Eton College, Windsor, Windsor and Maidenhead SL4 6DW
University of Cambridge, 4 Mill Ln, Cambridge CB2 1RZ
Queen Charlotte's Cottage, Kew Gardens
Sir Arthur Helps KCB HonDCL (10 July 1813 – 7 March 1875) was an English writer and dean of the Privy Council. He was part of the Cambridge Apostles and an early advocate of animal rights.
The youngest son of London merchant Thomas Helps, Arthur Helps was born in Streatham in South London. He was educated at Eton and at Trinity College, Cambridge, coming out thirty-first wrangler in the mathematical tripos in 1835. He was recognized by the ablest of his contemporaries there as a man of superior gifts, and likely to make his mark in later life. As a member of the "Conversazione Society", better known as the Cambridge Apostles, a society established in 1820 for the purposes of discussion on social and literary questions by a few young men attracted to each other by a common taste for literature and speculation, he was associated with Charles Buller, Frederick Denison Maurice, Richard Chenevix Trench, Richard Monckton Milnes, 1st Baron Houghton, Arthur Hallam and Alfred Tennyson. Soon after leaving the university, Arthur Helps became private secretary to Thomas Spring Rice (afterwards Lord Monteagle), then Chancellor of the Exchequer. This appointment he filled until 1839, when he went to Ireland as private secretary to Lord Morpeth (afterwards Earl of Carlisle), Chief Secretary for Ireland. In the meanwhile (28 October 1836) Helps had married Bessy Fuller, daughter of Captain Edward Fuller and Elizabeth Blennerhassett. Bessy's maternal grandfather, Rev. John Blennerhassett of Tralee, Co. Kerry, was the cousin of Harman Blennerhassett. He was one of the commissioners for the settlement of various claims relating to the Gunboat War dating as far back as 1807. In retaliation for the bombardment of Copenhagen, the Danish government had impounded British goods in warehouses, and merchant ships with their cargoes. Although the seizure of goods on land had been settled soon afterwards, the ship-owners were still fruitlessly pursuing their claims for compensation from the British Government as late as 1861. However, with the fall of the Melbourne administration (1841) Helps' official experience closed for a period of nearly twenty years. He bought the Vernon Hill estate near Bishops Waltham, Hampshire, and a private income allowed him to turn to writing books and plays, which he dictated to an amanuensis. He was not, however, forgotten by his political friends. He possessed admirable tact and sagacity; his fitness for official life was unmistakable, and in 1860 he was appointed Clerk of the Privy Council on the recommendation of Lord Granville. This appointment brought him into personal communication with The Queen and The Prince Consort, both of whom came to regard him with confidence and respect. In 1864 he received the honorary degree of DCL from Oxford University. In 1862 he established the Bishops Waltham Clay Company for the manufacture of bricks and terracotta. He was also involved with the Bishops Waltham Railway Company, set up to link the brickworks (and the town) with the main London-Southampton line. However, profits were small and he faced competition from the Staffordshire Potteries. Helps also financed the Coke and Gas works which lit the town from 1864. Helps was also affected by the banking panic of 1866, caused by the failure of Overend, Gurney and Company. It had invested heavily in long-term railway stocks rather than holding cash reserves. The brickworks went into liquidation in 1867, and Helps had to sell the Vernon Hill estate. Queen Victoria in a personal gesture (he had edited a volume of Prince Albert's speeches in 1862) offered him a grace and favour residence in Kew Gardens. He lived for the rest of his life in Queen Charlotte's Cottage, near the main gates. He was made a Companion of the Order of the Bath in 1871 and a Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath in the following year. He died of pleurisy on 7 March 1875.
"Council". Caricature by Ape published in Vanity Fair in 1874.
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