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Lord Lyttelton by Carlo Pellegrini, 1871.
Hon. Lavinia Lyttelton (1920)
by Frank Bernard Dicksee

George William Lyttelton, 4th Baron Lyttelton (31 March 1817–19 April 1876), was a British aristocrat and Conservative politician.


Early life

Lyttelton was the eldest son of William Henry Lyttelton, 3rd Baron Lyttelton, and Lady Sarah Spencer, daughter of George John Spencer, 2nd Earl Spencer. He was educated at Eton and Trinity College, Cambridge.[1] He succeeded his father as fourth Baron Lyttelton in 1837 and took his seat in the House of Lords on his 21st birthday a year later.

Political career

In January 1846 he was appointed Under-Secretary of State for War and the Colonies in the Conservative government of Sir Robert Peel, a post he held until the government fell in June of the same year. Lyttelton was also Lord Lieutenant of Worcestershire from 1839 to 1876 and the first President of Birmingham and Midland Institute in 1854. Moreover, he founded the region of Canterbury, New Zealand with Anglican colonists. The port of Canterbury bears his name. He was president of the British Chess Association at the time of the Staunton–Morphy controversy in 1858.[2]


Lord Lyttelton married, firstly in 1839, Mary Glynne, daughter of Sir Stephen Glynne, 8th Baronet, and sister-in-law of William Gladstone. They had eight sons and four daughters. His son Edward Lyttelton became headmaster of Eton, and another son Alfred Lyttelton was a sportsman and politician. A daughter, Lucy, married Lord Frederick Cavendish and the Lucy Cavendish College at Cambridge is named after her. Another daughter, Lavinia, married Edward Stuart Talbot, an Anglican bishop.

After Mary's death in 1857 Lyttelton married, secondly, Sybella Harriet Clive, daughter of George Clive MP, in 1869. They had three daughters, the youngest of whom, Hester Margaret, married Cyril Alington, also headmaster of Eton, and Dean of Durham.

Lyttelton committed suicide at the age of 59 by throwing himself down the stairs at Hagley Hall. He was succeeded by his eldest son Charles, who later also inherited the viscounty of Cobham. Lady Lyttelton died in 1900.


  1. ^ Lyttelton, George William in Venn, J. & J. A., Alumni Cantabrigienses, Cambridge University Press, 10 vols, 1922–1958.
  2. ^ "The life and chess of Paul Morphy: extra information". Retrieved 2008-08-16.  
Political offices
Preceded by
George William Hope
Under-Secretary of State
for War and the Colonies

Succeeded by
Benjamin Hawes
Honorary titles
Preceded by
The Lord Foley
Lord Lieutenant of Worcestershire
Succeeded by
The Earl Beauchamp
Peerage of Great Britain
Preceded by
William Lyttelton
Baron Lyttelton
Succeeded by
Charles Lyttelton

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