Catalogue description Cowley Papers

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Details of FO 519
Reference: FO 519
Title: Cowley Papers

This series contains a collection of papers accumulated by Henry Wellesley, first Baron Cowley, and his son, Henry Richard Charles Wellesley, first Earl and second Baron Cowley, during their diplomatic careers, and relating particularly to Austria, France, Spain and Turkey. There are also some papers of Col the Hon Frederick Wellesley as military attaché in Russia and miscellaneous material collected by him for his published works.

Date: 1744 - c1935
Related material:

For records relating to Earl Cowley's posting to the Germanic Confederation see FO 30

Separated material:

In 1983 fifteen volumes of papers of the first Baron Cowley and one volume containing a journal kept by his son as ambassador to France in 1854 were deposited in Southampton University Library together with the paper of the first Duke of Wellington.

Held by: The National Archives, Kew
Legal status: Public Record(s)
Language: English

Henry Wellesley, 1st Baron Cowley, 1773-1847

Henry Richard Charles Wellesley, 1st Earl Cowley, 1804-1884

Physical description: 304 volume(s)
Immediate source of acquisition:

The Cowley papers were deposited in the Public Record Office for safe-keeping in 1942 and subsequently presented by Sir Victor Wellesley, KCMG to the Foreign Office in two collections in 1948 and 1952 respectively. A final collection of papers similar in content to the earlier ones was bequested to the state in 1954 by Sir Victor.

Administrative / biographical background:

Henry Wellesley, 1st Baron Cowley was born on 20th January 1773, the youngest son of Garrett Wellesley 1st Earl Mornington and Anne Hill, daughter of 1st Viscount Dungannon. His earliest career was spent in the army, and then in January 1792 he entered the diplomatic service as secretary to the Stockholm legation.

In July 1797 he accompanied Lord Malmesbury to Lille as his secretary. Two months later he accompanied his brother Lord Mornington (later Marquis Wellesley) the Viceroy, to India as his secretary. Between August 1799 and March 1801 he was in England, but on his return to India he became lieutenant-governor of the territory ceded by Oudh. He resigned in March 1802 and returned to England where he entered parliament as MP for Eye, 1807-1809, and was secretary to the Treasury 1808-1809.

In May 1809 he resigned his parliamentary seat and resumed his diplomatic career, accompanying Marquis Wellesley to Spain as secretary to the embassy. Shortly after his brothers' departure he became envoy extra-ordinary and on 1st October 1811 he was appointed ambassador. During the peninsular war he gave valuable support to his brother, Wellington. After the peace he concluded a commercial treaty with Spain and in 1817 a treaty for the abolition of the slave trade. He left Spain in March 1822.

On 3rd February 1823 he took up his appointment as ambassador to Austria and remained there until 1831, having been created Baron Cowley of Wellesley in 1828. On 13th March 1835 he was appointed Ambassador to Paris. He resigned briefly when the Whigs took office but was re-appointed in October 1841. He resigned finally in 1846, but stayed in Paris where he died on 27th April 1857.

He was married twice; first Charlotte Sloane, daughter of the first earl of Cadogan, whom he divorced in 1810; and secondly to Georgiana Cecil, daughter of the first Marquis of Salisbury.

Henry Richard Charles Wellesley, 1st Earl and 2nd Baron Cowley was born on 17th June 1804, the eldest son of the 1st baron Cowley. He entered the diplomatic service and his first post was in October 1824 as attache at Vienna. His career progressed steadily through various appointments in The Hague, Stuttgart and Constantinople, until in February 1848 he was made minister plenipotentiary to the Confederated Swiss Cantons. In June 1851 he was sent as Envoy Extraordinary and minster to the Germanic Confederation in Frankfurt.

On 5 February 1852 Lord Cowley was appointed by Lord Granville as ambassador to Paris, arriving there only two months after by coup d'etat which changed it from a republic to an empire. He was closely involved with the negotiations which brought the Crimean war to an end in 1856. Much of his career there was involved in controlling the effects of Napoleon III's rather erratic problems.

In February 1859 he was sent on a confidential mission to Vienna to try to mediate in regard to differences between France and Austria. Cowley was also acting as joint plenipotentiary, assisting Cobden in negotiations for a commercial treaty between France and Britain, which was eventually signed on 23rd January 1860. He resigned from office in 1867.

He married in October 1833 Olivia Cecilia, daughter of the Baroness de Ross and Lord Henry Fitzgerald. He died on 15th July 1884.

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