The Lord Ashburton
Portrait of Lord Ashburton by George Peter Alexander Healy, 1842
President of the Board of Trade
In office
15 December 1834 – 8 April 1835
MonarchWilliam IV
Prime MinisterSir Robert Peel, Bt
Preceded byCharles Poulett Thomson
Succeeded byCharles Poulett Thomson
Master of the Mint
In office
23 December 1834 – 8 April 1835
MonarchWilliam IV
Prime MinisterSir Robert Peel, Bt
Preceded byJames Abercromby
Succeeded byHenry Labouchere
Personal details
Born27 October 1774 (1774-10-27)
Died12 May 1848 (1848-05-13) (aged 73)
Longleat, Wiltshire, England
NationalityBritish, English
Political partyTory
SpouseAnn Louisa Bingham (m. 1798)
Parent(s)Sir Francis Baring, Bt
Harriet Herring Baring

Alexander Baring, 1st Baron Ashburton PC (27 October 1774 – 12 May 1848) was a British politician and financier, and a member of the Baring family. Baring was the second son of Sir Francis Baring, 1st Baronet, and of Harriet, daughter of William Herring.

Early life

Alexander was born on 27 October 1774. He was the second son born to Harriet Herring (1750–1804) and Sir Francis Baring, 1st Baronet (1740–1810). Among his siblings was Maria (the mother of Francis Stainforth), Sir Thomas Baring, 2nd Baronet, Henry Baring (a Member of Parliament for Bossiney[1] and Colchester),[2] and George Baring (who founded the Hong Kong trading house of Dent & Co.). His father, alongside his uncle, John Baring, established the London merchant house of John and Francis Baring Company, which eventually became Barings Bank.[3]

His paternal grandparents were Elizabeth Vowler and Johann Baring, a wool merchant who emigrated to England in 1717 from Germany and established the family in England. His maternal grandfather was merchant William Herring of Croydon and among his mother's family was her cousin, Thomas Herring, Archbishop of Canterbury.[citation needed]


Alexander was brought up in his father's business, and became a partner at Hope & Co. He was sent to the United States for various land deals, and formed wide connections with wealthy American families. In 1807 Alexander became a partner in the family firm, along with his brothers Thomas and Henry, and the name was changed to Baring Brothers & Co. When Henry Hope died in 1811, the London offices of Hope & Co. merged with Baring Brothers & Co.[4]

Political career

Baring sat in parliament for Taunton 1806–1826, for Callington 1826–1831, for Thetford 1831–1832 and for North Essex 1832–1835. He regarded politics from the point of view of the businessman. He opposed the orders-in-council for "the restrictions on trade with the United States" in 1812, and, in 1826, the act for the suppression of small banknotes, as well as other reforms. He accepted the post of Chancellor of the Exchequer in the Duke of Wellington's projected ministry of 1832; but afterwards, alarmed at the men in parliament, declared "he would face a thousand devils rather than such a House of Commons."[5] After the Panic of 1847, Baring headed an external bimetallist movement hoping to prevent the undue restriction of the currency.[6]

Baring was Master of the Mint in Robert Peel's government and, on Peel's retirement in 1835, was raised to the peerage as Baron Ashburton, of Ashburton, in the County of Devon,[7] a title previously held by John Dunning, 1st Baron Ashburton. In 1842 he was again sent to America, and the same year concluded the 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 Atlantic 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 and opposed the Bank Charter Act of 1844.[8]

Ashburton was a trustee of the British Museum and of the National Gallery, a privy councillor and DCL. He published, besides several speeches, An Enquiry into the Causes and Consequences of ... Orders in Council (1808), and The Financial and Commercial Crisis Considered (1847).[8]

Baring was the recipient of compensation when slavery was abolished in British Empire in 1833.[9] He received £10090 in compensation for the emancipation of nearly 500 slaves across four estates in British Guiana and Saint Kitts due to holding interests in those plantations.[10]

Personal life

On 23 August 1798, Ashburton married Ann Louisa Bingham (1782–1848), daughter of Ann Willing Bingham and William Bingham of Philadelphia, who served as a U.S. Senator and was one of the richest men in America, having made his fortune during the American Revolution through trading and ownership of privateers.[11] Her maternal grandfather was Thomas Willing, the president of the First Bank of the United States. Together, they had nine children:[12]

In 1830 Ashburton bought Rudhall Manor in Herefordshire.[15] He died on 12 May 1848 at Longleat, in Wiltshire. His widow died several months later on 5 December 1848.[12]


Through his eldest son, he was a grandfather of Mary Florence Baring (1860–1902), who married William Compton, 5th Marquess of Northampton.[16] Through his second son, he was a grandfather of Alexander Baring, 4th Baron Ashburton (1835–1889), and Maria Anne Louisa Baring (1833–1928), who married William FitzRoy, 6th Duke of Grafton.[17]


Of this great mercantile family the Duke of Richelieu wittily remarked; "There are six main powers in Europe; Britain, France, Austria-Hungary, Russia, Prussia and Baring-Brothers!" (Vicary Gibbs, from the "Complete Peerage" 1910).


  1. ^ " House of Commons: Bodmin to Bradford East". Archived from the original on 10 August 2009. Retrieved 29 August 2019.((cite web)): CS1 maint: unfit URL (link)
  2. ^ " House of Commons: Clonmel to Cork County West". Archived from the original on 20 December 2009. Retrieved 29 August 2019.((cite web)): CS1 maint: unfit URL (link)
  3. ^ Debrett's (1916). Debrett's Peerage, Baronetage, Knightage, and Companionage. Kelly's Directories. p. 670.
  4. ^ Titcomb, James (23 February 2015). "Barings: the collapse that erased 232 years of history". The Daily Telegraph.
  5. ^ Chisholm 1911, pp. 729–730.
  6. ^ É. Halévy (1961) Victorian Years. London: Ernest Benn; p. 201.
  7. ^ "No. 19257". The London Gazette. 10 April 1835. p. 699.
  8. ^ a b Chisholm 1911, p. 730.
  9. ^ Legacies of British Slave-ownership University College of London Retrieved 25 May 2020.
  10. ^ Legacies of British Slave-ownership University College of London Retrieved 15 September 2021.
  11. ^ Maine League of Historical Societies and Museums (1970). Doris A. Isaacson (ed.). Maine: A Guide 'Down East'. Rockland, Me: Courier-Gazette, Inc. pp. 381–382.
  12. ^ a b c d e f g h "Ashburton, Baron (UK, 1835)". Heraldic Media Limited. Archived from the original on 30 December 2013. Retrieved 29 August 2019.
  13. ^ "Sandwich, Earl of (E, 1660)". Heraldic Media Limited. Archived from the original on 5 November 2010. Retrieved 29 August 2019.
  14. ^ "Bath, Marquess of (GB, 1789)". Heraldic Media Limited. Archived from the original on 31 December 2013. Retrieved 29 August 2019.
  15. ^ Churchill, Penny (21 June 2023). "A glorious Grade-I listed country house for sale that Nelson and his mistress once used as their lovenest". Country Life. Retrieved 10 May 2024.
  16. ^ "Northampton, Marquess of (UK, 1812)". Heraldic Media Limited. Retrieved 29 August 2019.
  17. ^ "Grafton, Duke of (E, 1675)". Heraldic Media Limited. Archived from the original on 27 April 2019. Retrieved 29 August 2019.