Waddington, William Henry
WADDINGTON, WILLIAM HENRY (1826-1894), French statesman, was born at St Remi-sur-FAvre (Eure-et-Loir) on the nth of December 1826. He was the son of a wealthy Englishman who had established a large spinning factory in France and had been naturalized as a French subject. After receiving his early education in Paris, he was sent to Rugby, and thence proceeded to Trinity College, Cambridge, where he was second classic and chancellor's medallist, and rowed for the university in the winning boat against Oxford. Returning to France, he devoted himself for some years to archaeological research. He undertook travels in Asia Minor, Greece and Syria, the fruits of which were published in two Memoires, crowned by the Institute, and in his Melanges de numismatique et de philologie (1861). Except his essay on " The Protestant Church in France," oublished in 1856 in Cambridge Essays, his remaining works are likewise archaeological. They include the Pastes de I' empire remain, and editions of Diocletian's edict and of Philippe Lebas's Voyage archtologique (1868-1877). He was elected in 1865 a member of the Academic des Inscriptions et Belles-Lettres.
After standing unsuccessfully for the department of the Aisne in 1865 and 1869, Waddington was returned by that constituency at the election of 1871. He was minister of public instruction in the short-lived cabinet of the 19th of May 1873, and in 1876, having been elected senator for the Aisne, he was again entrusted by Dufaure with the ministry of public instruction, with which, as a Protestant, he was not permitted to combine the ministry of public worship. His most important project, a bill transferring the conferment of degrees to the state, passed the Chamber, but was thrown out by the Senate. He continued to hold his office under Jules Simon, with whom he was overthrown on the famous seize mai 1877. The triumph of the republicans at the general election brought him back to power in the following December as minister of foreign affairs under Dufaure. He was one of the French plenipotentiaries at the Berlin Congress. The cession of Cyprus to Great Britain was at first denounced by the French newspapers as a great blow to his diplomacy, but he obtained, in a conversation with Lord Salisbury, a promise that Great Britain in return would allow France a free hand in Tunis.
Early in 1879 Waddington succeeded Dufaure as prime minister. Holding office by sufferance of Gambetta, he halted in an undetermined attitude between the radicals and the reactionaries till the delay of urgent reforms lost him the support of all parties. He was forced on the 27th of December to retire from office. He refused the offer of the London embassy, and in 1880 was reporter of the committee on the adoption of the scrutin de lisle at elections, on which he delivered an adverse judgment. In 1883 he accepted the London embassy, which he continued to hold till 1893, showing an exceptional tenacity in defence of his country's interests. He died on the 13th of January 1894. His wife, an American lady, whose maiden name was Mary A. King, wrote some interesting recollections of their diplomatic experiences Letters of a Diplomatist's Wife, 1883-1900 (New York, 1903), and Italian Letters (London, 1905).
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)