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Australian Dictionary of Biography

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Camden, first Marquess (1759–1840)

This article was published in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 1, (MUP), 1966

first Marquess Camden (1759-1840), politician, was baptized John Jeffreys Pratt, son of the first Earl Camden (1714-1794), a distinguished lawyer and politician. At Cambridge (M.A., 1779) he became a close friend of William Pitt in Trinity College. In 1780 he was elected to the House of Commons, and in 1782-84 and 1789-94 held junior ministerial posts. In March 1795 he was appointed lord lieutenant of Ireland, after succeeding to the peerage. Here he faced mounting discontent against English rule, which culminated in the rebellion of May 1798. He had followed a policy of repression, and his repeated pleas to be replaced by a soldier were heeded in June, when Camden returned to London to enter the cabinet. In 1801 he resigned with Pitt, but returned to office with his leader in May 1804 when he became secretary of state for war and the colonies. While in office he was impressed by the plans of John Macarthur for breeding fine-woolled sheep in New South Wales. He obtained permission for Macarthur to take to the colony sheep bought from the King's flock of Spanish merinos at Windsor, and he ordered Governor Philip Gidley King to give extensive land grants in the Cowpastures to Macarthur and to Walter Davidson; thus in due course he came to have his name perpetuated by the town of Camden in New South Wales. Before he resigned in July 1805 he was responsible for the appointment of Governor William Bligh to succeed King. In 1805-06 and 1807-12 he was lord president of the council. In 1812 he was created Marquis Camden and earl of Brecknock, and died in 1840.

Citation details

'Camden, first Marquess (1759–1840)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1966, accessed online 27 October 2020.

This article was first published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 1, (MUP), 1966

View the front pages for Volume 1

© Copyright Australian Dictionary of Biography, 2006-2020

Life Summary [details]

Alternative Names
  • Brecknock, first Earl of
  • Pratt, John Jeffreys
  • Camden, second Earl




Cultural Heritage