Sir (William) Henry Lytton Earle Bulwer; 1801-1872; Baron Dalling and Bulwer, diplomat

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Sir (William) Henry Lytton Earle Bulwer; 1801-1872; Baron Dalling and Bulwer, diplomat

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Born 13 February 1801. Died 23 May 1872. Second son of General William Earle Bulwer (1757-1807), of Wood Dalling, Heydon Hall, Norfolk, and his wife, Elizabeth Barbara Lytton (1773-1843), only child of Richard Warburton Lytton of Knebworth Park, Hertfordshire.

Sir Henry Lytton Bulwer, Lord Dalling and Bulwer (1801-72), began his diplomatic career as attaché at Berlin in 1827, becoming successively attaché at Vienna in 1829, The Hague in 1830, and Paris in 1832. In 1830 he was sent on a special mission to Belgium and his eye-witness accounts of the revolution there were favourably received by the Foreign Office. Subsequently however he was elected to Parliament and for several years seemed to have abandoned his diplomatic career until 1835 when he became secretary to the Legation at Brussels. For two years he managed to combine Parliamentary and diplomatic careers, hurrying back from Brussels to speak in important debates and to vote, usually with the Radicals. In addition, he was obliged by his financial situation to take up a third career, that of author and journalist. Although he had inherited, if not a fortune, an easy competence from his maternal grandmother, by the 1830s he was in urgent need of funds to maintain an expensive way of life. He moved in the first circles; like his brother Edward Bulwer Lytton the novelist he frequented Lady Blessington's salon; he was a friend of Disraeli and d'Orsay; and he gambled. In 1837 he finally decided in favour of diplomacy and it was then that his serious career as a diplomat really begins. As secretary to the embassy at Constantinople he contributed towards the making of a commercial treaty with Turkey, he was then secretary to the embassy at Paris, frequently taking charge during the ambassador's absence, and in 1843 he was appointed minister-plenipotentiary at Madrid. His ministry there was a stormy one. He was unable to circumvent the Spanish Marriages in 1846, and in 1848 his high-handedness with the Spanish Government (he appears to have taken for his model Lord Palmerston whose protegé he was) and his indiscreet use of the press led to his expulsion from Spain. The Foreign Office supported his conduct in the subsequent diplomatic unpleasantness, but it was thought tactful that his next post should be outside Europe, and consequently he went as minister-plenipotentiary to Washington in 1849. Here he was entirely successful and was instrumental in drawing up the Clayton-Bulwer Treaty concerning territorial claims in Central America. From Washington he was transferred to the Court of the Grand Duke of Tuscany at Florence where he spent several uneventful years until 1855. In 1856 he became the British representative on the Commission to investigate the condition of the Danubian Principalities and his work here led to his final and most important posting as Ambassador to Constantinople. (There were at this time only two ambassadorial posts, the other was at Paris occupied by his brother-in-law Lord Cowley).

As Ambassador to Constantinople Bulwer was probably less successful than he deserved to be. The newly opened telegraph lines from London to Constantinople and Alexandria enabled speedy communication with the Foreign Office. While this would have been an advantage at Madrid, it was a mixed blessing at Constantinople. Bulwer frequently had a shrewder grasp of the realities of Turkish politics than his chiefs at the Foreign Office, but far less of a free hand to pursue his own line than his predecessor at Constantinople, Lord Stratford de Redcliffe, with whom he was inevitably compared. In the nineteenth century it was never possible or even expected that a senior diplomat could live on his salary and allowances. This led to Bulwer's keen interest in speculative commercial undertakings. Although he never made a fortune, he appears to have been luckier or more astute than many of his contemporaries in not suffering any substantial losses. The personal papers also show that Bulwer had many friends in literary circles in London and Paris and continued his journalism throughout his whole career.

HLB was agent in Parliament for the Australian Colonies. He refused a salary for this and only drew expenses.

Bulwer was in very poor health in the mid 1860s and divided his time between Paris, Hyères and Aix. He occupied himself in revising earlier drafts for his books 'Historical Characters' and the 'Life of ... Palmerston'. In 1868 he was sufficiently well to become M.P. for Tamworth. From 1870 he played an active part in the affairs of the Société des Travaux Publiques et Banque d'Orient. In 1871 he was created Baron Dalling and Bulwer, but he had little time to enjoy his honour as his health declined and he died in 1872.


Vienna, Austria; Berlin, Germany; The Hague, Netherlands; Paris, France; Belgium; Constantinople, Turkey; Madrid, Spain

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Created on: 23/09/2005 by Droip




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