Albert Spencer, 7th Earl Spencer

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The Earl Spencer

Albert Spencer, Viscount Althorp, in WW1 uniform. Painted by John Singer Sargent, in 1915.
Predecessor 6th Earl Spencer
Successor 8th Earl Spencer
Known forPaternal grandfather of Diana, Princess of Wales
BornAlbert Edward John Spencer
(1892-05-23)23 May 1892
London, England
Died9 June 1975(1975-06-09) (aged 83)
Northampton, Northamptonshire, England
Lady Cynthia Hamilton
(m. 1919;died 1972)
Lady Anne Wake-Walker
John Spencer, 8th Earl Spencer
Parents Charles Spencer, 6th Earl Spencer
Margaret Baring
Military career
AllegianceUnited Kingdom
Service/branchBritish Army
Years of service1914–1924
Rank Captain
Unit 1st Life Guards
Battles/wars World War I

Albert Edward John Spencer, 7th Earl Spencer KStJ , TD , DL , FSA , FRSA , (23 May 1892 – 9 June 1975), styled The Honourable Albert Spencer until 1910 and as Viscount Althorp from 1910 to 1922, and known less formally as "Jack" Spencer, was a British peer. He was the paternal grandfather of Diana, Princess of Wales.


Early life

Lord Spencer was born in London, the son of Charles Spencer, 6th Earl Spencer, and his wife, the former Margaret Baring, second daughter of Edward Baring, 1st Baron Revelstoke. [1] His godparents included King Edward VII. [2]

He was educated at Harrow School and Trinity College, Cambridge, [3] where he was a friend of Lionel Lupton, who studied the same subject at Trinity. They signed up together to fight in World War I. Lupton's sister Olive Middleton was the great grandmother of Catherine Middleton [4] who married the great-grandson of Lord Spencer, Prince William, in April 2011.


On 5 August 1914, Spencer was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the 1st Regiment of Life Guards, [5] was promoted to lieutenant on 21 October 1914, [6] appointed an aide-de-camp on 9 May 1917, [7] and promoted to captain on 15 June 1917. [8] When 1st Life Guards merged with the 2nd Life Guards on 18 November 1922, Spencer was appointed a captain in the new regiment. [9] He retired from the army on 20 September 1924, [10] but remained a member of the Regular Army Reserve of Officers until reaching the mandatory retirement age on 2 June 1943. [11]

On 27 August 1924, Lord Spencer was appointed the Honorary Colonel of the 4th (Territorial) Battalion, Northamptonshire Regiment, [12] remaining in that role when it was renamed 50th (Northampton Regiment) Anti-Aircraft Battalion on 1 October 1937, [13] and throughout its various post-war incarnations [14] until finally relinquishing his appointment on 1 April 1967. [15] He was awarded the Territorial Efficiency Decoration on 12 September 1944, [16] with two clasps on 20 November 1953. [17]

On 9 April 1935, Lord Spencer was appointed a Deputy Lieutenant of Northamptonshire, [18] and became Lord Lieutenant of Northamptonshire on 11 March 1952, [19] serving until 31 July 1967. [20] He was made a knight of the Order of St. John of Jerusalem on 1 July 1955. [21]

Lord Spencer was active in the local politics of Northamptonshire as a Conservative councillor. He opened his ancestral home, Althorp, to the public and was a well-known art connoisseur, being a trustee of the Wallace Collection and chairman of the Royal School of Needlework. [22] He was a Fellow of both the Society of Antiquaries of London and the Royal Society of Arts, and for eight years in the 1960s he was Chair of the Advisory Council of the Victoria and Albert Museum. [3] He was Chairman of the Governors at Wellingborough School from 1946 to 1972.

Personal life

Lord Spencer married Lady Cynthia Hamilton, second daughter of the 3rd Duke of Abercorn, on 26 February 1919 at St. James's Church in Piccadilly, London and they had two children:

Lord Spencer died at St Matthews Nursing Home, Northampton, after a short illness, [24] and was succeeded by his son, John, the father of Diana, Princess of Wales.

Coat of arms

Coat of arms of Albert Spencer, 7th Earl Spencer
Coronet of a British Earl.svg
Spencer Arms.svg
A Coronet of an Earl
Out of a Ducal Coronet Or a Griffin's Head Azure gorged with a Bar Gemelle Gules between two Wings expanded of the second
Quarterly Argent and Gules in the 2nd and 3rd quarters a Fret Or over all on a Bend Sable three Escallops of the first
Dexter: A Griffin per fess Ermine and Erminois gorged with a Collar Sable the edges flory-counterflory and chained of the last and on the Collar three Escallops Argent; Sinister: A Wyvern Erect on his tail Ermine similarly collared and chained
Dieu Defend Le Droit (God defend the right)


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  1. Williamson, D. (1981). "The Ancestry of Lady Diana Spencer". Genealogist's Magazine. 20 (6 & 8): 192–199 & 281–282.
  2. Mosley, C., ed. (2003). Burke's Peerage, Baronetage & Knightage. 3 (107th ed.). Stokesley, North Yorkshire: Burke's Peerage & Gentry (UK) Ltd. p. 3695.
  3. 1 2 Who was Who, 1971–1980. London: Adam & Charles Black. 1981. p. 746.
  4. Gutteridge, Nick (2 July 2016). "Kate's hero relative died at the Somme after signing up to fight alongside Diana's grandad". Daily Express . Retrieved 2 July 2016.
  5. "No. 28860". The London Gazette. 4 August 1914. p. 6073.
  6. "No. 29042". The London Gazette (Supplement). 15 January 1915. p. 583.
  7. "No. 30058". The London Gazette (Supplement). 8 May 1917. p. 4443.
  8. "No. 30132". The London Gazette (Supplement). 15 June 1917. p. 5944.
  9. "No. 32768". The London Gazette. 17 November 1922. pp. 8111–8112.
  10. "No. 32975". The London Gazette. 19 September 1924. p. 6907.
  11. "No. 36037". The London Gazette (Supplement). 28 May 1943. p. 2520.
  12. "No. 32968". The London Gazette. 26 August 1924. p. 6423.
  13. "No. 34440". The London Gazette. 1 October 1937. p. 6081.
  14. "No. 42317". The London Gazette (Supplement). 31 March 1961. p. 2493.
  15. "No. 44283". The London Gazette (Supplement). 4 April 1967. p. 3809.
  16. "No. 36710". The London Gazette (Supplement). 19 September 1944. p. 4371.
  17. "No. 40023". The London Gazette (Supplement). 20 November 1953. pp. 6366–6367.
  18. "No. 34150". The London Gazette. 12 April 1935. p. 2515.
  19. "No. 39491". The London Gazette. 14 March 1952. p. 1468.
  20. "No. 44380". The London Gazette (Supplement). 4 August 1967. p. 8600.
  21. "No. 40529". The London Gazette. 5 July 1955. p. 3881.
  22. "Lord Spencer". The Times. London. 12 June 1975. col F, p. 20.
  24. "Lord Spencer". The Times. London. 10 June 1975. col B, p. 30.
Honorary titles
Preceded by
The Marquess of Exeter
Lord Lieutenant of Northamptonshire
Succeeded by
John Walkelyne Chandos-Pole
Peerage of Great Britain
Preceded by
Charles Spencer
Earl Spencer
Succeeded by
John Spencer