Michael Onslow, 7th Earl of Onslow

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Michael William Coplestone Dillon Onslow, 7th Earl of Onslow (28 February 1938 – 14 May 2011),[1] styled Viscount Cranley from 1945 to 1971, was a British Conservative politician.

Background and education[edit]

Onslow was the only son of William Onslow, 6th Earl of Onslow and his first wife, the Hon. Pamela Dillon, daughter of Eric Dillon, 19th Viscount Dillon.[2] He was educated at Eton and the Sorbonne.[3]

Political career[edit]

Lord Onslow succeeded his father in the earldom in 1971. He was far more colourful and unorthodox, publicly opposing apartheid and police racism, among other issues. He sat on the Conservative benches. He was a supporter of reform of the House of Lords, but not as proposed by Labour.[4] When Tony Blair's Labour Government proposed the House of Lords Bill in 1999 to strip voting rights from the mostly Conservative hereditary peers in the House, Lord Onslow said that he was happy to force a division on every clause of the Scotland Bill, each division takes 20 minutes and there were more than 270 clauses. This was a move to ruin the government's legislative programme in protest at the removal. Lord Onslow added he would "behave like a football hooligan" on this legislative programme, which he opposed. Ironically, he was one of the more than 90 hereditary peers elected to remain in the House of Lords after the House of Lords Act 1999.[5]

He was a member of the Joint Committee on Human Rights from July 2005 until his death, from cancer[6] in which capacity he strongly criticised Jacqui Smith over the government's proposed extension to detention of terror suspects to 42 days.[7] He disapproved of modernising tendencies within the Church of England, stating on one occasion that “...one hundred years ago, the Church was in favour of fox hunting and against buggery. Now it is in favour of buggery and against fox hunting.”[8] On two occasions he appeared on Have I Got News for You. He is the only hereditary peer to have ever appeared on that programme to date.[9][10]


Lord Onslow died on 14 May 2011, aged 73, following a battle with cancer which consigned him to a wheelchair.[11]


In 1964, Lord Onslow married Robin Lindsay Bullard, daughter of Major Robert Lee Bullard III, of Atlanta, Georgia and Ann Lindsay Bullard (née Aymer), who in 1949 married Charles McLaren, 3rd Baron Aberconway.

Lord and Lady Onslow had three children:


External links[edit]

Peerage of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
William Onslow
Earl of Onslow
Succeeded by
Rupert Onslow