Alleyne Fitzherbert, 1st Baron St Helens (born Derby 1 March 1753, died London 19 February 1839) was a British diplomat and a friend of explorer George Vancouver, who named Mount St. Helens in what is now Washington after him.
He was Minister Plenipotentiary to Russia from 1783 to 1788, appointed Chief Secretary for Ireland and a member of the Privy Council (Great Britain & Ireland) in 1787, serving in the former position until 1789. He was Minister plenipotentiary to Spain from 1790 to 1794.
Gray, attended by several of his friends, paid a visit to the young undergraduate in his college rooms, and as the poet rarely went outside his own college, his presence attracted great attention, and the details of the interview were afterwards communicated to Samuel Rogers, and printed by Mitford. Fitzherbert took his degree of B. A. in 1774, being second of the senior optimes in the mathematical tripos, and he was also the senior chancellor's medallist. Soon afterwards he went on a tour through France and Italy.
His health was bad, and the first Lord Minto wrote to his wife (9 December 1787) that Fitzherbert was going to Ireland with the greatest danger to his life, his health being very bad in itself, and such as the business and vexation he is going to must make much worse.
In spite of these gloomy prognostications he continued to hold the post until March 1789, when he resigned the secretaryship, and was sent to the Hague as envoy extraordinary, with the pay of ambassador in ordinary, in all about £4,000 a year. At this time his reputation had reached its highest point, and Fox described him as a man of parts and of infinite zeal and industry. However as years went on his powers of application for the minor duties of his offices seem to have flagged. One hostile critic complained in 1793 that his letters were left unanswered by Fitzherbert, and in the following year he was described by the first Lord Malmesbury as very friendly, but insouciant as to business and not attentive enough for his post. In more important matters he acted with promptness and energy.
In the following year, Commander George Vancouver and the officers of HMS Discovery made the Europeans' first recorded sighting of Mount St. Helens on May 19, 1792, while surveying the northern Pacific Ocean coast. Vancouver named the mountain after the newly created Baron on October 20, 1792, as it came into view when the Discovery passed into the mouth of the Columbia River.
A treaty of alliance between Great Britain and Spain was concluded by him in 1793, but as the climate of that country did not agree with his health he returned home early in 1794. Very shortly after his landing in England St. Helens was appointed to the ambassadorship at the Hague (25 March 1794), where he remained until the French conquered the country, when the danger of his situation caused much anxiety to his friends. A year or two later a great misfortune happened to him. On 16 July 1797 his house, containing everything he possessed, was burnt to the ground, and he himself narrowly escaped a premature death. He has lost,' wrote Lord Minto, every scrap of paper he ever had. Conceive how inconsolable that loss must be to one who has lived his life. All his books, many fine pictures, prints and drawings in great abundance, are all gone.
To Rogers he presented in his last illness Pope's own copy of Garth's Dispensary, with Pope's manuscript annotations. Bentham had been presented to St. Helens by his elder brother, sometime member for Derbyshire, and many letters to and from him on subjects of political interest are in Bentham's works. Two letters from him to Croker on Wraxall's anecdotes are in the ' Croker Papers ' (ii. 294-7), and a letter to him from the first Lord Malmesbury is printed in the latter's diaries. St. Helens died in Grafton Street, London, on 19 February 1839, and was buried in the Harrow Road cemetery on 26 February. As he was never married, the title became extinct, and his property passed to his nephew, Sir Henry Fitzherbert. From 1805 to 1837 he had been a trustee of the British Museum, and at the time of his death he was the senior member of the privy council.
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