Dudley Carleton, Viscount Dorchester - Encyclopedia

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DUDLEY CARLETON DORCHESTER, VISCOUNT (1573-1632), English diplomatist, son of Antony Carleton of Baldwin Brightwell, Oxfordshire, and of Jocosa, daughter of John Goodwin of Winchington, Buckinghamshire, was born on the 10th of March 1573, and educated at Westminster school and Christ Church, Oxford, where he graduated M.A. in 1600. He travelled abroad, and was returned to the parliament of 1604 as member for St Mawes. Through his connexion as secretary with the earl of Northumberland his name was associated with the Gunpowder Plot, but after a short confinement he succeeded in clearing himself of any share in the conspiracy. In 16ro he was knighted and was sent as ambassador to Venice, where he was the means of concluding the treaty of Asti. He returned in 1615, and next year was appointed ambassador to Holland. The policy of England on the continent depended mainly upon its relations with that state, and Carleton succeeded in improving these, in spite of his firm attitude on the subject of the massacre of Amboyna, the bitter commercial disputes between the two countries, and the fatal tendency of James I. to seek alliance with Spain. It was in his house at the Hague that the unfortunate Elector Frederick and the princess Elizabeth took refuge in 1621. Carleton returned to England in 1625 with the duke of Buckingham, and was made vice-chamberlain of the household and a privy councillor. Shortly afterwards he took part in an abortive mission to France in favour of the French Protestants and to inspire a league against the house of Austria. On his return in 1626 he found the attention of parliament, to which he had been elected for Hastings, completely occupied with the attack upon Buckingham. Carleton endeavoured to defend his patron, and supported the king's violent exercise of his prerogative. It was perhaps fortunate that his further career in the Commons was cut short by his elevation in May to the peerage as Baron Carleton of Imbercourt. Shortly afterwards he was despatched on another mission to the Hague, on his return from which he was created Viscount Dorchester in July 1628. He was active in forwarding the conferences between Buckingham and Contarini for a peace with France on the eve of the duke's intended departure for La Rochelle, which was prevented by the latter's assassination. In December 1628 he was made principal secretary of state, and died on the 15th of February 1632, being buried in Westminster Abbey. He was twice married, and had children, but all died in infancy, and the title became extinct. Carleton was one of the ablest diplomatists of the time, and his talents would have secured greater triumphs had he not been persistently hampered by the mistaken and hesitating foreign policy of the court.

His voluminous correspondence, remarkable for its clear, easy and effective style, and for the writer's grasp of the main points of policy, covers practically the whole history of foreign affairs during the period 1610-1628, and furnishes valuable material for the study of the Thirty Years' War. His letters as ambassador at the Hague, January 1616 to December 1620, were first edited by Philip Yorke, afterwards second earl of Hardwicke, with a biographical and historical preface, in 1 757; his correspondence from the Hague in 1627 by Sir Thomas Phillipps in 1841; other letters are printed in the Cabala, and in T. Birch's Court and Times of James I. and Charles I., but by far the greater portion remains in MS. among the state papers.

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