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Charles Bagot

British Ambassador to the United States, Russia, and the Hague; Governor-General of Canada

Charles Bagot

Charles Bagot was born at Blithfield Hall, Rugely, Staffordshire, England, on September 23, 1781, the second surviving son of William Bagot, 1st Baron Bagot, and Elizabeth Louisa St. John, eldest daughter of John St. John, 2nd Viscount St. John. He was educated at Rugby School and Christ Church College, Oxford, and began law studies at Lincoln's Inn in 1801. He gave up his law studies after less than year, however, and ended up getting an M.A. from Oxford in 1804.

On July 22, 1806, Bagot married Mary Charlotte Anne Wellesley-Pole, whose father, William Wellesley-Pole, later succeeded to the earldom of Mornington and whose uncle, Arthur Wellesley, became Duke of Wellington. Bagot and his wife eventually had three sons and five daughters.

In 1807, Bagot took a seat in Parliament as a member for Castle Rising. In August of that year he became Under-Secretary for Foreign Affairs under George Canning, for which position he had to exchange his parliamentary seat for the stewardship of the Chiltern Hundreds. He lost both positions when Canning left office in 1809.

Bagot's diplomatic career began when he was named Minister Plenipotentiary to France on July 11, 1814. That posting did not last long, however, as he was replaced by Wellesley later that same summer. He resumed that career on July 31, 1815, when he was appointed Minister Plenipotentiary and Envoy Extraordinairy to the United States. It was in this capacity that he gave his name to the Rush-Bagot Treaty, which called for both the United States and Great Britain to reduce their naval forces on the Great Lakes and Lake Champlain. Negotiated in 1816 with then U.S. Secretary of State James Monroe, the treaty was formalized by an exchange of diplomatic notes on April 28-29, 1817 between Bagot and the new Secretary of State, Richard Rush. Bagot was also involved in negotiations with the American government to settle a number of other disputes concerning fisheries and the border from Lake of the Woods to the Pacific. Those issues were finally resolved in London by the Convention of 1818.

Bagot returned to England in 1819, and was named Ambassador to Russia the following year. In this capacity, he took part in the negotiations leading to the Anglo-Russian Treaty of 1825, which fixed the boundaries of what is now Alaska for the next 75 years.

In 1824, Bagot was sent as Ambassador to The Hague, where he took part in the negotiations which ultimately established the independence of Belgium in 1831. He was offered the Governor-Generalship of India in 1828 but declined that post and, soon after, temporarily retired from public service.

Bagot came out of retirement in 1841, when Prime Minister Sir Robert Peel asked him to succeed Lord Sydenham as Governor-General of the recently united Province of Canada. He arrived in Kingston, Ontario, on January 10, 1842, and formally took office two days later. As a new Governor, Bagot was wise enough to rely on advisers who were familiar with the colony and to appoint prominent Canadians to a number of positions in the government and the judiciary, making him the first British statesman to bring Canadians into the government of their country.

Ill health forced Bagot to resign the Governor-Generalship in January 1843. He died at the Governor's official residence, Alwington House, in Kingston, Upper Canada, on May 19, 1843.


Dictionary of Canadian Biography

See Also

Arthur Wellesley
James Monroe
Richard Rush

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This page was last updated on September 23, 2018.