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LYTTELTON, GEORGE WILLIAM, fourth Baron Lyttelton of Frankley of the second creation (1817–1876), eldest of the three sons of William Henry [q. v.], third Lord Lyttelton, was born in London on 31 March 1817. He was educated at Eton and Trinity College, Cambridge, whence he graduated both B.A. and M.A. in 1838. He obtained the chancellor's medal, and was bracketed senior classic with Dr. Vaughan, the present (1893) master of the Temple. He was made LL.D. in 1862, and created D.C.L. at Oxford on 22 June 1870.
He succeeded to the peerage in 1837, and in 1839 married Mary (d. 17 Aug. 1857), second daughter of Sir Stephen R. Glynne, to whose elder daughter Catherine, W. E. Gladstone was married on the same day. In 1839 he was appointed lord-lieutenant of Worcestershire, and from that date until his death was the centre of the intellectual life and progress of the county. A zealous advocate and patron of night schools and workmen's institutes, he became in 1845 the principal of Queen's College, Birmingham, in 1853 the first president of the Birmingham and Midland Institute, and laboured subsequently for the establishment of the Oxford and Cambridge local examinations throughout the midlands. He was one of the founders of the Saltley Training College, and was its president for many years. In a similar spirit he taught in the Sunday school at Hagley, established numerous local clubs and societies, and lectured indefatigably at Stourbridge, Worcester, and other local centres. No less ardent was he in support of the Worcestershire hunt, of the volunteers, and of the county's cricket.
In parliament Lyttelton, who was a mediocre speaker, rarely took a very active part, but he was deeply interested in colonial and in church questions. He acted from January to July 1846 as under-secretary of state for the colonies in Peel's last administration, and he thenceforth carefully studied colonial, and especially Australasian affairs. He published in 1849 a lecture delivered at Stourbridge upon ‘The Colonial Empire of Great Britain, especially in its Religious Aspect,’ and in the same year he became chairman of the Canterbury Association, a church of England corporation, conceived in 1847 by Edward Gibbon Wakefield and J. R. Godley, which founded in 1850 the province of Canterbury in New Zealand. The idea of the foundation was, by setting aside about 7 per cent. of the settlers' purchase-money for church purposes, to ‘give the church of England a start’ similar to that obtained in other parts of the colony by methodists and presbyterians. The seaport of Lyttelton, near Christchurch, commemorates Lord Lyttelton's connection with the scheme. He delivered a lecture on ‘New Zealand and the Canterbury Colony’ at Hagley in 1859, visited the colony during 1867–8, and recorded his experiences in two lectures, printed after his return, in 1869.
In 1861 Lyttelton had been placed upon the Public Schools Inquiry Commission, and in 1869 he was appointed chief commissioner of endowed schools. In this capacity he did useful work, into which, however, he could not refrain from infusing such an excess of reforming zeal as to provoke vehement opposition. A consequence was the transfer by Mr. Disraeli's government in July 1874 of the powers of his commission to the charity commissioners. Though the amendment of the poor law was one of his favourite projects, he advocated with even more ardour church reforms, such as the increase of the episcopate and the rehabilitation of convocation. As chairman of the Worcester Cathedral restoration committee, he presided over one of the most successful works of the kind yet effected in England. He became F.R.S. in 1840, and a privy councillor and K.C.M.G. in 1869.
Lyttelton had on several occasions been subject to temporary attacks of melancholia. The malady surprised him in January 1876, and he had to return from Italy to his house in London, where he was placed under medical surveillance. On 19 April, however, he managed to elude the vigilance of his attendant and threw himself over the balusters of a lofty staircase. He died shortly afterwards, and was buried on 22 April in the church in Hagley Park. There is a fine monument to him in Worcester cathedral.
Lyttelton was an excellent classical scholar, and published, together with Mr. Gladstone, a volume of translations, including translations into Greek of a portion of Milton's ‘Comus’ and Tennyson's ‘Lotos-Eaters,’ and into Latin of the ‘Deserted Village’ and Gray's ‘Ode to Adversity.’ The volume is inscribed ‘Ex voto communi in memo-