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|Major General The Right Honourable
Sir Henry Ponsonby
|The Privy Purse
Ponsonby as caricatured by Théobald Chartran in Vanity Fair, March 1883
|Private Secretary to the Sovereign|
|Preceded by||Gen. The Hon. Sir Charles Grey|
|Succeeded by||Lt. Col. The Rt. Hon. Sir Arthur Bigge|
Sir Henry Frederick Ponsonby GCB (10 December 1825 – 21 November 1895) was a British soldier and royal court official who served as Queen Victoria's Private Secretary.
Ponsonby rose to the rank of Colonel in the Grenadier Guards and fought in the Crimean War. On 30 April 1861, he married Hon. Mary Elizabeth Bulteel, a daughter of John Crocker Bulteel (1793-1843) MP and they had five children:
- Alberta Victoria Ponsonby (6 May 1862-15 October 1945)
- Magdalen Ponsonby (24 June 1864- 1 July 1934)
- John Ponsonby (25 March 1866 – 26 March 1952)
- Frederick Edward Grey Ponsonby (16 September 1867 – 20 October 1935)
- Arthur Augustus William Harry Ponsonby (16 February 1871 – 24 March 1946)
Ponsonby embellished letters to his children at Eton with a series of illustrations in which he concealed the school's address. It was a family quirk continued by his son, Arthur Ponsonby, and recently revived by descendant Harriet Russell. His letters bore addresses appearing as doodled signposts in snowstorms or as huge envelopes shouldered by tiny people.
He served as Keeper of the Privy Purse and Private Secretary to Queen Victoria. His appointment occurred 8 April 1870, after the death of prior Private Secretary General Charles Grey, who was "a son of Earl Grey, the Prime Minister" at the time and who was wife Mary Ponsonby's "Uncle Charles." Both Arthur and Mary Ponsonby contributed pseudonymously to magazines and newspapers of the day.
His son Arthur wrote a biography of him which won the James Tait Black Memorial Prize in 1942: Henry Ponsonby, Queen Victoria's Private Secretary: His Life from His Letters.
- The Independent
- Arthur Ponsonby. Henry Ponsonby, Queen Victoria's Private Secretary: His Life from His Letters (London: Macmillan, 1943), pp. 35-36.
- Ponsonby, p. 37.
Sir Thomas Myddelton Biddulph
|Keeper of the Privy Purse
Sir Fleetwood Edwards
Sir Charles Grey
|Private Secretary to the Sovereign
Sir Arthur Bigge