Grosvenor, Hugh Lupus, first Duke of Westminster 1825-1899, second son and eventual heir of Richard Grosvenor, second marquis of Westminster [qv.], by Lady Elizabeth Mary Leveson Gower, second daughter of George Granville, first duke of Sutherland, was born at Eaton Hall, Chester, on 13 Oct. 1825. He was nephew of Lord Robert Grosvenor, first baron Ebury [qv.]. He was educated at Oxford, where he matriculated from Balliol College on 2 June 1843, being then known as Viscount Belgrave. Earl Grosvenor, as he was styled from 1845, was returned to parliament on 28 July 1847 in the liberal interest for Chester, which constituency he continued to represent until his accession to the peerage on the death of his father, 31 Oct. 1869. He voted steadily with his party, but took no prominent part in debate until 1866, when he united with the Adullamites and conservatives in opposition to the government on the franchise question. This coalition was denounced by Bright as a dirty conspiracy, and Grosvenor's motion to postpone the second reading of the franchise bill until the entire scheme for the amendment of the representation was before parliament was treated by the government as tantamount to a resolution of want of confidence. It was, however, only negatived by the narrow majority of five after prolonged debate in an unusually full house (16 April), and a subsequent defeat in committee sealed the fate of the measure and the administration. The scheme of reform subsequently submitted by Disraeli was accepted by Grosvenor as a basis of discussion, and the amendments which he moved in committee had no influence on the course of the measure.
Notwithstanding his somewhat ambiguous course in this crisis, Grosvenor remained an independent liberal, and both in the House of Commons and in the House of Lords, in which he took his seat as third marquis of Westminster, in succession to his father on 5 May 1870, gave a steady though silent support to the first Gladstone administration, on the fall of which he was created Duke of Westminster (27 Feb. 1874). He also adhered to Gladstone throughout the prolonged controversy on the Eastern question, and held the office of master of the horse during Gladstone's second administration (1880-5). He viewed, however, with profound misgiving the policy adumbrated in the Midlothian address of 17 Sept. 1885, joined with Lords Grey, Selborne, and other liberal peers in the manifesto of dissent published in the Times of 4 Nov. following, and pronounced decisively and with vehemence against home rule in a speech at Chester on 12 Jan. 1886. Sympathy with the Armenians, for whose relief he organised a committee at Grosvenor House, brought him once more into accord with Gladstone in 1895, and his acceptance of the chairmanship of the Gladstone memorial committee, which held its first meeting at Grosvenor House on 21 June 1898, was a weighty testimony to the splendour of the services rendered by the deceased statesman to his country.
Westminster was created K.G. on 6 Dec. 1870, sworn of the privy council on 28 April 1880, and appointed aide-de-camp to the queen in 1881, and lord-lieutenant of Cheshire in 1883, and of the county of London in 1888. He was also lord high steward of Westminster, hon. colonel of the Earl of Chester yeomanry cavalry, and hon. colonel of the 13th Middlesex rifle corps. He was a considerate landlord, and greatly improved his London property by rebuilding. He was also a promoter of agricultural and technical education, a judicious dispenser of ecclesiastical patronage, and a munificent donor to the church and charitable institutions. He made Grosvenor House a centre of far-reaching philanthropic effort. He was president of several metropolitan hospitals, of the Gardeners' Royal Beneficent Institution, of the Metropolitan Drinking Fountain and Cattle Trough Association, and of the United Committee for the Prevention of Demoralisation of Native Races by the Liquor Traffic.
Amid these serious preoccupations he, like his father and grandfather, cultivated a taste for art, by which he greatly enriched the noble gallery which he inherited, and indulged the love of manly sports characteristic of the English gentleman. He was a good shot, a fine horseman, and an excellent judge of horseflesh. He was also the most successful breeder of racehorses of his generation. Succeeding to an indifferent stud, he judiciously laid out fourteen thousand guineas in the purchase from Mr. James Merry of the magnificent thoroughbred Doncaster, who signally exemplified the Horatian adage, fortes creantur fortibus et bonis. Doncaster won the Derby in 1873; Bend Or, a colt by Doncaster, won the Derby in 1880, and was sire of Ormonde, winner not only of the Derby but of the Two Thousand Guineas and St. Leger Stakes in 1883. Orme, a colt by Ormonde, unfortunately poisoned before his mettle could be tried for the Two Thousand Guineas in 1892, was sire of Flying Fox, who won the Derby and the St. Leger, Two Thousand Guineas, Prince of Wales, Jockey Club, and Eclipse Stakes in 1899. The Duke's filly Shotover also won the Derby and the Two Thousand Guineas Stakes in 1882.
The duke died on 22 Dec. 1899 at Lord Shaftesbury's seat, St. Giles's, Cranborne, Dorset. His cremated remains were interred on 28 Dec. in Eccleston churchyard, near Eaton Hall. Two portraits of him are at Grosvenor House, one a full-face crayon drawing done by George Richmond in 1856, and the other a side-face portrait in oils, painted by H. W. in 1872; at Eaton Hall is Millais's portrait of the duke in hunting costume.
Westminster married twice: first, on 28 April 1852, Lady Constance Gertrude Sutherland-Leveson-Gower, fifth daughter of George Granville, second duke of Sutherland; secondly, on 29 July 1882, the Hon. Catherine Caroline Cavendish, youngest daughter of William, second lord Chesham. He had issue by his first wife seven sons and four daughters; by his second wife two sons and two daughters. His eldest son, Victor Alexander, earl Grosvenor, who was born 28 April 1853, died in his father's lifetime on 22 Jan. 1884; leaving by his wife, Sibell Mary, daughter of Richard George Lumley, second earl of Scarborough, two daughters and a son, Hugh Richard Arthur, who succeeded his grandfather as second duke of Westminster; the countess Grosvenor married, secondly, the Right Hon. George Wyndham, M.P.
Foster's Alumni Oxon.
Burke's Peerage, 1899
Official Lists of Members of Parliament
Hansard's Parl. Deb. 3rd ser. clxxxii. 1152, clxxxvi. 1879
Lords' Journ. cii. 198
Malmesbury's Memoirs of an ex-Minister, ii. 349
Selborne's Memorials, Personal and Political, ii. 181, 191
Times, 14 Jan. 1886, 6 Dec. 1890, 13 and 17 June, 14 and 17 Sept. 1895, 25 July and 3 Oct. 1898, 13 July and 23 Dec. 1899
Ann. Reg. 1899, ii. 181
Haydn's Book of Dignities, ed. Ockerby
Royal Guide to the London Charities, pp. 326, 336, 369.
Contributor: J. M. R. [James McMullen Rigg]