George Robinson, 1st Marquess of Ripon

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George Frederick Samuel Robinson, 1st Marquess of Ripon (24 October 1827 - 9 July 1909) was a British politician who served in every Liberal cabinet from 1861 until his death forty-eight years later. He had no career other than politics.

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George_Robinson_1st_Marquess_of_Ripon.jpg
Lord Ripon as Viceroy of India, from a 1880 magazine

Robinson was born at 10 Downing Street, London (the Prime Minister's residence), the second son of the Prime Minister, Lord Goderich. Although his father had been a Tory, he was first a Whig and later a Liberal. He entered the House of Commons as member for Hull in 1852, and later sat for Huddersfield and the West Riding of Yorkshire. In 1859 he succeeded his father as Earl of Ripon and Viscount Goderich, taking his seat in the House of Lords, and later that year succeeded a cousin in the more senior title of Earl de Grey.

In 1861 de Grey first took office, and was then a member of every Liberal Cabinet until his death. He was Secretary of State for War (1863-66) under Palmerston and Secretary of State for India in 1866 under Russell. 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. For this he was created Marquess of Ripon. In 1874 Ripon converted to Catholicism.

When Gladstone returned to power in 1880 he appointed Ripon Viceroy of India, and he held this office until 1884. During his time in India, Ripon introduced legislation (the "Ilbert Bill," named for his secretary) 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, this legislation was gutted by British lawmakers who dreaded losing their legal superiority. In Gladstone's 1886 government he was First Lord of the Admiralty, and in that of 1892-95 he was Secretary of State for the Colonies. When the Liberals again returned to power in 1905 he took office, aged 78, as Lord Privy Seal and Leader of the House of Lords. He resigned in 1908, shortly before his death.

A devout Catholic, Ripon was generous in 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. In 1851 he married his cousin Henrietta Vyner: they had two children.


Preceded by:
Sir George Lewis, Bt
Secretary of State for War
1863–1866
Succeeded by:
Marquess of Hartington
Preceded by:
Charles Wood
Secretary of State for India
1866
Succeeded by:
Viscount Cranborne
Preceded by:
The Duke of Marlborough
Lord President of the Council
1868–1873
Succeeded by:
The Lord Aberdare
Preceded by:
The Lord Lytton
Viceroy of India
1880–1884
Succeeded by:
The Earl of Dufferin
Preceded by:
The Lord George Hamilton
First Lord of the Admiralty
1886
Succeeded by:
The Lord George Hamilton
Preceded by:
The Lord Knutsford
Secretary of State for the Colonies
1892–1895
Succeeded by:
Joseph Chamberlain

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