Meade, Robert Henry (DNB01)

MEADE, Sir ROBERT HENRY (1835–1898), civil servant, second son of Richard Meade, third earl of Clanwilliam, and of his wife, Lady Elizabeth, daughter of George Herbert, eleventh earl of Pembroke, was born on 16 Dec. 1835, and educated at Eton and Exeter College, Oxford, where he matriculated on 7 Dec. 1854 and graduated B.A. in 1859 and M.A. in 1860. On 1 June 1859 he entered the foreign office. He was despatched to Syria with Lord Dufferin's special mission on 31 July 1860, and returning in September 1861 was selected to accompany the prince of Wales in his tour through Palestine and Eastern Europe in 1861-2. In the autumn of 1862 he accompanied Earl Russell to Germany in attendance upon the queen. On 27 Nov. 1862 he was appointed a groom of the bedchamber to the prince of Wales. In 1863 he accompanied Earl Granville abroad with the queen.

In June 1864 Meade became private secretary to Earl Granville as president of the council, and was with him till July 1866; he then resumed his work in the foreign office. When Lord Granville became, on 10 Dec. 1868, secretary of state for the colonies, Meade accompanied him as private secretary to the colonial office. On 21 May 1871 Meade was appointed to an assistant under-secretaryship of state in the colonial office; thenceforward he devoted himself to the ordinary and responsible duties of that post. He was appointed a royal commissioner for the Paris exhibition on 22 Jan. 1877, and a British delegate to the conference on African questions at Berlin on 24 Oct. 1884 (see Parl. Papers, c. 4290, of 1885, for his conversations with Prince Bismarck). In February 1892 he became permanent under-secretary for the colonies under Lord Knutsford, and subsequently served under Lord Ripon and Mr. Chamberlain. Latterly his health became indifferent; he was anxious to retire in 1895, but stayed on at the request of the secretary of state for a year longer. However, towards the end of 1896 he fell and broke his leg one evening in entering an omnibus upon leaving the office. He never returned to his work. Ill-health and the sudden death of his daughter broke him down completely, and he died on 8 Jan. 1898 at an hotel in fast. He was buried at Taplow, near Maidenhead. He became C.B. on 21 March 1886, K.C.B. in 1894, and G.C.B. in 1897.

Meade had considerable practical common sense and much tact, and he was besides a man of peculiar charm, greatly liked by all who knew him. He was one of a knot of official liberals who formed a little coterie in the service of the crown from about 1870 to 1890.

Meade married, first, on 19 April 1865, Lady Mary Elizabeth, daughter of Henry Lascelles, third earl of Harewood; she died on 7 Feb. 1866, leaving one daughter, who predeceased her father in 1897. Meade married, secondly, on 13 April 1880, Caroline Georgiana, daughter of Charles William Grenfell of Taplow Court, Maidenhead; she died on 6 March 1881, leaving a son, Charles Francis, who survived him.

[Foreign Office List, 1895; Colonial Office List, 1895; Foster's Alumni Oxon. 1715-1886; Times, 10 Jan. 1898; Burke's

C. A. H.