Frederick Spencer, 4th Earl Spencer

Frederick Spencer, 4th Earl Spencer KG, CB, PC (14 April 1798 – 27 December 1857), styled The Honourable Frederick Spencer until 1845, was a British naval commander, courtier, and Whig politician. He initially served in the Royal Navy and fought in the Napoleonic Wars and the Greek War of Independence, eventually rising to the rank of Vice-Admiral. He succeeded his elder brother as Earl Spencer in 1845 and held political office as Lord Chamberlain of the Household between 1846 and 1848 and as Lord Steward of the Household between 1854 and 1857. In 1849 he was made a Knight of the Garter.

The Earl Spencer

Frederick, 4th Earl Spencer KG (1798-1857) by Stephen Catterson Smith.jpg
The Earl Spencer by Stephen Catterson Smith.
Lord Chamberlain of the Household
In office
8 July 1846 – 5 September 1848
Prime MinisterLord John Russell
Preceded byThe Earl De La Warr
Succeeded byThe Marquess of Breadalbane
Lord Steward of the Household
In office
10 January 1854 – 23 November 1857
Prime MinisterThe Earl of Aberdeen
The Viscount Palmerston
Preceded byThe Duke of Norfolk
Succeeded byThe Earl of St Germans
Personal details
Born(1798-04-14)14 April 1798
Admiralty Building, Whitehall, London, England
Died27 December 1857(1857-12-27) (aged 59)
Althorp, Brington, Northamptonshire, England
Political partyWhig
Georgiana Poyntz
(m. 1830; her death 1851)

Adelaide Horatia Seymour
(m. 1854; his death 1857)
ChildrenLady Georgiana Spencer
John Spencer, 5th Earl Spencer
Lady Sarah Spencer
Lady Victoria Mansfield
Charles Spencer, 6th Earl Spencer
ParentsGeorge Spencer, 2nd Earl Spencer
Lady Lavinia Bingham
Alma materEton College

Through his second son, Charles, Lord Spencer was the great-great-grandfather of Diana, Princess of Wales, the three-times-great-grandfather of future British Monarch Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, and the four-times-great-grandfather of William's son, Prince George.

Early lifeEdit

Spencer was born on 14 April 1798 at the Admiralty Building, London and was baptised in St Martin-in-the-Fields. He was the fifth son born to George Spencer, 2nd Earl Spencer, and Lady Lavinia Bingham. Among his siblings was older brothers John Spencer, 3rd Earl Spencer (whose wife died in childbirth) and Sir Robert Cavendish Spencer, who died unmarried at sea.[1] His older sister Lady Sarah Spencer was the wife of William Lyttelton, 3rd Baron Lyttelton.[2]

His paternal grandparents were Home Secretary John Spencer, 1st Earl Spencer, and his wife Margaret Georgiana Poyntz, daughter of the diplomat and courtier Stephen Poyntz. His maternal grandparents were Irish peer Charles Bingham, 1st Earl of Lucan and his wife, the portrait miniature painter Margaret Smyth.[3][4]

Spencer was educated at Eton from 1808 to 1811.[5]


Spencer then joined the Royal Navy as a midshipman on 18 September 1811, and fought in the Napoleonic Wars in the Mediterranean between 1811 and 1815. He served for a time under his brother, Captain the Hon. Robert Cavendish Spencer as a lieutenant aboard his ship HMS Owen Glendower, before receiving his own command, that of the brig HMS Alacrity on the South America Station.[6] He was promoted to the rank of captain on 26 August 1822.[5]

During the Greek War of Independence he commanded HMS Talbot at the Battle of Navarino on 20 October 1827[1] and was appointed a Companion of the Order of the Bath in November of that year.[7] The following year he fought with the Naval Brigade in the Morea expedition. For his actions he was made a Knight of the Order of St Louis of France and awarded the Order of St Anne of Russia and the Order of the Redeemer of Greece.[1]

Political careerEdit

Spencer then retired from naval life and was elected Whig Member of Parliament for Worcestershire in 1831. He held this seat until 1832[1][8] and then represented Midhurst between 1832 and 1834 and again between 1837 and 1841.[1][9] He was later an equerry in the household of the Duchess of Kent (Queen Victoria's mother) from 1840 to 1845. The latter year he succeeded his elder brother in the earldom and took his seat in the House of Lords.[1]

When the Whigs came to power under Lord John Russell in 1846, Lord Spencer was appointed Lord Chamberlain of the Household.[10] He was sworn of the Privy Council the same year.[11] He resigned as Lord Chamberlain in 1848[12] but returned to the government as Lord Steward of the Household in early 1854 under Lord Aberdeen,[13] a post he held until shortly before his death in 1857, the last two years under the premiership of Lord Palmerston.[14] He was made a Knight of the Garter in 1849.[15]

He was also promoted to Rear-Admiral in 1852[16] and to Vice-Admiral (on the reserve list) in 1857.[17]

Personal lifeEdit

Lady Sarah Spencer (1838–1919)

Lord Spencer was twice married. He married firstly his cousin, Georgiana Poyntz (1799–1851), on 23 February 1830. They had three children:[2]

After Georgiana's death in 1851 he married, secondly, Adelaide Horatia Seymour (1825–1877), daughter of Sir Horace Seymour and a great-granddaughter of Francis Seymour-Conway, 1st Marquess of Hertford, on 9 August 1854. They had two children:[2]

Lord Spencer died at the family seat at Althorp, Brington, Northamptonshire, in December 1857, aged 59, and was succeeded in the earldom by his only son from his first marriage, John, who became a Liberal politician. Spencer's son from his second marriage, Charles, who succeeded in the earldom in 1910, was also a Liberal politician. He was the great-great-grandfather of Diana, Princess of Wales. The Countess Spencer died at Guilsborough, Northamptonshire, in October 1877, aged 52.[1]

Coat of armsEdit

Coat of arms of Frederick Spencer, 4th Earl Spencer
A Coronet of an Earl
Out of a Ducal Coronet Or a Griffin's Head Azure gorged with a Bar Gemelle Gules between two Wings expanded of the second
Quarterly Argent and Gules in the 2nd and 3rd quarters a Fret Or over all on a Bend Sable three Escallops of the first
Dexter: A Griffin per fess Ermine and Erminois gorged with a Collar Sable the edges flory-counterflory and chained of the last and on the Collar three Escallops Argent; Sinister: A Wyvern Erect on his tail Ermine similarly collared and chained
Dieu Defend Le Droit (God defend the right)


See alsoEdit

  • O'Byrne, William Richard (1849). "Spencer, Frederick" . A Naval Biographical Dictionary. John Murray – via Wikisource.


  1. ^ a b c d e f g Vice-Admiral Frederick Spencer, 4th Earl Spencer
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h "Spencer, Earl (GB, 1765)". Cracroft's Peerage. Retrieved 15 August 2019.
  3. ^ Lester 2004.
  4. ^ Foreman 1998, p. 72.
  5. ^ a b J. K. Laughton, "Spencer, Sir Robert Cavendish (1791–1830)", rev. Andrew Lambert, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004 accessed 28 April 2009.
  6. ^ Laughton. "Spencer, Sir Robert Cavendish (1791–1830)". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography.
  7. ^ "No. 18414". The London Gazette. 13 November 1827. p. 2331.
  8. ^ " House of Commons: Witney to Wythenshawe and Sale East". Archived from the original on 28 September 2018. Retrieved 25 September 2010.
  9. ^ " House of Commons: Mayo to Minehead". Archived from the original on 10 August 2009. Retrieved 25 September 2010.
  10. ^ "No. 20621". The London Gazette. 10 July 1846. p. 2533.
  11. ^ "No. 20621". The London Gazette. 10 July 1846. p. 2529.
  12. ^ "No. 20894". The London Gazette. 5 September 1848. p. 3275.
  13. ^ "No. 21511". The London Gazette. 13 January 1854. p. 109.
  14. ^ "No. 22067". The London Gazette. 27 November 1857. p. 4127.
  15. ^ "No. 20961". The London Gazette. 27 March 1849. p. 1004.
  16. ^ "No. 21366". The London Gazette. 12 October 1852. p. 2665.
  17. ^ "No. 22070". The London Gazette. 8 December 1857. p. 4329.

External linksEdit

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Hon. Thomas Foley
Hon. Henry Lygon
Member of Parliament for Worcestershire
With: Hon. Thomas Foley
Constituency abolished
Preceded by
George Robert Smith
Martin Tucker Smith
Member of Parliament for Midhurst
Succeeded by
William Stephen Poyntz
Preceded by
William Stephen Poyntz
Member of Parliament for Midhurst
Succeeded by
Sir Horace Seymour
Political offices
Preceded by
The Earl De La Warr
Lord Chamberlain of the Household
Succeeded by
The Marquess of Breadalbane
Preceded by
The Duke of Norfolk
Lord Steward of the Household
Succeeded by
The Earl of St Germans
Peerage of Great Britain
Preceded by
John Spencer
Earl Spencer
Succeeded by
John Spencer