R. A. Cross, 1st Viscount Cross

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The Viscount Cross
Portrait of Richard Assheton Cross, 1st Viscount Cross.jpg
Home Secretary
In office
21 February 1874 – 23 April 1880
Prime MinisterBenjamin Disraeli
Preceded byRobert Lowe
Succeeded bySir William Harcourt
In office
24 June 1885 – 1 February 1886
Prime MinisterThe Marquess of Salisbury
Preceded bySir William Harcourt
Succeeded byHugh Childers
Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster
In office
29 June – 4 July 1895
Prime MinisterThe Marquess of Salisbury
Preceded byThe Lord Tweedmouth
Succeeded byThe Lord James of Hereford
Personal details
Born(1823-05-30)30 May 1823
Red Scar, Lancashire
Died8 January 1914(1914-01-08) (aged 90)
Political partyConservative
Spouse(s)Georgiana Lyon (d. 1907)
Alma materUniversity of Cambridge

Richard Assheton Cross, 1st Viscount Cross, GCB, GCSI, PC, FRS, DL (30 May 1823 – 8 January 1914), known before his elevation to the peerage as R. A. Cross, was a British statesman and Conservative politician. He notably served as Home Secretary between 1874 and 1880 and 1885 and 1886.

Background and education[edit]

Cross was born in Red Scar, near Preston, Lancashire, the son of William Cross (1771–1827) and his wife Ellen, daughter of Edward Chaffers. He was educated at Rugby School and Trinity College, Cambridge, and was the President of the Cambridge Union in 1845. He was called to the Bar by the Inner Temple in 1849, attaching himself to the Northern Circuit.

Political career[edit]

R. A. Cross caricatured by Ape (Carlo Pellegrini) in 1874.

Cross entered Parliament as one of two representatives for Preston in 1857, a seat he held until 1862. He was out of Parliament for the next year. While out of Parliament, Cross was a partner at Parr's Bank, of which he became chairman in 1870. In 1868 he was elected for South West Lancashire, topping the poll and defeating Gladstone, and continued to represent this constituency until his elevation to the peerage in 1886.

Cross first came to prominence as Home Secretary in Disraeli's second government (1874–1880), to which post he had been appointed without first holding junior office. He remained Home Secretary in Lord Salisbury's first government (1885–1886). The latter year he was raised to the peerage as Viscount Cross, of Broughton-in-Furness in the County Palatine of Lancaster,[1] and was moved over to the India Office (1886–1892), where he oversaw the passage of the Indian Councils Act 1892. Lord Cross was very briefly Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster in Salisbury's third government (1895–1902) before being elevated to the sinecure post Lord Privy Seal. In 1898 he chaired the Joint Select Committee on Electrical Energy (Generating Stations and Supply), which recommended granting compulsory purchase powers for the building of power stations. He retired in 1900.

In 1884, Cross was elected to the Board of the Manchester, Sheffield and Lincolnshire Railway,[2] and he remained a Director of that company, and of its successor the Great Central Railway (GCR), until his death.[3] During Board meetings, he would occasionally murmur "Where is the money to come from?"[4] In June 1909, when he was senior Director of the GCR, that railway named one of its class 8D express passenger locomotives The Rt. Hon. Viscount Cross G.C.B., G.C.S.I. in his honour.[5][6]


Lord Cross married Georgiana, daughter of Thomas Lyon, in 1852. His eldest son, the Hon. William Cross, represented Liverpool West Derby in Parliament. Lady Cross died in January 1907.

Lord Cross survived her by seven years and died in January 1914, aged 90. He was succeeded in the viscountcy by his grandson, Richard Assheton Cross, the only son of the Honourable William Cross.


Coat of arms of R. A. Cross, 1st Viscount Cross
Coronet of a British Viscount.svg
Cross Escutcheon.svg
A Griffin's Head erased Argent gorged with a Double Chain Or therefrom pendant a Mullet pierced Sable in the beak a Passion Nail of the last
Gules a Cross flory Argent charged with five Passion Nails Sable a Bordure of the second
On either side a Pegasus Argent holding in the mouth a Passion Nail Sable the dexter gorged with a Chain Or therefrom pendant a Cross flory Gules the sinister gorged with a Double Chain Or therefrom pendant a Mullet pierced Sable
Crede Cruci (Trust in the Cross) [7]


  1. ^ "No. 25618". The London Gazette. 20 August 1886. p. 4080.
  2. ^ Dow, George (1962). Great Central, Volume Two: Dominion of Watkin, 1864–1899. Shepperton: Ian Allan. pp. 195, 351. ISBN 0-7110-1469-8.
  3. ^ Dow, George (1965). Great Central, Volume Three: Fay Sets the Pace, 1900–1922. Shepperton: Ian Allan. pp. 229, 356. ISBN 0-7110-0263-0.
  4. ^ Dow 1965, p. 28
  5. ^ Dow 1965, p. 133
  6. ^ Boddy, M. G.; Brown, W. A.; Fry, E. V.; Hennigan, W.; Hoole, Ken; Manners, F.; Neve, E.; Platt, E. N. T.; Russell, O.; Yeadon, W. B. (November 1979). Fry, E. V. (ed.). Locomotives of the L.N.E.R., Part 3A: Tender Engines—Classes C1 to C11. Kenilworth: RCTS. p. 87. ISBN 0-901115-45-2.
  7. ^ [1]


External links[edit]

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by Member of Parliament for Preston
With: Charles Grenfell
Succeeded by
New constituency Member of Parliament for South West Lancashire
With: Charles Turner 1868 –1875
John Ireland Blackburne 1875–1885
Constituency abolished
New constituency Member of Parliament for Newton
Succeeded by
Political offices
Preceded by Home Secretary
Succeeded by
Preceded by Home Secretary
Succeeded by
Preceded by Secretary of State for India
Succeeded by
Preceded by Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster
Succeeded by
Preceded by Lord Privy Seal
Succeeded by
Peerage of the United Kingdom
New creation Viscount Cross
Succeeded by