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Richard Grosvenor, 1st Earl Grosvenor

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The Earl Grosvenor
Personal details
Born(1731-06-18)18 June 1731
Eaton Hall, Cheshire, England
Died5 August 1802(1802-08-05) (aged 71)
Resting placeSt Mary's Church, Eccleston, Cheshire, England
Political partyTory
SpouseHenrietta Vernon
Children4, including Robert
Parent(s)Sir Robert Grosvenor, 6th Baronet (father)
Jane Warre (mother)

Richard Grosvenor, 1st Earl Grosvenor (/ˈɡrvənər/ GROH-vən-ər; 18 June 1731 – 5 August 1802) was an English landowner, Tory politician and peer who sat in the British House of Commons representing the parliamentary constituency of the City of Chester from 1754 to 1761.

Early life[edit]

A portrait of Grosvenor attributed to Sir Joshua Reynolds

Richard Grosvenor was born at Eaton Hall, Cheshire, the elder son of Sir Robert Grosvenor, 6th Baronet and Jane Warre. He was educated at Oriel College, Oxford, graduating MA in 1751 and DCL in 1754.

Political career[edit]

He became Member of Parliament for Chester in 1754 and continued to represent the city until 1761, when he became Baron Grosvenor and was elevated to the House of Lords. He was mayor of Chester in 1759 and in 1769 he paid for the building of the Eastgate in the city. Grosvenor extended his estate by the purchase of the village of Belgrave, and the manor of Eccleston in 1769. He succeeded as 7th baronet on the death of his father in 1755.[1]

Initially, Grosvenor was, like his father, a Tory, but later he came to support the ideas of William Pitt the Elder. In 1758 he declared himself in favour of the Pitt–Newcastle ministry and following this he was created Baron Grosvenor in 1761. However, when the Tory Earl of Bute became Prime Minister the following year, Grosvenor changed his allegiance. Then, when Pitt was returned to power in the Chatham Ministry of 1766–1768, Grosvenor returned to support him. During the 1770s he supported Lord North during the American War of Independence. He voted against Fox's India Bill in 1783 and was rewarded by William Pitt the Younger with title of Earl Grosvenor the following year.[1]

Personal life[edit]

Grosvenor was interested in the acquisition of art, as well as Thoroughbred horse racing and horse breeding. He bred several Thoroughbred racehorses, including Medley (1776 – 1792), whom Grosvenor subsequently sold to Sir John Lade; he also purchased the racehorses and stallions Gimcrack in 1771, and Potoooooooo ("Pot-8-Os") in 1778, the latter at the 1200 Guineas Stakes. Grosvenor also owned the racehorses Mambrino (b. 1768), Protector (b. 1770), Sweet William (b. 1768), and Sweetbriar (b. 1769), as well as bred Rhadamanthus (b. 1787), who was sold to William Frisby by 1795; Daedalus (b. 1791), whom Grosvenor sold to a "Mr. A. Bayton" at the end of 1794; et al.

He was also the principal patron of the satirist and journalist William Gifford. For his art collection he acquired works from Italy, and also bought paintings from Benjamin West (including his painting of The Death of General Wolfe), Thomas Gainsborough, Richard Wilson and George Stubbs. In 1788 a collection of literary pieces composed at Eaton was published as The Eaton Chronicle, or The Salt-Box.[1] Grosvenor was appointed as a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1777.[2] To breed his race horses Grosvenor established studs at Wallasey and at Eaton. His horses won the Derby on three occasions and the Oaks six times.[3] His racing silks were yellow, with a black cap.[4]

In the 1760s, Grosvenor occupied Aubrey House, in the Campden Hill area of Holland Park.[5] A London County Council blue plaque commemorates Grosvenor and other residents of the house.[6]

Family and death[edit]

On 19 July 1764 Grosvenor married Henrietta Vernon, daughter of Henry Vernon of Hilton Park, Staffordshire; they had four sons.[1] However, the marriage was not happy, and Henrietta had an affair with Henry, Duke of Cumberland, the younger brother of George III. The couple were discovered in flagrante delicto in 1769, which led to Grosvenor bringing an action against the Duke for "criminal conversation" (that is, adultery).[7] He was awarded damages of £10,000, which together with costs, amounted to an award of £13,000 (£1,630,000 in 2015).[8] But Grosvenor was also known to be guilty of adultery himself, regularly seeking out prostitutes around Leicester Square,[9] so he could not sue for divorce. The couple separated and he settled an annual allowance of £1,200 (£150,000 in 2015)[8] on his estranged wife,[1][3] who entered the demi-monde and was a leading member of The New Female Coterie.[10]

Grosvenor died at Earls Court in 1802 and was buried in the family vault at St Mary's Church, Eccleston. His assets amounted to "under £70,000" (£5,640,000 in 2015),[8] but his debts were "over £100,000" (£8,050,000 in 2015).[1][8] In 1799 he (or his immediate family benefit trust) was estimated the wealthiest small family unit in Britain by a margin of 49%, owning £6.25M (equivalent to £775,600,000 in 2023).[11] He was succeeded at Eaton Hall by his eldest son Robert.[3]


Thoroughbred racehorses bred or owned by Lord Grosvenor include:


  1. ^ a b c d e f Farrell, S. M. (2004) (online edition 2008) 'Grosvenor, Richard, first Earl Grosvenor (1731–1802)', Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, Retrieved on 10 April 2010. (subscription or UK public library membership required)
  2. ^ Library and Archive catalogue, Royal Society, retrieved 25 June 2010[permanent dead link]
  3. ^ a b c Newton, Diana; Lumby, Jonathan (2002), The Grosvenors of Eaton, Eccleston, Cheshire: Jennet Publications, pp. 16–21, ISBN 0-9543379-0-5
  4. ^ Weatherby, Edward and James (1801). "COLOURS WORN BY THE RIDERS OF THE FOLLOWING NOBLEMEN, GENTLEMEN, &c". Racing Calendar. 28: 52.
  5. ^ "Survey of London: volume 37: Northern Kensington". British History Online. Retrieved 1 December 2012.
  6. ^ "AUBREY HOUSE". English Heritage. Retrieved 1 December 2012.
  7. ^ Stella Tillyard (2010). A Royal Affair: George III and His Troublesome Siblings. Random House. pp. 169–175. ISBN 978-1-4090-1769-1.
  8. ^ a b c d UK Retail Price Index inflation figures are based on data from Clark, Gregory (2017). "The Annual RPI and Average Earnings for Britain, 1209 to Present (New Series)". MeasuringWorth. Retrieved 7 May 2024.
  9. ^ Law, Susan (March 2015). "Georgian Britain: sex in high places". BBC History Magazine.
  10. ^ Rubenhold, Hallie (2008). Lady Worsley's Whim. London: Vintage Books. pp. 176–177.
  11. ^ "Who wants to be a millionaire?". the Guardian. 29 September 1999. Retrieved 22 November 2022.
  12. ^ "GEORGE STUBBS, A.R.A., Lord Grosvenor's Sweet William in a landscape". Sotheby's. Retrieved 28 September 2023.
  13. ^ "Foundation Sires of the Thoroughbred: S". Thoroughbred Heritage: Historic Sires. Retrieved 28 September 2023.
  14. ^ "Foundation Sires of the Thoroughbred: P". Thoroughbred Heritage: Historic Sires. Retrieved 28 September 2023.
  15. ^ "Messenger". Thoroughbred Heritage: Portraits. Retrieved 28 September 2023.
  16. ^ "Foundation Sires of the Thoroughbred: A". Thoroughbred Heritage: Historic Sires. Retrieved 28 September 2023.
  17. ^ "Foundation Sires of the Thoroughbred: M". Thoroughbred Heritage: Historic Sires. Retrieved 28 September 2023.
  18. ^ "Foundation Sires of the Thoroughbred: J". Thoroughbred Heritage: Historic Sires. Retrieved 28 September 2023.
Parliament of Great Britain
Preceded by Member of Parliament for the City of Chester
With: Sir Robert Grosvenor 1754–1755
Thomas Grosvenor 1755–1761
Succeeded by
Peerage of Great Britain
New creation Earl Grosvenor
Succeeded by
Baron Grosvenor
Baronetage of England
Preceded by Baronet
(of Eaton)
Succeeded by