Ponsonby, John (1770?-1855) (DNB00)

PONSONBY, JOHN, Viscount Ponsonby (1770?–1855), diplomatist, eldest son of William Brabazon Ponsonby, first baron Ponsonby [q. v.], and brother of Sir William Ponsonby [q. v.], was born about 1770. He was possibly the John Brabazon Ponsonby who was successively member for Tallagh, co. Waterford, in the Irish parliament of 1797, for Dungarvan, 1798–1800, and for Galway town, in the first parliament of the United Kingdom, 1801–2. On the death of his father on 5 Nov. 1806 he succeeded him as second Baron Ponsonby, and for some time held an appointment in the Ionian Islands. On 28 Feb. 1826 he went to Buenos Ayres as envoy-extraordinary and minister-plenipotentiary, and removed to Rio Janiero in the same capacity on 12 Feb. 1828. An exceptionally handsome man, he was sent, it was reported, to South America by George Canning to please George IV, who was envious of the attention paid him by Lady Conyngham. He was entrusted with a special mission to Belgium on 1 Dec. 1830, in connection with the candidature of Prince Leopold of Saxe-Coburg to the throne, and remained in Brussels until Leopold was elected king of the Belgians on 4 June 1831. His dealings with this matter were adversely criticised in ‘The Guet-à-Pens Diplomacy, or Lord Ponsonby at Brussels, …’ London, 1831. But Lord Grey eulogised him in the House of Lords on 25 June 1831. Ponsonby was envoy at Naples from 8 June to 9 Nov. 1832, ambassador at Constantinople from 27 Nov. 1832 to 1841, and ambassador at Vienna from 10 Aug. 1846 to 31 May 1850.

Through Lord Grey, who had married his sister Mary Elizabeth, he had great influence, but his conduct as an ambassador sometimes occasioned embarrassment to the ministry. He was, however, a keen diplomatist of the old school, a shrewd observer, and a man of large views and strong will (Loftus, Diplomatic Reminiscences, 1892, i. 129–30). He was gazetted G.C.B. on 3 March 1834, and created Viscount Ponsonby of Imokilly, co. Cork, on 20 April 1839. He published ‘Private Letters on the Eastern Question, written at the date thereon,’ Brighton, 1854, and died at Brighton on 21 Feb. 1855. The viscounty thereupon lapsed, but the barony devolved on his nephew William, son of Sir William Ponsonby. The viscount married, on 13 Jan. 1803, Elizabeth Frances Villiers, fifth daughter of George, fourth earl of Jersey. She died at 62 Chester Square, London, on 14 April 1866, having had no issue.

Richard Ponsonby (1772–1853), bishop of Derry, brother of the above, was born at Dublin in 1772, and educated at Dublin University, where he graduated B.A. in 1794, and M.A. in 1816. During 1795 he was ordained deacon and priest, and was appointed prebendary of Tipper in St. Patrick's Cathedral. He succeeded by patent to the precentorship of St. Patrick's on 25 July 1806, and became dean on 3 June 1817. In February 1828 he was consecrated bishop of Killaloe and Kilfenora, was translated to Derry on 21 Sept. 1831, and became also bishop of Raphoe, in pursuance of the Church Temporalities Act, in September 1834. He was president of the Church Education Society, and died at the palace, Derry, on 27 Oct. 1853. He married, in 1804, his cousin Frances, second daughter of the Right Hon. John Staples. She died on 15 Dec. 1858, having had issue William Brabazon, fourth and last baron Ponsonby, who died on board his yacht, the Lufra, off Plymouth, on 10 Sept. 1866 (Gent. Mag. 1853 ii. 630, 1866 ii. 545; Cotton, Fasti Eccl. Hib. 1847, i. 409, ii. 107, 160, iii. 328, 358, Suppl. 1878, p. 109).

[Lamington's Days of the Dandies, 1890, pp. 75–9; Greville Memoirs, 1874 ii. 155, 172, iii. 405; Malmesbury's Memoirs of an Ex-Minister, 1885, p. 345; Foreign Office List, 1855, p. 66; Gent. Mag. April 1855, p. 414; Burke's Peerage, 1854 p. 806, 1877 p. 1329; Doyle's Baronage, 1886, iii. 55; Sir H. Lytton Bulwer's Historical Characters, 1868, ii. 369–70; Morning Post, 24 Feb. 1855, p. 6; Gent. Mag. April 1855, p. 414.]

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