BAGOT, Hon. Charles (1781-1843), of Hanover Square, Mdx.
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Family and Education
b. 23 Sept. 1781, 2nd surv. s. of William Bagot†, 1st Baron Bagot, by Hon. Elizabeth Louisa St. John, da. of John, 2nd Visct. St. John. educ. Rugby 1790; Christ Church, Oxf. 1797; L. Inn 1801. m. 22 July 1806, Mary Charlotte Anne, da. of Hon. William Wellesley Pole*, 4s. 6da. GCB 20 May 1820.
Under-sec. of state for Foreign affairs Aug. 1807-Oct. 1809; minister plenip. to France July-Aug. 1814, to USA July 1815-19; PC 4 Dec. 1815; ambassador to Russia May 1820-4, to Netherlands Nov. 1824-32, to Austria (spec. mission) Apr. 1835; gov.-gen. Canada Sept. 1841-d.
Capt. Uttoxeter yeomanry 1803-7.
Bagot, a young fashionable, described by Lord Glenbervie as ‘very handsome and lively’ and as having ‘a very good understanding’, had some difficulty in deciding on a career. He was, however, one of Canning’s circle of Oxford friends and decided in 1800 that the answer was ‘to find grace in Canning’s sight’.1 Canning being out of office 1801-7, Bagot had to wait: but in 1806 he was one of Canning’s ‘recruits’ who were either in Parliament or expected to be and who met together to concert measures.2 In March 1807 he applied to Canning to be his under-secretary at the Foreign Office: he was too late and Canning doubted his suitability.3 In May he came in for his uncle Richard Howard’s borough seat of Castle Rising, as a supporter of the Portland administration. In August the under-secretaryship at the Foreign Office became vacant and this time Canning offered it to Bagot, whom he found to be ‘very desirous indeed’ of it, despite the labour involved. Canning still had reservations about his capacity for it and suggested to Palmerston that he might arrange an exchange of offices with Bagot, ‘as his want of French is an objection to his being in the Foreign Office, and his father-in-law being Secretary [at the Admiralty] might render this Board a more desirable situation for him’. But Palmerston was sure Bagot would not agree and Bagot gave satisfaction to Canning, if ‘not equal’ to his predecessor FitzHarris. In November 1807, still ‘not speaking a word of French’, he was deputed to receive the future Louis XVIII on his landing in England. Owing to the ‘daily and constant’ devotion to business required by his office, however, Canning advised him to give up his seat in Parliament, which he did in January 1808, though the Speaker doubted if it was necessary for him to do so.4 Not until 1847 was the office again held by a Member of the House of Commons.
Bagot remained in Canning’s confidence, was privy to the events leading to Canning’s resignation in 1809 and resigned with him, although his father-in-law remained in office. Had Canning returned to power in 1812, he was expected to rejoin him at the Foreign Office.5 He was subsequently sent as minister to Paris, by the favour of his father-in-law’s brother the Duke of Wellington, and to the USA. Continuing in that line he distinguished himself as a diplomat. Canning was prepared to offer him the government of India in 1827 and he died governor-general of Canada, 19 May 1843.6
Ref Volumes: 1790-1820
Author: R. G. Thorne
- 1. Glenbervie Diaries, i. 350; Canning and his Friends, i. 235.
- 2. Harewood mss, Canning to his wife, 11 Mar. 1806.
- 3. Ibid. same to same, 26 Mar. 1807.
- 4. Ibid. same to same, 6, 29 Aug.; Malmesbury mss, FitzHarris to Malmesbury, 14 Aug. 1807; Canning and his Friends, i. 238-44, 249; Letters of Lady Harriet Cavendish, i. 234; Colchester, ii. 136.
- 5. Harewood mss, Canning to his wife, 4 Aug. 1809; Add. 37295, f. 133; Bath Archives ed. Lady Jackson, i. 442.
- 6. Harewood mss, Canning to his wife, 14 July 1814; DNB (Supp.); Castlereagh Corresp. x. 472; xi. passim; Canning and his Friends, i. 236; Gent. Mag. (1843), ii. 201 (which gives 18 May as his death date).