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Baron Glenelg (1778–1866)

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Baron Glenelg, n.d.

Baron Glenelg, n.d.

from National Portrait Gallery (UK)

Baron Glenelg (1778-1866), politician, was born on 26 October 1778 at Kidderpore, Bengal, India, and baptized as Charles, the eldest son of Charles Grant (1746-1823). He was educated at Magdalene College, Cambridge (B.A., 1801; M.A., 1804; hon. LL.D., 1819), and became a member of the Speculative Society, Edinburgh. In the House of Commons he represented Inverness and Fortrose in 1811-18 and Inverness-shire in 1818-35, and was a lord of the treasury in 1813, privy councillor and Irish secretary in 1819-23, vice-president of the Board of Trade in 1823-27, president of the Board of Trade and treasurer of the navy in 1827-28 and president of the board of control for Indian affairs in 1830-35. He was appointed secretary of state for the colonies under Melbourne in April 1835 and created Baron Glenelg in May. He offended both Tories and Radicals by his irresolute Canadian policy, by his handling of the Cape Colony during the Kaffir wars, and by his refusal of constitutional reform in New South Wales and Van Diemen's Land. He resigned in February 1839, receiving a pension and the commissionership of the land tax.

A humanitarian, and committee member of the evangelical Church Missionary Society, as secretary of state he was largely responsible for the amending Act (1 & 2 Vic. c. 19) which protected apprenticed labourers in the West Indies after the abolition of slavery. In this and other policies he was in accord with many of the liberal policies of his permanent under-secretary, James Stephen. In office during a troubled period of Britain's imperial history he was widely regarded, in the words of Lord Sandon, as 'ambiguous, dilatory and irresolute'. His sluggishness was a byword in public circles, yet Stephen, having served under ten secretaries of state, wrote in February 1839 'he is the most laborious, the most conscientious and most enlightened minister of the public'. He was unmarried and died at Cannes in France on 23 April 1866. His name was given to the place on St Vincent’s Gulf where British settlers came ashore in 1836 to found the colony of South Australia; rivers in western Victoria and the Kimberley region of Western Australia were named in his honour.

Citation details

'Glenelg, Baron (1778–1866)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1966, accessed online 24 May 2024.

This article was published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 1, (Melbourne University Press), 1966

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© Copyright Australian Dictionary of Biography, 2006-2024

Baron Glenelg, n.d.

Baron Glenelg, n.d.

from National Portrait Gallery (UK)

Life Summary [details]

Alternative Names
  • Grant, Charles

26 October, 1778
Kolkata, West Bengal, India


23 April, 1866 (aged 87)
Cannes, France

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