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Ellesmere, Francis Egerton

ELLESMERE, FRANCIS EGERTON, 1st Earl of (1800-1857), born in London on the 1st of January 1800, was the second son of the 1st duke of Sutherland. He was known by his patronymic as Lord Francis Leveson Gower until 1833, when he assumed the surname of Egerton alone, having succeeded on the death of his father to the estates which the latter inherited from the duke of Bridgewater. Educated at Eton and at Christ Church, Oxford, he entered parliament soon after attaining his majority as member for the pocket borough of Bletchingly in Surrey. He afterwards sat for Sutherlandshire and for South Lancashire, which he represented when he was elevated to the peerage as earl of Ellesmere and Viscount Brackley in 1846. In politics he was a moderate Conservative of independent views, as was shown by his supporting the proposal for establishing the university of London, by his making and carrying a motion for the endowment of the Roman Catholic clergy in Ireland, and by his 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. His 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 his very agreeably written Mediterranean Sketches (1843), and in the notes to a poem entitled The Pilgrimage. He published several other works in prose and verse, all displaying a fine literary taste. His literary reputation secured for him the position of rector of Aberdeen University in 1841. Lord Ellesmere was a munificent and yet discriminating patron of artists. To the splendid collection of pictures which he inherited from his great-uncle, the 3rd duke of Bridgewater, he made numerous additions, and he built a noble 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, and he was a trustee of the National Gallery. He died on the 18th of February 1857. He was succeeded by his son (1823-1862) as 2nd earl, and his grandson (b. 1847) as 3rd earl.

Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)

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