Gathorne Gathorne-Hardy, 1st Earl of Cranbrook: Wikis


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The Right Honourable
 The Earl of Cranbrook 

In office
17 May 1867 – 3 December 1868
Monarch Victoria
Prime Minister The Earl of Derby
Benjamin Disraeli
Preceded by Spencer Horatio Walpole
Succeeded by Henry Bruce

Born 1 October 1814(1814-10-01)
Died 30 October 1906 (aged 92)
Nationality British
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. He held 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.


Background and education

Gathorne Hardy was the third son of John Hardy, of Bradford, 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, but was denied when he applied for silk in 1855.

Political career, 1847–1878

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.

In 1865 Hardy reluctantly agreed to stand against William Gladstone in the Oxford University constituency. However, he defeated Gladstone by a majority of 180, which greatly enhanced his standing within the Conservative party. The Conservatives returned to office under Derby in 1866, and Hardy was now 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 electorate. In 1867 he succeeded Spencer Walpole as Home Secretary and was forced to deal with the Fenian Rising of that year.

The next year, Benjamin Disraeli succeeded Derby as Prime Minister, but the Conservative government resigned later in 1868, and the Liberals came to power under Gladstone. In opposition, Hardy occasionally acted as opposition leader in the House of Commons when Disraeli was absent. In 1874 the Conservatives returned to office under Disraeli, and Hardy was appointed Secretary of State for War. He served in this post for more than four years and oversaw the army reforms initiated by his Liberal predecessor Edward Cardwell. In 1876 Disraeli was raised to the peerage as Earl of Beaconsfield and moved to the House of Lords. Hardy had expected to become Conservative leader in the House of Commons, but was overlooked in favour of Sir Stafford Northcote.

Political career, 1878–1895

Two years later, in April 1878, he succeeded Lord 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. At the India Office he was forced to deal with the Second Afghan War in 1878, aimed at restoring British influence in Afghanistan. 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 British control. However, the situation was still volatile when Cranbrook, along with the rest of the government, resigned in April 1880.

In June 1885 the Conservatives, now under the leadership of Lord Salisbury, returned to power, and Cranbrook was made Lord President of the Council. 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. Cranbrook was once again appointed Lord President of the Council, in which office he was mainly concerned with education. 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. 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 92, and was succeeded by his eldest son John. His third son the Hon. Alfred Gathorne-Hardy was also a politician.


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
George Arkwright
Preceded by
William 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
Succeeded by
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
Chichester Parkinson-Fortescue
Lord President of the Council
Succeeded by
The Earl Spencer
Preceded by
William Smith
Secretary of State for War
Succeeded by
Henry Campbell-Bannerman
Preceded by
Sir Ughtred Kay-Shuttleworth, Bt
Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster
Succeeded by
Lord 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


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