Gathorne Gathorne-Hardy, 1st Earl of Cranbrook

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The Earl of Cranbrook

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Home Secretary
In office
17 May 1867 3 December 1868
Monarch Queen Victoria
Prime Minister The Earl of Derby
Benjamin Disraeli
Preceded by Spencer Horatio Walpole
Succeeded by Henry Bruce
Lord President of the Council
In office
24 June 1885 6 February 1886
Monarch Queen Victoria
Prime Minister The Marquess of Salisbury
Preceded by The Lord Carlingford
Succeeded by The Earl Spencer
In office
3 August 1886 18 August 1892
Monarch Queen Victoria
Prime Minister The Marquess of Salisbury
Preceded by The Earl Spencer
Succeeded by The Earl of Kimberley
Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster
In office
3 16 August 1886
Monarch Queen Victoria
Prime Minister The Marquess of Salisbury
Preceded by Sir Ughtred Kay-Shuttleworth, Bt
Succeeded by Lord John Manners
Personal details
Born(1814-10-01)1 October 1814
Died30 October 1906(1906-10-30) (aged 92)
Political party Conservative
Spouse(s)Jane Orr (d. 1897)
Alma mater Oriel College, Oxford

Gathorne Gathorne-Hardy, 1st Earl of Cranbrook, GCSI , PC (1 October 1814 – 30 October 1906), known as Gathorne Hardy until 1878, was a prominent British Conservative politician, a moderate, middle-of-the road Anglican. He held cabinet office in every Conservative government between 1858 and 1892 and notably served as Home Secretary from 1867 to 1868 and as Secretary of State for War from 1874 to 1878.

Privy Council of the United Kingdom Formal body of advisers to the sovereign in the United Kingdom

Her Majesty's Most Honourable Privy Council, commonly known as the Privy Council of the United Kingdom or simply the Privy Council, is a formal body of advisers to the Sovereign of the United Kingdom. Its membership mainly comprises senior politicians who are current or former members of either the House of Commons or the House of Lords.

Conservative Party (UK) Political party in the United Kingdom

The Conservative Party, officially the Conservative and Unionist Party, known informally as the Tories, and historically also known as the Unionist Party, is a centre-right political party in the United Kingdom. The governing party since 2010, it is the largest in the House of Commons, with 288 Members of Parliament, and also has 234 members of the House of Lords, 4 members of the European Parliament, 31 Members of the Scottish Parliament, 11 members of the Welsh Assembly, 8 members of the London Assembly and 7,445 local councillors.

Home Secretary United Kingdom government cabinet minister

Her Majesty's Principal Secretary of State for the Home Department, normally referred to as the Home Secretary, is head of the Home Office and a senior Cabinet minister in Her Majesty's Government. It is a high profile position, one of the four Great Offices of State, and is widely recognised as one of the most prestigious and important roles in the British Cabinet.


Background and education

Gathorne Hardy was the third son of John Hardy, of Bradford Manor, and Isabel, daughter of Richard Gathorne. His father was the main owner of the Low Moor ironworks and also represented Bradford in Parliament. He was educated at Shrewsbury School and Oriel College, Oxford, and was called to the Bar, Inner Temple, in 1840. He established a successful legal practice on the Northern Circuit, being based at Leeds, but was denied when he applied for silk in 1855.

John Hardy (MP) British businessman and member of parliament

John Hardy was a British businessman and member of Parliament.

Bradford was a parliamentary constituency in Bradford, in the West Riding of Yorkshire.

Shrewsbury School Public school in Shrewsbury, Shropshire, England

Shrewsbury School is an English independent boarding school for pupils aged 13 to 18 in Shrewsbury, Shropshire, founded by Edward VI in 1552 by Royal Charter. The present campus, to which the school moved in 1882, is on the banks of the River Severn.

Early political career, 1847–1874

Hardy had unsuccessfully contested Bradford in the 1847 general election. However, after his father's death in 1855 he was able to concentrate fully on a political career, and in 1856 he was elected for Leominster. Only two years later, in 1858, he was appointed Under-Secretary of State for Home Affairs in the second administration of the Earl of Derby. He remained in this office until the government fell in June 1859.

1847 United Kingdom general election

The 1847 United Kingdom general election saw candidates calling themselves Conservatives win the most seats, in part because they won a number of uncontested seats. However, the split among the Conservatives between the majority of Protectionists, led by Lord Stanley, and the minority of free traders, known also as the Peelites, led by former prime minister Sir Robert Peel, left the Whigs, led by Prime Minister Lord John Russell, in a position to continue in government.

Leominster (UK Parliament constituency) Parliamentary constituency in the United Kingdom, 1868-2010

Leominster was a parliamentary constituency represented until 1707 in the House of Commons of England, then until 1801 in that of Great Britain, and finally until 2010, when it disappeared in boundary changes, in the Parliament of the United Kingdom.

Edward Smith-Stanley, 14th Earl of Derby British Prime Minister

Edward George Geoffrey Smith-Stanley, 14th Earl of Derby, was a British statesman, three-time Prime Minister of the United Kingdom and, to date, the longest-serving leader of the Conservative Party. He was known before 1834 as Edward Stanley, and from 1834 to 1851 as Lord Stanley. He is one of only four British prime ministers to have three or more separate periods in office. However, his ministries each lasted less than two years and totalled three years and 280 days.

In 1865 Hardy reluctantly agreed to stand against William Ewart Gladstone in the Oxford University constituency. However, on 17 July 1865, he defeated Gladstone by a majority of 180, which greatly enhanced his standing within the Conservative party thanks to the influence of rural clergy voters, but still did not come first in the poll. Gladstone's response was "Dear Dream is dispelled. God's will be done." [1] The Conservatives returned to office under Derby in 1866, and Hardy was appointed President of the Poor Law Board, with a seat in the cabinet. He was admitted to the Privy Council at the same time. During his tenure in this office he notably carried a poor law amendment bill through parliament. Cranbrook also supported the Reform Act of 1867, which significantly increased the size of the electorate to one in five. By May Disraeli had recognised Gathorne Hardy's value to the Conservatives as a rising star in the Commons, proving a capable debater, a resilient antagonist to Gladstone, and nobody's fool. [2] In 1867 he succeeded Spencer Horatio Walpole as Home Secretary and was forced to deal with the Fenian Rising of that year. By accepting an amendment that all ratepayers should be enfranchised, Disraeli had created a new Victorian constitution, which surprisingly Hardy and others were prepared to accept. [3] One new entrant in 1868, an admirer of Disraeli, the Radical, Sir Charles Dilke thought Hardy the most eloquent Englishman, whose talents were wasted in the Conservative Party. But Hardy himself, not so easily deceived, remained a stalwart Tory to the end. [4] [lower-alpha 1]

William Ewart Gladstone British Liberal politician and prime minister of the United Kingdom

William Ewart Gladstone was a British statesman and Liberal politician. In a career lasting over 60 years, he served for 12 years as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, spread over four terms beginning in 1868 and ending in 1894. He also served as Chancellor of the Exchequer four times.

Oxford University was a university constituency electing two members to the British House of Commons, from 1603 to 1950. The last two members to represent Oxford University when it was abolished were A. P. Herbert and Arthur Salter.

The Poor Law Amendment Act 1867 30 & 31 Vict c.106 was an act of the United Kingdom Parliament, sponsored by Gathorne Gathorne-Hardy, 1st Earl of Cranbrook and supported by Henry Herbert, 4th Earl of Carnarvon, Florence Nightingale and the Association for the Improvement of the Infirmaries of London Workhouses.

The next year, Benjamin Disraeli succeeded Derby as Prime Minister, but the Conservative government resigned in autumn 1868, after both the Queen and Disraeli delayed dissolution to register a new electorate, which since 1865 had accepted postal votes. [5] The Liberals came to power under Gladstone. In opposition, Hardy occasionally acted as opposition leader in the House of Commons when Disraeli was absent.

Benjamin Disraeli British Conservative Prime Minister

Benjamin Disraeli, 1st Earl of Beaconsfield,, was a British politician of the Conservative Party who twice served as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. He played a central role in the creation of the modern Conservative Party, defining its policies and its broad outreach. Disraeli is remembered for his influential voice in world affairs, his political battles with the Liberal Party leader William Ewart Gladstone, and his one-nation conservatism or "Tory democracy". He made the Conservatives the party most identified with the glory and power of the British Empire. He is the only British prime minister to have been of Jewish birth. He was also a novelist, publishing works of fiction even as prime minister.

Liberal Party (UK) political party of the United Kingdom, 1859–1988

The Liberal Party was one of the two major parties in the United Kingdom with the opposing Conservative Party in the 19th and early 20th centuries. The party arose from an alliance of Whigs and free trade-supporting Peelites and the reformist Radicals in the 1850s. By the end of the 19th century, it had formed four governments under William Gladstone. Despite being divided over the issue of Irish Home Rule, the party returned to government in 1905 and then won a landslide victory in the following year's general election.

There was criticism of the Anglican Church in Ireland, which Liberals intended to disestablish in its entirety. A committed Anglican, Hardy opposed the measure on religious grounds:

"I say that the Church of Ireland has made many converts; not, it may be, by violent controversial proceedings, but by a quiet influence which has affected the minds of those who have been around her clergy, and who have gradually become leavened by their sentiments". [6]

Being an orthodox Anglican he considered fragmentation of the church as contrariwise to Conservative principles. [7] In the

"I have faith in the principles we are professing, and when I am told by the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Trade, and by others who have spoken like him, that all thoughtful men are against the Irish Church, that for fifty years every Statesman has looked forward to some such consummation." [8]

He spoke manfully in the Irish Church bill debate on 23 March 1869, before Gladstone gave the government's winding-up in one of the greatest oratorical expositions during the second reading. [9] Hardy linked the Irish church bill to the Fenian rising and resulting atrocities, vis-à-vis a Catholic church allegedly willing to sell benefices for money. Moreover, he directly attacked the Prime Minister's followers whom he accused of being "indebted to the Fenian movement for that tardy measure of justice. This shows the encouragement to disloyalty given by this measure." [10] And in provoking the government he linked tendentiously Baron Plunket, the nationalist, to the Liberal Party: which no doubt they disowned.

During debates on education Hardy produced eloquent and stinging rebukes that deflected time from Gladstone's Irish reform agenda. Hardy proved an able lieutenant in the Disraelian tradition, mocking Gladstone's bill's cumbersome progress through the Commons. [11] Gladstone gradually became hotter and bothered by Cranbrook's adroit remarks. When he was likened to the Hyde Park riots of 1866, the Prime Minister "caused such an explosion of passion and temper." [12]

The defeat threatened Disraeli's party leadership, but despite being considered Hardy declined, whilst the great man was still 'looking over his shoulder'. [13] On 1 February 1872, Hardy was present at the Burghley House Conference of Tory grandees: only Derby and Disraeli were missing for the discussion about the party's and country's future. Hosted by Lord Exeter, a Cecil descendant of the Elizabethan Lord Burghley, other Cabinet members were Sir Stafford Northcote, Sir John Pakington, Lord Cairns, and Lord John Manners, a personal friend of Disraeli. Only Manners and Northcote were prepared to support Disraeli's continued leadership. The group suggested that Lord Stanley, Derby's son, take the Commons post of party leader. For his part, the younger Stanley was a very different character than his father. [14] Short and plump, Stanley was a reformer, open to change, and ideas around progressive politics. He was also more amenable to Disraeli, recognizing that he was unfit, he did not wish to displace a man whom backbenchers knew was the outstanding parliamentarian. [15] Stanley's neutrality would convert other cabinet members towards acceptance of the flamboyant Jew. Latterly Hardy worked well with Disraeli, although they were not close intimates. At the end of the month the mood in London lifted: the Prince of Wales was out of trouble, and Hardy amongst others attended a service of thanksgiving and praise at St Paul's on 27 February. [16]

Cabinet minister, 1874–1880

In 1874 the Conservatives returned to office under Disraeli, and Hardy was appointed Secretary of State for War, for which he was not best suited. He should have been offered the Home Office, but this went to a fine debater, Richard Cross. But the House rose on 7 August, leaving the minister the remainder of the year to settle into departmental work. [17] Hardy stayed in post for more than four years overseeing the army reforms initiated by his Liberal predecessor Edward Cardwell. In 1876, Disraeli was elevated to the peerage and, and the House of Lords, as Earl of Beaconsfield. Hardy had expected to become Conservative leader in the House of Commons, but was overlooked in favour of Sir Stafford Northcote; Disraeli disliked the fact Hardy neglected the house to go home in the evening to dine with his wife. [18]

Two years later, in April 1878, Hardy succeeded The Marquess of Salisbury as Secretary of State for India, and the following month he was raised to the peerage as Viscount Cranbrook, of Hemsted in the County of Kent. At the same time, he assumed his mother's maiden surname of Gathorne in addition to that of Hardy at the request of his family. In December 1878, Cranbrook attended court, and heard from the Queen her complaints about Gladstone's mishandling of the Prince of Wales' rejection of the proposal to make him Viceroy of Ireland. [19] Cranbrook remained one of the ministers at the centre of the court being a monarchist, frequently interacting with the Queen and Prince of Wales. When Gladstone's portrait was shown in public, Cranbrook tactfully observed protocol. [20]

The Eastern Question had posed the biggest single foreign policy dilemma in 1877. Hardy was in favour of actively pursuing the bankrupted Sultan with a loan, and going to war if necessary to keep Russia out of Constantinople. He proved one of Disraeli's closest allies in cabinet. Cranbrook was a relative parvenu; the rich aristocrats wanted peace and so did Gladstone, at any price. But he was vindicated; when Salisbury swapped sides to support the PM, he was raised to Foreign Minister. A 'War Party', an Inner Cabinet, sent Royal Navy battleships to defend the Turks against a threatening Russian Army. At the India Office Cranbrook was forced to deal with the Second Afghan War in 1878, aimed at restoring British influence in Afghanistan. After a peaceful summer of 1878 deer-stalking in Scotland, Cranbrook returned to a crisis dealing with an ill-prepared Viceroy of India. A full invasion of Afghanistan was ordered on 21 November. The Afghans were defeated within weeks, but the new Third Empire had begun in a state of panic. A peace deal was struck in May 1879, but war again erupted after the British resident, Sir Louis Cavagnari, was murdered by mutinous Afghan troops. British troops under Frederick Roberts managed once again to restore control. However, the situation was still volatile when Cranbrook, along with the rest of the government, resigned in April 1880. As a peer Cranbrook was disqualified from making speeches during elections, which ended in a Liberal majority. He took a well-earned rest in Italy early in 1881, and was still there when the only one of Disraeli's cabinet absent for the Earl of Beaconsfield's funeral at Hughenden. [21]

Tory grandee

Lord Cranbrook remained at the heart of the party elite. In 1884 a new Chief Whip, Aretas Akers-Douglas gained promotion from Salisbury partly through the austere influence of this knowledgeable and experienced grandee. [22] In early 1885 the government was rent with division, Chamberlain refusing to agree with the franchise as 'ransom' of private property. Cranbrook wrote to Lord Cairns on 9 January, "all this comes from the Irish policy for wh. Mr Gladstone is responsible." [23] The writing was on the wall for the government. In June 1885 the Conservatives returned to power as "Caretakers", and Cranbrook was made Lord President of the Council. Cranbrook was shocked to find out that behind the cabinet's back Lord Carnarvon had been negotiating a deal, known in the newspapers as 'Tory Parnellism', with the Irish Party. [24]

For two weeks in early 1886 he again served as Secretary of State for War. The government fell in January 1886 but soon returned to office in July of the same year after a General Election under a new franchise. Cranbrook was once again appointed Lord President of the Council, in which office he was mainly concerned with education. [25] He also served briefly as Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster in August 1886. He declined the post of Foreign Secretary in 1886 owing to his inability to speak foreign languages, and also refused the viceroyalty of Ireland. Perhaps the stolid familiarity of the Council was additionally welcome after the turmoil in government caused by Lord Randolph Churchill's erratic, argumentative behaviour. [26] He remained as Lord President of the Council until the second Salisbury ministry fell in 1892. Shortly after, he was further honoured when he was made Baron Medway, of Hemsted in the County of Kent, and Earl of Cranbrook, in the County of Kent. In opposition, Cranbrook was a strong opponent of the Second Home Rule Bill, which was heavily defeated in the House of Lords. He retired from public life after the 1895 general election.


Lord Cranbrook married Jane, daughter of James Orr, in 1838. They had four sons and five daughters. One son and two of their daughters predeceased them. Lord Cranbrook died in October 1906, aged ninety-two, and was succeeded by his eldest son John. His third son the Hon. Alfred Gathorne-Hardy was also a politician. [27]

See also


  1. Jenkins (Dilke, p.64) analysed Dilke's remarks as the best High Victorian orators being Leon Gambetta, Castelar, John Bright, W E Gladstone, Lord Derby, Gathorne Hardy, and Father Felix.

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  1. Heathcote topped the poll with 3,236 votes, and 1,904for Gathorne Hardy. Gladstone, 'Diaries',vol.VI, p.370, cited by Jenkins, 'Gladstone', p.251
  2. Gathorne Hardy "Diary", cited in Hurd & Young, p.161.
  3. Hurd & Young, p.168
  4. Jenkins, Dilke, pp.49-50
  5. Jenkins, p.285
  6. Hansard, HC Deb 23 March 1869, vol.194, cc2076, line 6-9
  7. Ramsden, p.103
  8. Hansard, HC Deb 23 March 1869, vol.194 cc2068, line.10-13
  9. Jenkins, p.301
  10. HC Deb 23 Mar 1869, vol.194, cc2087, line.17-19
  11. Shannon, p.82
  12. N E Johnson (ed.), Diary of Gathorne Hardy, later Lord Cranbrook, 1866-1892", Oxford, 1981, 23 February 1872
  13. Ramsden, p.110
  14. Edward Stanley, 14th Earl of Derby died in October 1869; his son, Edward Stanley, 15th Earl of Derby would become Foreign Secretary in the Conservative ministry, 1874-80
  15. Hurd & Young, p.181
  16. Lion and the Unicorn, pp.218-219
  17. Ramsden, p.124-5
  18. R. Blake, The Conservative Party from Peel to Thatcher, (Fontana Press, 1985), p.134
  19. Cranbrook's Diary, p.374; R Shannon, p.226
  20. Cranbrook Diary, p.409
  21. Douglas Hurd & Edward Young, "Disraeli or The Two Lives" (London 2013), p.2
  22. Ramsden, p.149
  23. Letter to Lord Cairns, 9 Jan 1885, PRO Cairns, 30/51/7
  24. Shannon, p.393
  25. Ramsden, p.164
  26. R Jenkins, "The Chancellors" (Macmillan, 1998), p.31
  27. Debrett's Peerage and Baronetage (107th edition)


Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
George Arkwright
John George Phillimore
Member of Parliament for Leominster
With: John George Phillimore 1856–1857
John Pollard Willoughby 1857–1858
Charles Kincaid-Lennox 1858–1865
Succeeded by
Arthur Walsh
Richard Arkwright
Preceded by
William Ewart Gladstone
Sir William Heathcote, Bt
Member of Parliament for Oxford University
With: Sir William Heathcote, Bt 1865–1868
John Robert Mowbray 1868–1878
Succeeded by
John Robert Mowbray
John Gilbert Talbot
Political offices
Preceded by
William Nathaniel Massey
Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department
Succeeded by
George Clive
Preceded by
Charles Pelham Villiers
President of the Poor Law Board
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The Earl of Devon
Preceded by
Spencer Horatio Walpole
Home Secretary
Succeeded by
Henry Bruce
Preceded by
Edward Cardwell
Secretary of State for War
Succeeded by
Frederick Stanley
Preceded by
The Marquess of Salisbury
Secretary of State for India
Succeeded by
Marquess of Hartington
Preceded by
The Lord Carlingford
Lord President of the Council
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The Earl Spencer
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William Smith
Secretary of State for War
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Henry Campbell-Bannerman
Preceded by
Sir Ughtred Kay-Shuttleworth, Bt
Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster
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Lord John Manners
Preceded by
The Earl Spencer
Lord President of the Council
Succeeded by
The Earl of Kimberley
Peerage of the United Kingdom
New creation Earl of Cranbrook
Succeeded by
John Stewart Gathorne-Hardy
New creation Viscount Cranbrook