Adair, Sir Robert 1763-1855, the last survivor of Charles James Fox's friends, was the son of Robert Adair, sergeant-surgeon to George III, and Lady Caroline Keppel. He was born on 24 May 1763, and was sent to Westminster school, and thence to the university of Göttingen, where Canning, who styled him bawba-dara-adul-phoolah and many other names, satirised him as falling in love with sweet Matilda Pottingen. Before he was twenty he was ranked among Fox's intimate friends, and, had the whig minister gained the seals of the foreign office in 1788, Adair would have been his under-secretary. When the French revolution broke out, he visited Berlin, Vienna, and St. Petersburg, to study its effects on foreign states, and to qualify himself for diplomatic office. Some of his political opponents believed that he had been despatched by Fox to Russia to thwart the policy of Mr. Pitt, and the accusation was reproduced in 1821 in the Bishop of Winchester's Memoir of Pitt, which brought about an angry correspondence in print between the bishop and Adair. He sat in parliament for the whig boroughs of Appleby and Camelford. During Fox's tenure of office in 1806 he was despatched on a mission to Vienna to warn Austria of the dangers to which she was exposed from the power of France, and on his return from Vienna was sent by his old antagonist Canning to Constantinople to open up a negotiation for peace with the Porte. Memoirs of these missions were published by Sir Robert Adair in 1844-1845. In 1828 his diplomatic services were recognised by his admission to the privy council. From 1831 to 1835 he was engaged on a special mission in the Low Countries, where his exertions prevented a general war between the Flemish and the Dutch troops. He was appointed G.C.B. (civil) in 1831, and the success of his mission was further rewarded by the grant of the highest pension which could be awarded him. Among his other writings are a reprint in 1802 and 1853 of Fox's Letter to the Electors of Westminster in 1793, with an application of its principle to subsequent events, and a sketch of the character of the late Duke of Devonshire (1811). His wife was Mlle. Angélique Gabrielle, daughter of the Marquis d'Hazincourt. His stores of recollection of diplomatic and political life made him a frequent guest at the chief whig houses of London till the end of his long life, and his name is often mentioned in the diary of Tom Moore. Full of years and honours he died at Chesterfield Street, Mayfair, on 3 Oct. 1855, aged 92.

     Gent. Mag. 1855, N.S., xliv. p. 535
     Lord Albemarle's Fifty Years of Life, i. 225
     Lord John Russell's Memorials and Correspondence of C. J. Fox, vol. ii. appendix.

Contributor: W. P. C. [William Prideaux Courtney]

Published: 1885