George Douglas-Pennant, 2nd Baron Penrhyn

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
George Sholto Douglas-Pennant

George Sholto Gordon Douglas-Pennant, 2nd Baron Penrhyn (30 September 1836 – 10 March 1907), was a landowner who played a prominent part in the Welsh slate industry as the owner of the Penrhyn Quarry in North Wales.


He was born at Linton Springs, Yorkshire, on 30 September 1836. He was the elder son of Edward Gordon Douglas (1800–1886), third son of John Douglas, second son of George Douglas, 16th Earl of Morton. His mother, his father's first wife, was Juliana Isabella Mary (died 1842), eldest daughter and co-heiress of George Hay Dawkins-Pennant of Penrhyn Castle. In 1841, the father, whose wife inherited vast property in North Wales, assumed the additional surname of Pennant by royal licence, and was raised to the peerage as Baron Penrhyn on 3 August 1866.

George was educated at Eton and Christ Church, Oxford. A project of entering the army was abandoned in deference to his father's wishes, but he always interested himself in military affairs. He was major of the Carnarvonshire rifles and honorary colonel of the 4th battalion of Royal Welsh Fusiliers. In 1866, he was elected Conservative Member of Parliament for Caernarvonshire, and held the seat until 1868. He was again elected in 1874, but was defeated in 1880 by Watkin Williams, Q.C. [1]

He succeeded to the peerage on his father's death in 1886. Thenceforth he devoted the greater part of his time and energies to the management of the large property which came to the family through his mother. The Penrhyn estate contained no less than 26,278 acres, with a rent-roll of £67,000, and the family owned the Bethesda slate quarries which, when fully employed and in former times of good trade, were estimated to produce £150,000 a year.[1]

In his later years his father had allowed much of the management of the Bethesda slate quarries to pass into the hands of an elective committee of the men, with the result that they were in 1885 on the verge of bankruptcy. In that year, the son George had been entrusted with full powers to reform their administration. One of his first actions was to repudiate the authority of the workmen's committee. Under fresh and strenuous management the quarries once again became busy and prosperous. A great strike began in 1897. Lord Penrhyn replied by closing the quarries, and an angry debate took place in the House of Commons. But Lord Penrhyn would abate none of his conditions, and the men capitulated.[1]

Lord Penrhyn as a champion of free labour refused to allow the intervention of outsiders in dealings with his men, and late in 1900 a second general strike. The quarries were again closed, but were re-opened after a prolonged stoppage with 600 of the former non-union workmen. Penrhyn refused to re-engage the ringleaders or to recognise any trade union officials. On 9 August 1901, Robert Thomas Jones, M.P. for Carnarvonshire, raised a discussion as a matter of urgent public importance on the conduct of the local magistrates in requisitioning cavalry for maintaining peace in the district, but Penrhyn's position was unaffected. On 13 March 1903, he brought an action for libel against W. J. Parry, in respect of an article in the Clarion, accusing him of cruelty to his workmen; he received £500 damages and costs. Penrhyn acted throughout in accordance with what he believed to be stern equity and from a wish to obtain justice for non-union men. In 1907, he generously accorded the workmen a bonus of 10 per cent, on their wages, owing to a spell of bad weather which had interrupted work at the quarries.[1]

Fond of horse-racing and breeding, he was elected to the Jockey Club in 1887, but was not very fortunate on the turf. In 1898, however, he won the Goodwood Cup with King's Messenger, which both in 1899 and 1900 carried his master's colours to the post for the Great Metropolitan Handicap at Epsom. With another horse, Quaesitum, in 1894 he won both the Chester Cup and the Queen's Vase. He was an excellent shot, but derived his chief enjoyment from fishing, in which he was exceptionally skilled. He was master of the Grafton hounds from 1882 to 1891.[1]

Lord Penrhyn, who was a deputy-lieutenant for Carnarvonshire and was a county councillor for the Llandegai division of the county.[1]

He died on 10 March 1907 aged 70 at his town residence, Mortimer House, Halkin Street, London SW1, and was buried near one of his country residences, Wicken, Stony Stratford.[1]


He married, first, Pamela Blanche, (died 1869) daughter of Sir Charles Rushout, 2nd Baronet, in 1860. They had one son and six daughters. In 1875, he married, Gertryde Jessy, daughter of Reverend Henry Glynne. They had two sons and six daughters, including Violet Douglas-Pennant. [1]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h Sidney 1912.

 This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainSidney, Leicester Philip (1912). "Douglas-Pennant, George Sholto Gordon". In Lee, Sidney. Dictionary of National Biography, 1912 supplement​. London: Smith, Elder & Co. 

External links[edit]

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Edward Douglas-Pennant
Member of Parliament for Caernarvonshire
Succeeded by
Love Jones-Parry
Preceded by
Love Jones-Parry
Member of Parliament for Caernarvonshire
Succeeded by
Charles James Watkin Williams
Peerage of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Edward Gordon Douglas-Pennant
Baron Penrhyn
Succeeded by
Edward Sholto Douglas-Pennant