Baring, William Bingham, second Baron Ashburton 1799-1864, statesman, the eldest son of Alexander, first Lord Ashburton [qv.], was born June 1799. He was educated at Oriel College, Oxford, taking a second class in classics in 1821. Through the influence of his family he was elected for Thetford in 1826, and for Callington in 1830. After the Reform Bill he sat for Winchester (1832-7) as a moderate whig, but it was as a conservative that he represented the larger constituency of North Staffordshire 1837-41, and Thetford from 1841 to 1848, when he succeeded to the peerage. In Sir Robert Peel's administration of 1841 he was secretary to the board of control until February 1845, and paymaster-general from that date until July 1846. Lord Ashburton lacked boldness, and his manners failed to impress the world with the respect which his abilities deserved; but he possessed a great thirst for information, and in later life he distinguished himself by his strenuous advocacy of the teaching of common things in national schools. His shyness was more than compensated for in the person of his first wife (married 12 April 1823), Lady Harriet Mary Montagu, eldest daughter of the sixth Earl of Sandwich. Under her auspices his houses of the Grange, near Alresford, and Bath House, Piccadilly, became centres of life for many eminent men in politics and literature, and especially for Charles Buller, Thackeray, and Carlyle. Mrs. Carlyle, indeedóas readers of her Letters and her husband's Reminiscences will rememberóresented his attachment to Lady Ashburton. Lady Ashburton had long been in delicate health, but was seized with her fatal illness at Nice in 1857, and died at Paris 4 May 1857. Many of her sayings are recorded, and her character is analysed in a chapter in Lord Houghton's Monographs, 1873, pp. 225-55. Lord Ashburton married for the second time, 17 Nov. 1858, at Bath House, Piccadilly, Louisa Caroline, third daughter of the Right Hon. James Alexander Stewart Mackenzie. He died at the Grange 23 March 1864, leaving one daughter, Mary Florence, who married 30 April 1884 Lord William Compton, afterwards fifth Marquis of Northampton; she died in 1902. From 1860 to 1864 he held the office of president of the Geographical Society, and in 1855 he was created a knight of the Legion of Honour.
Gent. Mag. 1864, xvi. 656-57.
Contributor: W. P. C. [William Prideaux Courtney]