Grosvenor, Richard de Aquila, first Baron Stalbridge 1837-1912, railway administrator and politician, the fourth son of Richard Grosvenor, second Marquess of Westminster [qv.], by his wife, Lady Elizabeth Mary Leveson Gower, second daughter of George Granville Leveson Gower, first Duke of Sutherland [qv.], was born at Motcombe House, Motcombe, Dorset, 28 January 1837. He was educated at Westminster School and at Trinity College, Cambridge, where he matriculated in 1855, and took his M.A. degree three years later. He became member of parliament for Flintshire as a liberal as early as 1861, and retained his seat until 1886. He was sworn of the Privy Council in 1872, and was vice-chamberlain of the royal household from 1872 to 1874. In 1886 he was raised to the peerage by the title of Baron Stalbridge, of Stalbridge, in the county of Dorset, in recognition of services rendered as patronage secretary to the Treasury and chief government whip throughout Mr. Gladstone's administration from 1880 to 1885. His experience as a liberal whip during the days of nationalist obstruction made it impossible for him to agree to Mr. Gladstone's Irish policy; and after the Home Rule crisis of 1886 he became a staunch and influential member of the liberal-unionist organization.
Lord Stalbridge's life work, however, was done in connexion with the London and North Western Railway Company, of which he was a director for more than forty years and for half that period the chairman. He became a director in 1870; he was elected chairman in succession to Sir Richard Moon in 1891, and held the office until 1911. Throughout that period he took an active interest in the progress and development of railways. He made himself conversant with the design and construction of the successive types of locomotive which were brought into use; and it was said that no railway director had ridden more miles upon the footplate than Lord Richard Grosvenor during the early years of his directorship. He was also actively concerned with many schemes for helping the employees of his company, by such means as the improvement of their savings bank, their superannuation fund, and the fund for their widows and orphans. From 1897 he presided over the meetings of their ambulance centre, established in connexion with the St. John Ambulance Association. Lord Stalbridge's interest in railway matters was not, however, limited to the affairs of the North Western. The Universal Exhibition held at Paris in 1867 had given a great impulse to plans for bringing nations into closer contact by improving their communications: the Mont Cenis tunnel was nearly completed; that under Mont St. Gothard was about to be undertaken; and the project of an Anglo-French tunnel under the straits of Dover was revived. Lord Richard Grosvenor became the head of an Anglo-French company formed to promote the last project, and he continued throughout his life to advocate linking up the English and continental railway systems by a submarine tunnel.
As a sportsman Lord Stalbridge was extremely fond of hunting, an enthusiastic deer-stalker, and a member of the Royal Yacht Squadron. He died, after a prolonged illness, 18 May 1912 at his house in Sussex Square, London, and was buried at Motcombe.
Lord Stalbridge married twice: first, in 1874 the Hon. Beatrice Charlotte Elizabeth Vesey (died 1876), daughter of Thomas, third Viscount De Vesci, by whom he had one daughter; secondly, in 1879 Eleanor Frances Beatrice Hamilton (died 1911), daughter of Robert Hamilton Stubber, of Moyne, Queen's county, by whom he had three sons and two daughters. He was succeeded in the title by his eldest son, Hugh (born 1880).
The Times, 20 May 1912
Daily Telegraph, 20 May 1912
Book of Matriculations and Degrees, University of Cambridge 1851-1900.
Contributor: A. C. B. [Archibald Colquhoun Bell]