More Help Needed 17

I continue unabashed to get readers of this blog to help with the research for my new book. Problem is, you have such an incredible store of knowledge, I can’t avoid the temptation to exploit it.

Can anyone trace the genealogical relationship between Lord Auckland, author of the disastrous 1839 invasion of Afghanistan, and Anthony Eden, author of the disastrous invasion of Suez? I am pretty sure there is one.

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17 thoughts on “More Help Needed

  • Iain Overton

    As I am sure you know, the Barons Auckland were members of the Eden family.

    So the first Baron was the third son of Sir Robert Eden, 3rd Baronet, of West Auckland.

    His younger brother was Morton Eden, 1st Baron Henley while his elder brother was Sir Robert Eden, 1st Baronet, of Maryland.

    Sir Robert Eden was the great-great-grandfather of Prime Minister Anthony Eden, 1st Earl of Avon. Antony Eden was the younger son of Sir William Eden, whose great-grandfather was Sir Robert.

    Eden was born in Baron Auckland.

  • craig Post author

    Thanks Joe – hadn’t thought it would be that simple. What a disastrous family! I wonder if any are back in power or influence with the present bunch of Tories.

    I am trying to work out if the Auckland in question was gay. The problem is that I am worried that I am going down that path because of homophobic stereotypes about his character, – weak, dominated by his sisters and his private secretaries. But it is very strange for a very wealthy Earl not to marry for dynastic reasons. His carting of his sisters round the world with him is strange too – they seemed to have powerful sibling relationships that precluded marriage, but I haven’t come across a suggestion of incest. But people are not usually completely asexual beings. Not sure what I think yet.

  • Tim

    You are getting too wrapped up in the 21st century. Aukland certainly was not “gay” in the current sense of the term, which is a social construct of the late 20th century. He might have been a (repressed) homosexual, but that is something rather different and in the Victorian era would have expressed itself very differently. In any case, is it at all relevant to how he governed India? Unless you argue that he was infatuated by Shah Shuja, spurned by Dust Mohammed, or just needed to win imperial glory to compensate for a likely lack of offspring?
    A wealthy bachelor carting around his unmarried sisters to run his household was a lot more normal in the 19th century than now. If you ignore a few scandalous examples, like Lady Hester Stanhope, it was also about the only way a single woman could travel semi-independently and have a role in public life.

  • craig Post author


    I am not sure I agree with you. Very few humans are entirely asexual. I suspect human sexual practice has changed very little; what does change is what can be acknowledged. There is, for example, a massive gap between the actual sex lives of Iran’s elite and what is official policy, and I include those inside government. Just as there has always been a great difference in all religons with particular strictures on the sex life of clergy, between theory and practice.

    I grew ip in a small rural environment which had not changed much since Victorian times in many ways – it was certainly decades behind changing mores in London. There were a number of genteel confirmed bachelors in town who nobody ever mentioned might be gay; it was only forty years after the event that I realised from very elderly relatives that everyone presumed they were, but the very existence of such things was just never ever referred to.

    Masturbation was also greatly frowned on by the Victorians. You seem to believe the apparent front of Victorian society was entirely real. Are you seriously contending that Auckland and his sisters never had a sexual partner or an orgasm? As I said, I just do not believe it has ever been anything other than extremely extraordinary for human beings to be asexual.

    You are also ignoring the very strong pressures on an Earl to father a child for dynastic reasons – unless Auckland had a positive aversion to the opposite sex, it seems to me very strange he did not marry. It would be interesting to see how many senior aristocrats in this period never married, – I strongly suspect very few – even less that had no known mistress.

  • Tim

    I might not have been clear, I am not saying Aukland was asexual, though I doubt that sex was as important to him as it clearly is to you. I am not qualified to get into a psycho-sexual discussion, but I suspect like you that human sexual urges have not changed greatly over centuries (eg the old Italian joke about a Priest being a man who is called father by everyone except his own children).
    What has changed are social attitudes to sexuality, and its relevance to the public sphere. Aukland was young during the Regency, which was hardly “Victorian” in its sexual attitudes. King William IV, who appointed Aukland Viceroy, never married and even if he was being faithful to the mother of his 10 illegitimate children, that reason ceased with her death in 1816. Oscar Wilde, perhaps the proto-typical “gay” fathered two children, and Baden Powell, a more classic study in Victorian sexual attitudes to male friendship, fathered three – so I don’t think Aukland’s sexual urges (or lack) can be deduced from a lack of children.
    What I was actually interested in was why you seemed to think Aukland’s sexuality was relevant to the story.

  • Tim

    OOPs cut the bit about William not being married – he did wait until the mistress was dead though.

  • Tim

    Going back to the original subject, and referring back to one of your earlier posts, there seems to be some doubt that the genealogical relationship is actually a blood relationship (see wiki on Anthony Eden’s parentage).

  • craig Post author


    Interesting last point.

    As to why I am interested about Auckland’s sexuality, it is partly because Burnes’ sexuality is very much part of the story, being traditionally blamed as a cause of the insurrection. I have to tackle Burnes’ sexual behaviour, and why he never married. Auckland is the only other major player in this story who wasn’t married. Palmerston was a notorious shagger…

    Also, there seems to be general agreement among historians, both contemporary and current, that Auckland’s weak and vacillating character was a major factor in a series of dreadful decisions. So it is necessary to consider his personality and that must include that he was, unusually for a man in his position, unmarried.

  • christonabike

    Jesus, since when do ‘weak’ and ‘homosexual’ go together?

    Get a grip!

  • Scouse Billy

    O/T but of note – first legal action against NATO over Libyan bombings:

    “Attorneys have filed a civil lawsuit in Belgium accusing NATO of killing 13 civilians, including 3 children, by bombing a residential compound of a former government official in Libya.

    Marcel Ceccaldi, a Paris-based lawyer, said Thursday he also has asked the Brussels District Court to send two experts to Libya to assess physical and psychological damage from the attack near Tripoli in June so that he can determine what monetary compensation to seek from NATO.”

  • craig Post author


    They don’t – that’s what I say in my comment near the top of the thread about homophobic stereotypes.

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