He was educated at Westminster School and the University of Göttingen, and then studied law at Lincolns Inn, but hardly practised as a barrister.
He hoped to gain office as Under-secretary of State to Charles James Fox, but he was in opposition. Following the French Revolution, he travelled in Europe, visiting Berlin, Vienna, and Street St. Petersburg to study the effects of the revolution and equip himself for a diplomatic career. In 1805, he made a disastrous marriage to Angélique Gabrielle, daughter of the marquis de l"Escuyer d"Hazincourt (known as ‘Talleyrand"s spy’), but this kept him out of office when Fox returned to government.
Instead Fox sent him to Vienna.
In June 1808, George Canning transferred him to Constantinople. He was created a Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath in that year for his services there.
He was appointed a Privy Counsellor in 1828. He was employed in Belgium from 1831 to 1835, where he succeeded in preventing a war between the Flemish and Dutch troops.
He then visited Prussia.
In the 1840s, he published memoirs of his diplomatic activities in the 1800s.
1st United Kingdom Parliament. 2nd United Kingdom Parliament. 3rd United Kingdom Parliament.
4th United Kingdom Parliament.
18th Parliament of Great Britain]
He became Whig Member of Parliament for Appleby (1799–1802) and Camelford (1802-1812).