Sir Paul Methuen PC KB (c. 1672 – 11 April 1757) was an English diplomat and politician.
He was born in Bradford-on-Avon, Wiltshire, the son of John Methuen and his wife Mary Cheevers, daughter of Seacole Cheevers (or Chivers); his parents marriage was unhappy and they separated when he was in his teens. His father inherited the manor of Bishops Cannings, near Devizes. He was educated privately then at a Jesuit school in Paris. He went to Lisbon in 1691, when his father was appointed minister there. He gained valuable experience and the esteem of King Pedro. During two absences of his father he became chargé d'affaires, rising to Minister on his father's appointment as Lord Chancellor of Ireland in 1697. He was unable to prevent a Portuguese-French alliance in 1701. When his father returned to Portugal a special envoy in 1702, they were successful in breaking the alliance in 1703. The led to the Methuen commercial treaty between England and Portugal, the basis of Britain's monopoly of Portuguese trade for much of the 18th century. His father remained in Portugal as ambassador. In 1705, he served with the army, being present at the capture of Gibraltar. On his return to England to obtain military supplies he was appointed Minister to Savoy, but succeeded his father as ambassador to Portugal on the latter's death in July 1706.
He was elected Member of Parliament (MP) for Devizes in 1708. He served there until 1710, then for Brackley from 1713 to 1714 and from 1715 to 1747. He served as a Lord of the Admiralty from 1709 to 1710, and as a Lord of the Treasury from 1714 to 1716, being sworn as a Privy Councillor on 29 October 1714. About the same time, he was briefly ambassador to Spain and Morocco. He became Secretary of State for the Southern Department from 1716–1717, but resigned with Robert Walpole. On the latter's resumption of office, he became Comptroller of the Royal Household in 1720, exchanging that office for Treasurer of the Household in 1725.
He was made a Knight of the Bath by George I in May 1725.
He died, unmarried, in 1757, and was buried in the south aisle of Westminster Abbey, near his father John. His only brother Henry had been killed in a brawl in Lisbon in 1694. His heir was his cousin Paul Methuen, for whom he bought Corsham Court. That Paul's grandson was created Baron Methuen.
Methuen, Massachusetts, was named after him; it is the only community in the world that bears his name.
- Karl Wolfgang Schweizer, ‘Methuen, Sir Paul (c.1672–1757)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, (Oxford University Press, Sept 2004; online edn, Oct 2008) , accessed 3 November 2008.
- G. F. R. Barker, ‘Methuen, John (1650–1706)’, rev. Thomas Doyle, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, (Oxford University Press, 2004; online edn, Oct 2008) , accessed 4 November 2008.
- Burke's Peerage (1939 edition), s.v. Methuen.
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