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Herbert, George Robert Charles (DNB01)

HERBERT, GEORGE ROBERT CHARLES, thirteenth Earl of Pembroke and ninth Earl of Montgomery (1850– 1895), eldest son of Sidney Herbert, first baron Herbert of Lea [q. v.], and Elizabeth, daughter of Lieutenant-general Charles Ashe A'Court, was born in Carlton Gardens on 6 July 1850, and succeeded his father as Baron Herbert of Lea on 15 Jan. 1861, and his uncle as Earl of Pembroke and Montgomery on 25 April 1862. He was educated at Eton, but on account of his delicate health was very frequently abroad in Italy, Sicily, Spain, Egypt, and Palestine. He made two voyages to the South Pacific before attaining his majority, accompanied by his constant companion in travel, Dr. George Henry Kingsley [q. v.] The second voyage ended in shipwreck and the total loss of the yacht on a coral reef in the Ring-gold Islands, all on board making good their escape to an uninhabited island not marked on the chart. After ten days the weather improved, the castaways set sail in three of the yacht's boats, and while endeavouring to make the Nanuku channel were picked up by a Swedish schooner. The incidents of these voyages formed the framework of a very charming volume, the joint production of Lord Pembroke and Dr. Kingsley, entitled 'South Sea Bubbles, by the Earl and the Doctor' (1872 ; 7th edit. 1895).

On the formation in 1874 of his second administration, Disraeli, famous for his ready recognition of promising young men, appointed Lord Pembroke under-secretary for war, thus bringing him into the department which had been administered with so much distinction by his father ; but his health proved unequal to the strain of official life, and he resigned his post in the government in 1875. Lord Pembroke never accepted office again, and rarely spoke in the House of Lords, but he continued to take a keen interest in public affairs, both imperial and domestic, and communicated his views, through various periodicals and by speeches in the country, upon Ireland, the land question, imperial defence, and the navy. He took a leading part in the volunteer movement, holding a commission for upwards of twenty years, and commanding the South Wilts battalion until within a few months of his death. He believed firmly in the advantage of technical instruction, and gave practical proof thereof by building and endowing the Pembroke technical school near Dublin, where children of tradesmen and artisans in Dublin receive instruction in various industrial crafts. Lord Pembroke was a good sportsman, having been first a master of harriers for many years, and later of foxhounds ; but a bad fall put an end to his hunting, and latterly he spent much of his time afloat, yachting and boat-sailing.

He married, at Westminster Abbey, on 19 Aug. 1874, Lady Gertrude Frances Talbot, third daughter of Henry John Chetwynd Talbot, eighteenth earl of Shrewsbury, and died without issue at Frankfort on 3 May 1895; he was buried at Wilton, where a bronze statue of him by Mr. Alfred Gilbert, R.A., was unveiled by Mr. A. J. Balfour on 19 May 1900. There is a portrait of Pembroke by Sir W. Richmond, R. A., at Wilton. He was succeeded in his peerages by his brother Sidney Herbert, fourteenth and present earl of Pembroke and Montgomery.

Besides the book of travel mentioned above, Lord Pembroke wrote a book of essays, originally published in the 'Temple Bar Magazine,' entitled 'Roots, a Plea for Tolerance' (1873). His writings were distinguished by a refreshing originality of thought and expression, and by discursive observations and speculation on the nature of things. After his death his 'Letters and Speeches' (2 vols. 8vo) were collected and published in 1896.

[Private information and Lord Pembroke's own writings.]

H. E. M.