The great grandson of the British prime minister the Earl of Shelburne (later created 1st Marquess of Lansdowne), and the eldest son of the 4th Marquess of Lansdowne, Henry Charles Keith Petty-Fitzmaurice was born in London. He held the courtesy title Viscount Clanmaurice from birth until he succeeded to the marquessate. After studying at Eton and Oxford, he succeeded his father as 5th Marquess of Lansdowne and 6th Earl of Kerry at the relatively young age of 21 on 5 June1866. He inherited a vast estate and great wealth. Three years later, he married Lady Maud Evelyn Hamilton and they had two sons and two daughters.
The Marquess of Lansdowne entered the House of Lords as member of the Liberal Party in 1866. He served in Prime Minister William Gladstone's government as a Lord of the Treasury from 1869 to 1872 and as Under-Secretary of State for War from 1872 to 1874. He was appointed Under-Secretary of State for India in 1880, and having gained experience in overseas administration, was appointed Governor General of Canada in 1883. Lord Lansdowne was Governor General during turbulent times in Canada. Sir John A. Macdonald's government was in its second term and facing allegations of scandal over the building of the railway (the Pacific scandal, and the economy was once again sliding into recession. The North-West Rebellion of 1885 and the controversy of its leader, Louis Riel, posed a serious threat to the stability of Canada.
Yet the Marquess of Lansdowne took the opportunity to travel extensively throughout western Canada in 1885, meeting many of Canada's First Nations peoples. While the railway to British Columbia was not completed, this did not stop the Governor General from travelling throughout the Rockies on horseback and by boat. On his second trip out west, Lord Lansdowne took the new Canadian Pacific Railway, and was the first Governor General to use the line all the way out west.
His experiences in western Canada gave the Marquess of Lansdowne a great love of the Canadian outdoors and the physical beauty of Canada. He was an avid salmon fisherman, and was also intently interested in winter sports. His love of the wilderness and Canadian countryside led him to purchase a second residence on the Cascapedia River in Quebec.
It was with the issue of fishing rights between the United States and Canada that the Marquess of Lansdowne proved himself as an adept statesman, helping to negotiate a peaceful settlement to a potentially serious dispute between both countries. He was also a supporter of scientific development, presiding over the inaugural session of the British Association for the Advancement of Science in 1884.
The Marquess of Lansdowne departed Canada with a true appreciation of the beauty of the wilderness and an equal appreciation of the diversity of Canadian society. He was considered a very able Governor General, and gave his wife, the Marchioness of Lansdowne, a great deal of the credit for his success in Canada. One of her happiest and most successful endeavours while at Rideau Hall was a party she threw for 400 Sunday school children. Lady Lansdowne was decorated with the Order of Victoria and Albert and the Imperial Order of the Crown of India.
The Marquess of Lansdowne was appointed Viceroy to India the same year he left Canada, finally returning to England in 1894. Upon his return, he aligned with the Conservative Party. The prime minister, the Marquess of Salisbury, appointed Lord Lansdowne to the post of Secretary of State for War in June 1895. The unpreparedness of the British Army during the Boer War brought calls for Lansdowne's impeachment in 1899. After the Conservative victory in the November 1900 general elections, Lord Salisbury reorganized the cabinet and appointed Lord Lansdowne Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs. He continued in that office under Salisbury successor Arthur Balfour. As British foreign secretary, he negotiated the 1904 Anglo-French Entente Cordiale with the French foreign minister, Theophile Delcassé.
Following the Liberal victory in the January 1906 general elections, the Marquess of Lansdowne became the leader of the opposition Conservatives in the House of Lords. He left that position in 1910. In 1916, Lord Lansdowne joined the wartime coalition cabinet of Prime Minister Herbert Henry Asquith as a minister without portfolio. In 1917, he published the controversial “Lansdowne Letter” (1917), which called for a statement of postwar intentions from the Allied Powers. He was criticized as acting contrary to cabinet policy.
Adapted from http://www.gg.ca
Marquess of Lorne
|Governor General of Canada||Followed by:|
Lord Stanley of Preston
|Marquess of Lansdowne||Followed by:|