Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Paget, Arthur

PAGET, Sir ARTHUR (1771–1840), diplomatist, second son of Henry Bayly Paget, first earl of Uxbridge of the second creation, by Jane, eldest daughter of the Very Rev. Arthur Champagne, dean of Clonmacnoise, was born on 15 Jan. 1771. He entered Westminster School on 10 April 1780, was elected on to the foundation in 1783, and thence to Christ Church, Oxford, whence he matriculated on 8 June 1787, but took no degree. In 1791 he entered the diplomatic service, and on 22 Nov. 1794 was returned to parliament for Anglesey, which he continued nominally to represent until 1807. On the abandonment by Prussia of the defence of Holland, July 1794, he was despatched to Berlin as envoy extraordinary to recall King Frederick William to a sense of his obligations. His conduct of this delicate mission is commended by Lord Malmesbury (Diaries, iii. 130, 148, 184, 199). Obtaining no satisfactory assurances from the king, he withdrew to Pyrmont about Christmas, and, on the passage of the Waal by the French, returned to England by way of Brunswick and Holland. Some letters from him to the Countess of Lichtenau, written during this perilous journey, in which, as a last resource, he implores her to use her influence with the king on behalf of the Dutch, are printed in ‘Apologie der Gräfin von Lichtenau,’ 2te Abth., 1808, pp. 241–51. Paget was accredited successively envoy extraordinary to the elector palatine and minister to the diet of Ratisbon, 22 May 1798, envoy extraordinary and minister plenipotentiary to the court of Naples, 17 Jan. 1800, and to that of Vienna, 21 Aug. 1801. His despatches from Vienna, July 1802, after Bonaparte's reorganisation of the smaller German states, contained a remarkable prediction of the eventual acquisition by Prussia of the hegemony of Germany. In 1805 he contributed materially to the formation of the third coalition against France, and reported its total discomfiture by the battle of Austerlitz, 2 Dec. 1805. His gloomy despatch on the day after the battle is said to have contributed to the death of Pitt (Yonge, Life of the Second Earl of Liverpool, i. 78, 205). Recalled in February 1806, he was accredited, 15 May 1807, ambassador to the Ottoman Porte. On the signature of the peace of Tilsit on 7 July following, he apprised the Sultan of the secret article by which the provisions in favour of Turkey were rendered nugatory, and exhausted the resources of suasion and menace, even bringing the British fleet into the Dardanelles, in the endeavour to detach the Porte from the French alliance. In this, however, he failed. In May 1809 he was recalled, and retired on a pension of 2,000l.

Paget was sworn of the privy council on 4 Jan. 1804, and nominated on 21 May following K.B. His installation in the order took place on 1 June 1812, and on 2 Jan. 1815 he was made G.C.B. He died at his house in Grosvenor Street on 26 July 1840, and was buried in Kensal Green cemetery on 1 Aug.

Paget married at Heckfield, Hampshire, on 16 Feb. 1809, Lady Augusta Jane Vane, second daughter of John, tenth earl of Westmorland, within two days of her divorce from John, second baron Boringdon, afterwards earl of Morley. By her he had several children who survived him.

[Barker and Stenning's Westminster School Reg.; Welch's Alumni Westmon. p. 416; Foster's Alumni Oxon.; Mémoires d'un Homme d'État, Paris, 1831, iii. 41, 124, ix. 440; Ann. Reg. 1809, App. to Chron. p. 169; Gent. Mag. 1805 p. 1165, 1809 p. 181, 1815 p. 63, 1840 p. 657; Biogr. Nouv. des Contemp., Paris, 1824, xv. 314; Sir Gilbert Elliot's Life and Letters, iii. 135; Haydn's Dignities, ed. Ockerby; Nicolas's British Knighthood, Order of the Bath, Chron. List.]

J. M. R.