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Lord Francis Leveson (later Francis Egerton), first Earl of Ellesmere (1800-1857)

This article was written by George Clement Boase and was published in 1888

EgertonFrancis Egerton, statesman and poet, was born at 21 Arlington Street, Piccadilly, London, on 1 January 1800. He was the younger son of George Granville Leveson-Gower, second marquis of Stafford, who was created Duke of Sutherland in 1833, the year of his death, by Elizabeth, countess of Sutherland, only daughter of William Gordon, seventeenth earl of Sutherland.

Francis was at Eton from 1811 to 1814, when he proceeded to Christ Church, Oxford. On 6 August 1819 he became a lieutenant in the Staffordshire regiment of yeomanry, and was promoted to a captaincy on 27 September in the same year. He was elected M.P. for Bletchingley, Surrey, 19 February 1822, and commenced his public career as a liberal-conservative of the Canning school. He spoke eloquently in behalf of free trade more than twenty years before Sir Robert Peel had embraced that policy; carried in the House of Commons a motion for the endowment of the catholic clergy, and warmly supported the project of the London University.

On 26 June 1826 he became M.P. for Sutherlandshire, was re-elected for that county in 1830, and afterwards sat for South Lancashire in the parliaments in 1835, 1837, 1841, and until July 1846. In the meantime he had held office as a lord of the treasury (April to September 1827), under-secretary of state for the colonies (January to May 1828), chief secretary to the Marquis of Anglesey, lord-lieutenant of Ireland (21 June 1828 to 30 July 1830), and secretary at war (30 July to 30 November 1830). He was named a privy councillor 28 June 1828, and a privy councillor for Ireland 9 August 1828.

At an early age he attempted literature, and in 1823 brought out a poor translation of ‘Faust, a drama, by Goethe, and Schiller's song of the Bell.’ On the death of his father in 1833 he assumed the surname and arms of Egerton alone, 24 August, in the place of his patronymic of Leveson-Gower, and under the will of his uncle, Francis Henry Egerton, eighth earl of Bridgewater, became the owner of a property estimated at £90,000 per annum. At the commemoration at Oxford on 10 June 1834 he was created D.C.L., named a trustee of the National Gallery on 26 February 1835, and rector of King's College, Aberdeen, in October 1838. He spent the winter of 1839 in the East, proceeding in his own yacht to the Mediterranean and the Holy Land. The result of his observations appeared in ‘Mediterranean Sketches,’ 1843. A portion of his wealth was put to a generous use in his support of men of genius and in his building a gallery at his town residence in Cleveland Row, to which the public were very freely admitted, for the magnificent collection of paintings which he had inherited.

On 30 June 1846 he was created Viscount Brackley of Brackley and Earl of Ellesmere of Ellesmere, and on 7 February 1855 was made K.G. He was first president of the Camden Society in 1838, and president of the British Association at Manchester in 1842, of the Royal Asiatic Society in 1849, and of the Royal Geographical Society 1854-1855. He was lord-lieutenant of Lancashire from 1856 to his death. He died at Bridgewater House, London, on 18 February 1857, and was buried at Worsley, near Manchester, on 26 February, where a monument, by G. G. Scott, R.A., was erected in 1860. He married, on 18 June 1822, Harriet Catherine (1800-1866), only daughter of Charles Greville, by Charlotte, eldest daughter of William, third duke of Portland.

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