Sylvain Van de Weyer

Jean-Sylvain Van de Weyer (19 January 1802 23 May 1874) was a Belgian politician who served as the Belgian Minister at the Court of St. James's, effectively the ambassador to the United Kingdom, and briefly, the 8th Prime Minister of Belgium, all under King Leopold I.

Sylvain Van de Weyer
8th Prime Minister of Belgium
In office
30 July 1845  31 March 1846
MonarchLeopold I
Preceded byJean-Baptiste Nothomb
Succeeded byBarthélémy de Theux de Meylandt
Belgian Ambassador to England
In office
MonarchLeopold I, Leopold II
William IV, Queen Victoria
Personal details
Born(1802-01-19)19 January 1802
Leuven, France
(now Belgium)
Died23 May 1874(1874-05-23) (aged 72)
London, United Kingdom
Political partyLiberal Party
Elizabeth Anne Sturgis Bates
(m. 1839)
Alma materState University of Leuven

Early life

Monsr. & Madame Van de Weyer, in the 1860s.

Van de Weyer was born in Louvain (Leuven) on 19 January 1802. He was the son of Josse-Alexandre Van de Weyer (1769–1838) and Françoise Martine (née Goubau) Van de Weyer (1780–1853). He was the grandson of Jean-Baptiste (or Jean-Sylvain) Van de Weyer, who was from a bourgeois family of Bautersem, and Josse Goubeau, commissaire de police de la quatrième section de Bruxelles.[1]

In 1811, his family relocated to Amsterdam. The family returned to Leuven when his father was named police commissioner for the city. Jean-Sylvain studied law at the State University of Louvain and set up as a lawyer in Brussels in 1823.


As a lawyer, he frequently defended newspapers and journalists that had fallen foul of the government of the United Kingdom of the Netherlands, of which modern Belgium then formed the southern half.

On the outbreak of the Belgian Revolution in 1830, Van de Weyer was in Leuven, but hurried to Brussels where he became a member of the central committee of the Provisional Government of Belgium.[2] His command of the English language resulted in him serving as a diplomatic representative of the revolutionaries. In 1831, King Leopold I appointed Van de Weyer his "special representative" in London.[3] The King at the time was William IV, who reigned from 1830 to 1837, when his niece became Queen Victoria who reigned until January 1901. During his tenure as Minister in London, Van de Weyer became a "beloved and honoured friend of the royal family," as was his wife, who became close to the Queen and comforted her after the death of Albert, Prince Consort.[4]

Van de Weyer later served as the 8th Prime Minister of Belgium, succeeding Jean-Baptiste Nothomb. He was Vice-President of the London Library from 1848 till his death in 1874.[5]

Personal life

In 1839, he was married to Elizabeth Anne Sturgis Bates (1817–1878), the only daughter of Joshua Bates of Barings Bank, and formerly of Boston.[7] Her brother was William Rufus Gray Bates, who died young.[8] Together, they had two sons and five daughters, who were brought up in Marylebone and on their country estate at New Lodge in the parish of Winkfield in Berkshire.

Van de Weyer died on 23 May 1874 in London, England.[13]


Through his son Victor, he was the grandfather of Major William John Bates van de Weyer (1870–1946), who was responsible for Buddleja × weyeriana. William married Hon. Olive Elizabeth Wingfield, eldest daughter of Mervyn Wingfield, 7th Viscount Powerscourt.[14][15]

Through his daughter Alice, he was the grandfather of Ruth Brand (d. 1967), who married John Dodson, 2nd Baron Monk Bretton (parents of John Dodson, 3rd Baron Monk Bretton); Lt.-Col. John Charles Brand (1885–1929), who married Lady Rosabelle Millicent St. Clair-Erskine, the daughter of James St Clair-Erskine, 5th Earl of Rosslyn.

Through his youngest daughter, he was the grandfather of Oliver Sylvain Baliol Brett, 3rd Viscount Esher (1881–1963);[16] Maurice Vyner Baliol Brett (1882–1934),[17] who married the famous musical theatre actress Zena Dare;[18] Dorothy Brett (1883–1977), who was a painter and member of the Bloomsbury Group;[19] and Sylvia Brett (1885–1971), who became the last Ranee of Sarawak on 24 May 1917, following the proclamation of her husband Charles Vyner Brooke as Rajah.[20]



  1. "VAN DE WEYER Jean-Sylvain (1802-1874)". (in Belgian). Chambre des représentants de Belgique. Retrieved 19 February 2019.CS1 maint: unrecognized language (link)
  2. Weyer, Sylvain Van de (1831). A Letter on the Belgic Revolution: Its Origin, Causes, and Consequences. T.C. Hansard. p. 5. Retrieved 19 February 2019.
  3. "Van de Weyer, Elizabeth Anne Sturgis Bates, 1817-1878. | Library Company of Philadelphia Digital Collections". The Library Company of Philadelphia. Retrieved 19 February 2019.
  4. Archer, Thomas (1888). Our Sovereign Lady Queen Victoria: Her Life and Jubilee. Blackie. p. 68. Retrieved 19 February 2019.
  5. Juste, Théodore (1871). Les fondateurs de la monarchie belge: Sylvain van de Weyer, ministre d'état ... d'après des documents inédits (in French). Trübner. Retrieved 19 February 2019.
  6. (RCIN 2809757)
  7. Tribute of Boston Merchants to the Memory of Joshua Bates: October, 1864. J. Wilson and Son. 1864. Retrieved 19 February 2019.
  8. Chambers, Lee V. (2014). The Weston Sisters: An American Abolitionist Family. UNC Press Books. p. 189. ISBN 9781469618180. Retrieved 19 February 2019.
  9. Burke, Bernard (1898). A Genealogical and Heraldic History of the Landed Gentry of Great Britain & Ireland. Harrison & Sons. p. 1512. Retrieved 19 February 2019.
  10. Lodge, Edmund (1892). The Peerage and Baronetage of the British Empire as at Present Existing: Arranged and Printed from the Personal Communications of the Nobility ... Hurst and Blackett, Limited. p. 301. Retrieved 19 February 2019.
  11. Clune, David; Turner, Ken (2009). The Governors of New South Wales 1788-2010. Federation Press. p. 373. ISBN 9781862877436. Retrieved 19 February 2019.
  12. Eade, Philip (2014). Sylvia, Queen of the Headhunters: An Eccentric Englishwoman and Her Lost Kingdom. Picador. p. 20. ISBN 9781250045904. Retrieved 19 February 2019.
  13. Venn, John (2011). Alumni Cantabrigienses: A Biographical List of All Known Students, Graduates and Holders of Office at the University of Cambridge, from the Earliest Times to 1900. Cambridge University Press. p. 276. ISBN 9781108036160. Retrieved 19 February 2019.
  14. Mosley, C. (Ed.). (2003).Burke's Peerage, Baronetage & Knightage, 107th edition. Vol. 1, p. 1130. Burke's Peerage (Genealogical Books) Ltd., Wilmington, Delaware, USA.
  15. Townend, P. (Ed.). Burke's Genealogical and Heraldic History of the Landed Gentry, 18th edition. Vol. 1, p. 686. Burke's Peerage Ltd, 1965-1972, London, England.
  16. Mosley, Charles (2003). Burke's Peerage, Baronetage & Knightage, 107th edition, 3 volumes. Wilmington, Delaware, U.S.A: Burke's Peerage (Genealogical Books) Ltd. p. 1344. Retrieved 19 February 2019.
  17. "MAURICE BRETT DIES; LIBRARIAN OF MUSEUM; Edited the Papers of Viscount Esher Wife Ad in Play, Ignorant of Death" (PDF). The New York Times. 20 August 1934. Retrieved 19 February 2019.
  18. "CAPT. BRETT WEDS ZENA DARE Son of Viscount Esher and Actress Secretly Married In London" (PDF). The New York Times. 27 January 1911. Retrieved 19 February 2019.
  19. "Dorothy Brett". The New York Times. 29 September 1977. Retrieved 19 February 2019.
  20. "Lady Brooke, Ranee of Sarawak Until Its '46 Secession, Is Dead". The New York Times. 23 November 1971. Retrieved 19 February 2019.
  21. British and Foreign State Papers, Volume 57, p. 33
Political offices
Preceded by
Jean-Baptiste Nothomb
Prime Minister of Belgium
Succeeded by
Barthélémy de Theux de Meylandt
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