Sent to American by his father, formed close ties with several United States banking houses. Returned to England, became head of firm, 1810. Member Parliament for Taunton, 1806-1826, for Callington, 1826-1831, Thetford, 1831-1832, North Essex, 1832-1835.
Strong antagonist of reform. Chancellor of exchequer, 1832. President of the board trade and master of mint, 1834.
Created 1st baron of Ashburton, 1835. Sent to the United States to conclude Webster-Ashburton Treaty (provided compromise settling N.E boundary of Maine, extradition regulations, mutual suppression of slave-trade off African coast), 1842. Disapproved free-trade projects of Robert Peel, opposed Charter Act of 1844.
Trustee British Museum, National Gallery. Author: An Enquiry into the Causes and Consequences of the Orders in Council, 1808. The Financial and Commercial Crisis Considered, 1847.