Westminster, Marquesses And Dukes Of
WESTMINSTER, MARQUESSES AND DUKES OF. The title of marquess of Westminster was bestowed in 1831 upon Robert Grosvenor, 2nd Earl Grosvenor (1767-1845), whose grandson, Hugh Lupus Grosvenor (1825-1899), was created duke of Westminster in 1874. The family of Grosvenor is of great antiquity in Cheshire, the existence of a knightly house of this name (Le Grosvenur) in the palatine county being proved by deeds as early as the 12th century (see The Ancestor, vi. 19). The legend of its descent from a nephew of Hugh Lupus, earl of Chester, perpetuated in the name of the first duke, and the still more extravagant story, repeated by the old genealogists and modern " peerages," of its ancestors, the " grand huntsmen " (gros veneurs) of the dukes of Normandy, have been exploded by the researches of Mr W. H. B. Bird (see " The Grosvenor Myth " in The Ancestor, vol. i. April 1902). The ancestors of the dukes of Westminster, the Grosvenors of Eaton, near Chester, were cadets of the knightly house mentioned above, and rose to wealth and eminence through a series of fortunate marriages. Their baronetcy dates from 1622.
Sir Thomas Grosvenor, the 3rd baronet (1656-1700), in 1676 married Mary (d. 1730), heiress of Alexander Davies (d. 1665), a scrivener. This union brought to the Grosvenor family certain lands, then on the outskirts of London, but now covered by some of the most fashionable quarters of the West End. Sir Thomas's sons, Richard (1689-1732), Thomas (1693-1733) and Robert (d. 1755), succeeded in turn to the baronetcy, Robert being the father of Sir Richard Grosvenor (1731-1802), created Baron Grosvenor in 1761 and Viscount Belgrave and Earl Grosvenor in 1784. The 1st earl, a great breeder of racehorses, was succeeded by his only surviving son Robert (1767-1845), who rebuilt Eaton Hall and developed his London property, which was rapidly increasing in value. In the House of Commons, where he sat from 1788 to 1802, he was a follower of Pitt, who made him a lord of the admiralty and later a commissioner of the board of control, but after 1806 he left the Tpries and joined the Whigs. He was created a marquess at the coronation of William IV. in 1831. His son, Richard, the 2nd marquess, (1795-1869), was a member of parliament from 18:8 to 1835 and lord steward of the royal household from 1850 to 1852.
The latter's son, Hugh Lupus (1825-1899), created a duke in 1874, was from 1847 to 1869 member of parliament for Chester and from 1880 to 1885 master of the horse under Gladstone, but he left the Liberal party when the split came over Home Rule for Ireland. His great wealth made him specially conspicuous; but he was a patron of many progressive movements. His eldest son, Victor Alexander, Earl Grosvenor (1853-1884), predeceased him, and he was succeeded as 2nd duke by his grandson, Hugh Richard Arthur Grosvenor (b'. 1879), who in 1901 married Miss Cornwallis-West. Earl Grosvenor's widow, Countess Grosvenor, a daughter of the 9th earl of Scarborough, had in 1887 married Mr George Wyndham (b. 1863), a grandson of the 1st baron Leconfield, who subsequently became wellknown both as a litttrateur and as a Unionist cabinet minister.
Two other peerages are held by the Grosvenor family. In 1857 Lord Robert Grosvenor (1801-1893), a younger son of the 1st marquess, after having sat in the House of Commons since 1822, was created Baron Ebury. He was an energetic opponent of ritualism in the Church of England; and he was associated in philanthropic work with the earl of Shaftesbury. On his death his son, Robert Wellesley Grosvenor (b. 1834), became the 2nd baron. In 1886, Lord Richard Grosvenor (b. 1837), a son of the 2nd marquess, was created Baron Stalbridge; from 1880 to 1885 he had been " chief whip " of the Liberal party. In 1891 he became chairman of the London & North Western railway.
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)