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Sir John Moore - The Making of a Controversial Hero, Janet MacDonald

Sir John Moore - The Making of a Controversial Hero, Janet MacDonald


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Sir John Moore - The Making of a Controversial Hero, Janet MacDonald

Sir John Moore - The Making of a Controversial Hero, Janet MacDonald

General Sir John Moore is best known for his death at the battle of Corunna, at the end of a retreat that took his armies from the vicinity of Madrid across the mountains of north-western Spanish mountains to the coast, where the survivors were evacuated by sea, and for training the rifle corps at Shorncliffe. As this biography reveals, those were only two elements in a long and varied career. He fought on Corsica (at the same time as the young Nelson), went to the West Indies, was in Ireland when the French invaded, took part in one of the failed expeditions to Holland, the defeat of the French in Egypt, the defence of Sicily and commanded an expedition to Sweden that failed because of the attitude of the probably insane King.

Moore comes across as a rather prickly character. MacDonald points out his tendency to speak his mind, and then assume that the person he has just insulted won't hold a grudge as he was just telling them the truth. He also tended to complain about his appointments, arguing against any posting that denied him the chance for combat, and even finding ways to be insulted by his appointment to the army serving in Spain. Hardly surprisingly the two habits tended to feed each other, with his 'honesty' annoying the same political leaders whose support he needed if he was to be given senior commands.

The text is supported by many of Moore's letters and reports, and we get a very good picture of the man and his attitudes. If there is a flaw, it is the fairly standard tendency to sympathise too much with your subject and his point of view. He did have a difficult task in Spain, as the first British commander to run up against the Spanish commanders and their unreliable promises, but that doesn’t mean that all of his decisions in Spain have to be defended. Other than that this is a good readable biography of an important British commander of the Napoleonic Wars, casting a light on the less familiar parts of this career.

Chapters
1 - Early Days
2 - Corsica: St Fiorenzo and Bastia
3 - Corsica: Calvi and After
4 - West Indies
5 - Ireland
6 - Holland
7 - Egypt: Preparation
8 - Egypt: Action and Aftermath
9 - Shorncliffe
10 - Sicily
11 - Sweden
12 - Portugal
13 - Into Spain
14 - Retreat and Battle
15 - Aftermath
16 - Character Assessment

Author: Janet MacDonald
Edition: Hardcover
Pages: 276
Publisher: Pen & Sword Military
Year: 2016



Contents

Charles was born on 18 May 1778 in Dublin [1] as the second of the 11 children of Robert Stewart and his second wife Frances Pratt. His father's family was Ulster-Scots and Presbyterian. His father was a rich man, a member of the Irish landed gentry and a member of the Irish House of Commons for Down but not yet a nobleman. Charles's mother was English, a daughter of Charles Pratt, 1st Earl Camden, a leading English jurist. His parents married on 7 June 1775. [2] Charles was brought up as an Anglican, a member of the Church of Ireland. [3]

Charles had a half-brother from his father's first marriage:

    (1769–1822), known as "Castlereagh", became a famous statesman.
  1. Frances Ann (1777–1810), married Lord Charles Fitzroy[4]
  2. Charles (1778–1854)
  3. Elizabeth Mary (1779–1798)
  4. Caroline (born 1781)
  5. Alexander John (1783–1800)
  6. Lady Georgiana Stewart (born 1785), married the politician George Canning II, nephew of army general and politician Brent Spencer. [5][6]
  7. Selina Sarah Juliana (born 1786)
  8. Matilda Charlotte (born 1787), married Edward Michael Ward, the eldest son of the Robert Ward of Bangor [7]
  9. Emily Jane (born 1789)
  10. Thomas Henry (1790–1810)
  11. Catherine Octavia (1792–1819), married Edward Law, 1st Earl of Ellenborough[8]

In 1789, when he was 11, his father, Robert Stewart, was created Baron Londonderry. [9]

On 3 April 1791, at the age of 12, Charles Stewart entered the British Army as ensign in the 108th Regiment. He was commissioned a lieutenant on 8 January 1793 in this same unit. [10] He saw service in 1794 in the Flanders Campaign of the French Revolutionary Wars. [ citation needed ]

He was lieutenant-colonel of the 5th Royal Irish Dragoons by the time he helped put down the Irish Rebellion of 1798. In 1803, Stewart was appointed aide-de-camp to King George III. [ citation needed ]

In 1795 his father was created Viscount Castlereagh [11] and in 1796 Marquess of Londonderry in the Irish peerage. [12]

In 1800, Charles Stewart was elected to the Irish House of Commons as member of parliament for Thomastown borough, County Kilkenny, in place of George Dunbar, [13] and after only two months exchanged this seat for that of Londonderry County, [14] being replaced at Thomastown by John Cradock. [15] After the abolition of the Irish Parliament with the Act of Union in 1801, the Irish constituency of Londonderry County became the Londonderry constituency of the Parliament of the United Kingdom and he joined the Parliament 1798–1802 sitting at Westminster until its dissolution on 29 June 1802. [16] In July and August 1802 Stewart was re-elected for Londonderry County in the first general election of the United Kingdom and sat until the parliament's dissolution in 1806. [17] He was reelected in the 1806 United Kingdom general election and sat until 1807. [18] In 1807 Charles Stewart became Under-Secretary of State for War and the Colonies. He was also re-elected in the 1807 United Kingdom general election [19] and sat until the parliament's dissolution on 29 September 1812. He was finally re-elected in the 1812 United Kingdom general election [20] and sat until 19 July 1814 when he was summoned to the House of Lords. He was replaced as MP for Londonderry by his uncle Alexander Stewart of Ards. In all these terms as MP he supported the Tory interest. [ citation needed ]

On 8 August 1804 at the church of St George's, Hanover Square, London, Charles Stewart married Lady Catherine Bligh. [23] [24] She was the 4th and youngest daughter of the 3rd Earl of Darnley. She was three years older than he. On 7 July 1805 the couple had a son, named Frederick, who was to become the 4th Marquess of Londonderry. [25] She died during the night of 10–11 February 1812, of fever following a minor operation, while her husband was on his way home from Spain. [26]

The remainder of his military career developed during the Napoleonic Wars, more exactly in the Peninsular War.

Corunna Edit

The war started with the Corunna Campaign (1808–1809), in which the British troops were commanded by Sir John Moore. In this campaign Charles Stewart commanded a brigade of cavalry, and played, together with Lord Paget, a prominent role in the cavalry clash of Benavente where the French General Lefebvre-Desnouettes was taken prisoner. [28] [29] He suffered from ophthalmia during the latter stages of the retreat. [30] Moore sent him back to London carrying dispatches for Castlereagh and other leading figures [31] and he missed the climatic battle where British forces successfully managed to evacuate in the face of Marshal Soult's army at which Moore was killed in action. [ citation needed ]

Wellesley's Spanish campaign Edit

When British troops returned to the Iberian Peninsula after the Corunna Campaign, they were commanded by Sir Arthur Wellesley (later the Duke of Wellington). Charles Stewart was appointed, in April 1809, Adjutant General to Wellesley. This was an administrative job and not much to his liking, especially as Wellesley never discussed his decisions with subordinates. [32] Nevertheless, he sometimes managed to see action and distinguished himself, particularly at the battle of Talavera (July 1809) for which he received the thanks of the Parliament on 2 February 1810 when he returned to England on sick leave. [33] He also excelled at Bussaco in September 1810 and at Fuentes de Oñoro (May 1811) where he took a French Colonel prisoner in single combat. [34]

He resigned his position as Adjutant General in February 1812. Some say due to bad health, [35] [36] but others say that Wellington fired him. Wellington apparently appreciated him as a soldier but judged him a "sad brouillon and mischief-maker" among his staff. [37]

On 30 January 1813 he became a Knight Companion of the Bath, [38] which made him Sir Charles Stewart. On 20 November 1813, he was made Colonel of the 25th Light Dragoons, an honorary position. [ citation needed ]

His half-brother Robert had made a brilliant diplomatic and political career. Charles and his half-brother remained lifelong friends and wrote each other many letters. Robert helped Charles to start a diplomatic career.

Berlin Edit

From May 1813 until the end of the war, Sir Charles was Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary to Berlin, [39] and was also Military Commissioner with the allied armies, being wounded at the Battle of Kulm in August 1813. [ citation needed ]

Vienna Edit

In 1814 he was also appointed Ambassador to Austria, a post he held for nine years (1814–1823). On 18 June 1814, to make him more acceptable in Vienna, Stewart was ennobled as Baron Stewart, of Stewart's Court and Ballylawn in County Donegal, by the Prince Regent. [40] In the same year, he received honorary degrees from Oxford and Cambridge, was admitted to the Privy Council, and was appointed a Lord of the Bedchamber to the King. [ citation needed ]

Lord Stewart, as he now was, attended the Congress of Vienna with his half-brother Lord Castlereagh as one of the British plenipotentiaries. He was not well regarded as he made a spectacle of himself with his loutish behaviour, was apparently rather often inebriated, frequented prostitutes quite openly. [41] He earned himself the sobriquet of Lord Pumpernickel after a loutish character in a play in fashion. [42]

Second marriage and children Edit

Before the end of his diplomatic career Lord Stewart had, on 3 April 1819, married his second wife, Lady Frances Anne Vane-Tempest, daughter and heiress of Sir Henry Vane-Tempest, [43] at her mother's house in Bruton Street, Mayfair, and took her surname of Vane, by Royal licence, as had been stipulated in her father's will. [44] He was henceforth known as Charles William Vane, whereas his son out of his first marriage remained Frederick Stewart. [ citation needed ]

Children by Frances Anne Emily Vane-Tempest: [ citation needed ]

    (1821–1884) (1822–1899) married John Spencer-Churchill, 7th Duke of Marlborough.
  1. Lady Alexandrina Octavia Maria Vane (1823–1874), godchild of Alexander I of Russia married Henry Dawson-Damer, 3rd Earl of Portarlington. (1825–1864), politician became insane, and had to be medically restrained.
  2. Lady Adelaide Emelina Caroline Vane (c. 1830–1882) disgraced the family by eloping with her brother's tutor, Rev. Frederick Henry Law.
  3. Lord Ernest McDonnell Vane-Tempest (1836–1885), fell in with a press-gang and had to be bought a commission in the army, from which he was subsequently cashiered.

Through his daughter Lady Frances, Lord Londonderry is a great-grandfather of Winston Churchill. [ citation needed ]

Castlereagh's suicide Edit

On 12 August 1822, his half-brother committed suicide. [45] He succeeded his half-brother as 3rd Marquess of Londonderry in 1822. The following year Lord Londonderry was also created Earl Vane and Viscount Seaham, of Seaham in the County Palatine of Durham, with remainder to the heirs male of the body of his second wife. [46]

His half-brother's death also meant the end of his diplomatic career. He quit the diplomatic service in 1823. Queen Victoria had a low esteem of Londonderry's abilities as a civil servant. She said that he should, in her opinion, not be given any post of importance. [47]

Residences Edit

Lord Londonderry used his new bride's immense wealth to acquire the Seaham Hall estate in County Durham, developing the coalfields there. He also built the harbour at Seaham, to rival nearby Sunderland. He commissioned Benjamin Wyatt to build a mansion at Wynyard Park. It was completed by Philip Wyatt in 1841 and cost £130,000 (equivalent to £10,772,000 in 2016) to build and furnish. Unfortunately, just as the mansion was being completed, a fire broke out and gutted the house it was later restored and remodelled by Ignatius Bonomi. [ citation needed ]

The family also used their newfound wealth to redecorate their country seat in Ireland, Mount Stewart, and bought Holdernesse House on London's Park Lane, which they renamed Londonderry House. [ citation needed ]

Mines and Collieries Act Edit

Londonderry led the opposition to the Mines and Collieries Act of 1842 in the House of Lords. He is reported to have raged madly against any attempt to deny the collieries the use of child labour. [48] [49] Speaking on behalf of the Yorkshire Coal-Owners Association, Londonderry said "With respect to the age at which males should be admitted into mines, the members of this association have unanimously agreed to fix it at eight years. In the thin coal mines it is more especially requisite that boys, varying in age from eight to fourteen, should be employed as the underground roads could not be made of sufficient height for taller persons without incurring an outlay so great as to render the working of such mines unprofitable". [ citation needed ]

Irish famine Edit

By the time of the outbreak of the Great Irish Famine in 1845, Londonderry was one of the ten richest men in the United Kingdom. While many landlords made efforts to mitigate the worst effects of the famine on their tenants, Londonderry was criticised for meanness: he and his wife gave only £30 to the local relief committee but spent £150,000 (£13.6 million as of 2021) renovating Mount Stewart, their Irish home. [50] Nevertheless, Debbie Orme maintains that "the Marquis was held in high regard in the land for his attempts to alleviate suffering during the potato famine". [51] During the tenant right campaign of the early 1850s Londonderry insisted on his full rights and this alienated many of his tenants. [52] He was in disagreement over this question with his son and heir Frederick, who was more liberally inclined.

Napoleon and Abd-el-Kader Edit

Back in England, Londonderry befriended Louis-Napoléon Bonaparte (later Napoleon III) while the latter was exiled in London between 1836 and 1840. After Bonaparte had been elected president of France in 1851, Londonderry asked him to free Abd-el-Kader. [53]

Late honours Edit

Governor of County Londonderry from 1823, Londonderry was appointed Lord Lieutenant of Durham in 1842 and the following year became Colonel of the 2nd Regiment of Life Guards. When Wellington, whom he admired greatly, died in 1852, his place as Knight of the Garter was given to Londonderry, [54] who was officially invested on 19 June 1853. [55]

He died on 6 March 1854 at Londonderry House and was buried in Longnewtown, County Durham. [56] His widow honoured him by the Londonderry Equestrian Statue in Durham. [57] His son Frederick built Scrabo Tower near Newtownards as a monument to the memory of his father.

He was succeeded as Marquess of Londonderry by his eldest son, Frederick Stewart, the only child from his first marriage, and as Earl Vane by George Vane, the eldest son from his second marriage. At Charles's death Frederick, therefore, became the 4th Marquess of Londonderry, whereas George became the 2nd Earl Vane. George was later to become the 5th Marquess after his half-brother had died childless. [ citation needed ]

Timeline
Age Date Event
0 1778, 18 May Born in Dublin. [1]
11 1789, 9 Sep His father was created Baron Londonderry. [58]
12 1791, 3 Apr Joined the army. [10]
17 1795, 10 Oct His father was created Viscount Castlereagh. [11]
18 1796, 10 Aug His father was created Marquess Londonderry. [12]
26 1804, 8 Aug Married Catherine Bligh. [23]
30 1808, 29 Dec Excelled at the cavalry engagement of Benavente during the Corunna Campaign. [28]
33 1811, May Excelled at Fuentes de Oñoro. [34]
33 1812, Feb Resigned from the army. [35]
36 1814 Created Baron Stewart. [40]
40 1819, 3 Apr Married Frances Ann Vane-Tempest. [43]
41 1820, 29 Jan Accession of King George IV, succeeding King George III [59]
42 1821, 6 Apr Father died at Mount Stewart. [60]
44 1822, 12 Aug Succeeded Castlereagh as the 3rd Marquess of Londonderry. [45]
54 1833, 18 Jan His mother died. [2]
59 1837, 20 Jun Accession of Queen Victoria, succeeding King George IV [61]
64 1842, Jun–Aug Opposed the Mines and Collieries Act of 1842 at its readings in the House of Lords. [49]
75 1853, 19 Jun Made a Knight of the Garter. [55]
75 1854, 6 Mar Died in London. [56]

Styles Edit

  1. The Honourable Charles Stewart from 1789 until 1813 (because his father was created Baron Londonderry in 1789),
  2. The Honourable Sir Charles Stewart from 1813 to 1814 (because he was made a Knight of the Bath),
  3. The Right Honourable The Lord Stewart from 1814 to 1822 (because he was made a baron in his own right)
  4. The Most Honourable The Marquess of Londonderry.

The 3rd Marquess was a prolific writer and editor. He wrote and published books about his own military and diplomatic career and published many of his half-brother's papers.

War memoirs Edit

The following two books describe the Napoleonic War as he saw them happen. The first describes his experience of the Peninsular War. The second the War of the Sixth Coalition, which forced Napoleon to abdicate:

  • Narrative of the Peninsular War (London: Henry Colburn, 1828) online at Internet Archive
  • Narrative of the War in Germany and France: In 1813 and 1814 (London: Henry Colburn and Richard Bentley, 1830) online at Internet Archive

Castlereagh papers Edit

The 3rd Marquess also compiled, edited, and published many of the papers left by his half-brother and published them in the following twelve volumes, divided in three series.

The first series, consisting of four volumes, numbered 1 – 4, appeared in 1848 and 1849 under the title Memoirs and Correspondence. The volumes are not marked "first series on the title pages. They are:

  • Memoirs and Correspondence of Viscount Castlereagh, Second Marquess of Londonderry, Volume 1 (London: Henry Colburn, 1848) online at Internet Archive - The Irish Rebellion
  • Memoirs and Correspondence of Viscount Castlereagh, Second Marquess of Londonderry, Volume 2 (London: Henry Colburn, 1848) online at Internet Archive - Arrangements for a Union
  • Memoirs and Correspondence of Viscount Castlereagh, Second Marquess of Londonderry, Volume 3 (London: Henry Colburn, 1849) online at Internet Archive - Completion of the Legislative Union
  • Memoirs and Correspondence of Viscount Castlereagh, Second Marquess of Londonderry, Volume 4 (London, Henry Colburn, 1849) online at Internet Archive - Concessions to Catholics and Dessenters: Emmett's Insurrection

The second series, consisting of four volumes, appeared in 1851 under the title Correspondence, Despatches and Other Papers. The volume numbers continue, despite being marked "2nd series" and are therefore 4 to 8. They are:

  • Correspondence Despatches and Other Papers of Viscount Castlereagh, Second Marquess of Londonderry, Series 2, Volume 5 (London: William Shoberl, 1851) online at Internet Archive - Military and Miscellaneous
  • Correspondence Despatches and Other Papers of Viscount Castlereagh, Second Marquess of Londonderry, Series 2, Volume 6 (London: William Shoberl, 1851) online at Internet Archive - Military and Miscellaneous
  • Correspondence Despatches and Other Papers of Viscount Castlereagh, Second Marquess of Londonderry, Series 2, Volume 7 (London: William Shoberl, 1851) online at Internet Archive - Military and Miscellaneous
  • Correspondence Despatches and Other Papers of Viscount Castlereagh, Second Marquess of Londonderry, Series 2, Volume 8 (London: William Shoberl, 1851) online at Internet Archive - Military and Miscellaneous

The third series appeared in 1853. The four volumes have the same title as the second series. The volume numbering is irregular. They are:


During the Second World War, how were the multitude of items required by the soldiers in the front line selected, ordered and delivered, and how were they produced? In this the second volume in her detailed, scholarly study of the army's logistical system, Janet Macdonald describes the necessity for central advanced planning for each expeditionary force as well as those engaged in home defence, and the complex organization of personnel who performed these tasks, from the government and military command in London to those who distributed the equipment on the battlefield.

Armies have always required large amounts of material, but by the Second World War the numbers of men involved had grown exponentially, their equipment had become mechanized and their deployment was world wide. Elaborate planning and administration at every level had to ensure that items of all kinds were collected, transported and handed out in every theatre of the war. The scale of the operation was enormous and it had to be performed to critical timetables and was sometimes threatened by enemy action, and it was vital to the army's success.
show more


The British Navy`s Victualling Board, 1793-1815 - Management Competence and Incompetence

An examination of the Royal Navy's Victualling Board, the body responsible for supplying the fleet. During the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars, the Royal Navy increased its manpower from fewer than 20,000 to more than 147,000 men, with a concomitant increase in the quantities of food and drink required to sustain them. The organisation responsible for this, the Victualling Board, performed its tasks using techniques and systems which it had developed over the previous 110 years. In terms of actually delivering supplies to warships, troopships and army garrisons abroad, the Victualling Board performed well given the constraints of long-distance communications and intermittent difficulties in obtaining supplies. However, its other areas of responsibility showed poor performance, as evidenced by the reports of several Parliamentary enquiries. This book examines in detail the processes by which the Victualling Board performed its core and non-core tasks, identifying the areas of competence and incompetence, and establishing the underlying causes of the incompetencies.

JANET MACDONALD, author of the highly acclaimed Feeding Nelson's Navy (Chatham, 2004), has recently completed a thesis at King's College London. After a business career, and running an equestrian organisation, she spent ten years as a freelance writer, publishing more than thirty books.

Janet Macdonald has published books on numerous subjects. Her first book on naval history was Feeding Nelson's Navy: The True Story of Food at Sea in the Georgian Era her second, the British Navy's Victualling Board, 1793-1815: Management Competence and Incompetence. She took her MA in Maritime History at the Greenwich Maritime Institute, London, and her PhD at King's College London, where she was awarded a Laughton Scholarship. Her thesis was on the administration of naval victualling. Her most recent books are From Boiled Beef to Chicken Tikka: 500 Years of Feeding the British Army, Sir John Moore: The Making of a Controversial Hero, Horses in the British Army 1750-1850 and Supplying the British Army in the First World War.

Introduction. Historiography and early history of victualling
The work of the Victualling Board. Core tasks: Supply
Core tasks: Delivery at home
Core tasks: Delivery abroad
Non-core and ad hoc tasks
Staff at Head Office
Staff at the yards
Fraud and other misdemeanours
Parliamentary enquiries
Conclusions


Contents

Charles was born on 18 May 1778 in Dublin [1] as the second of the 11 children of Robert Stewart and his second wife Frances Pratt. His father's family was Ulster-Scots and Presbyterian. His father was a rich man, a member of the Irish landed gentry and a member of the Irish House of Commons for Down but not yet a nobleman. Charles's mother was English, a daughter of Charles Pratt, 1st Earl Camden, a leading English jurist. His parents married on 7 June 1775. [2] Charles was brought up as an Anglican, a member of the Church of Ireland. [3]

Charles had a half-brother from his father's first marriage:

    (1769–1822), known as "Castlereagh", became a famous statesman.
  1. Frances Ann (1777–1810), married Lord Charles Fitzroy[4]
  2. Charles (1778–1854)
  3. Elizabeth Mary (1779–1798)
  4. Caroline (born 1781)
  5. Alexander John (1783–1800)
  6. Lady Georgiana Stewart (born 1785), married the politician George Canning II, nephew of army general and politician Brent Spencer. [5][6]
  7. Selina Sarah Juliana (born 1786)
  8. Matilda Charlotte (born 1787), married Edward Michael Ward, the eldest son of the Robert Ward of Bangor [7]
  9. Emily Jane (born 1789)
  10. Thomas Henry (1790–1810)
  11. Catherine Octavia (1792–1819), married Edward Law, 1st Earl of Ellenborough[8]

In 1789, when he was 11, his father, Robert Stewart, was created Baron Londonderry. [9]

On 3 April 1791, at the age of 12, Charles Stewart entered the British Army as ensign in the 108th Regiment. He was commissioned a lieutenant on 8 January 1793 in this same unit. [10] He saw service in 1794 in the Flanders Campaign of the French Revolutionary Wars. [ citation needed ]

He was lieutenant-colonel of the 5th Royal Irish Dragoons by the time he helped put down the Irish Rebellion of 1798. In 1803, Stewart was appointed aide-de-camp to King George III. [ citation needed ]

In 1795 his father was created Viscount Castlereagh [11] and in 1796 Marquess of Londonderry in the Irish peerage. [12]

In 1800, Charles Stewart was elected to the Irish House of Commons as member of parliament for Thomastown borough, County Kilkenny, in place of George Dunbar, [13] and after only two months exchanged this seat for that of Londonderry County, [14] being replaced at Thomastown by John Cradock. [15] After the abolition of the Irish Parliament with the Act of Union in 1801, the Irish constituency of Londonderry County became the Londonderry constituency of the Parliament of the United Kingdom and he joined the Parliament 1798–1802 sitting at Westminster until its dissolution on 29 June 1802. [16] In July and August 1802 Stewart was re-elected for Londonderry County in the first general election of the United Kingdom and sat until the parliament's dissolution in 1806. [17] He was reelected in the 1806 United Kingdom general election and sat until 1807. [18] In 1807 Charles Stewart became Under-Secretary of State for War and the Colonies. He was also re-elected in the 1807 United Kingdom general election [19] and sat until the parliament's dissolution on 29 September 1812. He was finally re-elected in the 1812 United Kingdom general election [20] and sat until 19 July 1814 when he was summoned to the House of Lords. He was replaced as MP for Londonderry by his uncle Alexander Stewart of Ards. In all these terms as MP he supported the Tory interest. [ citation needed ]

On 8 August 1804 at the church of St George's, Hanover Square, London, Charles Stewart married Lady Catherine Bligh. [23] [24] She was the 4th and youngest daughter of the 3rd Earl of Darnley. She was three years older than he. On 7 July 1805 the couple had a son, named Frederick, who was to become the 4th Marquess of Londonderry. [25] She died during the night of 10–11 February 1812, of fever following a minor operation, while her husband was on his way home from Spain. [26]

The remainder of his military career developed during the Napoleonic Wars, more exactly in the Peninsular War.

Corunna Edit

The war started with the Corunna Campaign (1808–1809), in which the British troops were commanded by Sir John Moore. In this campaign Charles Stewart commanded a brigade of cavalry, and played, together with Lord Paget, a prominent role in the cavalry clash of Benavente where the French General Lefebvre-Desnouettes was taken prisoner. [28] [29] He suffered from ophthalmia during the latter stages of the retreat. [30] Moore sent him back to London carrying dispatches for Castlereagh and other leading figures [31] and he missed the climatic battle where British forces successfully managed to evacuate in the face of Marshal Soult's army at which Moore was killed in action. [ citation needed ]

Wellesley's Spanish campaign Edit

When British troops returned to the Iberian Peninsula after the Corunna Campaign, they were commanded by Sir Arthur Wellesley (later the Duke of Wellington). Charles Stewart was appointed, in April 1809, Adjutant General to Wellesley. This was an administrative job and not much to his liking, especially as Wellesley never discussed his decisions with subordinates. [32] Nevertheless, he sometimes managed to see action and distinguished himself, particularly at the battle of Talavera (July 1809) for which he received the thanks of the Parliament on 2 February 1810 when he returned to England on sick leave. [33] He also excelled at Bussaco in September 1810 and at Fuentes de Oñoro (May 1811) where he took a French Colonel prisoner in single combat. [34]

He resigned his position as Adjutant General in February 1812. Some say due to bad health, [35] [36] but others say that Wellington fired him. Wellington apparently appreciated him as a soldier but judged him a "sad brouillon and mischief-maker" among his staff. [37]

On 30 January 1813 he became a Knight Companion of the Bath, [38] which made him Sir Charles Stewart. On 20 November 1813, he was made Colonel of the 25th Light Dragoons, an honorary position. [ citation needed ]

His half-brother Robert had made a brilliant diplomatic and political career. Charles and his half-brother remained lifelong friends and wrote each other many letters. Robert helped Charles to start a diplomatic career.

Berlin Edit

From May 1813 until the end of the war, Sir Charles was Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary to Berlin, [39] and was also Military Commissioner with the allied armies, being wounded at the Battle of Kulm in August 1813. [ citation needed ]

Vienna Edit

In 1814 he was also appointed Ambassador to Austria, a post he held for nine years (1814–1823). On 18 June 1814, to make him more acceptable in Vienna, Stewart was ennobled as Baron Stewart, of Stewart's Court and Ballylawn in County Donegal, by the Prince Regent. [40] In the same year, he received honorary degrees from Oxford and Cambridge, was admitted to the Privy Council, and was appointed a Lord of the Bedchamber to the King. [ citation needed ]

Lord Stewart, as he now was, attended the Congress of Vienna with his half-brother Lord Castlereagh as one of the British plenipotentiaries. He was not well regarded as he made a spectacle of himself with his loutish behaviour, was apparently rather often inebriated, frequented prostitutes quite openly. [41] He earned himself the sobriquet of Lord Pumpernickel after a loutish character in a play in fashion. [42]

Second marriage and children Edit

Before the end of his diplomatic career Lord Stewart had, on 3 April 1819, married his second wife, Lady Frances Anne Vane-Tempest, daughter and heiress of Sir Henry Vane-Tempest, [43] at her mother's house in Bruton Street, Mayfair, and took her surname of Vane, by Royal licence, as had been stipulated in her father's will. [44] He was henceforth known as Charles William Vane, whereas his son out of his first marriage remained Frederick Stewart. [ citation needed ]

Children by Frances Anne Emily Vane-Tempest: [ citation needed ]

    (1821–1884) (1822–1899) married John Spencer-Churchill, 7th Duke of Marlborough.
  1. Lady Alexandrina Octavia Maria Vane (1823–1874), godchild of Alexander I of Russia married Henry Dawson-Damer, 3rd Earl of Portarlington. (1825–1864), politician became insane, and had to be medically restrained.
  2. Lady Adelaide Emelina Caroline Vane (c. 1830–1882) disgraced the family by eloping with her brother's tutor, Rev. Frederick Henry Law.
  3. Lord Ernest McDonnell Vane-Tempest (1836–1885), fell in with a press-gang and had to be bought a commission in the army, from which he was subsequently cashiered.

Through his daughter Lady Frances, Lord Londonderry is a great-grandfather of Winston Churchill. [ citation needed ]

Castlereagh's suicide Edit

On 12 August 1822, his half-brother committed suicide. [45] He succeeded his half-brother as 3rd Marquess of Londonderry in 1822. The following year Lord Londonderry was also created Earl Vane and Viscount Seaham, of Seaham in the County Palatine of Durham, with remainder to the heirs male of the body of his second wife. [46]

His half-brother's death also meant the end of his diplomatic career. He quit the diplomatic service in 1823. Queen Victoria had a low esteem of Londonderry's abilities as a civil servant. She said that he should, in her opinion, not be given any post of importance. [47]

Residences Edit

Lord Londonderry used his new bride's immense wealth to acquire the Seaham Hall estate in County Durham, developing the coalfields there. He also built the harbour at Seaham, to rival nearby Sunderland. He commissioned Benjamin Wyatt to build a mansion at Wynyard Park. It was completed by Philip Wyatt in 1841 and cost £130,000 (equivalent to £10,772,000 in 2016) to build and furnish. Unfortunately, just as the mansion was being completed, a fire broke out and gutted the house it was later restored and remodelled by Ignatius Bonomi. [ citation needed ]

The family also used their newfound wealth to redecorate their country seat in Ireland, Mount Stewart, and bought Holdernesse House on London's Park Lane, which they renamed Londonderry House. [ citation needed ]

Mines and Collieries Act Edit

Londonderry led the opposition to the Mines and Collieries Act of 1842 in the House of Lords. He is reported to have raged madly against any attempt to deny the collieries the use of child labour. [48] [49] Speaking on behalf of the Yorkshire Coal-Owners Association, Londonderry said "With respect to the age at which males should be admitted into mines, the members of this association have unanimously agreed to fix it at eight years. In the thin coal mines it is more especially requisite that boys, varying in age from eight to fourteen, should be employed as the underground roads could not be made of sufficient height for taller persons without incurring an outlay so great as to render the working of such mines unprofitable". [ citation needed ]

Irish famine Edit

By the time of the outbreak of the Great Irish Famine in 1845, Londonderry was one of the ten richest men in the United Kingdom. While many landlords made efforts to mitigate the worst effects of the famine on their tenants, Londonderry was criticised for meanness: he and his wife gave only £30 to the local relief committee but spent £150,000 (£13.6 million as of 2021) renovating Mount Stewart, their Irish home. [50] Nevertheless, Debbie Orme maintains that "the Marquis was held in high regard in the land for his attempts to alleviate suffering during the potato famine". [51] During the tenant right campaign of the early 1850s Londonderry insisted on his full rights and this alienated many of his tenants. [52] He was in disagreement over this question with his son and heir Frederick, who was more liberally inclined.

Napoleon and Abd-el-Kader Edit

Back in England, Londonderry befriended Louis-Napoléon Bonaparte (later Napoleon III) while the latter was exiled in London between 1836 and 1840. After Bonaparte had been elected president of France in 1851, Londonderry asked him to free Abd-el-Kader. [53]

Late honours Edit

Governor of County Londonderry from 1823, Londonderry was appointed Lord Lieutenant of Durham in 1842 and the following year became Colonel of the 2nd Regiment of Life Guards. When Wellington, whom he admired greatly, died in 1852, his place as Knight of the Garter was given to Londonderry, [54] who was officially invested on 19 June 1853. [55]

He died on 6 March 1854 at Londonderry House and was buried in Longnewtown, County Durham. [56] His widow honoured him by the Londonderry Equestrian Statue in Durham. [57] His son Frederick built Scrabo Tower near Newtownards as a monument to the memory of his father.

He was succeeded as Marquess of Londonderry by his eldest son, Frederick Stewart, the only child from his first marriage, and as Earl Vane by George Vane, the eldest son from his second marriage. At Charles's death Frederick, therefore, became the 4th Marquess of Londonderry, whereas George became the 2nd Earl Vane. George was later to become the 5th Marquess after his half-brother had died childless. [ citation needed ]

Timeline
Age Date Event
0 1778, 18 May Born in Dublin. [1]
11 1789, 9 Sep His father was created Baron Londonderry. [58]
12 1791, 3 Apr Joined the army. [10]
17 1795, 10 Oct His father was created Viscount Castlereagh. [11]
18 1796, 10 Aug His father was created Marquess Londonderry. [12]
26 1804, 8 Aug Married Catherine Bligh. [23]
30 1808, 29 Dec Excelled at the cavalry engagement of Benavente during the Corunna Campaign. [28]
33 1811, May Excelled at Fuentes de Oñoro. [34]
33 1812, Feb Resigned from the army. [35]
36 1814 Created Baron Stewart. [40]
40 1819, 3 Apr Married Frances Ann Vane-Tempest. [43]
41 1820, 29 Jan Accession of King George IV, succeeding King George III [59]
42 1821, 6 Apr Father died at Mount Stewart. [60]
44 1822, 12 Aug Succeeded Castlereagh as the 3rd Marquess of Londonderry. [45]
54 1833, 18 Jan His mother died. [2]
59 1837, 20 Jun Accession of Queen Victoria, succeeding King George IV [61]
64 1842, Jun–Aug Opposed the Mines and Collieries Act of 1842 at its readings in the House of Lords. [49]
75 1853, 19 Jun Made a Knight of the Garter. [55]
75 1854, 6 Mar Died in London. [56]

Styles Edit

  1. The Honourable Charles Stewart from 1789 until 1813 (because his father was created Baron Londonderry in 1789),
  2. The Honourable Sir Charles Stewart from 1813 to 1814 (because he was made a Knight of the Bath),
  3. The Right Honourable The Lord Stewart from 1814 to 1822 (because he was made a baron in his own right)
  4. The Most Honourable The Marquess of Londonderry.

The 3rd Marquess was a prolific writer and editor. He wrote and published books about his own military and diplomatic career and published many of his half-brother's papers.

War memoirs Edit

The following two books describe the Napoleonic War as he saw them happen. The first describes his experience of the Peninsular War. The second the War of the Sixth Coalition, which forced Napoleon to abdicate:

  • Narrative of the Peninsular War (London: Henry Colburn, 1828) online at Internet Archive
  • Narrative of the War in Germany and France: In 1813 and 1814 (London: Henry Colburn and Richard Bentley, 1830) online at Internet Archive

Castlereagh papers Edit

The 3rd Marquess also compiled, edited, and published many of the papers left by his half-brother and published them in the following twelve volumes, divided in three series.

The first series, consisting of four volumes, numbered 1 – 4, appeared in 1848 and 1849 under the title Memoirs and Correspondence. The volumes are not marked "first series on the title pages. They are:

  • Memoirs and Correspondence of Viscount Castlereagh, Second Marquess of Londonderry, Volume 1 (London: Henry Colburn, 1848) online at Internet Archive - The Irish Rebellion
  • Memoirs and Correspondence of Viscount Castlereagh, Second Marquess of Londonderry, Volume 2 (London: Henry Colburn, 1848) online at Internet Archive - Arrangements for a Union
  • Memoirs and Correspondence of Viscount Castlereagh, Second Marquess of Londonderry, Volume 3 (London: Henry Colburn, 1849) online at Internet Archive - Completion of the Legislative Union
  • Memoirs and Correspondence of Viscount Castlereagh, Second Marquess of Londonderry, Volume 4 (London, Henry Colburn, 1849) online at Internet Archive - Concessions to Catholics and Dessenters: Emmett's Insurrection

The second series, consisting of four volumes, appeared in 1851 under the title Correspondence, Despatches and Other Papers. The volume numbers continue, despite being marked "2nd series" and are therefore 4 to 8. They are:

  • Correspondence Despatches and Other Papers of Viscount Castlereagh, Second Marquess of Londonderry, Series 2, Volume 5 (London: William Shoberl, 1851) online at Internet Archive - Military and Miscellaneous
  • Correspondence Despatches and Other Papers of Viscount Castlereagh, Second Marquess of Londonderry, Series 2, Volume 6 (London: William Shoberl, 1851) online at Internet Archive - Military and Miscellaneous
  • Correspondence Despatches and Other Papers of Viscount Castlereagh, Second Marquess of Londonderry, Series 2, Volume 7 (London: William Shoberl, 1851) online at Internet Archive - Military and Miscellaneous
  • Correspondence Despatches and Other Papers of Viscount Castlereagh, Second Marquess of Londonderry, Series 2, Volume 8 (London: William Shoberl, 1851) online at Internet Archive - Military and Miscellaneous

The third series appeared in 1853. The four volumes have the same title as the second series. The volume numbering is irregular. They are:


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It has been almost 3 years since my last confession! Seriously, it just tells you how time flies when doing family history research. I hit a roadblock in my search for the Moore Family, and kind of put it aside.

Just this spring, I decided to have my DNA test done with ancestry.com and am now awaiting the results.

In the meantime, it is important to follow the trail. I have reached out to 3 possible cousins so far that found me via ancestry, one in Ireland, one in Australia and another here at home, only a stones throw away.

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Responsible Government

Photo by W. Notman | Courtesy of Billingsley and Ward families

MITCHELL, PETER, lawyer, businessman, politician, author, and office holder b. 4 Jan. 1824 in Newcastle, N.B., son of Peter Mitchell and Barbara Grant m. 9 March 1853 Isabella Gough, née Carvell, widow of James Gough and sister of Jedediah Slason Carvell , in Saint John, N.B., and they had one daughter d. 24 Oct. 1899 in Montreal.

After attending the grammar school in Newcastle, Peter Mitchell entered the law office of George Kerr where he worked for four years. He was admitted as an attorney on 14 Oct. 1847 and called to the bar on 7 Oct. 1849. In the former year he established a partnership with John Mercer Johnson* Mitchell practised in Newcastle and Johnson in Chatham. Their association was dissolved in 1852, but the two men remained friends and were political allies for many years.

Over the course of his career Mitchell became involved in a number of business enterprises, including shipbuilding and lumbering. In 1853 he entered into a partnership with his wife’s brother-in-law John Haws, and between 1853 and 1861 they built at least 12 vessels. The Golden Light (1,204 tons), which was one of several large ships from their yards, was launched in 1853 so late in the season that Mitchell had to have an 11-mile channel cut through the river ice so that she could leave the Miramichi. The partnership with Haws ended in 1861, but Mitchell continued to build ships until 1868, by which time he had launched 16 more. In 1864 he employed 250 men in the shipyards and paid out £300 weekly to them in wages another 100 were loading ships with lumber for European markets. In the 1870s he owned the Mitchell Steamship Company, which operated vessels between Montreal and the Maritimes in the summer and between the Maritimes and Portland, Maine, in the winter. He was also a director of the Merchants’ Marine Insurance Company of Canada and the Baie des Chaleurs Railway, and was manager and treasurer of the Anticosti Company, which was probably a lumber firm . His business interests were not well managed and he frequently had trouble paying the bills.

In his first venture into politics, an 1852 by-election to fill the Northumberland seat vacated by the death of Alexander Rankin*, Mitchell ran as a reformer and a liberal. Claiming to have been a disciple of Joseph Howe* for the last ten years, he advocated responsible government, reduction in the salaries of government officials, reciprocity with the United States, and railway construction. George Kerr defeated him at the polls.

In the election of 1856 Mitchell, whose father was a hotel- and tavern-keeper, ran as an opponent of the Prohibition Act [see Sir Samuel Leonard Tilley ]. This controversial legislation had led to the dismissal of Charles Fisher*’s Reform government, and feelings ran high. During the campaign Mitchell carried a pistol for protection and quantities of rum for his supporters. There were ten candidates for the four Northumberland seats and he came second. Re-elected in 1857, he remained a member of the provincial house until 1860.

As an assemblyman, Mitchell favoured making the initiation of money bills the exclusive right of the Executive Council, a reform which came about in 1858, and he backed the establishment of municipal administrations, which was not done until 1877. A Presbyterian, he was an opponent of denominational schools. In 1858 he introduced a bill to eliminate the leasing of crown lands by auction to timber operators. The measure, which was designed to aid small timber interests, was accomplished in 1861. When Mitchell was appointed to the Executive Council in 1859, the editor of the Chatham Gleaner predicted that he would make proceedings livelier than they had been. As a member of council, Mitchell helped pass a bankruptcy act which eased the burden of debtors. He opposed increased taxes on shipping interests and was able to get a bill enacted compelling the commissioners of buoys and beacons for Miramichi to put their surplus funds towards the support of sick and disabled seamen.

Mitchell did not run in the election of 1861 but, shortly after, he was appointed to the Legislative Council where he remained until confederation. He was also named to the Executive Council in June 1861 and was considered by Lieutenant Governor Arthur Hamilton Gordon* to be one of its ablest members. In the fight for an intercolonial railway, he was New Brunswick’s champion, attending conferences on its construction held at Quebec in 1861 and 1862.

A strong supporter of confederation, Mitchell was present at the Quebec conference in 1864 and resigned from the Executive Council with the other members of Tilley’s government after its 1865 electoral defeat. He then continued the fight for confederation from his seat in the Legislative Council. While Gordon was attempting to manoeuvre the new government leader, Albert James Smith*, into proposing measures that would ensure New Brunswick’s acceptance of the plan, Mitchell was hovering in the background, supporting and advising the lieutenant governor. Gordon used Mitchell in his efforts to get Smith to find a union scheme that both anti-confederates and confederates could accept. Mitchell did not trust Smith and was worried about the reaction of his own colleagues, but he went along with Gordon. Smith, however, refused to cooperate and eventually, on 10 April 1866, he and his government resigned. Mitchell advised Gordon to ask Tilley to form a new government but Tilley, who did not have a seat in the house, declined. Gordon next called on Mitchell and Robert Duncan Wilmot jointly. Mitchell became premier and led the fight for confederation during the 1866 election, which ended with a major victory for the confederates. He subsequently attended the London conference at which the British North America Act was drafted and was appointed to the Senate of the new dominion in May 1867.

When John A. Macdonald formed his first federal cabinet, he dealt with Tilley and not Mitchell. This was the first of the many slights that Mitchell later claimed to have suffered at Macdonald’s hands. Tilley was invited to join the cabinet and was told to select one other New Brunswicker to join him. The belief was that Tilley would have preferred another Saint John River man but that Mitchell’s popularity in the province and energetic support of confederation made it impossible to leave him out. Mitchell himself made it clear that he should be included. On 1 June 1867 he was offered his choice of two cabinet posts, secretary of state for the provinces or minister of marine and fisheries. Macdonald told him that there was little to do in either position, but in the Department of Marine and Fisheries he was to find enough to occupy his energy and administrative talents. He was sworn in on 1 July 1867. His familiarity with fishing, shipbuilding, and shipping was to help him as he tried to organize the department, which was faced with the task of integrating the various provincial fisheries and marine regulations. The ministry had international importance and ample scope for growth [see William Smith ]. Mitchell was criticized for the wide powers given to the minister in the act of 1868 that set it up, but he argued that such powers were needed to deal with future expansion. A report made in 1872 to Trinity House, London, on Canadian and American coastal protection praised Mitchell for having established a system “of simplicity and economy.”

Mitchell’s work with the fisheries themselves was even more important and was to entail diplomacy since Great Britain and the United States were also involved. He encouraged conservation, which necessitated fishways and restocking, but his main problem was the violation of Canadian waters by foreign fishermen. Americans were the worst offenders. Under the Reciprocity Treaty of 1854 they had been given certain rights to the inshore fisheries. Although that agreement had terminated in 1866, the Americans continued to act as if they still had the same privileges. Attempts in 1865 and 1866 to renegotiate the treaty had failed. Beginning in 1866 American fishermen had been required to take out licences to fish in Canadian waters, but most refused. Enforcement was carried out by British warships, which issued three warnings before taking any action. Mitchell wanted higher licence fees and one warning only. The British foreign secretary, Lord Stanley, refused to consider this proposal, made in the spring of 1868. Mitchell felt Canada’s “national dignity and rights” were at stake. Macdonald tried to tone down the severity of Mitchell’s new regulations but did support him in this dispute, and Lord Stanley soon backed down.

Mitchell, however, was still not satisfied that Canadian rights were being protected. Believing that Britain was unlikely to do anything to upset the Americans, he decided to force the issue. For the 1870 season he created his own navy. To Canada’s two existing ships he added six vessels designed and equipped to look like American fishing boats but armed. This fleet was sent to help the British warships enforce Canadian regulations. His policy had the support of the Canadian government, and the British reluctantly went along with it. The Americans were furious when Mitchell’s navy began seizing their boats. By the summer relations were strained to the breaking-point. In December 1870 President Ulysses S. Grant referred to Canada as a “semi-independent but irresponsible agent,” and Mitchell promptly replied in an anonymous pamphlet setting out Canada’s position in no uncertain terms. Urged by Mitchell, the Canadian cabinet asked Britain for the setting up of a joint commission. One was established early in 1871 and its work led to the Treaty of Washington later that year. Many at the time considered the treaty a British sell-out of Canadian interests: Macdonald felt betrayed and Mitchell was bitter. Nevertheless, the agreement marks the first successful attempt by Canada to protect its own sovereignty, and without Mitchell’s aggressive response to American encroachment it might never have come about. The fisheries were to be opened to the Americans at a price for a period of 12 years, but Canadian rights were established.

Mitchell had reached the zenith of his power and authority. He was never again to play a major role in government. In 1872 he resigned from the Senate to seek the Northumberland seat in the House of Commons. Why he took this step is not clear. He is known to have felt that the Senate had little real use, but later he asserted that Macdonald told him it was his duty to win the seat for the government. In any case, he was acclaimed in the riding. A year later the government fell as a result of the Pacific Scandal. Mitchell, who had not been involved in the affair, then declared himself an independent. He was the only former member of the government who refused to continue support for Sir John as leader of the Liberal-Conservative party, and at the same time, although he had always called himself a Liberal, he declared that he would not follow Alexander Mackenzie either. This decision was probably a mistake on his part because from then on he was mistrusted by both sides. He was returned to the House of Commons in the general election of 1874 and later claimed, “I practically led the Opposition during Mackenzie’s five years of administration,” but there is little evidence that he played a role at all. In January 1878 he resigned his seat. He had been accused of violating the Independence of Parliament Act by leasing a building to the government while he was a senator. Although the act was amended in 1877 to indemnify Mitchell and others who had contravened it, he went to his constituents and was returned by acclamation on 5 February. Once again in the house, he was as stubborn and forceful as ever. He held up legislation for several days demanding compensation for a widow in his constituency whose cow had been killed by a train. He argued that the government ignored the poor and the helpless, and he went on for so long that Mackenzie agreed to pay for the cow so that the business of the house could continue.

In the 1878 general election Mitchell, calling himself an independent Liberal, campaigned in support of Macdonald’s National Policy, since he had been led to believe there would not be an increase in taxes on food. His opponent, independent Jabez Bunting Snowball*, claimed there would be one, and then, to Mitchell’s dismay, Macdonald made a speech in Ontario where he admitted taxation would rise and would involve foodstuffs such as flour. Mitchell felt betrayed and blamed Macdonald, whom he now distrusted more than ever, for making him appear a liar. In fact, he never forgave the Conservative leader. During the campaign both Mitchell and Snowball freely expended money and goods on the voters. One storekeeper, who opposed Mitchell, told his customers that they could expect no credit from him during the winter and that he would sell the store and their debts and leave if they did not vote for Snowball, a threat which he claimed “had a good effect.” Mitchell lost the election, his first political defeat in over 20 years. He spent several months in Newcastle and then in 1879 made a trip to western Canada. His letters and notes, which contain criticisms of Macdonald’s railway policy, were published the next year.

It seems that by 1882 Mitchell had moved to Montreal. In the general election of that year he could have run in Montreal East but he preferred to try to regain his seat in Northumberland. He stood as an independent and was critical of Macdonald and his policies, for he was still nursing grievances. The matter of the National Policy was one. Also, he felt he had been slighted in 1878 when his old enemy Albert James Smith, who had succeeded him as minister of marine and fisheries, was knighted. The honour was in recognition of the $5,500,000 award that was obtained for Canada and Newfoundland in compensation for the admission of the Americans to the inshore fisheries under the terms of the Treaty of Washington. Mitchell felt he himself merited the knighthood and that the reward for his work had gone to Smith. The fact that Smith, who had opposed confederation, was now seen as a Canadian hero must have been particularly galling to Mitchell. He may also have been smarting over the knighthood given to Tilley in 1879 since he felt he himself had earned one for his efforts in bringing New Brunswick into confederation. Bitter and tactless, he went public with his criticism, showing the pettiness which emerged in his character during his later years. He was none the less acclaimed in Northumberland in 1882. In 1887, when he ran as an independent Liberal, he again took the seat.

In 1885 Mitchell had purchased the Montreal Herald and Daily Commercial Gazette, and it became his mouthpiece for attacking the policies of Liberals or Conservatives when they clashed with his opinions. The paper “represents no sentiments but those entertained by the proprietor himself,” he said in the House of Commons. In its pages he called for mercy for Louis Riel*, saying that since treason had been treated lightly in the past it ought to be in this instance. Trying Riel for that crime was, he felt, “an inexcusable blunder.” He blamed Macdonald for failing to deal with the Métis complaints that had led to the rebellion, and referred to Riel’s execution as the “most cowardly political murder that has yet disgraced the annals of old or new Canada.” He also lashed out at the Senate, which he felt represented “nobody and nothing” and was “a party hospital in which the lame and the blind are collected, a sort of political museum in which fossils may be seen.” Now an advocate of free trade, he attacked the Conservatives as the party of protectionism. Wilfrid Laurier*, the new Liberal leader, met with his approval. Laurier had, he felt, some concern for the labouring class. Mitchell was opposed to the 1888 Treaty of Washington – an attempt to settle the fisheries problem following the expiry of the 1871 treaty – and was pleased when the American Senate rejected it. On the Jesuits’ estates question, however, he reluctantly agreed with Macdonald that Quebec’s act settling the matter should not be disallowed. In 1890 the Herald ran into financial difficulty because of a lengthy strike. The workers’ salary demands were unreasonable, Mitchell asserted. A year later the destruction of its offices by fire caused him a considerable financial loss and he sold the paper soon after.

Mitchell entered the 1891 election campaign as an independent Liberal and lost in Northumberland. From then on he resided at the Windsor Hotel in Montreal. His wife had died in 1889, and his daughter spent most of her time in a hospital for the mentally disturbed. Many of his friends had passed on, and he became a well-known figure at the hotel – a lonely man, eager to discuss politics with anyone who would listen.

The many injustices Mitchell felt Macdonald had done him made him increasingly bitter. By 1894 he was a forgotten man, and he believed his political role had never been properly acknowledged. His resentment of the praises heaped on Macdonald continued to grow, and he decided to set the record straight by publishing “The secret history of Canadian politics,” which appeared in the Toronto Evening News in 1894. It is perhaps unfortunate that Mitchell was not prevented from taking this step because the results were more damaging to his reputation than to Macdonald’s. Publishing it lost him most of his remaining Conservative friends, and he then turned to the Liberals in the hope of gaining recognition. He ran in Northumberland as a Liberal in the general election of 1896 and lost. Attempts to get a knighthood through Laurier failed, as did requests to him for appointment to the lieutenant governorship of New Brunswick. Laurier did, however, create for him the post of general inspector of fisheries for Quebec and the Maritime provinces, and Mitchell held it until his death in 1899.

During his parliamentary career Peter Mitchell had been known as a skilled debater who spoke eloquently and forcefully, never mincing his words. According to writer Melvin Ormond Hammond, who had interviewed contemporaries, Mitchell rarely used notes, “stood with his hands in his pockets, and came down hard on his heels by way of emphasis. He gave the impression of mental as well as physical power, and, though likeable, was as bold as a lion.” Mitchell could on occasion be vindictive and ruthless. His actions during the political turmoil of 1865–66 earned him the sobriquet Bismarck Mitchell, a label which suggested cunning and deceit. Considered by some a more capable man than the gentle, courteous Tilley, he was headstrong and at times quarrelsome, but he usually got the job done. A hard worker and an excellent administrator, he was better at planning than at handling day-to-day routine which he found boring. In his heyday he was a good man to have on side and a dangerous enemy who was feared by political opponents. He would ally himself with former enemies to achieve common goals and, though respected for his abilities, he was not generally liked by party leaders such as Macdonald or Laurier. Nevertheless, he deserves to be remembered for his important role in bringing New Brunswick into confederation and for his efficient organization of the first federal department of marine and fisheries.

Peter Mitchell’s publications include Notes of a holiday trip by the Hon . P. Mitchell, late minister of Marine and Fisheries: the west and north-west reliable information for immigrants, with maps, &c. (Montreal, 1880) and “The secret history of Canadian politics,” Evening News (Toronto), 15–17 May 1894, a copy of which is preserved among his papers at UNBL (MG H6, box 3, folder 5). He is the author of the anonymous Review of President Grant’s recent message to the United States’ Congress, relative to the Canadian fisheries and the navigation of the St. Lawrence River ([Ottawa?, 1870?]), and may also have written The route of the Intercolonial Railway in a national, commercial and economic point of view ([Ottawa?, 1867?]).


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