George Robinson, 1st Marquess of Ripon

George Frederick Samuel Robinson, 1st Marquess of Ripon, KG, GCSI, CIE, VD, PC (24 October 1827 – 9 July 1909), styled Viscount Goderich from 1833 to 1859 and known as the Earl of Ripon in 1859 and as the Earl de Grey and Ripon from 1859 to 1871, was a British politician who served in every Liberal cabinet from 1861 until the year before his death, which took place forty-eight years later in 1909.

The Marquess of Ripon

Marquess of Ripon
Leader of the House of Lords
In office
MonarchEdward VII
Prime MinisterSir Henry Campbell-Bannerman
Preceded byThe Marquess of Lansdowne
Succeeded byThe Earl of Crewe
Viceroy and Governor-General of India
In office
MonarchQueen Victoria
Preceded byThe Lord Lytton
Succeeded byThe Earl of Dufferin
Lord President of the Council
In office
9 December 1868 – 9 August 1873
MonarchQueen Victoria
Prime MinisterWilliam Ewart Gladstone
Preceded byThe Duke of Marlborough
Succeeded byHenry Bruce
Personal details
Born24 October 1827
10 Downing Street, London
Died9 July 1909 (aged 81)
Political partyLiberal
Spouse(s)Henrietta Vyner (1833–1907)

Background and education

Ripon was born at 10 Downing Street, London, the second son of Prime Minister F. J. Robinson, 1st Viscount Goderich (who was created Earl of Ripon in 1833), by his wife Lady Sarah Hobart, daughter of Robert Hobart, 4th Earl of Buckinghamshire. He was educated privately, attending neither school nor college.[1]

He was awarded the honorary degree of DCL by Oxford University in 1870.[2]

Diplomatic and political career, 1852–1880

Ripon served on Sir Henry Ellis' British special mission to the Brussels Conference on the affairs of Italy during 1848–49.[1] Although his father had been a Tory, Ripon was first a Whig and later a Liberal. He entered the House of Commons as member for Hull in 1852.[3] Both he and his party colleague, James Clay,[4] (Hull was a two-seat constituency) were unseated in 1853 by petition over claims of widespread corruption in their election, of which they were exonerated of any knowledge.[4]:49–53 He was returned for Huddersfield later in 1853[5] and the West Riding of Yorkshire in 1857.[6] In 1859 he succeeded his father as second Earl of Ripon, taking his seat in the House of Lords, and later that year succeeded his uncle in the more senior title of Earl de Grey, becoming known as the Earl de Grey and Ripon. He was Under-Secretary of State for War under Lord Palmerston between 1859 and 1861 and 1861 and 1863 and briefly Under-Secretary of State for India in 1861. In 1863 he was made a Privy Counsellor and Secretary of State for War under Palmerston,[7] with a seat in the cabinet. He retained this office when Lord Russell became prime minister on Palmerston's death in 1865, and then served under Russell as Secretary of State for India between February and June 1866. In Gladstone's first administration he was Lord President of the Council (1868–73). During this period he acted as chairman of the joint commission for drawing up the Treaty of Washington with the United States over the Alabama Claims. For this, in 1871 he was created Marquess of Ripon, in the County of York.[8] He had already been made a Knight of the Garter in 1869.[9] In 1878 he served as President of the first day of the Co-operative Congress.[10]

Viceroy of India, 1880–1884

George Frederick Samuel Robinson, 1st Marquess of Ripon by George Frederic Watts
Lord Ripon by George Frederic Watts

When Gladstone returned to power in 1880 he appointed Ripon Viceroy of India,[11] an office he held until 1884. During his time in India, Ripon introduced legislation (the "Ilbert Bill," named for his secretary, Courtenay Ilbert), that would have granted native Indians more legal rights, including the right of Indian judges to judge Europeans in court. Though progressive in its intent, the legislation was scuppered by Europeans living in India who did not want to be tried by a native judge.[12] In this Ripon was supported by Florence Nightingale, who also backed his efforts to obtain a Bengal land tenancy bill (eventually the Bengal Tenancy Act of 1885) that would improve the situation of the peasants.[13] He repealed the controversial Vernacular Press Act, 1878 passed by Lytton in 1882.[14]

He was also instrumental in supporting Dietrich Brandis to reorganize the Madras Forest Department and expand systematic forest conservancy in India. He is still revered in Chennai (formerly Madras), India as "Lord Ripon engal appan" meaning: Lord Ripon, our father. The Corporation of Chennai's Ripon Building was named for him, as well as the town of Riponpet in the Shivamogga district in the state of Karnataka. In Calcutta, the Ripon Street was named for him. The Ghanta Ghar Multan or Clock Tower of Multan in Pakistan was named Ripon Building and hall of same building was named Ripon Hall.. The Ripon Club in Mumbai (formerly Bombay) founded in 1884 by the Parsis for their community members, was named after him.[15]

Political career, 1884–1908

Lord Ripon also became a supporter of Home Rule for Ireland.[16] In Gladstone's 1886 government he was First Lord of the Admiralty, and in the government of 1892 to 1895 he was Secretary of State for the Colonies.[16] When the Liberals again returned to power in 1905 under Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman, he took office, aged 78, as Lord Privy Seal and Leader of the House of Lords. In 1908, he declined to remain as Lords leader when H. H. Asquith became Prime Minister in April, and he resigned as Lord Privy Seal in October.[16]

As noted by Neil Smith, Ripon’s liberalism had roots in the mid-nineteenth century, but his political views “shifted with the times.” According to Smith

“he was greatly interested in labour questions, deeply sympathetic to labour aspirations and believed the state might interfere with wages and that the state had a duty to deal with unemployment.”[17]

Other appointments

George Robinson, Vanity Fair, 1869-05-22
Robinson caricatured in Vanity Fair, 1869

Lord Ripon was President of the Royal Geographical Society during 1859–60, and Trustee of the National Gallery.[1]

Lord Ripon also held many positions in the public life in Yorkshire. In 1860 he was appointed honorary Colonel of the 1st Volunteer Battalion of the Prince of Wales' Own (West Yorkshire) Regiment and later awarded the Volunteer Decoration (VD); in 1863 High Steward of the borough of Hull,[1] and from 1873 to 1906 was Lord Lieutenant of the North Riding of Yorkshire.[18] He was a Deputy-Lieutenant and JP for the counties of Lincolnshire and the West Riding of Yorkshire, JP for the Liberty of Ripon, and served as Mayor of Ripon in 1895–96.[19]

Lord Ripon was a Freemason, who served as Provincial Grand Master of the West Riding and Deputy Grand Master of the United Grand Lodge of England from 1861 to 1869, and ultimately as Grand Master from 1870 until his conversion to Catholicism in 1874,[1] following which he was generous in supporting Catholic educational and charitable works. He was president of the Society of St Vincent de Paul from 1899 until his death and a great supporter of St. Joseph's Catholic Missionary Society.

He was also Chancellor of the University of Leeds from 1904 until his death in 1909.

The Ripon Falls at the outlet of Lake Victoria were named after him.


Lord Ripon married his cousin Henrietta Anne Theodosia Vyner (17 April 1833 – 28 February 1907), daughter of Henry Vyner and his wife Lady Mary Gertrude Robinson, daughter of Thomas Robinson, 2nd Earl de Grey, on 8 April 1851. They had one son and one daughter. Lady Ripon died in February 1907, aged 73. Lord Ripon survived her by two years and died of heart failure at Studley Royal Park[18] in July 1909, aged 81. He was buried at St Mary's, Studley Royal[18] and was succeeded by his only son, Frederick.[18]

Styles of address

Shield of arms of Geroge Robinson, 1st Marquess of Ripon, KG, GCSI, CIE, VD, PC
Garter encircled arms of Geroge Robinson, 1st Marquess of Ripon, KG, as displayed on his Order of the Garter stall plate in St. George's Chapel.
British High Commissioners for the Treaty of Washington
British High Commissioners for the 1871 Treaty of Washington. Lord Ripon seated in the centre.
  • 1827–1833: The Hon George Frederick Samuel Robinson
  • 1833–1852: Viscount Goderich
  • 1852–1853: Viscount Goderich MP
  • 1853: Viscount Goderich
  • 1853–1859: Viscount Goderich MP
  • 1859: The Rt Hon. The Earl of Ripon
  • 1859–1860: The Rt Hon. The Earl de Grey and Ripon
  • 1860–1863: The Rt Hon. The Earl de Grey and Ripon VD
  • 1863–1869: The Rt Hon. The Earl de Grey and Ripon VD PC
  • 1869–1871: The Rt Hon. The Earl de Grey and Ripon KG VD PC
  • 1871–1880: The Most Hon. The Marquess of Ripon KG VD PC
  • 1880–1884: His Excellency The Most Hon. The Marquess of Ripon KG GCSI CIE VD PC
  • 1884–1909: The Most Hon. The Marquess of Ripon KG GCSI CIE VD PC


  1. ^ a b c d e White, Geoffrey H., ed. (1949). The Complete Peerage, Volume XI. St Catherine's Press. p. 4.
  2. ^ Foster, Joseph (1888). Alumni Oxonienses, 1715–1886. Oxford University Press. p. 1213.
  3. ^ "No. 21338". The London Gazette. 13 July 1852. p. 1947.
  4. ^ a b Wolf, Lucien (1921). Life of the First Marquess of Ripon. London: John Murray. p. 47.
  5. ^ "No. 21434". The London Gazette. 26 April 1853. p. 1193.
  6. ^ "No. 21987". The London Gazette. 10 April 1857. p. 1297.
  7. ^ "No. 22731". The London Gazette. 1 May 1863. p. 2305.
  8. ^ "No. 23748". The London Gazette. 20 June 1871. p. 2847.
  9. ^ "No. 23565". The London Gazette. 14 December 1869. p. 7070.
  10. ^ Congress Presidents 1869–2002 (PDF), February 2002, archived from the original (PDF) on 28 May 2008, retrieved 10 May 2008
  11. ^ "No. 24843". The London Gazette. 11 May 1880. p. 2968.
  12. ^ Cotton, Henry (1904). New India or India in Transition. London: Kegan Paul. p. 4.
  13. ^ Ghourlay, Jharna (2003). Florence Nightingale and the Health of the Raj. Routledge. ISBN 9781138258549
  14. ^ "Reforms Brought by Lord Ripon – Discussed!". History Discussion - Discuss Anything About History. 2014-11-29. Retrieved 2018-12-05.
  15. ^ "Ripon Club".
  16. ^ a b c Denholm, Anthony F. (May 2009) [2004]. "Robinson, George Frederick Samuel, first marquess of Ripon (1827–1909)". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/35792. (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  17. ^
  18. ^ a b c d White, Geoffrey H., ed. (1949). The Complete Peerage, Volume XI. St Catherine's Press. p. 5.
  19. ^ Kelly's Handbook of the Titled, Landed and Official Classes 1909. Kelly's. p. 1386.

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Earl of Ripon
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Earl de Grey
1827 in the United Kingdom

Events from the year 1827 in the United Kingdom.

1880 in India

Events in the year 1880 in India.

1881 in India

Events in the year 1881 in India.

1882 in India

Events in the year 1882 in India.

1883 in India

Events in the year 1883 in India.

1884 in India

Events in the year 1884 in India.

Alan Gardner, 2nd Baron Gardner

Alan Hyde Gardner, 2nd Baron Gardner KCB (5 February 1770 – 22 December 1815), was a British admiral.

Church of Christ the Consoler

The Church of Christ the Consoler is a Victorian Gothic Revival church built in the Early English style by William Burges. It is located in the grounds of Newby Hall at Skelton-on-Ure, in North Yorkshire, England. Burges was commissioned by George Robinson, 1st Marquess of Ripon, to build it as a tribute to the Marquess' brother-in-law, Frederick Vyner. The church is a Grade I listed building as of 6 March 1967, and was vested in the Churches Conservation Trust on 14 December 1991.

Frederick Robinson, 2nd Marquess of Ripon

Frederick Oliver Robinson, 2nd Marquess of Ripon, GCVO, FRS (29 January 1852 – 23 September 1923), styled Viscount Goderich between 1859 and 1871 and Earl de Grey between 1871 and 1909, was a British courtier and Liberal politician.

List of buildings by William Burges

William Burges (1827–1881) was an English architect, born in London. He trained under Edward Blore and Matthew Digby Wyatt. His works include churches, a cathedral, a warehouse, a university, a school, houses and castles. Burges's most notable works are Cardiff Castle, constructed between 1866 and 1928, and Castell Coch (1872–91), both of which were built for John Crichton-Stuart, 3rd Marquess of Bute.

For most of the century following his death, Victorian architecture was neither the subject of intensive study nor sympathetic attention and Burges's work was largely ignored. However the revival of interest in Victorian art, architecture, and design in the later twentieth century has led to a renewed appreciation of Burges and his work.

The list includes all known buildings by Burges, and significant alterations or additions made by him to existing structures. Unexecuted designs are not listed.

List of state leaders in 1884

This is a list of heads of state, heads of governments, and other rulers in the year 1884.

Lord Lieutenant of the North Riding of Yorkshire

The post of Lord Lieutenant of the North Riding of Yorkshire was created in 1660, at the Restoration, and was abolished on 31 March 1974. From 1782 until 1974, all Lords Lieutenant were also Custos Rotulorum of the North Riding of Yorkshire.

Ripon Falls

Ripon Falls at the northern end of Lake Victoria in Uganda was formerly considered the source of the river Nile. In 1862–3 John Hanning Speke was the first European to follow the course of the Nile downstream after discovering the falls that his intuition had marked as the source of the Nile.The water from Ripon Falls falls into a narrow opening and that is where some people believe the River Nile starts.

He named the falls after George Robinson, 1st Marquess of Ripon.

The Falls functioned as a natural outlet for Lake Victoria, until in 1954 the construction of Owen Falls Dam was completed, effectively extending Lake Victoria and submerging Ripon Falls.

Robinson (name)

Robinson is an English language patronymic surname, originating in England. It means "son of Robin (a diminutive of Robert)". There are similar surname spellings such as Robison and Robeson. Robinson is the 15th most common surname in the United Kingdom. According to the 1990 United States Census, Robinson was the twentieth most frequently encountered surname among those reported, accounting for 0.23% of the population.In Ireland, Robinson is only really common in Ulster. The two names had been used interchangeably in some areas of the province around the beginning of the 20th century. It can also be an Anglicization of such Jewish surnames as Rabinowitz and Rubinstein.

Robinson, the compound word, is a rare given name, while its derivative, Robin, has the distinction of being both a masculine and feminine given name.

Surendranath Law College

Surendranath Law College (Bengali :সুরেন্দ্রনাথ আইন কলেজ) formerly known as Ripon College) is an undergraduate law college affiliated with the University of Calcutta. It was established in Kolkata in the Indian state of West Bengal in 1885 by a trust formed by the nationalist leader, scholar and educationist Surendranath Banerjee, a year after he founded Surendranath College. This is now regarded one of the oldest Law college of British India.

Treaty of Washington (1871)

The Treaty of Washington was a treaty signed and ratified by the United Kingdom and the United States in 1871 during the First premiership of William Gladstone and the presidency of Ulysses S. Grant that settled various disputes between the countries, including the Alabama Claims for damages to American shipping caused by British-built warships, as well as illegal fishing in Canadian waters and British civilian losses in the American Civil War. It inaugurated permanent peaceful relations between the United States and Canada, and United States and Britain. After the arbitrators endorsed the American position in 1872, Britain settled the matter by paying the United States $15.5 million (approximately $295 million in 2018), ending the dispute and leading to a treaty that restored friendly relations between Britain and the United States. That international arbitration established a precedent, and the case aroused interest in codifying public international law.

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