BARING, Francis (1800-1868), of The Grange, nr. Alresford, Hants and 82 Piccadilly, Mdx.
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Family and Education
b. 20 May 1800 in Philadelphia, 2nd. s. of Alexander Baring* (d. 1848) and Ann Louisa, da. and coh. of William Bingham of Blackpoint, Philadelphia, Senator USA; bro. of William Bingham Baring*. educ. Geneva. m. Dec. 1832, Hortense Eugenie Claire, da. of Hugues Bernard Maret, duke of Bassano, 2s. (1 d.v.p.) 1da. suc. bro. as 3rd Bar. Ashburton 23 Mar. 1864. d. 6 Sept. 1868.
Dir. Alliance British and Foreign Life and Fire Insurance Co. 1824-31.
Baring, his father’s favourite son, was educated privately and in Geneva, where he was later pleased to find that his juvenile escapades with his friends Lords Blandford* and Glenorchy* were still remembered.1 Shortly before becoming 18 he joined the family bank, Baring Brothers, as planned, to be trained by Swinton Holland. From 1820 to 1822 he travelled on business in the West Indies and North America, where he impressed his host at New Orleans, the merchant Vincent Nolte, with his ‘remarkable memory’, ability to distil information, iron will, ‘intellectual superiority, rare keenness of perception, and almost instinctive penetration of the opposite and diverse characters with which he was brought into contact’.2 His father settled £25,000 a year on him when his elder brother Bingham married in 1823, and made him a partner with a quarter share in the bank. The following year Baring successfully launched the Alliance British and Foreign Life and Fire Assurance Company with Samuel Gurney, John Irving*, Moses Montefiore and Nathaniel Rothschild.3 However, his involvement in the shooting of Alexander Waldegrave and disastrous speculations while on a fact-finding mission to Mexico in 1825, and again on the French sugar market in 1827 effectively ended his active career in banking, and he was demoted to a non-executive partner when the bank was restructured in 1828.4 Nothing came of his courtship of Theresa Villiers that year and he seems to have remained on the continent until his father brought him in for Thetford instead of Bingham at the general election of 1830.5
The Wellington ministry counted the Barings among their ‘foes’, and despite their rumoured defection, they attended the pre-session opposition briefing at Lord Althorp’s* house, 13 Nov. 1830.6 Unlike their absent father, Baring and Bingham, Member for Callington, divided against government on the civil list, 15 Nov. His ‘stuttering, hesitant delivery’7 barred Baring from a successful political career and his parliamentary conduct is often obscured by confusion with his better known cousin Francis Thornhill Baring, Member for Portsmouth. Of the few interventions attributed to him in this period, he can only be identified with certainty as the presenter of petitions from the landowners and corporation of Thetford against the Eau Brink bill, 21 Mar. 1831. He divided with his brother for the second reading of the Grey ministry’s reform bill, by which Callington was to be disfranchised and Thetford initially designated to lose one seat, 22 Mar., and against Gascoyne’s wrecking amendment, 19 Apr. 1831. His father, who opposed the bill, replaced him as Member for Thetford at the ensuing general election.8
Though ‘decidedly against’ his father standing for Essex North at the 1832 general election, Baring assisted with the canvass and came in unopposed for Thetford, where he would say little about his politics, as a Conservative.9 Later that month he was married in Paris to the daughter of Buonaparte’s former minister, the duke of Bassano, and, according to Thomas Raikes, ‘one of the prettiest and most charming women in society’. They lived mainly in Paris, where Baring reputedly paid 1,600,000 francs for a mansion in the Place Vendôme and became a director of Credit Moblier.10 He made way for Bingham at Thetford in 1841, was his replacement when he succeeded their father as 2nd Baron Ashburton in 1848 and retired in favour of his elder son Alexander Hugh Baring (1835-89), in December 1857. He succeeded Bingham as 3rd Baron in 1864 and died at Hazlewood, near Watford, ‘enfeebled of body and mind’, in September 1868, when the barony passed to his only surviving son.