George Otto Trevelyan

From Academic Kids

Sir George Otto Trevelyan, Bt (20 July 1838 - 17 August 1928) was an English statesman and author and the only son of Sir Charles Trevelyan.


Early Career

He was born at Rothley Temple, Leicestershire. His mother was Lord Macaulay's sister. He was educated at Harrow and at Trinity College, Cambridge where he was President of the Cambridge Union Society. In 1861 he wrote his Horace at the University of Athens, a topical drama in verse, parts of which are said to have offended Whewell and lost Trevelyan a fellowship. The following year he went out as a civil servant to India, where he spent several years. During his stay he contributed "Letters of a Competition Wallah" to Macmillan's Magazine (republished 1864). Cawipore, an account of that terrible tragedy, was published in 1865. During the same year he was elected as a Liberal MP for Tynemouth. In 1867 he wrote The Ladies in Parliament, a humorous political brochure in verse. At the general election of 1868 he was returned for the Hawick burghs, which he continued to represent until 1886.


When the first Gladstone ministry was formed, in December 1868, Trevelyan was appointed civil lord of the Admiralty, but resigned in July 1870 on a point of conscience connected with the government Education Bill. He advocated a sweeping reform of the army, including the abolition of the purchase of commissions, and both in and out of parliament he was the foremost supporter for many years of the extension of the county franchise. In the session of 1874 he brought forward his Household Franchise (Counties) Bill, which was lost on the second reading; it was not till ten years later that the agricultural laborer was enfranchized. Among other causes which he warmly supported were women's suffrage, a thorough reform of metropolitan local government, and the drastic reform or abolition of the House of Lords. He was also in favor of the direct veto and other temperance legislation. In 1876 he published The Life and Letters of Lord Macaulay, and in 1880 he published The Early History of Charles James Fox. In the latter year he was appointed parliamentary secretary to the Admiralty. This office he held until May 1882, when, after the assassination of Lord Frederick Cavendish, he became for two years Chief Secretary for Ireland. From November 1884 to June 1885 he was Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster. In February 1886 he became Secretary for Scotland, but resigned in March over Home Rule. The same year he succeeded his father in the baronetcy. At the general election of 1886 Sir George Trevelyan lost his seat for Hawick. As a representative of the Unionist party he took part in the Round Table Conference, and, being satisfied with the modifications made by Gladstone in his Home Rule scheme, he formally rejoined the Liberal party. In August 1887 he re-entered the House of Commons as member for the Bridgeton division of Glasgow; and from 1892 to 1895 he was again Secretary for Scotland. Early in 1897 he resigned his seat in parliament and retired into private life.


In 1899 he published the first volume of a History of the American Revolution, which was completed (3 vols.) in 1905; in the latter year, as Interludes in Prose and Verse, he republished his early classical jeux d'esprit and Indian pieces. He had married in 1869 Caroline Philips, whose father was MP for Bury. His eldest son, Charles Philips Trevelyan (b. 1870), became Liberal M.P. for the Elland division of Yorkshire in 1899, and in 1908 was appointed parliamentary secretary to the Board of Education. The third son, George Macaulay Trevelyan (b. 1876), became well known as a brilliant historical writer, notably with two books on Garibaldi (1907 and 1909) and his Life of John Bright (1911).


Preceded by:
The Lord Frederick Cavendish
Chief Secretary for Ireland
Succeeded by:
Henry Campbell-Bannerman
Preceded by:
John George Dodson
Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster
Succeeded by:
Henry Chaplin
Preceded by:
The Duke of Richmond
Secretary for Scotland
Succeeded by:
The Earl of Dalhousie
Preceded by:
The Marquess of Lothian
Secretary for Scotland
Succeeded by:
The Lord Balfour of Burleigh

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