The last days of Lord Londonderry

Historian article

By Richard A. Gaunt, published 7th February 2022

The last days of Lord Londonderry

Richard A. Gaunt explores a tragedy at the heart of early nineteenth century British politics, with the suicide of Viscount Castlereagh.

At 7.30 in the morning on Monday 12 August 1822, Robert Stewart, second Marquess of Londonderry, died from self-inflicted injuries caused by cutting the carotid artery in his neck with a penknife. He was 53 years old. As Viscount Castlereagh, the courtesy title which he had held until succeeding to his father’s marquessate in 1821, he had been one of the more prominent members of Lord Liverpool’s administration. A former chief secretary to Ireland, who had helped William Pitt the Younger to pass the Act of Union between Britain and Ireland in 1800, Castlereagh had gone on to enjoy high office before succeeding as foreign secretary and leader of the House of Commons in 1812. As the leading front-bench minister in the Commons, this gave him responsibility for a whole swathe of government business at a time of major political and international turmoil... 

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