Derby, Edward Henry Stanley, Fifteenth Earl of
- Derby, Edward Henry Stanley, Fifteenth Earl of
British Foreign Secretary under Benjamin Disraeli and Colonial Secretary under William Gladstone. The son of the 14th Earl of Derby, he served in his father’s 1858 cabinet as the first secretary of state for India after the abolition of East India Company rule. When the Tories came back into office with Disraeli’s large majority of 1874, Derby became foreign secretary, as he had been under his father in 1866–1868. He became alarmed at the risks of war that Disraeli was taking in his confrontation with Russia during the eastern crisis of 1876–1878, and resigned from the Cabinet.
Reversing his father’s path, he moved back to the Liberals and served as colonial secretary under Gladstone from 1882–1885, in which capacity he must bear some responsibility for negotiating the London Convention of 1884 with the Afrikaner republics, leaving their precise status a topic of later contention and eventually war in 1899. When Liberals split over Home Rule, Derby followed the Unionists, and was Liberal Unionist leader in the House of Lords until 1891.
Blake, Robert. Disraeli. New York: St. Martin’s, 1967;
Vincent, John, ed. Disraeli, Derby and the Conservative Party. Hassocks: Harvester Press, 1978.
MARK F. PROUDMAN
Encyclopedia of the Age of Imperialism, 1800–1914.
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