CARNARVON, EARLDOM OF. The earldom of Carnarvon was created in 1628 for Robert Dormer, Baron Dormer of Wyng (c. 1610–1643), who was killed at the first battle of Newbury whilst fighting for Charles I., and it became extinct on the death of his son Charles, the 2nd earl, in 1709. From 1714 to 1789 it was held by the family of Brydges, dukes of Chandos and marquesses of Carnarvon, and in 1793 Henry Herbert, Baron Porchester (1741–1811), was created earl of Carnarvon.
His great-grandson, Henry Howard Molyneux Herbert, 4th earl of Carnarvon (1831–1890), was born on the 24th of June 1831. He succeeded to the title in 1849, on the death of his father, Henry John George, the 3rd earl (1800–1849). Soon after taking his degree at Oxford he began to play a prominent part in the deliberations of the House of Lords. In 1858 he was under secretary for the colonies, and in 1866 secretary of state. In this capacity he introduced in 1867 the bill for the federation of the British North American provinces which set so many political problems at rest; but he had not the privilege of passing it, having, before the measure became law, resigned, owing to his distaste for Disraeli’s Reform Bill. Resuming office in 1874, he endeavoured to confer a similar boon on South Africa, but the times were not ripe. In 1878 he again resigned, out of opposition to Lord Beaconsfield’s policy on the Eastern question; but on his party’s return to power in 1885 he became lord-lieutenant of Ireland. His short period of office, memorable for a conflict on a question of personal veracity between himself and Mr Parnell as to his negotiations with the latter in respect of Home Rule, was terminated by another premature resignation. He never returned to office, and died on the 29th of June 1890. As a statesman his career was marred by extreme sensitiveness; but he was beloved as a man of worth and admired as a man of culture. He was high steward of the university of Oxford, and president of the Society of Antiquaries. The 4th earl was succeeded by his son, George Edward Stanhope Molyneux (b. 1866).