Frederick Ponsonby, 10th Earl of Bessborough

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The Earl of Bessborough
Arms of the Earl of Bessborough.svg
Spouse(s) Mary Munn
Father Vere Ponsonby, 9th Earl of Bessborough
Mother Roberte de Neuflize
Born (1913-03-29)29 March 1913
Died 5 December 1993(1993-12-05) (aged 80)

Frederick Edward Neuflize "Eric" Ponsonby, 10th Earl of Bessborough (29 March 1913 – 5 December 1993), styled Viscount Duncannon from 1920 to 1956, was a British diplomat, businessman, playwright, Conservative politician, and peer.

Background and education[edit]

Ponsonby was the eldest and only surviving son of Vere Ponsonby, 9th Earl of Bessborough, and his wife Roberte, daughter of Baron Robert de Neuflize, a Parisian banker, and was educated at Eton and Trinity College, Cambridge.

Career[edit]

He was on the Staff of the League of Nations High Commission for Refugees from Germany between 1936 and 1939. In 1938, he attended the Évian Conference as secretary to the High Commissioner Sir Neill Malcolm.

During the Second World War he served in France and West and North Africa, achieving the rank of Captain in the 98th (Surrey and Sussex Yeomanry) Field Brigade of the Royal Artillery (TA Reserve). From 1944 to 1948 Bessborough was 2nd Secretary at the British Embassy in Paris and from 1948 to 1949 1st Secretary. He then worked for Robert Benson, Lonsdale & Co, Ltd, merchant bankers, between 1950 and 1956 and was a director of ATV Ltd between 1955 and 1963.

Bessborough succeeded to his father's two earldoms in 1956 and took his seat on the Conservative benches in the House of Lords. He served under Sir Alec Douglas-Home as Parliamentary Secretary for Science from 1963 to 1964 and as Joint Under-Secretary of State for Education and Science in 1964 and under Edward Heath as Minister of State at the Ministry of Technology in 1970. From 1973 to 1979 he was a Member of the European Parliament. He also served as a Deputy Lieutenant of West Sussex in 1977 and was the author of plays and other works.

Family[edit]

Lord Bessborough married Mary (3 March 1915 – 13 April 2013),[1] daughter of Charles A. Munn, in 1948. They had one daughter:

  • Lady Charlotte Mary Roberte Paul Ponsonby (born 28 September 1949); married Yanni Petsopoulos.

Death[edit]

He died in December 1993, aged 80, when the earldom of Bessborough created in the Peerage of the United Kingdom for his father in 1937 became extinct. He was succeeded in the Irish earldom of Bessborough and the remaining family titles by his first cousin, Arthur Ponsonby.

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Political offices
Preceded by
New office
Joint Under-Secretary of State for Education and Science
1964
with Christopher Chataway
Succeeded by
James Boyden
Denis Howell
Preceded by
Sir John Eden
Minister of State at the Ministry of Technology
1970
Succeeded by
Office abolished
Peerage of Ireland
Preceded by
Vere Brabazon Ponsonby
Earl of Bessborough
1956–1993
Succeeded by
Arthur Mountifort Longfield Ponsonby
Peerage of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Vere Brabazon Ponsonby
Earl of Bessborough
1956–1993
Extinct