Elliot was educated at Eton College and then Trinity College, Cambridge. He did not take a degree.
He was most noted for his period as ambassador at Constantinople, and his participation in the 1876-1877 Constantinople Conference. Elliot took a pro-Turkish line despite the ‘Bulgarian atrocities’. He argued in a dispatch he made on 4 September 1876 "that British interests in preventing change in the Turkish empire were "not affected by the question whether it was 10,000 or 20,000 persons who perished in the suppression".
He died at home (Ardington House near Wantage) in 1907.
Elliot"s first proper employment was to work as the aide-de-camp and private secretary to Sir John Franklin in Tasmania. He worked there from 1836 to 1839.
In 1840 he worked at the Foreign Office a précis writer for Lord Palmerston at the Foreign Office. In 1841 Elliot entered the diplomatic service.
His first posting was as an attaché at Street St. Petersburg.
This was followed first, in 1848 by a position as a secretary to the legation at The Hague then in 1853 to Vienna and then in 1858 he was appointed Minister at Copenhagen. Italy In 1859 he was appointed Minister in Naples. This was followed in 1863 by an appointed as Minister to the King of Italy.
This lasted till 1867.
Istanbul In 1867 he was appointed Ambassador at Constantinople. H. C. G. Matthews, in the concluding paragraph of Elliot"s entry in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, notes that: To have annoyed both Salisbury and Gladstone was unusual.
Elliot, in fact, represented the accepted Foreign Office view of his day as to the need to maintain the Porte. His illiberal statements of 1876-1877 should not mask his overall competence in maintaining whiggish objectives of liberal constitutionalism, at least in western Europe.
Elliot"s role as Ambassador to Constantinople was a central theme in a book and British Broadcasting Corporation Four television programme aired 22 February 2010 written and presented by Sir Christopher Meyer, former British Ambassador to the United States. Meyer examined the possibility of an ethical foreign policy.
The programme argued that Elliot supported Turkey because it acted as a bulwark between Russia and the United Kingdom"s interests in the middle-east and India. Elliot"s critics accused him of turning "native" but he argued, and the programme lent support to this view, that there were capital considerations they had not taken into accountant
Hellenic Philological Society of Constantinople.