Eliot, Edward Granville, third Earl of St. Germans 1798-1877, diplomatist, was the only son of William, second earl of St. Germans, by his first wife, Lady Georgiana Augusta Leveson-Gower, fourth daughter of the first Marquis of Stafford. He was born 29 Aug. 1798, was educated at Westminster School and Christ Church, Oxford, and was created honorary Doctor of Law of Dublin in 1843. In January 1824 Lord Eliot, as he was known till 1845, entered parliament for Liskeard, which he represented until the Reform Bill in 1832. Canning appointed him lord of the treasury in his brief administration of 1827, and he retained the office under Goderich and Wellington until 1830. He had been appointed secretary of legation at Madrid in 1823, and at Lisbon in 1824 (Doyle, Baronage). In 1834 he was sent to Spain as envoy extraordinary. The Carlist war was then raging, and Eliot concluded an agreement with the two belligerent forces, by which prisoners on both sides were to be treated according to the laws of civilised war. This treaty, known as the Eliot Convention, effectually put an end to the sanguinary system of reprisals. Within a month of the conclusion of the treaty it was the means of saving the lives of more than six hundred of the royalist troops. The populace of Madrid was furious, believing that it might be the commencement of a policy to protocolise Spain in the manner of Belgium. Upon his return to England in 1837 Eliot, who contested Bodmin unsuccessfully in 1835, was returned to parliament for East Cornwall, which he represented until 1845. England having permitted Spain to enlist soldiers within her territories, Eliot moved an address in the House of Commons in 1838, condemning the policy which had been sanctioned by Lord Palmerston. His speech was much applauded, but the motion was defeated on a division taken by surprise. In 1841 Eliot, who was a conservative in politics, was appointed by Sir Robert Peel chief secretary for Ireland, then in a very disturbed state. Eliot in the session of 1843 introduced an arms bill, which required the registration of firearms, and restricted the importation of arms and ammunition. The measure was obstinately contested at every stage, but eventually became law. Eliot, often addressed the house on Irish questions, with the respect even of opponents. In January 1845 Eliot resigned the Irish chief secretaryship, and on the death of his father succeeded to the peerage as Earl St. Germans. He was appointed postmaster-general by Sir Robert Peel, and held that office till the fall of Peel's administration. The Earl of Aberdeen, on becoming prime minister in December 1852, appointed him lord-lieutenant of Ireland. He held the post during Lord Aberdeen's premiership. He received the queen and the prince consort in 1853 on the opening of the Great Exhibition of Dublin. On 16 Feb. 1855 Palmerston acceded to office as premier, and St. Germans retained in the new government the post of Irish viceroy, but on the reconstruction of the ministry a few days later, retired from office. After his return from Ireland St. Germans was for several years lord steward of the household (1857-8 and 1859-1866). He was afterwards Queen Victoria's confidential adviser, especially on family matters. He was made C.B. in 1848, and G.C.B. in 1857. He accompanied the Prince of Wales on his tour through Canada and the United States in 1860. He never ceased to take a deep interest in public affairs. Though he acted with the liberals on political questions generally, his advice was frequently sought by leaders on the opposite side. He declined to join in the No Popery agitation in 1850, and published his reasons for objecting to it. He spoke seldom, but was generally respected for his fairness and ability;and he was a good landlord to his tenantry in Cornwall. He was deputy-lieutenant of the county (1841) and special deputy-warden of the Stannaries (1852). He died 7 Oct. 1877.
In 1824 he married Lady Jemima Cornwallis, third daughter and coheiress of Charles, second and last marquis Cornwallis, by his wife, the Lady Louisa Gordon, daughter and coheiress of Alexander, fourth duke of Gordon. He had issue three sons and one daughter. Granville Charles Cornwallis, the second son, was a captain in the Coldstream guards, and was killed at Inkerman, 5 Nov. 1854. William Gordon Cornwallis (born 14 Dec. 1829), the eldest son, who became fourth Earl of St. Germans, was summoned to the House of Lords in 1870 in his father's barony of Eliot; was engaged in the diplomatic service till 1865; contested Cricklade in 1865; was liberal M.P. for Devonport from 1866 to 1868, and died 19 March 1881. His brother, Henry Cornwallis Eliot, became fifth earl.
Ann. Reg. 1877
Times, 8 Oct. 1877
Western Weekly News, 13 Oct. 1877
Hansard's Parliamentary Debates.
Contributor: G. B. S. [George Barnett Smith]