter of William Bingham, of Philadelphia, and formed wide connexions with American houses. In 1810, by his father's death, he became head of the firm. He sat in parliament for Taunton (1806-1826), Callington (1826-1831), Thetford (1831-1832), North Essex (1832-1835). He regarded politics from the point of view of the business man, opposed the orders in council, and the restrictions on trade with the United States in 1812, and in 1826 the act for the suppression of small bank-notes. He was a strong antagonist of Reform. He accepted the post of chancellor of the exchequer in the duke of Wellington's projected ministry of 1832; but afterwards, alarmed at the scene in parliament, declared "he would face a thousand devils rather than such a House of Commons," and advised the recall of Lord Grey. In 1834 he was president of the board of trade and master of the mint in Sir Robert Peel's government, and on the latter's retirement was created Baron Ashburton on the 10th of April 1835, taking the title previously held by John Dunning, his aunt's husband. In 1842 he was despatched to America, and the same year concluded the Ashburton or Webster-Ashburton treaty. A compromise was settled concerning the north-east boundary of Maine, the extradition of certain criminals was arranged, each state agreed to maintain a squadron of at least eighty guns on the coast of Africa for the suppression of the slave trade, and the two governments agreed to unite in an effort to persuade other powers to close all slave markets within their territories. Despite his earlier attitude, Lord Ashburton disapproved of Peel's free-trade projects, and opposed the Bank Charter Act of 1844. He was a trustee of the British Museum and of the National Gallery, a privy councillor and D.C.L. of Oxford. He published, besides several speeches, An Enquiry into the Causes and Consequences of the Orders in Council (1808), and The Financial and Commercial Crisis Considered (1847). He died on the 13th of May 1848, leaving a large family, his eldest son becoming 2nd baron. The 5th baron (b. 1866) succeeded to the title in 1889.

[1] i.e. in the existing line; see below for the earlier creation.

Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)

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