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PHILIP HENRY STANHOPE

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Originally appearing in Volume V25, Page 775 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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PHILIP HENRY STANHOPE, 5th EARL STANHOPE (1805-1875) English historian, better known as Lord Mahon, son of the 4th earl and his wife, the daughter of the 1st Baron Carrington, was born on the 3oth of January 1805. He took his degree at Christ Church, Oxford, in 1827, and entered parliament in 183o. He was under secretary for foreign affairs for the early months of 1835, and secretary to the India Board in 1845, but though he remained in the House of Commons till 1852, he made no special mark in politics. He was chiefly interested in literature and antiquities, and in 1842 took a prominent part in passing the Copyright Act. He was a trustee of the British Museum, and in 1856 he proposed the foundation of a National Portrait Gallery; its subsequent creation was due to his executors. It was mainly due to him that in 1869 the Historical Manuscripts Commission was started. As president of the Society of Antiquaries (from 1846 onwards), it was he who called attention in England to the need of supporting the excavations at Troy. And in 1855 he founded the Stanhope essay prize at Oxford. Of his own works the most important are his Life of Belisarius (1829); History of the War of Succession in Spain (1832), largely based on the first earl's papers; History of England from the Peace of Utrecht to the Peace of Versailles (1836-1853); Life of William Pitt (1861-1862); and History of England, comprising the reign of Queen Anne until the Peace of Utrecht (187o). A new edition of this last work was published in 1908. The two histories and the Life of Pitt are of great importance on account of Stanhope's unique access to manuscript authorities, and they remain standard works; and though here and there he has been found to give credit for too much to Lord Chatham, his industry, clear though not brilliant style, and general impartiality in criticism, have been deservedly praised. His position as an historian was already established when he succeeded to the earldom in 1855, and in 1872 he was made an honorary associate of the Institute of France. He was president of the Literary Fund from 1863 until his death. He died on the 24th of December 1875, being succeeded as 6th earl by his son Arthur Philip (1838-19o5), father of the 7th earl. His second son, Edward Stanhope (1840-1893), was a well-known Conservative politician, who filled various important offices, and was finally secretary of state for war (1886-1892).
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