Open main menu

Alexander Baring, 1st Baron Ashburton

Alexander Baring, 1st Baron Ashburton PC (27 October 1774 – 12 May 1848), was a British politician and financier, and a member of the Baring family. Baring was the second son of Sir Francis Baring, 1st Baronet, and of Harriet, daughter of William Herring. His grandfather, Johann (John) Baring, emigrated from Germany and established the family in England.

The Lord Ashburton

President of the Board of Trade
In office
15 December 1834 – 8 April 1835
MonarchWilliam IV
Prime MinisterSir Robert Peel, Bt
Preceded byCharles Poulett Thomson
Succeeded byCharles Poulett Thomson
Master of the Mint
In office
23 December 1834 – 8 April 1835
MonarchWilliam IV
Prime MinisterSir Robert Peel, Bt
Preceded byHon. James Abercromby
Succeeded byHenry Labouchere
Personal details
Born27 October 1774 (1774-10-27)
Died12 May 1848 (1848-05-13) (aged 73)
Longleat, Wiltshire
Political partyTory
Spouse(s)Anne Louisa Bingham
(d. 1848)


Business careerEdit

Alexander was brought up in his father's business, and became a partner at Hope & Co. He was sent to the United States for various land deals, and formed wide connections with wealthy American families. In 1807 Alexander became a partner in the family firm, along with his brothers Thomas and Henry, and the name was changed to Baring Brothers & Co. When Henry Hope died in 1811, the London offices of Hope & Co. merged with Baring Brothers & Co.

Political careerEdit

Baring sat in parliament for Taunton between 1806 and 1826, for Callington between 1826 and 1831, for Thetford between 1831 and 1832 and North Essex between 1832 and 1835. He regarded politics from the point of view of the business man and opposed the orders-in-council for "the restrictions on trade with the United States in 1812," and, in 1826, the act for the suppression of small banknotes as well as other reform. He accepted the post Chancellor of the Exchequer in the Duke of Wellington's projected ministry of 1832; but afterwards, alarmed at the men in parliament, declared "he would face a thousand devils rather than such a House of Commons."[1] After the Panic of 1847, Baring headed an external bimetallist movement hoping to prevent the undue restriction of the currency.[2]

Baring was Master of the Mint in Robert Peel's government and, on Peel's retirement in 1835, was raised to the peerage as Baron Ashburton, of Ashburton, in the County of Devon,[3] a title previously held by John Dunning, 1st Baron Ashburton. In 1842 he was again sent to America, and the same year concluded the Webster–Ashburton Treaty. A compromise was settled concerning the north-east boundary of Maine, the extradition of certain criminals was arranged, each state agreed to maintain a squadron of at least eighty guns on the coast of Africa for the suppression of the slave trade, and the two governments agreed to unite in an effort to persuade other powers to close all slave markets within their territories. Despite his earlier attitude, Lord Ashburton disapproved of Peel's free trade and opposed the Bank Charter Act of 1844.[1]

Ashburton was a trustee of the British Museum and of the National Gallery, a privy councillor and D.C.L. He published, besides several speeches, An Enquiry into the Causes and Consequences of ... Orders in Council (1808), and The Financial and Commercial Crisis Considered (1847).[1]


Ashburton married Anne Louisa, daughter of the American statesman William Bingham, of Philadelphia, on 23 August 1798. They had nine children:

Styles of addressEdit

  • 1774–1806: Mr Alexander Baring
  • 1806–1834: Mr Alexander Baring MP
  • 1834–1835: The Right Honourable Alexander Baring MP
  • 1835–1848: The Right Honourable The Lord Ashburton PC


Of this great mercantile family the Duc de Richelieu wittily remarked; "There are six main powers in Europe; Britain, France, Austria-Hungary, Russia, Prussia and Baring-Brothers!" (Vicary Gibbs, from the "Complete Peerage" 1910).


  1. ^ a b c Chisholm 1911.
  2. ^ É. Halévy (1961) Victorian Years. London: Ernest Benn; p. 201.
  3. ^ "No. 19257". The London Gazette. 10 April 1835. p. 699.


External linksEdit