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Cowley, Henry Richard Charles Wellesley

COWLEY, HENRY RICHARD CHARLES WELLESLEY, 1st Earl (1804-1884), British diplomatist, was the eldest son of Henry Wellesley, 1st Baron Cowley (1773-1847), and Charlotte, daughter of Charles, 1st Earl Cadogan, and was consequently a nephew of the duke of Wellington and of the marquess Wellesley. Born on the 17th of June 1804, he entered the diplomatic service in 1824, receiving his first important appointment in 1848, when he became minister plenipotentiary to the Swiss cantons; and in the same year he was sent to Frankfort to watch the proceedings of the German parliament. This was followed by his appointment as envoy extraordinary to the new Germanic confederation, a position which he only held for a short time, as he was chosen in 1852 to succeed the 1st marquess of Normanby as the British ambassador in Paris. Baron Cowley, as Wellesley had been since his father's death in 1847, held this important post for fifteen years, and the story of his diplomatic life in Paris cannot be separated from the general history of England and France. As minister during the greater part of the reign of Napoleon III., he conducted the delicate negotiations between the two countries during the time of those eastern complications which preceded and followed the Crimean War, and also during the excitement and unrest produced by the attempt made in 1858 by Felice Orsini to assassinate the emperor of the French; while his diplomatic skill was no less in evidence during the war between France and Austria and the subsequent course of events in Italy. In 1857 he had been created Earl Cowley and Viscount Dangan; in 1866 he was made a knight of the Garter; and having assisted Richard Cobden to conclude the commercial treaty between Great Britain and France in 1860, he retired in 1867 from a position which he had filled with distinction to himself and with benefit to his country. In 1863 Cowley had inherited the estate of Draycot in Wiltshire from his kinsman the 5th earl of Mornington, and he lived in retirement until his death on the 15th of July 1884. He had married in 1833 Olivia Cecilia (d. 1885), daughter of Charlotte, baroness de Ros and Lord Henry Fitzgerald, by whom he had three sons and two daughters, and was succeeded in his titles by his eldest son, William Henry, 2nd Earl Cowley (1834-1895), father of Henry Arthur Mornington, 3rd earl (b. 1866).

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

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