Victor Bulwer-Lytton, 2nd Earl of Lytton

Victor Alexander George Robert Bulwer-Lytton, 2nd Earl of Lytton, KG, GCSI, GCIE, PC, DL (9 August 1876 – 25 October 1947), styled Viscount Knebworth from 1880 to 1891, was a British politician and colonial administrator. He served as Governor of Bengal between 1922 and 1927 and was briefly Acting Viceroy of India in 1926. He headed the Lytton Commission for the League of Nations, in 1931–32, producing the Lytton Report which condemned Japanese aggression against China in Manchuria.

The Earl of Lytton

Lord Lytton 2nd.jpg
The Earl of Lytton.
Governor of Bengal
In office
MonarchGeorge V
Preceded byEarl of Ronaldshay
Succeeded bySir Stanley Jackson
Personal details
Born9 August 1876
Simla, British India
Died25 October 1947(1947-10-25) (aged 71)
Pamela Chichele-Plowden
m. 1902;
his death 
RelationsDavid Lytton-Cobbold, 2nd Baron Cobbold (grandson)
Henry Crichton, 6th Earl Erne (grandson)
Christopher Woodhouse, 6th Baron Terrington (grandson)
ParentsRobert Bulwer-Lytton, 1st Earl of Lytton
Edith Villiers
ResidenceKnebworth House
EducationEton College
Alma materTrinity College, Cambridge

Early lifeEdit

He was born in Simla in British India on 9 August 1876, during the time when his father was Viceroy of India. Lytton was the fourth, but eldest surviving, son of Robert Bulwer-Lytton, 1st Earl of Lytton and Edith Villiers, daughter of Edward Ernest Villiers and granddaughter of George Villiers. His six siblings were Edward Rowland John Bulwer-Lytton (who died young), Lady Elizabeth Edith "Betty" Bulwer-Lytton (wife of Gerald Balfour, 2nd Earl of Balfour, the brother of the future Prime Minister Arthur Balfour), Lady Constance Bulwer-Lytton (a prominent suffragette), Henry Meredith Edward Bulwer-Lytton (who died young), Lady Emily Bulwer-Lytton (who married architect Edwin Lutyens), and Neville Bulwer-Lytton, 3rd Earl of Lytton.

He was educated at Eton and Trinity College, Cambridge,[1] where he was secretary of the University Pitt Club.[2] In 1905 he was President of the Edinburgh Sir Walter Scott Club and gave the Toast to Sir Walter at the club's annual dinner.


Lytton caricatured by Spy for Vanity Fair, 1906
Garter-encircled shield of arms of Victor Bulwer-Lytton, 2nd Earl of Lytton, KG, as displayed on his Order of the Garter stall plate in St. George's Chapel.

Lytton started off his official career by filling up various posts in the Admiralty between 1916 and 1920, before being appointed Under-Secretary of State for India, a post which he held between 1920 and 1922. He was also made a Privy Counsellor in 1919. On 16 February 1922 he was posted as Governor of Bengal,[3][4] remaining there until 3 March 1927.[5][6]

For a short while, when there was a vacancy caused by change in incumbents in 1926, he also functioned as Viceroy, his father's old post. After this he filled miscellaneous positions in various capacities, when matters concerning India came up. He wrote two books, the first being a life of his grandfather Lord Lytton, while the other book dealt with his experiences in India and was called Pundits and Elephants, published in 1942. He was made a Knight of the Garter in 1933.[7]

Lytton is best known for his chairmanship of the Lytton Commission, which was sent by the League of Nations on a fact-finding mission to determine who was to blame in the 1931 war between Japan and China. The commission's Lytton Report, officially issued on 1 October 1932, blames Japanese aggression. In response Japan withdrew from the League of Nations.[8]

Personal lifeEdit

On 3 April 1902, Lord Lytton was married to Pamela Chichele-Plowden (1874–1971) at St Margaret's, Westminster. Pamela was a daughter of Sir Trevor Chichele Plowden and Millicent Frances Foster (eldest daughter of Gen. Sir Charles John Foster KCB). Her elder brother was Alfred Chichele Plowden. She had been an early flame of Winston Churchill, but that relationship was amicably broken off when she decided to marry Lytton instead. Together, the couple were the parents of two sons, both of whom predeceased Lytton, and two daughters:[9]

Lord Lytton died in October 1947, aged 71. As neither of his sons had left a son, Lytton's titles were inherited upon his death by his younger brother Neville Bulwer-Lytton. Knebworth House passed to his daughter Lady Hermione Cobbold.[9]


  1. ^ "Bulwer-Lytton, Victor Alexander George Robert, Earl of Lytton (BLWR895VA)". A Cambridge Alumni Database. University of Cambridge.
  2. ^ Fletcher, Walter Morley (2011) [1935]. The University Pitt Club: 1835-1935 (First Paperback ed.). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. p. 92. ISBN 978-1-107-60006-5.
  3. ^ "No. 32620". The London Gazette. 24 February 1922. p. 1611.
  4. ^ "No. 13791". The Edinburgh Gazette. 28 February 1922. p. 383.
  5. ^ "No. 33255". The London Gazette. 8 March 1927. p. 1526.
  6. ^ "No. 14320". The Edinburgh Gazette. 11 March 1927. p. 292.
  7. ^ "No. 33946". The London Gazette. 2 June 1933. p. 3801.
  8. ^ Arthur K. Kuhn, "The Lytton Report on the Manchurian Crisis." American Journal of International Law 27.1 (1933): 96-100. in JSTOR
  9. ^ a b c d e "Lytton, Earl of (UK, 1880)". Heraldic Media Limited. Retrieved 13 March 2020.
  10. ^ "Erne, Earl (I, 1789)". Heraldic Media Limited. Retrieved 13 March 2020.
  11. ^ "Terrington, Baron (UK, 1918)". Heraldic Media Limited. Retrieved 13 March 2020.

External linksEdit

Political offices
Preceded by
The Lord Sinha
Under-Secretary of State for India
Succeeded by
The Earl Winterton
Government offices
Preceded by
Earl of Ronaldshay
Governor of Bengal
Succeeded by
Sir Stanley Jackson
Preceded by
The Earl of Reading
Viceroy of India
Succeeded by
The Lord Irwin
Peerage of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Robert Bulwer-Lytton
Earl of Lytton
Succeeded by
Neville Stephen Bulwer-Lytton