Richard Meade, 3rd Earl of Clanwilliam

Richard Charles Francis Christian Meade, 3rd Earl of Clanwilliam GCH (15 August 1795 – 7 October 1879), styled Lord Gillford between 1800 and 1805, was a British diplomat and politician.

Background and education

Meade was the only son of Richard Meade, 2nd Earl of Clanwilliam, and succeeded in the earldom at the age of ten. He was educated at Eton.

In his 1848 memoirs, Francois-Rene de Chateaubriand writes of Meade that "at the head of the younger [London dandies of the 1820s] . . . Lord Clanwilliam was prominent, the son, it was said, of the Duc de Richelieu. He did wonderful things: he rode his horse to Richmond, and returned to Almack's [public ballroom] having fallen off twice. He had a certain trick of speaking in the manner of Alcibiades, which delighted."

Diplomatic and political career

Lord Clanwilliam afterwards joined the Diplomatic Service. He attended Lord Castlereagh's suite at the Congress of Vienna in 1814 and was his private secretary from 1817–19 in the latter's capacity as Foreign Secretary. He was one of the first people to see Castlereagh's widow after his suicide: she embraced him warmly, saying that Castlereagh had loved him. It was he who was largely responsible for the decision to give Lord Castlereagh an official funeral in Westminster Abbey, for which he was criticised by those who believed that Castlereagh's own wish was for a private family funeral. He was one of many witnesses who later testified to Castlereagh's increasingly strange mental condition in the days before his suicide.

He became Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs in 1822 and afterwards Envoy to Berlin from 1823 to 1827. In 1828, he was created Baron Clanwilliam, of Clanwilliam in the County of Tipperary, in the Peerage of the United Kingdom.



Lord Clanwilliam married Lady Elizabeth Herbert, daughter of George Herbert, 11th Earl of Pembroke, on 5 July 1830. He died in 1879 and was succeeded by his eldest son, Richard. His second son, Sir Robert Henry Meade, later achieved distinction as Permanent Under-Secretary of the Colonial Office.


  1. Christopher Hibbert’s, “Wellington – A personal history”, Chapter 42: life at Walmer Castle (1830—50), where Wellington was Lord Warden of the Cinque Ports. The Duke clearly enjoyed his life at Walmer Castle..... One day at Walmer the Duke drove out with Lord Clanwilliam, who had been chef de chancellerie to the Duke’s mission at the Congress of Verona, (The Congress of Verona met at Verona on 20 October 1822 as part of the series of international conferences or congresses that opened with the Congress of Vienna in 1814-15, which had instituted the Concert of Europe at the close of the Napoleonic Wars), horrifying his passenger, a good twenty-five years younger than himself, by the speed at which they hurdled down the narrow country lanes followed by George Gleig who soon lost sight of them. On their return Gleig apologised for the fact that the Duke had left him so far behind. “I thought more than once,” Clanwilliam said, “that he would have left me behind too!”

Chateaubriand, Francois-Rene, Vicomte de. "Memoirs d'outre-tombe." Paris: Nelson, 1911.

External links

Political offices
Preceded by
Joseph Planta
Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs
Succeeded by
Lord Francis Conyngham
Diplomatic posts
Preceded by
British Minister to Prussia
Succeeded by
Sir Brook Taylor
Peerage of Ireland
Preceded by
Richard Meade
Earl of Clanwilliam
Succeeded by
Richard Meade
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