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Edward Smith-Stanley, 12th Earl of Derby

Edward Smith-Stanley, 12th Earl of Derby PC (1 September 1752 (O.S.)[1] – 21 October 1834), usually styled Lord Stanley from 1771 to 1776, was a British peer and politician of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. He held office as Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster in 1783 in the Fox–North coalition and between 1806 and 1807 in the Ministry of All the Talents.

The Earl of Derby

Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster
In office
29 April 1783 – 17 December 1783
MonarchGeorge III
Prime MinisterThe Duke of Portland
Preceded byThe Lord Ashburton
Succeeded byThe Earl of Clarendon
In office
12 February 1806 – 31 March 1807
MonarchGeorge III
Prime MinisterThe Lord Grenville
Preceded byThe Lord Harrowby
Succeeded byHon. Spencer Perceval
Personal details
Born1 September 1752 (O.S.) [12 September 1752 (N.S.)]
Died21 October 1834
Political partyWhig
Spouse(s)(1) Lady Elizabeth Hamilton (1753–1797)
Elizabeth Farren
(d. 1829)
ChildrenEdward Smith-Stanley, 13th Earl of Derby
Lady Charlotte Hornby
Lady Elizabeth Henrietta Cole
ParentsJames Smith-Stanley, Lord Strange
Lucy Smith
Alma materTrinity College, Cambridge

Background and educationEdit

Derby was the son of James Smith-Stanley, Lord Strange (1716–1771), son of Edward Stanley, 11th Earl of Derby (1689-1776). His mother was Lucy Smith, a daughter and co-heiress of Hugh Smith of Weald Hall, Essex. His father had assumed the additional surname and arms of Smith by private Act of Parliament in 1747.[2] Derby entered Eton College in 1764, proceeding to Trinity College, Cambridge in 1771.[3]

Political careerEdit

Derby was returned to Parliament as one of two representatives for Lancashire in 1774, a seat he held until 1776,[4] when he succeeded his grandfather in the earldom and entered the House of Lords.[5] He served as Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster between April and December 1783[5][6] in the Fox-North Coalition headed by the Duke of Portland and was sworn into the Privy Council the same year.[6] He remained out of office for the next 23 years but was once again Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster between 1806 and 1807 in the Ministry of All the Talents headed by Lord Grenville.[5]

Lord Derby also served as Lord Lieutenant of Lancashire between 1776 and 1834.[5] He was also listed as a subscriber to the Manchester Bolton & Bury Canal navigation in 1791.[7]

Horse racingEdit

At a dinner party in 1778 held on his estate "The Oaks" in Carshalton, Lord Derby and his friends planned a sweepstake horse race, won the following year by Derby's own horse, Bridget. The race, The Oaks, has been named after the estate since. At a celebration after Bridget's win, a similar race for colts was proposed and Derby tossed a coin with Sir Charles Bunbury for the honour of naming the race. Derby won, and the race became known as the Derby Stakes. Bunbury won the initial race in 1780 with his horse, Diomed; Derby himself won it in 1787 with Sir Peter Teazle.[8]

His racing colours were black with a white cap.[9]

His influence on racing has been described as "crucial".[10]


Edward Smith Stanley, Twelfth Earl of Derby, with His First Wife (Lady Elizabeth Hamilton) and Their Son, portrait painting by Angelica Kauffmann, ca 1776

Lord Derby married Lady Elizabeth, daughter of James Hamilton, 6th Duke of Hamilton, on 23 June 1774. She bore him three children, being:

  • Edward Smith-Stanley, 13th Earl of Derby (21 April 1775 – 30 June 1851); married his cousin Charlotte Margaret Hornby, daughter of Reverend Geoffrey Hornby by his wife, the Hon. Elizabeth Hornby (née Smith-Stanley)
  • Lady Charlotte (17 October 1776 – 25 November 1805); married her cousin Edmund Hornby, Esq., son of Reverend Geoffrey Hornby by his wife, the Hon. Elizabeth Hornby (née Smith-Stanley)
  • Lady Elizabeth Henrietta (29 April 1778 – ca. 1857); married Thomas Cole, Esq., and had issue.

In the late 1770s, Lady Derby had a very public affair with John Frederick Sackville, 3rd Duke of Dorset. In 1779, the countess moved out of Lord Derby's house, leaving their children behind, apparently expecting that her husband would agree to a divorce and that the Duke would then marry her. About one year after she left his house, Lord Derby made it known that he had no intention of divorcing his wife; at the same time, he continued to deny her access to her children. The countess was socially ostracised for the remainder of her life. Historian Peter Thomson suggests that the third of the couple's children, Lady Elizabeth Henrietta, was the result of Lady Derby's affair with Dorset. Despite this, the Earl of Derby cared for the child after his wife left him.[11]

Lady Derby died at the age of 44 on 14 March 1797. Only six weeks later, on 1 May 1797, Lord Derby married the actress Elizabeth Farren, daughter of George Farren. She bore him a further four children and died on 23 April 1829. Lord Derby survived her by five years and died on 21 October 1834, aged 82. He was succeeded in the earldom by his son from his first marriage, Edward, Lord Stanley.[5]


In A Peep at Christies' (1796), James Gillray caricatured Lord Derby (as "Tally-ho") next to his future wife, Elizabeth Farren
  1. ^ Edward was born on 1 September 1752 according to his entry in the baptismal register of St John's church, Preston: see "The Parish of St John, Preston in the County of Lancashire". Lancashire OnLine Parish Clerks. Retrieved 5 July 2018.Parish registers for St. John's Church, Preston, 1642–1948. Preston, Lancashire: Church of England, St. John's Church. 30 April 2005. Retrieved 7 July 2018. Online; electronic images of LDS microfilm 1278740, image 418 of 2102 (closeup of entry) Two days after his birth, the provisions of the Calendar (New Style) Act 1750 came into effect, as Britain converted to the Gregorian calendar, so that Wednesday, 2 September was immediately followed by Thursday, 14 September. In many modern secondary sources (e.g. Cokayne et al. 1916; Brooke 1964; Cox 1974, p. 15; Crosby 2004) his birth date is given as 12 September 1752, which is a retrospective conversion of 1 September to the New Style calendar.
  2. ^ Act (1747) 21 Geo.2 c.4 "Enabling James Stanley, Lord Strange, and his issue to take the surname Smith and to bear the arms of Smith and Heriz" [1]
  3. ^ "Stanley, the Hon. Edward (Smith) (STNY771E)". A Cambridge Alumni Database. University of Cambridge.
  4. ^ "Stanley, Edward, Lord Stanley (1752–1834)". History of Parliament Online. Retrieved 15 November 2017.
  5. ^ a b c d e
  6. ^ a b "No. 12470". The London Gazette. 26 August 1783. p. 1.
  7. ^ A list of the subscribers to the intended Bolton Bury and Manchester Canal Navigation. Greater Manchester County Records Office, ref. E4/78/419: Manchester, Bolton and Bury Canal Company. 1791.
  8. ^ Thoroughbred Heritage: Sir Peter Teazle Retrieved 23 November 2010
  9. ^ Weatherby, Edward and James (1801). "Colours worn by the riders of the following noblemen, gentlemen, &c". Racing Calendar. 28: 52.
  10. ^ Barrett, Norman, ed. (1995). The Daily Telegraph Chronicle of Horse Racing. Enfield, Middlesex: Guinness Publishing.
  11. ^ Thomson 2004.

Works citedEdit

Further readingEdit

  • Bagley, J. J. (1985). The Earls of Derby, 1485–1985. London: Sidgwick & Jackson. pp. 143–54. ISBN 0283991526.
  • Stanley, Peter Edmund (1998). The House of Stanley: the history of an English family from the 12th century. Edinburgh: Pentland Press. ISBN 1858215781.

External linksEdit