Birthplace: Braelangwell, Cromarty, Scotland
Cause of death: unspecified
Race or Ethnicity: White
Sexual orientation: Straight
Occupation: Diplomat, Publisher
Executive summary: Diplomatic Review
British diplomat and publicist, born at Braelangwell, Cromarty. He came of a good Scottish family and was educated in France, Switzerland and Spain, and then at St. John's College, Oxford. In 1827 he went under Lord Cochrane (Dundonald) to fight for the Greeks in the War of Independence; he was present at the action of the 28th of September when Captain Hastings destroyed the Turkish squadron in the Bay of Salona, and as lieutenant of the frigate "Hellas" he was severely wounded in the attack on Scio. In November 1828 he left the Greek service. In 1830 he privately examined the new Greek frontier as determined by the protocol of March 22, 1829, and the value of his reports to the government led to his being named British commissioner to accompany Prince Leopold of Coburg to Greece, but the appointment fell to the ground with that prince's refusal of the Greek throne.
His knowledge of the local conditions, however, led to his being appointed in November 1831 attache to Sir Stratford Canning (Lord Stratford de Redcliffe), ambassador extraordinary to the sultan, for the purpose of finally deliminating the frontiers of Turkey and Greece. On his return to England he published in 1833 Turkey and its Resources, a violent denunciation of Russia. In 1833 he was sent on a secret mission to Turkey to inquire into possible openings for British trade, and at Constantinople he gained the complete confidence of the Turkish government. The situation, however, was a delicate one, and Urquhart's outspoken advocacy of British intervention on behalf of the sultan against Mehemet Ali, the policy of Stratford Canning, made him a danger to international peace; he was consequently recalled by Lord Palmerston.
At this time appeared his pamphlet England, France, Russia and Turkey, the violent anti-Russian character of which brought him into conflict with Richard Cobden. In 1835 he was appointed secretary of embassy at Constantinople, but an unfortunate attempt to counteract Russian aggressive designs in Circassia, which threatened to lead to an international crisis, again led to his recall in 1837. In 1835, before leaving for the East, he founded a periodical called the Portfolio, and in the first issue printed a series of Russian state papers, which made a profound impression. From 1847 to 1852 he sat in parliament as member for Stafford, and carried on a vigorous crusade against Lord Palmerston's foreign policy. The action of England in the Crimean War provoked indignant protests from Urquhart, who contended that Turkey was in a position to fight her own battles without the assistance of other Powers.
To attack the government, he organized "foreign affairs committees" which became known as "Urquhartite", throughout the country, and in 1855 founded the Free Press (in 1866 renamed the Diplomatic Review), which numbered among its contributors the socialist Karl Marx. In 1860 he published his book on The Lebanon. From 1864 until his death Urquhart's health compelled him to live on the continent, where he devoted his energies to promoting the study of international law. He died on the 16th of May 1877. His wife (Harriet Chichester Fortescue), by whom he had two sons and two daughters, and who died in 1889, wrote numerous articles in the Diplomatic Review over the signature of "Caritas."
To Urquhart is due the introduction into Great Britain of hot-air Turkish baths. He advocated their use in his book called Pillars of Hercules (1850), which attracted the attention of the Irish physician Dr. Richard Baxter (1802-1870), and the latter introduced them in his system of hydropathy at Blarney, Co. Cork. The Turkish baths in Jermyn Street, London, were built under Urquhart's direction.
Wife: Harriet Angelina Fortescue (three sons, two daughters)
Son: William (d. infancy)
University: St. John's College, Oxford University
UK Member of Parliament for Stafford (1847-52)
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