Grey Ruthven, 2nd Earl of Gowrie

The Right Honourable
The Earl of Gowrie

Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster
In office
11 September 1984  2 September 1985
Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher
Preceded by The Lord Cockfield
Succeeded by Norman Tebbit
Minister of State for the Arts
In office
11 June 1983  2 September 1985
Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher
Preceded by Paul Channon
Succeeded by Richard Luce
Personal details
Born (1939-11-26) 26 November 1939
Political party Conservative
Alma mater Eton College
Balliol College, Oxford
Harvard University

Alexander Patrick Greysteil Ruthven, 2nd Earl of Gowrie, PC, FRSL (born 26 November 1939), usually known as Grey Gowrie, is a Scottish hereditary peer. He was a Conservative Party politician for some years, including a period in the British Cabinet, and was later Chairman of Sotheby's and of the Arts Council of England. He has also published poetry. Lord Gowrie is the hereditary Clan Chief of Clan Ruthven.

Background and education

Ruthven was born in Ireland, the elder son of Major the Honourable Patrick Hore-Ruthven, only surviving son of the 1st Baron Gowrie and his wife Lady Gowrie. His mother was Pamela Margaret Fletcher[1] (who later married Major Derek Cooper.[2] His younger brother is Malise Ruthven. His father was killed in action in 1942, at which point he became his grandfather's heir apparent. When his grandfather, who had been the Governor General of Australia, was created Earl of Gowrie in 1945 he became known by the courtesy title Viscount Ruthven of Canberra. He was educated at Eton and Balliol College, Oxford, and later at Harvard University. He succeeded in the earldom of Gowrie on the death of his grandfather on 2 May 1955, and also succeeded his great-uncle (his grandfather's elder brother) the 10th Lord Ruthven of Freeland as 3rd Baron Ruthven of Gowrie on 16 April 1956 (the Scottish lordship of Ruthven of Freeland passed instead via the female line).[1] Lord Gowrie inherited Castlemartin House and Estate at Kilcullen, County Kildare, Ireland, from his great-aunt Sheelagh Blacker in 1967, and later sold it to Tony O'Reilly.

Political career

Gowrie joined the Conservative front bench under Ted Heath in 1972 as a Lord-in-Waiting, a post he held until 1974. He later served under Margaret Thatcher as Minister of State for Employment between 1979 and 1981, as Minister of State for Northern Ireland between 1981 and 1983 at the Northern Ireland Office. In 1983 he was sworn of the Privy Council and entered the cabinet as Minister for the Arts, which he remained until 1985. He was also Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster between 1984 and 1985.[1] Despite being offered the post of Secretary of State for Education and Science he resigned from the Cabinet in 1985, stating that it was impossible for him to live in London on the £33,000 salary provided for the post.

Later career

After leaving government, he became Chairman of Sotheby's (1985–1994)[1] and later of the Arts Council of England - described as "the appointment of a Scot, born in Ireland and living in Wales". At the Arts Council he secured the role as a distributor of funds from the national lottery and had its Royal Charter renewed.

He is a patron of the Elton John AIDS Foundation.[3]


Lord Gowrie published one volume of poetry in his 20s, after a period working as an assistant to American poet Robert Lowell, and later co-authored a book on British painting, published in 1975. In the summer of 1999, having been diagnosed with a serious heart condition, he checked into Harefield Hospital, and, after a heart transplant, and a long recovery, left hospital in 2000. His health has remained frail since. He became friends with his principal surgeon, Sir Magdi Yacoub, and now chairs the institute named for him. Following his release from hospital, he published his first book of poetry for decades, "The Domino Hymn," which contains references to his illness. He was elected in 2003 a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature [4] In January 2009, Grey Gowrie accepted Farad Azima's invitation to chair the Advisory Board of the Iran Heritage Foundation.


Lord Gowrie married Alexandra Bingley, daughter of Colonel Robert Bingley, on 1 November 1962. They had one son:

Lord Gowrie and Alexandra Bingley were divorced in 1974.[1] He married Adelheid Gräfin von der Schulenburg (b. 24 October 1943), sixth and youngest child and fifth and youngest daughter of Fritz-Dietlof von der Schulenburg (1902-10 August 1944) and his wife Charlotte Kotelmann,[5] on 2 November 1974.


  1. 1 2 3 4 5 Alexander Patrick Greysteil Hore-Ruthven, 2nd Earl of Gowrie
  3. Elton John AIDS Foundation patrons
  4. "Royal Society of Literature All Fellows". Royal Society of Literature. Retrieved 8 August 2010.
  5. Leo van der Pas. "Descendants of Herbert von Bismarck: Generation 21": Part XXI-88 (XX-49-1) and "Descendants of Herbert von Bismarck: Generation 22": XXII-88 (XXI-88-1); this however, mentions only two children out of six, per Countess Elisabeth von der Schulenburg's Daily Telegraph obituary. Count Fritz-Dietlof was himself fourth son (out of five sons) of Count Friedrich von der Schulenburg (d. 1939) by his wife Freda-Marie von Arnim.
Political offices
Preceded by
Harold Walker
Minister of State for Employment
Succeeded by
Michael Alison
Preceded by
Hon. Adam Butler
Minister of State for Northern Ireland
Succeeded by
The Earl of Mansfield
Preceded by
Paul Channon
Minister of State for the Arts
Succeeded by
Richard Luce
Preceded by
The Lord Cockfield
Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster
Succeeded by
Norman Tebbit
Cultural offices
Preceded by
The Lord Palumbo
Chairperson of the Arts Council of England
Succeeded by
Gerry Robinson
Peerage of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Alexander Hore-Ruthven
Earl of Gowrie
Brer Ruthven, Viscount Ruthven of Canberra
Preceded by
Walter Hore-Ruthven
Baron Ruthven of Gowrie
This article is issued from Wikipedia - version of the 9/9/2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.