John Baker Holroyd, 1st Earl of Sheffield
His grandfather was Isaac Holroyd (1643–1706), a merchant who emigrated to Ireland after the Restoration. His father was Isaac Holroyd (1708–78), who lived at Dunamore in County Meath. John, the eldest son, first took the name of Baker on inheriting the estates of his uncle, Rev. Jones Baker, in 1768 and added Holroyd on the death of his own father in 1778.
Having served in the Army until 1763, he travelled for a while on the continent where he became close friends with the writer and historian Edward Gibbon, later the author of The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. On his return he used his inherited wealth to buy in 1769 the country house of Sheffield Place in Sussex from Lord De La Warr. In 1780 he was elected to represent Coventry in the House of Commons, where he was prominent against the anti-Catholic Lord George Gordon and the Gordon rioters.
In 1781 he was created a Peer of Ireland as Baron Sheffield, of Dunamore in the County of Meath, and in 1783 was further created Baron Sheffield, of Roscommon in the County of Roscommon, with a special remainder in favour of his daughters. As Irish peerages they did not interrupt his Parliamentary career and he was re-elected for Coventry in 1781 and for Bristol in 1790. His Parliamentary career did end however in 1802, when he was created a Peer of the United Kingdom as Baron Sheffield, of Sheffield in the County of York. In 1816, he was also created Viscount Pevensey and Earl of Sheffield in the Peerage of Ireland.
In 1783 he was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society. He was a great authority on farming, and in 1803, he was appointed President of the Board of Agriculture. But he is remembered chiefly as the close friend and literary executor of Gibbon, whose Memoirs and other miscellaneous works he subsequently edited and published.
He married Abigail Way, daughter of Lewis Way of Richmond, Surrey with whom he had a son and 2 daughters. Abigail died in 1793 and he remarried to Lady Anne North (1782?–18 January 1832), the daughter of the former Prime Minister Lord North on 20 January 1798.
The Earl died in 1821 and was buried in the Sheffield family mausoleum attached to the north transept of the Church of St Mary and St Andrew, Fletching, East Sussex. When Edward Gibbon died in 1794 whilst visiting the Earl, he too had been buried in the same mausoleum as a mark of respect. The Holroyd family are commemorated in the surrounding panels. The Earl's son and grandson succeeded in turn as second and third Earls of Sheffield, the latter being a well-known patron of cricket and on whose death the earldom became extinct.
The 1st Earl of Sheffield's daughter Maria Josepha married John Stanley, 1st Baron Stanley of Alderley in 1796, and therefore the Irish barony, under the special remainder, later passed to Edward Stanley, 4th Baron Stanley of Alderley, who thus became the fourth Baron Sheffield.
- Cannon, John (2004–2013). "Holroyd, John Baker". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/13608. (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
- "BAKER HOLROYD, John (1735–1821), of Sheffield Place, Suss". History of Parliament Online. Retrieved 10 May 2016.
- "Fellows Details". Royal Society. Retrieved 10 May 2016.
- Sheffield Mausoleum
- Kidd, Charles, Williamson, David (editors). Debrett's Peerage and Baronetage (1990 edition). New York: St Martin's Press, 1990,[page needed]
- Jacques-Alphonse Mahul, Annuaire nécrologique, ou Supplément annuel et continuation de toutes les biographies ou dictionnaires historiques, 3e année, 1822, Paris : Ponthieu, 1823, p. 324–331 
- This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Sheffield, John Baker Holroyd, 1st Earl of". Encyclopædia Britannica. 27 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press.
- Williams, James (1891). "Holroyd, John Baker". In Lee, Sidney. Dictionary of National Biography. 27. London: Smith, Elder & Co.