Sue Young Histories

Francis Egerton 1st Earl of Ellesmere 1800 – 1857

January 08, 2010

Francis Egerton 1st Earl of Ellesmere KG, PC 1800 – 1857, known as Lord Francis Leveson Gower until 1833, was a British politician, writer, traveller and patron of the arts, Lord of the Treasury, Chief Secretary for Ireland, Secretary at War, President of the Royal Geographical Society and as President of the Royal Asiatic Society, and  Trustee of the National Gallery,

Ellesmere was an advocate of homeopathy, his family were patients of homeopaths Richard and Robert Verity, and he was a Patron of the Manchester Homeopathic Dispensary,

Ellesmere was the uncle of Hugh Lupus Grosvenor 1st Duke of Westminster, who was the son of Richard Grosvenor Earl Grosvenor 2nd Marquess of Westminster, the nephew of Thomas Egerton 2nd Earl of Wilton, and the nephew of Robert Grosvenor 1st Baron Ebury, the father in law of George Henry Charles Byng 3rd Earl of Strafford, and he was also related to Granville Leveson Gower 1st Earl Granville

  • all staunch advocates of homeopathy,

Ellesmere was the second son of George Leveson Gower 1st Duke of Sutherland and his wife, Elizabeth Countess of Sutherland. He was educated at Eton and Christ Church, Oxford.

Ellesmere entered Parliament in 1822 as member for the pocket borough of Bletchingley in Surrey, a seat he held until 1826. He afterwards sat for Sutherland between 1826 and 1831, and for South Lancashire between 1835 and 1846.

In politics he was a moderate Conservative of independent views, as was shown by his supporting the proposal for establishing the University of London, by his making and carrying a motion for the endowment of the Roman Catholic clergy in Ireland, and by his advocating free trade long before Robert Peel yielded on the question.

Appointed a Lord of the Treasury in 1827, he held the post of Chief Secretary for Ireland from 1828 till July 1830, when he became Secretary at War for a short time.

In 1833 he assumed, by Royal Licence, the surname of Egerton, having succeeded on the death of his father to the estates which the latter inherited from the Francis Egerton 3rd Duke of Bridgewater. In 1846 he was elevated to the peerage as Viscount Brackley, of Brackley in the County of Northampton, and Earl of Ellesmere, of Ellesmere in the County of Salop.Ellesmere’s claims to remembrance are founded chiefly on, his services to literature and the fine arts. Before he was twenty he printed for private circulation a volume of poems, which he followed up after a short interval by the publication of a translation of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe’s Faust, one of the earliest that appeared in England, with some translations of German lyrics and a few original poems.

In 1839 he visited the Mediterranean and the Holy Land. His impressions of travel were recorded in Mediterranean Sketches (1843), and in the notes to a poem entitled The Pilgrimage. He published several other works in prose and verse. His literary reputation secured for him the position of rector of the University of Aberdeen in 1841.

Lord Ellesmere was a munificent and yet discriminating patron of artists. To the collection of pictures which he inherited from his great uncle, the Francis Egerton 3rd Duke of Bridgewater, he made numerous additions, and he built a gallery to which the public were allowed free access.

Lord Ellesmere served as President of the Royal Geographical Society and as President of the Royal Asiatic Society, and he was a Trustee of the National Gallery. He also initiated the collection of the National Portrait Gallery, by donating the Chandos portrait of Shakespeare.

Ellesmere Island was named after him.

On 18 June 1822, he married Harriet Catherine Greville, a great great granddaughter of the Fulke Greville 5th Baron Brooke. They had eleven children, including:

  • Arthur Frederick Egerton (1829-1866), who became Lieutenant Colonel, and married in 1858 Helen Smith, daughter of Martin Tucker Smith and his wife, Louisa Ridley; they had issue;
  • Granville Egerton (c. 1834-1851), who was killed at sea; unmarried, seemingly no issue.

He was succeeded by his son George Egerton 2nd Earl of Ellesmere. On the extinction of the senior line of the Dukedom of Sutherland in 1963, his great great grandson, the fifth Earl, succeeded as John Egerton 6th Duke of Sutherland.

Blanche Egerton 1832 - 1894 Countess of Sandwich, was a sponsor of homeopathy, attending the Fancy Bazaar on 9th - 10th June 1855 at the Royal Cavalry Barracks in Knightsbridge and  another Fancy Bazaar on 9th – 10th June 1858 at the Royal Cavalry Barracks in Knightsbridge in aid of the London Homeopathic Hospital,


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