Lamb, Frederick James (DNB00)


LAMB, FREDERICK JAMES, third Viscount Melbourne and Baron Beauvale (1782–1853), the third son of Peniston, first viscount Melbourne, was born on 17 April 1782, and was educated at Eton. In 1800, together with his brother William [q. v.], he became a resident pupil of Professor Millar of Glasgow University (Lord Melbourne's Papers, p. 5). Lamb took his M.A. degree from Trinity College, Cambridge, in 1803. He entered the diplomatic service; in 1811 was appointed secretary of legation, and in 1812 minister plenipotentiary ad interim at the court of the Two Sicilies. In 1813 he was secretary of legation at Vienna and in August was appointed minister plenipotentiary ad interim pending the arrival of Lord Stewart, afterwards Marquis of Londonderry. From 1815 to 1820 Lamb was minister plenipotentiary at Munich. In 1822 he was sworn of the privy council, and in 1827 was nominated a civil grand cross of the Bath in consideration of his diplomatic service. On 18 Feb. 1825 he was appointed minister plenipotentiary to Spain, to which court he was attached until 1827. He was then (28 Dec.) sent to Lisbon as ambassador. There he saw from the first an evident intenon the part of of Dom Miguel, the queen's uncle, to usurp the throne. Accordingly he detained, on his own responsibility, the British force which had been sent to Portugal. The Wellington ministry endorsed the act of their representative, but decided nevertheless on recalling the troops (Lamb's despatches are in vol. xvi. of the State Papers; see also Ashley, Palmerston, i. 130–1). He was in England in August 1828, when he made no secret of his opinion that our government had acted ‘very ill and foolishly in first encouraging and then abandoning the wretched constitutionalists to their fate’ (Greville, i. 141). On the formation of Grey's ministry, Lamb acquired much influence over his brother, Lord Melbourne, the home secretary, although Melbourne was rather jealous and perplexed by Frederick's severe strictures on the whigs. On 13 May 1831 he was appointed ambassador at the court of Vienna, where he remained until November 1841, his adroitness and social qualities enabling him to work well with Metternich, whose foreign policy was entirely congenial to him. He was very handsome, and made many friends. In 1836 he was directed by the government to sound the Duke of Wellington upon the Eastern question, and drew up an able paper, which elicited from the duke a reply dated 6 March 1836 (Lord Melbourne's Papers, p. 342). In 1839 he was created a peer of the United Kingdom by the title of Baron Beauvale. During the following year he was strongly opposed to Palmerston's Syrian policy, and told the ministry that he considered it impossible to execute the convention for the maintenance of the integrity of the Porte. Nevertheless, he carried out Palmerston's instructions with great ability (see especially Parliamentary Papers, 1841, vol. xxix.). When the crisis had abated, Beauvale—if Greville was correctly informed—suppressed a despatch of Palmerston's in which the vacillation of the Austrian cabinet was reviewed in a very offensive style (Greville, pt. ii. vol. ii. p. 389). It was possibly at this time that Melbourne sent him a hint through Lady Westmorland that he could not remain at Vienna if he opposed Palmerston so often.

On his retirement in 1841 Beauvale received a pension of 1,700l. He had the good fortune ‘at sixty years old, and with a broken and enfeebled constitution,’ to marry, on 25 Feb. 1841, ‘a charming girl of twenty,’ the Countess Alexandrina Julia, daughter of the Count of Maltzahn, the Prussian minister at Vienna (she was born in 1818). Greville describes her unceasing devotion to him, and her grief for his death. Beauvale's last years were spent in the retirement of a valetudinarian; he had a great liking for political gossip, and carried on a correspondence with Madame de Lieven. He succeeded to Lord Melbourne's title in May 1848, and died on 29 Jan. 1853.

Beauvale's estates devolved on Lady Palmerston, and through her to the present Earl Cowper, his titles becoming extinct. Lady Beauvale married secondly, on 10 June 1856, John George, second baron Forester.

[Greville Journals, especially the elaborate character of Beauvale in pt. iii. vol. i. pp. 35–7. For his appointments see Haydn's Book of Dignities. The facts of his career are correctly given in the Annual Reg. and Gent. Mag. for 1853.]

L. C. S.