Francis Egerton, 1st Earl of Ellesmere

The Right Honourable
The Earl of Ellesmere

Portrait of the Earl of Ellesmere
by Edwin Longsden Long
Chief Secretary for Ireland
In office
21 June 1828  30 July 1830
Monarch George IV
William IV
Prime Minister The Duke of Wellington
Preceded by Hon. William Lamb
Succeeded by Sir Henry Hardinge
Secretary at War
In office
30 July 1830  15 November 1830
Monarch William IV
Prime Minister The Duke of Wellington
Preceded by Sir Henry Hardinge
Succeeded by Charles Watkin Williams Wynn
Personal details
Born 1 January 1800 (1800-01)
Died 18 February 1857 (1857-02-19) (aged 57)
Nationality British
Political party Tory
Spouse(s) Harriet Greville (d. 1866)
Alma mater Christ Church, Oxford

Francis Egerton, 1st Earl of Ellesmere KG, PC (1 January 1800 – 18 February 1857), known as Lord Francis Leveson-Gower until 1833, was a British politician, writer, traveller and patron of the arts.[1][2] Ellesmere Island, a major island (10th in size among global islands) in Nunavut, the Canadian Arctic, was named after him.

Background and education

Ellesmere was the second son of George Leveson-Gower, 1st Duke of Sutherland and his wife, Elizabeth Gordon suo jure 19th Countess of Sutherland. He was born at 21 Arlington Street, Piccadilly, London, on 1 January 1800, and educated at Eton and Christ Church, Oxford.

Political career

Egerton 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 support for the proposal to establish a University of London, also by making and carrying a motion for the endowment of the Roman Catholic clergy in Ireland, and by advocating free trade long before Sir 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 during the last Tory ministry.

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.[3] In 1846 he was raised to the peerage as Earl of Ellesmere, of Ellesmere in the County of Salop, with the subsidiary title Viscount Brackley, of Brackley in the County of Northampton.[4]

Ellesmere was a member of the Canterbury Association from 27 March 1848.[5] In 1849, the chief surveyor of the Canterbury Association, Joseph Thomas, named Lake Ellesmere in New Zealand after him.[5][6][7]

Writings, travels and art patronage

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 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.

A singular exception to the artistic and literary character of Ellesmere's writing efforts lay in the field of military theory. Ellesmere, as a protegé of the Duke of Wellington, became very interested in the historical writings of the Prussian military theorist General Carl von Clausewitz (1789-1831). He was involved in the discussion that ultimately compelled Wellington to write an essay[8] in response to Clausewitz's study of the Waterloo campaign of 1815. Ellesmere himself anonymously published a translation of Clausewitz's The Campaign of 1812 in Russia (London: J. Murray, 1843), a subject in which Wellington was also deeply interested.[9]

Lord Ellesmere was a munificent and yet discriminating patron of artists. To the collection of pictures which he inherited from his great-uncle, the 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 (1849–1852), 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.


On 18 June 1822, he married Harriet Catherine Greville,[10] a great-great-granddaughter of the 5th Baron Brooke. They had eleven children, including:

The family lived at Hatchford Park, Cobham, Surrey, where Lady Ellesmere laid out the gardens.[11] Her mother, Lady Charlotte Greville (née Cavendish-Bentinck) died at Hatchford Park on 28 July 1862, aged 86.[12]

Francis died on 18 February 1857 at his London home, Bridgwater House, St. James' Park; and was succeeded by his first son, George. On the extinction of the senior line of the Dukedom of Sutherland in 1963, his great-great-grandson, the fifth Earl, succeeded as 6th Duke of Sutherland.


  1.  "Egerton, Francis (1800-1857)". Dictionary of National Biography. London: Smith, Elder & Co. 1885–1900.
  2. Public Domain This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Ellesmere, Francis Egerton, 1st Earl of". Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press.
  3. The London Gazette: no. 19079. p. 1589. 27 August 1833.
  4. The London Gazette: no. 20618. p. 2391. 30 June 1848.
  5. 1 2 Blain, Rev. Michael (2007). The Canterbury Association (1848-1852): A Study of Its Members’ Connections (PDF). Christchurch: Project Canterbury. pp. 29–30. Retrieved 21 March 2013.
  6. Reed, A. W. (2010). Peter Dowling, ed. Place Names of New Zealand. Rosedale, North Shore: Raupo. p. 114. ISBN 9780143204107.
  7. Hight, James; C. R. Straubel (1957). A History of Canterbury. Volume I : to 1854. Christchurch: Whitcombe and Tombs Ltd. p. 120.
  8. Wellesley, Arthur. "Memorandum on the Battle of Waterloo." Supplementary Despatches, Correspondence, and Memoranda of Field Marshal Arthur Duke of Wellington, vol. 10. London: John Murray, 1863. 513-531; also in Section VI of Carl von Clausewitz and Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington, On Waterloo: Clausewitz, Wellington, and the Campaign of 1815, ed./trans. Christopher Bassford, Daniel Moran, and Gregory W. Pedlow (, 2010), pp.257-287.
  9. Bassford, Christopher (1994). Clausewitz In English: The Reception of Clausewitz in Britain and America, 1815-1945. New York, London: Oxford University Press. pp. 37–49. ISBN 0195083830.
  10. "Francis Egerton".
  11. "Hatchford Park". Doctor Who locations.
  12. "Harriet Catherine Greville".
Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Marquess of Titchfield
Edward Henry Edwardes
Member of Parliament for Bletchingley
With: Edward Henry Edwardes
Succeeded by
Charles Tennyson
William Russell
Preceded by
George Macpherson-Grant
Member of Parliament for Sutherland
Succeeded by
Sir Hugh Innes, Bt
Preceded by
George Wood
Viscount Molyneux
Member of Parliament for South Lancashire
With: Richard Bootle-Wilbraham 1835–1844
William Entwistle 1844–1846
Succeeded by
William Brown
William Entwistle
Political offices
Preceded by
Lord Stanley
Under-Secretary of State for War and the Colonies
Succeeded by
Horace Twiss
Preceded by
William Lamb
Chief Secretary for Ireland
Succeeded by
Sir Henry Hardinge
Preceded by
Sir Henry Hardinge
Secretary at War
Succeeded by
Charles Watkin Williams-Wynn
Academic offices
Preceded by
Rector of the University of Aberdeen
1841 – Date unknown
Succeeded by
Honorary titles
Preceded by
The Earl of Sefton
Lord Lieutenant of Lancashire
Succeeded by
The Earl of Burlington
Peerage of the United Kingdom
New creation Earl of Ellesmere
Succeeded by
George Egerton
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