George Robinson, 1st Marquess of Ripon

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His Excellency The Most Honourable
The Marquess of Ripon
George Robinson 1st Marquess of Ripon.jpg
Lord Ripon in 1880 as Viceroy of India
Leader of the House of Lords
In office
Monarch Edward VII
Prime Minister Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman
Preceded by The Marquess of Lansdowne
Succeeded by The Earl of Crewe
Viceroy and Governor-General of India
In office
Monarch Queen Victoria
Preceded by The Lord Lytton
Succeeded by The Earl of Dufferin
Lord President of the Council
In office
9 December 1868 – 9 August 1873
Monarch Queen Victoria
Prime Minister William Ewart Gladstone
Preceded by The Duke of Marlborough
Succeeded by Henry Bruce
Personal details
Born (1827-10-24)24 October 1827
10 Downing Street, London
Died 9 July 1909(1909-07-09) (aged 81)
Nationality British
Political party Liberal
Spouse(s) Henrietta Vyner (1833–1907)

George Frederick Samuel Robinson, 1st Marquess of Ripon, KG, GCSI, CIE, VD, PC (24 October 1827 – 9 July 1909), styled Viscount Goderich from 1833 to 1859 and known as the Earl of Ripon in 1859 and as the Earl de Grey and Ripon from 1859 to 1871, was a British politician who served in every Liberal cabinet from 1861 until the year before his death, which took place forty-eight years later.

Background and education

Ripon was born at 10 Downing Street, London, the second son of Prime Minister F. J. Robinson, 1st Viscount Goderich (who was created Earl of Ripon in 1833), by his wife Lady Sarah Hobart, daughter of Robert Hobart, 4th Earl of Buckinghamshire. He was educated privately, attending neither school nor college.[1]

He was awarded the honorary degree of DCL by Oxford University in 1870.[2]

Diplomatic and political career, 1852–1880

Ripon served on Sir Henry Ellis' British special mission to the Brussels Conference on the affairs of Italy during 1848–49.[1] Although his father had been a Tory, Ripon was first a Whig and later a Liberal. He entered the House of Commons as member for Hull in 1852.[3] Both he and his party colleague, James Clay,[4] (Hull was a two-seat constituency) were unseated in 1853 by petition over claims of widespread corruption in their election, of which they were exonerated of any knowledge.[4]:49–53 He was returned for Huddersfield later in 1853[5] and the West Riding of Yorkshire in 1857.[6] In 1859 he succeeded his father as second Earl of Ripon, taking his seat in the House of Lords, and later that year succeeded his uncle in the more senior title of Earl de Grey, becoming known as the Earl de Grey and Ripon. He was Under-Secretary of State for War under Lord Palmerston between 1859 and 1861 and 1861 and 1863 and briefly Under-Secretary of State for India in 1861. In 1863 he was made a Privy Counsellor and Secretary of State for War under Palmerston,[7] with a seat in the cabinet. He retained this office when Lord Russell became prime minister on Palmerston's death in 1865, and then served under Russell as Secretary of State for India between February and June 1866. In Gladstone's first administration he was Lord President of the Council (1868–73). During this period he acted as chairman of the joint commission for drawing up the Treaty of Washington with the United States over the Alabama Claims. For this, in 1871 he was created Marquess of Ripon, in the County of York.[8] He had already been made a Knight of the Garter in 1869.[9] In 1878 he served as President of the first day of the Co-operative Congress.[10]

Viceroy of India, 1880–1884

Lord Ripon by George Frederic Watts

When Gladstone returned to power in 1880 he appointed Ripon Viceroy of India,[11] an office he held until 1884. During his time in India, Ripon introduced legislation (the "Ilbert Bill," named for his secretary, Courtenay Ilbert), that would have granted native Indians more legal rights, including the right of Indian judges to judge Europeans in court. Though progressive in its intent, the legislation was scuppered by Europeans living in India who did not want to be tried by a native judge. [12] In this Ripon was supported by Florence Nightingale, who also backed his efforts to obtain a Bengal land tenancy bill (eventually the Bengal Tenancy Act of 1885) that would improve the situation of the peasants.[13]

He was also instrumental in supporting Dietrich Brandis to reorganize the Madras Forest Department and expand systematic forest conservancy in India. He is still revered in Chennai (formerly Madras), India as "Lord Ripon engal appan" meaning: Lord Ripon, our father. The Corporation of Chennai's Ripon Building was named for him, as well as the town of Riponpet in the Shivamogga district in the state of Karnataka. In Calcutta, the Ripon Street was named for him. The Ghanta Ghar Multan or Clock Tower of Multan in Pakistan was named Ripon Building and hall of same building was named Ripon Hall.[citation needed]

Political career, 1884–1908

Lord Ripon also became a supporter of Home Rule for Ireland.[14] In Gladstone's 1886 government he was First Lord of the Admiralty, and in the government of 1892 to 1895 he was Secretary of State for the Colonies.[14] When the Liberals again returned to power in 1905 under Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman, he took office, aged 78, as Lord Privy Seal and Leader of the House of Lords. In 1908, he declined to remain as Lords leader when H. H. Asquith became Prime Minister in April, and he resigned as Lord Privy Seal in October.[14]

As noted by Neil Smith, Ripon’s liberalism had roots in the mid-nineteenth century, but his political views “shifted with the times.” According to Smith

“he was greatly interested in labour questions, deeply sympathetic to labour aspirations and believed the state might interfere with wages and that the state had a duty to deal with unemployment.”[15]

Other appointments

Robinson caricatured in Vanity Fair, 1869

Lord Ripon was President of the Royal Geographical Society during 1859–60, and Trustee of the National Gallery.[1]

Lord Ripon also held many positions in the public life in Yorkshire. In 1860 he was appointed honorary Colonel of the 1st Volunteer Battalion of the Prince of Wales' Own (West Yorkshire) Regiment and later awarded the Volunteer Decoration (VD); in 1863 High Steward of the borough of Hull,[1] and from 1873 to 1906 was Lord Lieutenant of the North Riding of Yorkshire.[16] He was a Deputy-Lieutenant and JP for the counties of Lincolnshire and the West Riding of Yorkshire, JP for the Liberty of Ripon, and served as Mayor of Ripon in 1895–96.[17]

Lord Ripon was a Freemason, who served as Provincial Grand Master of the West Riding and Deputy Grand Master of the United Grand Lodge of England from 1861 to 1869, and ultimately as Grand Master from 1870 until his conversion to Catholicism in 1874,[1] following which he was generous in supporting Catholic educational and charitable works. He was president of the Society of St Vincent de Paul from 1899 until his death and a great supporter of St. Joseph's Catholic Missionary Society.

He was also Chancellor of the University of Leeds from 1904 until his death in 1909.

The Ripon Falls at the outlet of Lake Victoria were named after him.


Lord Ripon married his cousin Henrietta Anne Theodosia Vyner (17 April 1833 – 28 February 1907), daughter of Henry Vyner and his wife Lady Mary Gertrude Robinson, daughter of Thomas Robinson, 2nd Earl de Grey, on 8 April 1851. They had one son and one daughter. Lady Ripon died in February 1907, aged 73. Lord Ripon survived her by two years and died of heart failure at Studley Royal Park[16] in July 1909, aged 81. He was buried at St Mary's, Studley Royal[16] and was succeeded by his only son, Frederick.[16]

Styles of address

British High Commissioners for the 1871 Treaty of Washington. Lord Ripon seated in the centre.
  • 1827–1833: The Hon George Frederick Samuel Robinson
  • 1833–1852: Viscount Goderich
  • 1852–1853: Viscount Goderich MP
  • 1853: Viscount Goderich
  • 1853–1859: Viscount Goderich MP
  • 1859: The Rt Hon. The Earl of Ripon
  • 1859–1860: The Rt Hon. The Earl de Grey and Ripon
  • 1860–1863: The Rt Hon. The Earl de Grey and Ripon VD
  • 1863–1869: The Rt Hon. The Earl de Grey and Ripon VD PC
  • 1869–1871: The Rt Hon. The Earl de Grey and Ripon KG VD PC
  • 1871–1880: The Most Hon. The Marquess of Ripon KG VD PC
  • 1880–1884: His Excellency The Most Hon. The Marquess of Ripon KG GCSI CIE VD PC
  • 1884–1909: The Most Hon. The Marquess of Ripon KG GCSI CIE VD PC


  1. ^ a b c d e White, Geoffrey H., ed. (1949). The Complete Peerage, Volume XI. St Catherine's Press. p. 4. 
  2. ^ Foster, Joseph (1888). Alumni Oxonienses, 1715–1886. Oxford University Press. p. 1213. 
  3. ^ "No. 21338". The London Gazette. 13 July 1852. p. 1947. 
  4. ^ a b Wolf, Lucien (1921). Life of the First Marquess of Ripon. London: John Murray. p. 47. 
  5. ^ "No. 21434". The London Gazette. 26 April 1853. p. 1193. 
  6. ^ "No. 21987". The London Gazette. 10 April 1857. p. 1297. 
  7. ^ "No. 22731". The London Gazette. 1 May 1863. p. 2305. 
  8. ^ "No. 23748". The London Gazette. 20 June 1871. p. 2847. 
  9. ^ "No. 23565". The London Gazette. 14 December 1869. p. 7070. 
  10. ^ Congress Presidents 1869–2002 (PDF), February 2002, archived from the original (PDF) on 28 May 2008, retrieved 10 May 2008 
  11. ^ "No. 24843". The London Gazette. 11 May 1880. p. 2968. 
  12. ^ Cotton, Henry (1904). New India or India in Transition. London: Kegan Paul. p. 4. 
  13. ^ Ghourlay, Jharna (2003). Florence Nightingale and the Health of the Raj. Routledge. ISBN 9781138258549
  14. ^ a b c Denholm, Anthony F. (May 2009) [2004]. "Robinson, George Frederick Samuel, first marquess of Ripon (1827–1909)". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/35792.  (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  15. ^
  16. ^ a b c d White, Geoffrey H., ed. (1949). The Complete Peerage, Volume XI. St Catherine's Press. p. 5. 
  17. ^ Kelly's Handbook of the Titled, Landed and Official Classes 1909. Kelly's. p. 1386. 

External links

  • Hansard 1803–2005: contributions in Parliament by the Marquess of Ripon
Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Matthew Talbot Baines
James Clay
Member of Parliament for Kingston upon Hull
With: James Clay
Writ suspended
Title next held by
William Henry Watson
William Digby Seymour
Preceded by
William Rookes Crompton Stansfield
Member of Parliament for Huddersfield
Succeeded by
Edward Akroyd
Preceded by
Richard Cobden
Edmund Beckett Denison
Member of Parliament for the West Riding of Yorkshire
With: Edmund Beckett Denison
Succeeded by
Edmund Beckett Denison
Sir John Ramsden, Bt
Political offices
Preceded by
The Earl of Rosslyn
Under-Secretary of State for War
1859 – January 1861
Succeeded by
Thomas Baring
Preceded by
Thomas Baring
Under-Secretary of State for India
January–July 1861
Succeeded by
Thomas Baring
Preceded by
Thomas Baring
Under-Secretary of State for War
July 1861 – 1863
Succeeded by
Marquess of Hartington
Preceded by
Sir George Lewis, Bt
Secretary of State for War
Succeeded by
Marquess of Hartington
Preceded by
Sir Charles Wood, Bt
Secretary of State for India
February–June 1866
Succeeded by
Viscount Cranborne
Preceded by
The Duke of Marlborough
Lord President of the Council
Succeeded by
The Lord Aberdare
Preceded by
Lord George Hamilton
First Lord of the Admiralty
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Lord George Hamilton
Preceded by
The Lord Knutsford
Secretary of State for the Colonies
Succeeded by
Joseph Chamberlain
Preceded by
The Marquess of Salisbury
Lord Privy Seal
Succeeded by
The Earl of Crewe
Preceded by
The Marquess of Lansdowne
Leader of the House of Lords
Party political offices
Preceded by
The Earl Spencer
Leader of the Liberals in the House of Lords
Succeeded by
The Earl of Crewe
Government offices
Preceded by
The Lord Lytton
Viceroy of India
Succeeded by
The Earl of Dufferin
Masonic offices
Preceded by
The Earl of Zetland
Grand Master
of the United Grand Lodge of England

Succeeded by
The Prince of Wales
Honorary titles
Preceded by
The Earl of Zetland
Lord Lieutenant of the North Riding of Yorkshire
Succeeded by
Sir Thomas Bell, Bt
Academic offices
New office
University establishment
Chancellor of the University of Leeds
Succeeded by
Victor Cavendish, 9th Duke of Devonshire
Peerage of the United Kingdom
New creation Marquess of Ripon
Succeeded by
Frederick Robinson
Preceded by
Frederick John Robinson
Earl of Ripon
Preceded by
Thomas Philip de Grey
Earl de Grey
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