Thomas George Baring Northbrook - Encyclopedia

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THOMAS GEORGE BARING NORTHBROOK, 1ST Earl Of (1826-1904), English statesman, eldest son of the first baron (long known as Sir Francis Baring; see Baring), was born on the 22nd of January 1826, and educated at Christ Church, Oxford, where he graduated with honours in 1846. He entered upon a political career, and was successively private secretary to Mr Labouchere (Lord Taunton), Sir George Grey, and Sir Charles Wood (Viscount Halifax). In 1857 he was returned to the House of Commons in the Liberal interest for Penryn and Falmouth, which constituency he continued to represent until he became a peer on the death of his father in 1866. He was a lord of the admiralty in 18J7-1858; under-secretary for war, 1861; for India, 1861-1864; for the home department, 1864-1866; and secretary to the admiralty, 1866. When Mr Gladstone acceded to power in 1868, Lord Northbrook was again appointed under-secretary for war, and this office he held until February 1872, when he was appointed governor-general of India. In January 1876, however, he resigned. He had recommended the conclusion of arrangements with Shere Ali which, as has since been admitted, would have prevented the second Afghan war; but his policy was overruled by the duke of Argyll, then secretary of state. Lord Northbrook was created Viscount Baring of Lee in the county of Kent and earl of Northbrook in the county of Southampton. From 1880 to 1885 he held the post of first lord of the admiralty in !Mr Gladstone's second government. During his tenure of office the state of the navy aroused much public anxiety and led to a strong agitation in favour of an extended shipbuilding programme. The agitation called forth Tennyson's poem "The Fleet." In September 1884 Lord Northbrook was sent to Egypt as special commissioner to inquire into its finances and condition. The inquiry was largely unnecessary, all the essential facts being well known, but the mission was a device of Mr Gladstone's to avoid an immediate decision on a perplexing question. Lord Northbrook, after six weeks of inquiry in Egypt, sent in two reports, one general, advising against the withdrawal of the British garrison, one financial. His financial proposals, if accepted, would have substituted the financial control of Great Britain for the international control proposed at the London Conference of June-August of the same year. A heavy blow would thus have been struck at internationalism in Egypt. Mr Gladstone was not, however, prepared to give a British guarantee of the interest of the loan, and so Lord Northbrook's mission proved abortive. The £9,000,000 loan issued in 1885 bound Egypt even more securely in international fetters (see Cromer's Modern Egypt, 1908, vol. ii. chap. xlv.). When Mr Gladstone formed his third ministry in 1886 Lord Northbrook held aloof, being opposed to the home rule policy of the premier;' and he then ceased to take a prominent part in political life. In 1890 he was appointed lord-lieutenant of Hampshire. He died on the 15th of November 1904. He had married in 1848 Elizabeth Sturt, sister of Lord Alington, and was succeeded as 2nd earl by his eldest son, who as Lord Baring had been M.P. for Winchester (1880-1885) and North Bedford (1886-1892).1892).

See B. Mallet, Thomas George, Earl of Northbrook (1908).

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