Paget, Henry William (1768–1854), 1st marquis of Anglesey , lord lieutenant of Ireland, was born 15 May 1768 in London, eldest son of Henry Paget, earl of Uxbridge, and his wife Jane, eldest daughter of Arthur Champagné, dean of Clonmacnoise. He had six younger brothers and five sisters. Henry was educated at Westminster School and at Christ Church, Oxford. He sat in the house of commons (1790–96) as member for the Carnarvon boroughs, transferring in 1796 to Milborne Port, which he represented intermittently until 1810. He had a distinguished army career, had risen by 1808 to the rank of lieutenant-general, and saw active service in the Peninsular war. He succeeded his father as earl of Uxbridge in 1812. In 1815 he was ordered to Flanders, where he took command of the cavalry and horse artillery under the duke of Wellington (qv); he was wounded in the knee at Waterloo and his leg had to be amputated. On 4 July he was created marquis of Anglesey in recognition of his military services. He became a general in 1819.
Anglesey joined Canning's cabinet in 1827 as master-general of the ordnance, and was appointed lord lieutenant of Ireland in February 1828. The duke of Wellington had become prime minister (January), committed to resisting the growing campaign for catholic emancipation. Anglesey, who owned a small estate in Ireland, was sympathetic to the catholic cause, and his relations with Wellington and the home secretary, Robert Peel (qv), were strained from the outset. He was also a keen advocate of government action to promote economic development, and became frustrated when most of his proposals were ignored. His public encouragement of the Catholic Association eventually led to his recall in January 1829. His actions, and more particularly the manner of his departure, won him considerable popular support in Ireland.
Anglesey returned to Ireland as lord lieutenant at the close of 1830 as a member of Lord Grey's government. He was keen to conciliate both catholics and protestants, and was annoyed to be greeted by a new campaign of agitation led by Daniel O'Connell (qv), who having achieved catholic emancipation now turned his attention to repeal of the union. With agrarian agitation also on the increase, the government determined to take a firm stand on law-and-order questions. Anglesey issued a series of proclamations suppressing O'Connell's associations, and O'Connell himself was arrested in 1831. Despite growing concern at the state of Ireland, ministers delayed resorting to emergency powers until the beginning of 1833. By this time relations between Anglesey and his chief secretary E. G. Stanley (qv) – who, unlike Anglesey, had a seat in cabinet – had deteriorated to the point where they were barely speaking to one another. Anglesey became increasingly dissatisfied with his position but agreed to stay in Ireland until September 1833.
Convinced that Ireland could not be governed by force alone, Anglesey consistently urged the necessity of ameliorative reforms. He took pride in the establishment of a board of works and national system of elementary education in 1831, but was disappointed that other measures, such as a poor law, were not brought forward. He was capable of perceptive analysis of Ireland's problems, but was impatient, easily discouraged, and also vain and impetuous. He rapidly lost patience with the Irish when they appeared unappreciative of his efforts on their behalf, berating them in his correspondence for ingratitude. He was, Stanley noted, ‘amazingly annoyed’ at the loss of his own popularity in Ireland.
Anglesey served in the ministry of Lord John Russell as master-general of the ordnance (1846–52), and was made field-marshal in 1846. He died on 29 April 1854 and was buried in the family vault in Lichfield cathedral. He married first (1795) Lady Caroline Elizabeth Villiers, third daughter of the earl of Jersey and Frances, daughter of Philip Twysden (d. 1752), bishop of Raphoe. They had three sons and five daughters before divorcing in 1810. He married secondly (1810) Charlotte, daughter of Earl Cadogan, who was herself divorced from Henry Wellesley (later Lord Cowley); they had a further three sons and three daughters. Four portraits of Anglesey (including one by Sir Thomas Lawrence, a copy of which is in the United Services Club in London) are in Plas Newydd, the family seat at Llanfairpwll, Anglesey. His papers as lord lieutenant are in the PRONI.