MALMESBURY, JAMES HARRIS, 1ST EARL OF (1746 1820), English diplomatist, was born at Salisbury on April 21, 1746, who was the son of James Harris, the author of Hermes. Educated at Winchester, Oxford and Leyden, he became secretary in 1768 to the British embassy at Madrid, then minister ad interim, and in 1772 minister plenipotentiary to the court of Prussia. In 1777 he was transferred to the court of Russia, where he made his reputation, for he managed to get on with Catherine in spite of her predilections for France, and steered adroitly through the accumulated difficulties of the first Armed Neutrality. He was made a knight of the Bath in 1778, but in 1782 returned home owing to ill-health, and was appointed by his friend Fox to be minister at The Hague. He furthered Pitt's policy of main taining England's influence on the Continent by the arms of her allies, and held the threads of the diplomacy which ended in the king of Prussia's overthrowing the republican party in Holland, which was inclined to France, and re-establishing the prince of Orange. He was created Baron Malmesbury of Malmesbury (Sept. 1788), and permitted by the king of Prussia to bear the Prussian eagle on his arms, and by the prince of Orange to use his motto "Je maintiendrai." He returned to England, and seceded
from the Whig party with the duke of Portland in 1793; and in that year he was sent by Pitt, but in vain, to try to keep Prussia true to the first coalition against France. In 1794 he was sent to Brunswick to solicit the hand of the unfortunate Princess Caroline for the prince of Wales. In 1796 and 1797 he was at Paris and Lille vainly negotiating with the French Directory. In i800 he was created earl of Malmesbury, and Viscount Fitzharris, of Heron Court in the county of Hants. He was now consulted by successive foreign ministers, trusted by men of the most different ideas in political crises, and was above all the confidant, and for a short time after Pitt's death almost the political director, of Canning. Lord Palmerston, who was his ward, derived many of his ideas on foreign policy from him. Malmesbury died on Nov. 21, 1820, and was succeeded as 2nd earl by his son James Edward (1778-1841), under-secretary for foreign affairs under Canning.
Malmesbury only published an account of the Dutch revolution, and an edition of his father's works, but his important Diaries (1844) and Letters (187o) were edited by his grandson.