The Earl of Auckland
Governor-General of India
In office
4 March 1836 – 28 February 1842
MonarchsWilliam IV
Preceded bySir Charles Metcalfe (acting)
Succeeded byThe Lord Ellenborough
President of the Board of Trade
In office
22 November 1830 – 5 June 1834
Prime MinisterThe Earl Grey
Preceded byJohn Charles Herries
Succeeded byCharles Poulett Thomson
Personal details
Born25 August 1784 (1784-08-25)
Beckenham, Kent, England
Died1 January 1849 (1849-02) (aged 64)
Hampshire, England
Political partyWhig
Parent(s)William Eden, 1st Baron Auckland, Eleanor Elliot
Alma materChrist Church, Oxford
ProfessionLawyer, politician

George Eden, 1st Earl of Auckland, GCB, PC (25 August 1784 – 1 January 1849) was an English Whig politician and colonial administrator. He was thrice First Lord of the Admiralty and also served as Governor-General of India between 1836 and 1842. The province of Auckland, which includes the present regions of Northland, Auckland, Waikato, Bay of Plenty and Gisborne along with the city of Auckland, in New Zealand, was named after him.

Lord Auckland signed the Tripartite Treaty in June 1838 with Maharaja Ranjit Singh of the Sikh Empire and Shah Shuja of Afghanistan.

Background and education

Born in Beckenham, Kent, Auckland was the second son of William Eden, 1st Baron Auckland, and Eleanor, daughter of Sir Gilbert Elliot, 3rd Baronet. His sister was the traveller and author Emily Eden, who accompanied her brother to India and wrote about her experiences there. He was educated at Eton, and Christ Church, Oxford, and was called to the Bar, Lincoln's Inn, in 1809. He became heir apparent to the barony after his elder brother William Eden drowned in the Thames in 1810.[citation needed]

Political career, 1810–1836

Auckland was returned to Parliament for Woodstock in 1810 (succeeding his elder brother, William), a seat he held until 1812, and again between 1813 and 1814. The latter year he succeeded his father in the barony and took his seat in the House of Lords, supporting the reform party. In 1830 he became President of the Board of Trade and Master of the Mint under Lord Grey, and serving as one of the deputy Speakers of the House of Lords.

He was First Lord of the Admiralty under Grey and then Lord Melbourne in 1834 and again under Melbourne in 1835. He gave a commission to William Hobson to sail for the East Indies, which Hobson ultimately rewarded in the naming of his newly created city of Auckland, New Zealand in 1840.[1] Mount Eden in Auckland, the town of Eden, New South Wales and Auckland County, New South Wales were also named after him.

Governor-General of India, 1836–1842

In 1836 Lord Auckland was appointed of Governor-General of India. His private secretary was John Russell Colvin, who rose to be lieutenant-governor of the North-West Provinces and named his son Auckland Colvin after him. As a legislator, he dedicated himself especially to the improvement of native schools and the expansion of the commercial industry of India.

But complications in Afghanistan interrupted this work in 1838. Lord Auckland decided on war, and on 1 October 1838 in Simla published the Simla Manifesto, dethroning Dost Mahommed Khan. After successful early operations he was created Baron Eden, of Norwood in the County of Surrey, and Earl of Auckland. However the Afghan campaign ultimately ended in disaster. He handed over the governor-generalship to Lord Ellenborough and returned to England the following year.

Political career, 1842–1849

In 1846 he again became First Lord of the Admiralty, this time under Lord John Russell. In the words of a modern historian: "[M]inisterial talent in the House of Lords was not so plentiful as to disqualify the author of one of the worst disasters in British military history".[2] He held this office until his death three years later.

Personal life and character

Lord Auckland died on New Year's Day 1849, following what was described as a fit.[3] He was aged 64. Lord Auckland was unmarried and on his death the earldom became extinct, while he was succeeded in the barony by his younger brother, Robert.[citation needed]

In a recently published (2013) history Lord Auckland is described as "a clever and capable but somewhat complacent and detached Whig nobleman". In appearance he was slim and younger looking than his years. As a respected First Lord of the Admiralty Lord Auckland depended heavily on competent staff but his indecisive personality and indifference to Indian history and culture led to disastrous decisions being made during his term as Governor-General there.[4]


  1. ^ Simpson, K. A. "Hobson, William". Dictionary of New Zealand Biography. Ministry for Culture and Heritage. Retrieved 12 July 2015.
  2. ^ Mount, Ferdinand (7 June 2016). The Tears of the Rajas: Mutiny, Money and Marriage in India, 1805-1905. Simon & Schuster UK. p. 389. ISBN 978-1-4711-2946-9.
  3. ^ letter from his Admiralty assistant John Dunds
  4. ^ Dalrymple, William (January 2014). Return of a King. Bloomsbury. p. 109. ISBN 978-1-4088-3159-5.

Further reading