Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Grosvenor, Robert (1767-1845)

GROSVENOR, ROBERT, second Earl Grosvenor and first Marquis of Westminster (1767–1845), was the third son and only surviving child of Richard, first earl Grosvenor (1731-1802) [q. v.] He was born in the parish of St. George, Hanover Square, London, on 22 March 1767, and was educated at Harrow, and afterwards at Trinity College, Cambridge, taking his degree of M.A. in 1786 (J. Romilly, Graduati Cantabr. 1856, p. 28). His father had made a home at Eaton for William Gifford, who acted as tutor to the son, then Viscount Belgrave, and travelled with him on two continental tours. Gifford speaks warmly of his 'most amiable' and 'accomplished' pupil (Autobiography in Nichols, Illustr. vi. 28). From 1788 to 1790 Lord Belgrave was M.P. for East Looe, and on 15 Aug. 1789 was appointed a lord of the admiralty, an office which he held until 25 June 1791. Peter Pindar styled him 'the Lord of Greek' for having upon his first entrance in parliament shocked the House of Commons with a quotation from Demosthenes (Mathias, The Pursuits of Literature, 1812, p. 144). At the general election in 1790 Lord Belgrave was elected M.P. for Chester, and continued to represent the city from 1796 to 1802. Between 1793 and 1801 he was a commissioner of the board of control. About 1795 Lord Belgrave printed for private circulation a quarto volume, containing 'Charlotte, an Elegy,' and other poems in English and Latin. During the revolutionary war he raised a regiment of volunteers in the city of Westminster, and was major commandant on 21 July 1798. On the death of his father he became second Earl Grosvenor on 5 Aug. 1802, and in the following year began to rebuild Eaton Hall upon a very extensive scale (The Eaton Tourist, or a Description of the House, Grounds, &c., Chester, 1825, sm. 8vo). Bamford describes his 'very courteous and affable manner' in receiving a petition (Passages in the Life of a Radical, ii. 42-5). In 1826 he obtained special powers by act of parliament, and set to work with the help of Cubitt to lay out in roads, streets, and squares that part of his London estate now called Belgravia. Pimlico was soon after built over (Loftie, History of London, 1884, ii. 104-5). At the coronation of William IV he was created Marquis of Westminster on 13 Sept. 1831. On this occasion the arms of the city of Westminster, a portcullis, with chains pendent, were granted to him as a coat of augmentation. He received the Garter on 11 March 1841.

He was a man of taste, and largely increased the famous Grosvenor gallery of pictures, adding to it among others the collection of Mr. Agar. A 'Catalogue of the Pictures at Grosvenor House, London, with Etchings from the whole Collection, and Historical Notices' (London, 1821, 4to), was compiled by John Young. He took an active part in public affairs, and supported Pitt down to his death, when he seceded from the tory party, and remained faithful to the whigs during the remainder of his life. He contributed to the Anti-Cornlaw League, and voted for the Reform Bill. Among the many improvements Chester owed to him was the north gate, erected from the designs of Harrison in 1810, some time after he had served as mayor of the city. Some of the most famous racehorses of the day were owned by him, and he left a large stud. After a short illness he died at Eaton on 17 Feb. 1845, in his seventy-eighth year. There is at Eaton a portrait of him painted by Gainsborough. J. Young produced a mezzotint after a painting by Hoppner (J.C. Smith, British Mezz. Portraits, iv. 1632).

He married, on 28 April 1794, Eleanor, daughter and subsequently sole heiress of Thomas Egerton, earl of Wilton, and thus acquired the extensive Egerton estates, with the earldom and viscounty of Wilton, entailed upon his second son. She died in 1846. There were three sons of the marriage, together with a daughter, Amelia, who died young: Richard (1795-1869), the second marquis [q. v.]; Thomas (1799-1882), who succeeded to the earldom of Wilton; and Robert (b. 1801), created Baron Ebury in 1857, and still living.

[Obituary notice in Gent. Mag. 1845, pt. i. p. 423-6, and 666 (abstract of will); Collins's Peerage (Sir E. Brydges), v. 1812, 263; Chester Chronicle, 21 Feb. 1845; Ormerod's Cheshire (Helsby). ii. 837; The White Cat, with the Earl of Grosvenor's Ass, with seven plates by Cruikshank, 1821, 8vo; Croston's County Families of Lancashire and Cheshire, 1887, pp. 335-8; Doyle's Official Baronage, 1885, ii. 82, iii. 625; Burke's Peerage, 1890.]

H. R. T.

GROSVENOR, Sir THOMAS, third baronet (1656–1700), born in 1656, was son of Roger Grosvenor, and grandson and heir of Sir Richard Grosvenor (d. 1664), the second baronet, of Eaton, near Chester. The family was of great antiquity in Cheshire, but of moderate fortune. In 1676 young Grosvenor laid the foundation of his family's wealth by marrying, at the church of St. Clement Danes, Strand, London, Mary, aged 11, the only daughter and heiress of Alexander Davies, a scrivener (d. 1665). The rector of St. Clement Danes, the girl's grandfather, who had Cheshire connections, encouraged her early marriage, but husband and wife did not live together for some years. Her marriage portion consisted of a large sum of ready money and a considerable estate, known as Ebury farm 'towards Chelsea,' over which Belgrave Square and Pimlico now extend, and another large holding between Tyburn Brook and Park Lane, on part of which Grosvenor Square was afterwards built. Grosvenor was M.P. for Chester in the reigns of Charles II, James II, and William and Mary, and was elected mayor of Chester in 1685. By a commission dated 22 June 1685 he had a troop of horse in the Earl of Shrewsbury's regiment, and was in the camp on Hounslow Heath. He refused to support the bill for repealing the penal laws, in spite of a personal offer from James of 'a regiment and a peerage' (Wotton, British Baronetage, 1741, i. 498*). He was made sheriff of his county in 1688. He died in June 1700, at the age of forty-four, and was buried in the family burial-place at Eccleston, near Eaton. There is a portrait of him by Lely at Eaton, where there is also preserved a picture of his wife, who died, aged 65, 12 Jan. 1729–30, and who was also buried at Eccleston. Her mind had given way before her husband's death, as the Eaton archives contain an Inq. de lunatico, dated 15 March 1705-6, stating that she had been 'non compos for six years past' (Croston, County Families, p. 332). She never recovered her reason. In 1726 by a private act of parliament the custody of her person and estate was committed to Robert Middleton, of Chirk Castle in Denbigh.

The children of the marriage were Thomas and Roger, who died young; Richard (1689–1732), who succeeded as fourth baronet, but had no son; Thomas (1693–1733) and Robert (d. 1755), successively fifth and sixth baronets; Elizabeth and Mary, who both died young; and Anne, born posthumously (1700–1731), who married William Leveson-Gower, second son of Sir John Leveson-Gower, of Trentham. Richard, first earl Grosvenor [q. v.], was son of Sir Robert, sixth baronet.

[Ormerod's Cheshire (Helsby), ii. 837 (for a pedigree of Grosvenor of Eaton see pp. 841–4); Collins's Peerage (Sir E. Brydges), 1812, v. 262; Croston's County Families of Lancashire and Cheshire, 1887, pp. 327–32. An account of Alexander Davies, his daughter, and the Grosvenor estates in London is given in Loftie's Hist. of London, 1884, ii. 101–5, 405–11.]

H. R. T.

GROSVENOR, THOMAS (1764–1851), field-marshal, colonel 65th foot, third son of Thomas Grosvenor, M.P. for Chester (brother of Richard, first earl Grosvenor [q. v.], by his wife Deborah, daughter and coheiress of Stephen Skynner of Walthamstow, was born 30 May 1764. He was educated at Westminster School, and on 1 Oct. 1779 was appointed ensign 1st foot guards, in which he became lieutenant and captain in 1784, and captain and lieutenant-colonel on 25 April 1793. As a subaltern he was in command of the piquet at the Bank of England during the Gordon riots of 1780. He served with his battalion in Flanders in 1793, and again in Holland and in the retreat to Bremen in 1794–5, and in the expedition to the Helder in 1799. He became a major-general 29 April 1802, and held brigade commands in the west of England and in the London district during the invasion alarms of 1803–5. He commanded a brigade in the expedition to Copenhagen in 1807, and again in the expedition to Walcheren in 1809, when he was second in command of Sir Eyre Coote's division. He was appointed colonel 97th Queen's German foot in 1807, and transferred to the 65th foot in 1814. He became a lieutenant-general in