Victor Child Villiers, 7th Earl of Jersey

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The Right Honourable
The Earl of Jersey
The Earl of Jersey by H. Newman, courtesy of the National Library of Australia.
In office
1889 – December 1890
Monarch Queen Victoria
Prime Minister The Marquess of Salisbury
Preceded by The Earl Brownlow
Succeeded by The Lord Windsor
17th Governor of New South Wales
In office
January 1891 – March 1893
Monarch Victoria
Preceded by The Lord Carrington
Succeeded by Robert Duff
Personal details
Born 20 March 1845 (1845-03-20)
Berkeley Square, London
Died 31 May 1915(1915-05-31) (aged 70)
Osterley Park, Middlesex
Nationality British
Political party Conservative
Spouse(s) Dame Margaret Child Villiers (née Leigh; 1849-1945), Countess of Jersey (m. 1872-1915; his death)
Alma mater Balliol College, Oxford

Victor Albert George Child Villiers, 7th Earl of Jersey GCB GCMG PC JP DL (20 March 1845 – 31 May 1915), was a British banker, Conservative politician and colonial administrator from the Villiers family. He served as Governor of New South Wales between 1891 and 1893.

Background and education[edit]

Born at Berkeley Square, London,[1] Lord Jersey was the eldest son of George Child Villiers, 6th Earl of Jersey, and Julia Peel, daughter of Prime Minister Sir Robert Peel, Bt. He was educated at Eton and Balliol College, Oxford.[1][2] He succeeded in the earldom in October 1859, aged 14, on the death of his father, who had only succeeded his father three weeks earlier.[2] He became the principal proprietor of the family banking firm of Child & Co.[3]

Political career[edit]

Lord Jersey served as a Lord-in-Waiting (government whip in the House of Lords) between 1875 and 1877 in the Conservative administration of Benjamin Disraeli. He returned to the government in 1889 when Lord Salisbury made him Paymaster-General, which he remained until 1890.[2] The latter year he was sworn of the Privy Council[4] and made a Knight Grand Cross of the Order of St Michael and St George (GCMG).[1][2]

In August 1890 Jersey was appointed Governor of New South Wales.[5] He arrived in Australia to take up his position in January 1891. According to the Australian Dictionary of Biography there were no major political difficulties during his term. He was described by Sir Henry Parkes as "amiable and well-intentioned", but "very much occupied with his own family". He "did not excel as a public speaker". He was the official host at the 1891 Australasian National Convention in Sydney. Jersey tendered his resignation already in November 1892 citing pressing business affairs. This did not go down well with the Colonial Office in London. Lord Salisbury thought that Jersey had found that there was "less individual power to his office than he imagined". Jersey himself wrote to the Colonial Secretary: "the duties and responsibilities of a governor can hardly be called serious nowadays being chiefly of a social character". He left Australia in March 1893.[1]

Lord Jersey represented the United Kingdom at the 1894 Colonial Conference in Ottawa, Canada. He also acted as New South Wales agent-general in London between 1903 and 1905 and through his ties with the banking institutions helped the state's loan negotiations. He revisited Australia in 1905 and Prime Minister Alfred Deakin considered appointing him Australia's first High Commissioner to London, although nothing came out of this.[1]

One of Lord Jersey's godparents was Queen Victoria. The Queen accepted her role as a token of friendship to Robert Peel, Prime Minister, who was Lord Jersey's grandfather (his mother, the 6th Countess, being Julia Peel).

Other public appointments[edit]

Lord Jersey was Lord Lieutenant of Oxfordshire from 1877 and from 1885 also served as a Deputy Lieutenant of Warwickshire and as a Justice of the Peace for Warwickshire and Oxfordshire. He was Paymaster-General from 1889-90.[6] In 1894, he was sent to Ottawa to act as the British government's representative to the 1894 Colonial Conference.

From 1896 to 1905 he was Chairman of the Light Railway Commission.[2] He was made a Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Bath in the 1900 Birthday Honours.[1][2][7]


A Freemason, he was initiated to the craft on 25 October 1865 in the Apollo University Lodge No. 357 at the age of 20. In December 1865 he was passed in the Churchill Lodge No. 478 and in February 1866 he was raised in his mother Lodge. In 1870 he was appointed Senior Grand Warden of the United Grand Lodge of England and served for a year. In 1885 he was appointed Provincial Grand Master of Oxfordshire. When he became Governor of New South Wales, he became a member of the Lodge Ionic No. 65. On 11 June 1891 he was installed Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of New South Wales. [1][8][9]


Graves of the 7th (left) and 8th (right) Earls of Jersey in All Saints' parish churchyard, Middleton Stoney, Oxfordshire

Lord Jersey married the Hon. Margaret Elizabeth (29 October 1849 – 22 May 1945), daughter of William Leigh, 2nd Baron Leigh, on 19 September 1872. They had six children:

Margaret, the Countess of Jersey, was the founding president (1901–14) of the Victoria League and was known as an opponent of women's suffrage. She was the author of travel articles, children's plays, verse and hymns. In 1871 the Religious Tract Society published a small collection of her hymns and poems under the title of Hymns and Poems for very Little Children. A second series under the same title appeared in 1875. Six of these hymns were included in W. R. Stevenson's School Hymnal, 1880. Some of these are repeated in the Voice of Praise (London S. S. Union) and other collections.[10]

In 1920 she published A brief history of Osterly Park and in 1922 Fifty-One Years of Victorian Life.[11]

In 1903, she laid the foundation stone of Brentford Library,[12] and five years later she formally opened Hove Library.[13]

She was appointed a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire in 1927. Having suffered a stroke in 1909, Lord Jersey died at Osterley Park, Middlesex,[1] in May 1915, aged 70. He was succeeded in the earldom by his eldest son, George.[2] The Countess of Jersey survived her husband by 30 years and died at Middleton Park, Oxfordshire,[1] in May 1945, aged 95.[1][2]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Australian Dictionary of Biography, Online Edition: Jersey, seventh Earl of (1845–1915)
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i Victor Albert George Child-Villiers, 7th Earl of Island of Jersey
  3. ^ Kidd, Charles, Williamson, David (editors). Debrett's Peerage and Baronetage (1990 edition). New York: St Martin's Press, 1990.
  4. ^ The London Gazette: no. 26066. p. 3629. 1 July 1890.
  5. ^ The London Gazette: no. 26080. p. 4534. 19 August 1890.
  6. ^ "OBITUARY". The Register (Adelaide, Australia: National Library of Australia). 2 June 1915. p. 11. Retrieved 2 May 2012. 
  7. ^ The London Gazette: no. 27200. pp. 3629–3630. 8 June 1900. Retrieved 8 March 2015.
  8. ^ "Vice Regal Grand Masters - Who and Why?". Kent Henderson Freemasonry. Retrieved 1 January 2016. 
  9. ^ "GRAND MASONIC CEREMONY". Illustrated Sydney News. 20 June 1891. p. 4. Retrieved 2 April 2012. 
  10. ^ Profile of Margaret Child Villiers, Countess of Jersey,; accessed 21 March 2016.
  11. ^ A brief history of Osterly Park by the Dowager Countess of Jersey, 1920, from The Metropolitan Museum of Art (fully available online as PDF)
  12. ^ A History of Brentford Library
  13. ^ Middleton, Judy (2002). The Encyclopaedia of Hove & Portslade 7. Brighton: Brighton & Hove Libraries. p. 129. 

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
The Earl of Dunmore
The Earl of Roden
The Viscount Hawarden
The Lord Bagot
The Lord de Ros
The Lord Elphinstone
The Lord Walsingham
with The Earl of Dunmore
The Earl of Roden
The Viscount Hawarden
The Lord Bagot
The Lord de Ros
The Lord Elphinstone
Succeeded by
The Earl of Dunmore
The Earl of Roden
The Viscount Hawarden
The Lord Bagot
The Lord de Ros
The Lord Elphinstone
The Lord Henniker
Preceded by
The Earl Brownlow
Paymaster General
Succeeded by
The Lord Windsor
Government offices
Preceded by
The Lord Carrington
Governor of New South Wales
Succeeded by
Robert Duff
Honorary titles
Preceded by
Sir Henry Dashwood, Bt
Lord Lieutenant of Oxfordshire
Succeeded by
The Duke of Marlborough
Peerage of England
Preceded by
George Child Villiers
Earl of Jersey
Succeeded by
George Child Villiers
Peerage of Ireland
Preceded by
George Child Villiers
Viscount Grandison
Succeeded by
George Child Villiers