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The Earl Cowley.
Henry Richard Charles Wellesley, 1st Earl Cowley KG GCB PC (17 June 1804 – 15 July 1884), known as The Lord Cowley between 1847 and 1857, was a British diplomat.

He was the eldest son of the 1st Baron Cowley (1773-1847), and the former Lady Charlotte Cadogan, daughter of the 1st Earl Cadogan, and was consequently a nephew of the 1st Duke of Wellington and of the 1st Marquess Wellesley.

Diplomatic career

Wellesley entered the diplomatic service in 1824, receiving his first important appointment in 1848, when he became Minister Plenipotentiary to the Swiss Cantons. In July 1848 he was sent on special mission to the provisional central power of Germany in Frankfurt. This was followed in June 1851 by his appointment as Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary to the reinstated diet of the German Confederationmarker, a position which he only held for a short time, as he was chosen in 1852 to succeed Lord Normanby as the British Ambassador in Parismarker. Lord Cowley, as Wellesley had become on 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 Francemarker and Austriamarker and the subsequent course of events in Italymarker.

In 1857 he was 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.

Unexpected inheritance

In 1863 Cowley inherited the former Long family estate of Draycot Cerne in Wiltshiremarker from his kinsman the 5th Earl of Mornington, and he lived in retirement until his death on 15 July 1884.

Family

He married in 1833 The Hon. Olivia Cecilia FitzGerald (d. 1885) daughter of Lord Henry FitzGerald (fourth son of the 1st Duke of Leinster) and the 20th Baroness de Ros, by whom he had three sons and two daughters, and was succeeded in his titles by his eldest son, William Cowley, Viscount Dangan (1834-1895). One of his daughters, Lady Feodorowna Cecilia Wellesley (1838-1920), married Francis Bertie, a British diplomat and a future British ambassador to France.

Further reading

  • Hand of Fate. The History of the Longs, Wellesleys and the Draycot Estate in Wiltshire. Tim Couzens 2001 ISBN 1 903341 72 6


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