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The 3rd Earl of Lucan. Engraving by D J Pound, c. 1860.
The Earl of Lucan by Sir Francis Grant.

George Charles Bingham, 3rd Earl of Lucan GCB (16 April 1800 – 10 November 1888), styled Lord Bingham before 1839, was a British soldier, remembered for his part in the Crimean War, and in Ireland for his mass evictions during the Great Famine.[1]

He was born in London, the first son of the 2nd Earl of Lucan, and was styled Lord Bingham from birth. He attended Westminster School but left formal education in 1816 to join the 6th Regiment of Foot. He became a lieutenant in 1820 and a major in 1825, when he was with the 17th Lancers. He became regimental commander in 1826. In 1828, he took part as a volunteer with the Russian forces in the Turkish campaign. He was also elected as MP for County Mayo in 1826 and held that seat until 1830. In 1829 he married Lady Anne Brudenell, seventh daughter of the 6th Earl of Cardigan, and they had six children.

He succeeded his father as 3rd Earl of Lucan on 30 June 1839. He was made Lord Lieutenant of Mayo in 1845 and acted in a sufficiently clumsy and insensitive manner to earn the hatred of many of the inhabitants. He continued to rise through the Army's ranks: despite being on half-pay, he was made a colonel in 1841 and a major-general in 1851.

At the outbreak of the Crimean War he applied for a post and was made commander of the cavalry division. His brother-in-law, the 7th Earl of Cardigan, was one of his subordinates, commanding the Light Brigade – an unfortunate choice as the two men heartily detested each other.

At the Battle of Balaclava, Lucan received an order from the British commander, Lord Raglan, and in turn ordered Cardigan to lead the fateful Charge of the Light Brigade. As Lucan brought the Heavy Brigade forward in support he was lightly wounded in the leg. Raglan blamed Lucan for the loss, "you have lost the light brigade", and censured him in dispatches; Although Lucan complained against this censure, as the relationship between the army commander and the cavalry commander had clearly broken down, he was recalled to England, where he returned at the beginning of March 1855.

On his arrival Lucan's demand for a court-martial was declined and instead he defended himself with a speech to the House of Lords on 19 March, blaming Raglan and his deceased aide-de-camp, Captain Louis Nolan. This tactic appears to have been successful as he was subsequently appointed KCB on 5 July and Colonel of the 8th Hussars, who had charged with the Light Brigade, on 17 November 1855. Although he never again saw active duty he was promoted to lieutenant-general on 24 December 1858, to general on 28 August 1865 and finally to field marshal on 21 June 1887.

A significant contribution to the legislature in the Commons' and the Lords' was made by the 3rd Earl of Lucan when he produced an ingenious solution to the problem of admitting Jews to Parliament.

Prior to this, distinguished Jews had declined to take the oath "on the true faith of a Christian" and having not been sworn in as required by statute, were refused voting rights although having been elected an MP.

The 3rd Earl proposed, by way of a compromise that each House could decide and modify its own oath. The House of Lords, who had long been obstructive, agreed to this.

A prominent Jew, Lionel Nathan Rothschild was thus enabled to enter the House of Commons and was sworn in on 26th July 1858.

The Lucan family papers show the Earl of Lucan of Crimea fame received a letter from David Salomons (who was also thus enabled to take his seat as the Member for Greenwich) offering hearty congratulations "on the great success last night in the House of Lords".

A note by a later member of the family (post 1887) states "The Field Marshall moved the Jews Bill in House of Lords & the 2nd Reading as carried on July 1st 1858".

He died at 13 South Street, Park Lane on 10 November 1888 and was buried at Laleham, Middlesex.

His descendant, Richard Bingham, 7th Earl of Lucan, mysteriously disappeared after the murder of his children's nanny Sandra Rivett in 1974.

References

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Dominick Browne
James Browne
Member of Parliament for Mayo
1826–1830
With: James Browne
Succeeded by
James Browne
Dominick Browne
Military offices
Preceded by
Sir John Brown
Colonel of the 8th (The King's Royal Irish) Hussars
1855–1865
Succeeded by
John Lawrenson
Preceded by
The Viscount Combermere
Colonel of the 1st Regiment of Life Guards
1865–1888
Succeeded by
Prince Edward of Saxe-Weimar
Honorary titles
Preceded by
The Marquess of Sligo
Lord Lieutenant of Mayo
1845–1888
Succeeded by
The Earl of Arran
Peerage of Ireland
Preceded by
Richard Bingham
Earl of Lucan
1839–1888
Succeeded by
Charles Bingham
Preceded by
The Earl of Enniskillen
Representative peer for Ireland
1840–1888
Succeeded by
Lord Clarina
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