The Lord Auckland
William Eden 1. baron Auckland.jpg
Portrait of Lord Auckland by Sir Thomas Lawrence, 1792
President of the Board of Trade
In office
5 February 1806 – 31 March 1807
MonarchGeorge III
Prime MinisterThe Lord Grenville
Preceded byThe Duke of Montrose
Succeeded byThe Earl Bathurst
Chief Secretary for Ireland
In office
MonarchGeorge III
Prime MinisterLord North
Preceded byRichard Heron
Succeeded byRichard FitzPatrick
Personal details
Born(1745-04-03)3 April 1745
Died28 May 1814(1814-05-28) (aged 69)
Beckenham, Kent
Political partyTory (Pittite)
Whig (Grenvillite)
Eleanor Elliot
(m. 1776)
RelationsGeorge Osborne, 8th Duke of Leeds (grandson)
EducationDurham School
Eton College
Alma materChrist Church, Oxford

William Eden, 1st Baron Auckland, PC (Ire), FRS (3 April 1745 – 28 May 1814) was a British diplomat and politician who sat in the House of Commons from 1774 to 1793.[1]

Early life

A member of the influential Eden family, Auckland was a younger son of Sir Robert Eden, 3rd Baronet, of Windlestone Hall, County Durham, and Mary, daughter of William Davison. His brothers included Sir John Eden, 4th Baronet, also an MP; Sir Robert Eden, 1st Baronet, of Maryland, the last royal Governor of Maryland; and Morton Eden, 1st Baron Henley, diplomat.

He was educated at Durham School, Eton and Christ Church, Oxford,[2] and was called to the bar, Middle Temple, in 1768.


In 1771 Auckland published Principles of Penal Law, and soon became a recognized authority on commercial and economic questions. In 1772 he took up an appointment as Under-Secretary of State for the North, a post he held until 1778. He was Member of Parliament for Woodstock from 1774 to 1784 and served as a Lord of Trade from 1776 to 1782. In 1778 he carried an Act for the improvement of the treatment of prisoners, and accompanied the Earl of Carlisle as a commissioner to North America on an unsuccessful mission to bring an end to the American War of Independence. During the War, he was head of the British spies in Europe, his budget reaching £200,000 by 1778. He probably oversaw a small group of intelligence collectors for Lord Suffolk. On his return in 1779 he published his widely-read Four Letters to the Earl of Carlisle. In 1780 Auckland became Chief Secretary for Ireland, which he remained until 1782, and was admitted to the Irish Privy Council in 1780. He represented Dungannon in the Irish House of Commons between 1781 and 1783 and was Joint Vice-Treasurer of Ireland between 1783 and 1784. While in Ireland he established the National Bank.[3]

Between 1784 and 1793 Auckland was Member of Parliament for Heytesbury. He was sworn of the British Privy Council in 1784 and served as Envoy to France from 1785 to 1787 (on a mission dealing with commerce); he was Ambassador to Spain between 1787 and 1789 and Ambassador to the Netherlands between 1789 and 1793. In 1789 he was raised to the Peerage of Ireland as Baron Auckland and in 1793 he retired from public service, receiving a pension of £2300, and was further honoured when he was made Baron Auckland, of West Auckland in the County of Durham, in the Peerage of Great Britain.

During his retirement in the country at Beckenham, he continued his friendship with William Pitt the Younger, his nearest neighbour at Holwood House, who at one time had thoughts of marrying his daughter (see below). With Pitt's sanction he published his Remarks on the Apparent Circumstances of the War in 1795, to prepare public opinion for a peace.[3]

He was later included in Pitt's government as Joint Postmaster General in 1798. He severely criticized Pitt's resignation in 1801, from which he had endeavoured to dissuade him, and retained office under Henry Addington. This terminated his friendship with Pitt, who excluded him from his administration in 1804 though he increased his pension. Auckland later served under Lord Grenville as President of the Board of Trade in the Ministry of All the Talents between 1806 and 1807.[3]

His Journal and Correspondence, published in 1861–1862, throws much light on the political history of the time.[3] The subantarctic Auckland Islands group to the south of New Zealand, discovered in 1806, were named after him, as was Eden Quay in Dublin.[4]

Personal life

Eden's daughter Eleanor Agnes, by John Hoppner
Eden's daughter Eleanor Agnes, by John Hoppner

In 1776, Lord Auckland married Eleanor Elliot, daughter of Sir Gilbert Elliot, 3rd Baronet and Agnes Dalrymple-Murray-Kynynmound (daughter and heiress of Hugh Dalrymple-Murray-Kynynmound). Eleanor was a sister of Gilbert Eliott, 1st Earl of Minto. They had six sons and eight daughters, including:[5]

Lord Auckland died in May 1814 and was succeeded by his second but eldest surviving son, George, who was created Earl of Auckland in 1839. Lady Auckland died in May 1818.[11]


  1. ^ A description of the Godolphin life at their family seat, Gog Magog House (now destroyed), was captured in a letter by one of her younger sisters: "I invited myself of course, but [Lady] Charlotte bore it very well. I was there fifteen years ago in the capacity of a child: I therefore did not see much of her, or know anything of her and except that, have not seen her but for two or three morning visits per annum; so it was a voyage of discovery, in the style of a North Pole expedition. The Frost intense--and a good deal of hummocky ice to sail through. However, I really liked it better than expected. Lord Francis [Osborne] is particularly pleasant in his own house, and young Charlotte [the youngest child and only daughter] very civil and good-natured."[8] Sons of the house included George, the eldest, who became 8th Duke of Leeds in 1859, and Sydney, later known for his letters to The Times on various political and social causes. He wrote about the workhouses in Ireland during the Great Famine and was with Florence Nightingale in Scutari during the Crimean War.
  1. ^ "EDEN, William, 1st Baron Auckland [I] (1744-1814), of Eden Farm, Beckenham, Kent". historyofparliament.
  2. ^ "Eden, William, first Baron Auckland". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/8459. Eden was educated at Durham School (1755–8) and Eton College (1758–62) before going up to Christ Church, Oxford, in 1762. (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  3. ^ a b c d  One or more of the preceding sentences incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainChisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Auckland, William Eden". Encyclopædia Britannica. Vol. 2 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. pp. 893–894.
  4. ^ "Eden Quay Dublin – Archiseek – Irish Architecture". Archiseek - Irish Architecture.
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h i j "Auckland, Baron (GB, 1793)". Heraldic Media Limited. Retrieved 14 September 2021.
  6. ^ Hague, William William Pitt the Younger Harper Collins 2004
  7. ^ "Buckinghamshire, Earl of (GB, 1746)". Heraldic Media Limited. Retrieved 27 November 2019.
  8. ^ (Emily Eden. "Miss Eden's Letters." Violet Dickinson, ed. London: Macmillan, 1919, p. 93).
  9. ^ Foster, Joseph. textsThe peerage, baronetage, and knightage of the British Empire : for 1882 (1883 ed.). Nicols & Sons. p. 646.
  10. ^ The Nautical Magazine and Naval Chronicle for 1849. Cambridge University Press. 2013. p. 61. ISBN 978-1-108-05436-2. Retrieved 27 November 2019.
  11. ^ Ranieval, The Marquis of Ruvigny and (2013). The Plantagenet Roll of the Blood Royal: The Mortimer-Percy Volume. Heritage Books. pp. 274–275. ISBN 978-0-7884-1872-3. Retrieved 27 November 2019.

See also

Parliament of Great Britain Preceded byHon. William Gordon John Skynner Member of Parliament for Woodstock 17741784 With: John Skynner 1774–1777Viscount Parker 1777–1784 Succeeded bySir Henry Dashwood, Bt Francis Burton Preceded byFrancis Burton William à Court Member of Parliament for Heytesbury 1784–1793 With: William à Court 1784–1790Michael Angelo Taylor 1790–1791The Earl of Barrymore 1791–1793Charles Ellis 1793 Succeeded byThe Viscount Clifden Charles Rose Ellis Parliament of Ireland Preceded byCharles O'Hara Thomas Knox Member of Parliament for Dungannon 1781–1783 With: Charles O'Hara Succeeded byEdmund Sexton Pery Hon. Thomas Knox Political offices Preceded bySir Richard Heron, Bt Chief Secretary for Ireland 1780–1782 Succeeded byRichard FitzPatrick Preceded byThe Earl of ChesterfieldThe Earl of Leicester Postmaster General 1798–1804 With: The Earl of Leicester 1798–1799The Baron Gower 1799–1801Lord Charles Spencer 1801–1804 Succeeded byThe Duke of MontroseLord Charles Spencer Preceded byThe Duke of Montrose President of the Board of Trade 1806–1807 Succeeded byThe Earl Bathurst Diplomatic posts Preceded byThe Earl of Chesterfield British Ambassador to Spain 1787–1789 Succeeded byAlleyne FitzHerbert Preceded byAlleyne FitzHerbert British Ambassador to the Netherlands 1789–1790 Succeeded byLord Henry Spencer Peerage of Ireland New creation Baron Auckland 1789–1814 Succeeded byGeorge Eden Peerage of Great Britain New creation Baron Auckland 1793–1814 Succeeded byGeorge Eden