Grosvenor, Richard, first Earl Grosvenor 1731-1802, eldest son and heir of Sir Robert, sixth baronet, was grandson of Sir Thomas Grosvenor [qv.]. Born 18 June 1731, he was educated at Oriel College, Oxford (M.A. 1751, and Doctor of Civil Laws 1754). He succeeded his father as seventh baronet 1 Aug. 1755, having been elected M.P. for Chester the year before. In 1758 he added by purchase the manor of Eccleston and hamlet of Belgrave to the family estate of Eaton. In 1759 he served as mayor of Chester, and at the coronation of George III, 22 Sept. 1761, officiated as grand cupbearer, like his uncle at the coronation of George II. For parliamentary services, at the recommendation of Mr. Pitt, says Walpole (Memoirs, i. 46), he was raised to the peerage as Baron Grosvenor of Eaton 8 April 1761, and 5 July 1784 was created Viscount Belgrave and Earl Grosvenor. He married, 19 July 1764, Henrietta, daughter of Henry Vernon of Hilton Park, Staffordshire. They had four sons, all of whom died young, except the third, Robert (1767-1845), afterwards Marquis of Westminster [qv.]. Their marriage was unhappy. The husband gave his wife no slight grounds of alienation (Stanhope, History of England, v. 460). Lady Grosvenor is described by Walpole as a young woman of quality, whom a good person, moderate beauty, no understanding, and excessive vanity had rendered too accessible to the attentions of Henry, duke of Cumberland, brother of George III (Memoirs, iv. 164). In an action for criminal conversation brought before Lord Mansfield in July 1770, the jury awarded 10,000l. damages against the prince. In 1772 Lord Grosvenor settled 1,200l. a year upon his wife by arbitration. A fine portrait of her by Gainsborough is at Eaton. There is also a mezzotint by Dickinson, dated 1774 (Smith, British Mezzotinto Portraits, i. 182-183). Upon the death of the earl, she married, 1 Sept. 1802, Lieutenant-general George Porter, M.P., who afterwards became Baron de Hochepied in Hungary. She lived until 2 Jan. 1828.
In the summer of 1788 Grosvenor invited a party to Eaton to celebrate the coming of age of his son. Some fugitive literary pieces were read each morning at breakfast and reprinted for private circulation under the title of Eaton Chronicle, or the Salt Box (Chester, 1789, 8vo). He died at Earl's Court, near London, 5 Aug. 1802, aged 71, and was buried in the family vault at Eccleston 15 Aug. The obituary paragraph in the Gentleman's Magazine (August 1802, p. 789) states that his death will be much regretted on the turf. He was the greatest breeder of racing stock in England of his day. Walpole refers to an instance of his humanity and tenderness (to H. Mann, 1763, in Letters, iv. 1857, p. 91), and his generous treatment of William Gifford [qv.] is well known. The east gate of Chester was erected at his expense in 1769. There is a mezzotint of him by Dickinson.
Croston's County Families of Lancashire and Cheshire, 1887, pp. 334-5
Collins's Peerage (Sir E. Brydges), 1812, v. 262
Ormerod's Cheshire (Helsby), ii. 837
Foster's Peerage, 1881, p. 694
Doyle's Official Baronage, 1885, ii. 81
the letters which passed between Lady Grosvenor and the Duke of Cumberland, with a report of the trial , 8vo
H. Walpole's Letters, ed. Cunningham, v. 211.
Contributor: H. R. T. [Henry Richard Tedder]