A study of the life and public career of Frederick Howard, fifth Earl of Carlisle, 1748-1825
The fifth Earl of Carlisle's name appears regularly in works dealing with English political history of the later eighteenth century, but our knowledge of his life and works is nevertheless scanty. Accordingly this thesis seeks to furnish a fairly complete picture of Lord Carlisle, placing special emphasis on his contribution to politics and dealing at some length with his public offices, in particular his position on the Peace Commission which went to America in 1778, his presidency of the Board of Trade from 1779 to 1780, and his viceroyalty of Irelcud from 1780 to 1782. His official life, however, was brief, but contrary to received opinion it will appear in this thesis that for the rest of his life he was by no means politically inactive. Liberating himself to some extent from the influence of more powerful political characters, he deliberately refused office on several occasions and seems to have established himself consciously as a disinterested independent. Such a condition, especially in an aristocratic context, has received little attention from historians, preoccupied with the growth or collapse of party. Aside from politics, some time has also been spent on Carlisle's involvement in local politics and in other traditional practices of the time, and where possible these have been used to illustrate his political attitudes. In particular, for example, there was a direct correlation between his estimation of the value of local political influence and his conception of the structure of politics at Westminster. Finally, it is not claimed in this thesis that Carlisle was an historically influential figure in the official political establishment of his day. Independents do not seek political power. But it is suggested that he was uncommon in his conscious independence, and that he was probably only one of a more numerous body of principled independents than is generally acknowledged.