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Dudley Ryder, 1st Earl of Harrowby

Dudley Ryder, 1st Earl of Harrowby (1762-1847), the eldest son of Nathaniel Ryder, 1st Baron Harrowby (d. 1803), was born in London on the 22 December 1762. His grandfather Sir Dudley Ryder (1691—1756) became a member of parliament and Solicitor-General owing to the favour of Sir Robert Waipole in 1733; in 1737 he was appointed Attorney-General and three years later he was knighted; in 1754 he was made Lord Chief Justice of the King’s bench and a privy councillor, the patent creating him a peer having been just signed by the king, but not passed, when he died on the 25 May 1756. His only son Nathaniel, who was member of parliament for Tiverton for twenty years, was created Baron Harrowby in 1776. Educated at St John's College, Cambridge, Dudley Ryder became member of parliament for Tiverton in 1784 and Under-Secretary for Foreign Affairs in 1789. In 1791 he was appointed Paymaster of the Forces and Vice-President of the Board of Trade, but he resigned the positions and also that of Treasurer of the Navy when he succeeded to his father’s barony in June 1803. In 1804 he was Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs and in 1805 Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster under his intimate friend William Pitt; in the latter year he was sent on a special and important mission to the emperors of Austria and Russia and the king of Prussia, and for the long period between 1812 and 1827 he was Lord President of the Council. After Canning’s death in 1827 he refused to serve George IV as prime minister and he never held office again, although he continued to take part in politics, being especially prominent during the deadlock which preceded the passing of the Reform Bill in 1832. Harrowby’s long association with the Tories did not prevent him from assisting to remove the disabilities of Roman Catholics and Protestant dissenters, or from supporting the movement for electoral reform; he was also in favour of the emancipation of the slaves. The earl died at his Staffordshire residence, Sandon Hall, on the 26th of December 1847, being, as Charles Greville says, "the last of his generation and of the colleagues of Mr Pitt, the sole survivor of those stirring times and mighty contests."

Text originally from the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.