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This article was written by George Fisher Russell Barker and was published in 1891
George William Frederick Howard, eldest son of George Howard, sixth earl of Carlisle, by his wife, Lady Georgiana Dorothy Cavendish, eldest daughter of William, fifth duke of Devonshire, was born in Hill Street, Berkeley Square, London, on 18 April 1802, and was educated at Eton. He matriculated at Christ Church, Oxford, on 15 October 1819, and in 1821 obtained the university prizes for Latin and English verse respectively. He took a first class in classics in the following year, and graduated B.A. 1823, M.A. 1827. On the death of his grandfather in September 1825 his father succeeded as the sixth earl, while he himself became known by the courtesy title of Lord Morpeth.
In 1826 he accompanied his uncle William, sixth duke of Devonshire, on his mission to St. Petersburg to attend the coronation of Emperor Nicholas. While abroad he was returned at the general election in June 1826 for the borough of Morpeth in the whig interest. In a maiden speech on 5 March 1827 he seconded Sir Francis Burdett's resolution for the relief of the Roman catholic disabilities, and in April 1830 he supported Robert Grant's motion for leave to bring in a bill for the repeal of Jewish disabilities. At the general election in August 1830 Morpeth was returned at the head of the poll for Yorkshire, and in March 1831 spoke in favour of the ministerial Reform Bill, which he described as ‘a safe, wise, honest, and glorious measure’. At the general election in May 1831 he was again returned for Yorkshire, and in the succeeding general election in December of the following year was elected one of the members for the West Riding, which constituency he continued to represent until the dissolution in June 1841.
In February 1835 Morpeth proposed an amendment to the address, which was carried against the government by a majority of seven, and upon the formation of Lord Melbourne's second administration in April 1835 he was appointed chief secretary for Ireland. His re-election for the West Riding was unsuccessfully opposed by the Hon. J. S. Wortley (afterwards second Baron Wharncliffe) in the tory interest. On 20 May 1835 Morpeth was admitted to the English privy council, and in the following month introduced the Irish Tithe Bill in a speech which raised his reputation in the house. He held the difficult post of chief secretary for Ireland for more than six years during the lord-lieutenancies of the Marquis of Normanby and Earl Fortescue. During this time he carried through the House of Commons the Irish Tithe Bill, the Irish Municipal Reform Bill, and the Irish Poor Law Bill, and showed, contrary to expectation, that he was perfectly able to hold his own in the stormy debates of the day. He treated the Irish party with considerable tact, and did his best to carry out the policy initiated by Thomas Drummond (1797-1840). Morpeth was admitted to the cabinet in February 1839, upon the retirement of Charles Grant, afterwards created Baron Glenelg. At the general election in July 1841 he was defeated in the West Riding, and in September resigned office with the rest of his colleagues.
Shortly afterwards Morpeth spent a year in North America and Canada. During his absence he was nominated a candidate for the city of Dublin at a by-election in January 1842, but was defeated by his tory opponent. At a by-election in February 1846 he was returned unopposed for the West Riding, and upon the downfall of Sir Robert Peel's second administration in June 1846 was appointed chief commissioner of woods and forests (7 July) with a seat in Lord John Russell's first cabinet. He was sworn in as lord-lieutenant of the East Riding on 22 July 1847, and at the general election in the following month was once more returned for the West Riding, this time with Richard Cobden as a colleague.
In February 1848 Morpeth reintroduced his bill for promoting the public health, which became law at the close of the session (11 & 12 Vict. c. 63). On the death of his father in October 1848 Morpeth succeeded as the seventh earl of Carlisle, and took his seat in the House of Lords on 1 February 1849. On the appointment of Lord Campbell as lord chief justice of England, Carlisle became chancellor of the duchy of Lancaster (6 March 1850). On the accession of Lord Derby to power in February 1852 Carlisle resigned office. He was installed rector of the university of Aberdeen on 31 March 1853, and in the following summer began a twelve-month's continental trip.
On 7 February 1855 Carlisle was invested with the order of the Garter, and in the same month was appointed by Lord Palmerston lord-lieutenant of Ireland. He retained this office until February 1858, and resumed it on Palmerston's return to office in June 1859. Ill-health compelled his final retirement in October 1864. He died at Castle Howard on 5 December 1864, aged 62, and was buried in the family mausoleum. He never married, and was succeeded by his brother, the Hon. and Rev. William George Howard, rector of Londesborough, Yorkshire. Carlisle was able and kind-hearted, with cultivated tastes and great fluency of speech. Without commanding abilities or great strength of will, his gentleness endeared him to all those with whom he came into contact. As lord-lieutenant he devoted his efforts to improve the agriculture and manufactures of Ireland, and was successful and popular there.
Carlisle presided at the Shakespeare tercentenary at Stratford-on-Avon in April 1864. He took a great interest in mechanics' institutes, and established a reformatory upon his own estate at Castle Howard. He was the author of a number of works. Carlisle was a frequent contributor in prose and verse to the annuals of the day, and delivered a number of addresses and lectures. His ‘Lectures and Addresses in Aid of Popular Education,’ &c., form the twenty-fifth volume of the ‘Travellers Library’, while his ‘Vice-regal Speeches and Addresses, Lectures, and Poems’ were collected and edited by J. J. Gaskin. A collection of his poems, ‘selected by his sisters,’ was published in 1869, while a volume of ‘Extracts from [his] Journals’ was prepared, for private circulation, by his sister, Lady Caroline Lascelles. Carlisle wrote a preface for Mrs. Stowe's ‘Uncle Tom's Cabin’.
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