Henry Petty-Fitzmaurice, 3rd Marquess of Lansdowne

Henry Petty-Fitzmaurice, 3rd Marquess of Lansdowne, KG, PC, FRS (2 July 1780  31 January 1863), known as Lord Henry Petty from 1784 to 1809, was a British statesman. In a ministerial career spanning nearly half a century, he notably served as Home Secretary and Chancellor of the Exchequer and was three times Lord President of the Council.

The Marquess of Lansdowne
Portrait by Henry Walton
Leader of the House of Lords
In office
6 July 1846  27 February 1852
MonarchQueen Victoria
Prime MinisterLord John Russell
Preceded byThe Duke of Wellington
Succeeded byThe Earl of Derby
Lord President of the Council
In office
6 July 1846  27 February 1852
MonarchQueen Victoria
Prime MinisterLord John Russell
Preceded byThe Duke of Buccleuch
Succeeded byThe Earl of Lonsdale
In office
23 April 1835  3 September 1841
MonarchsWilliam IV
Queen Victoria
Prime MinisterThe Viscount Melbourne
Preceded byThe Earl of Rosslyn
Succeeded byThe Lord Wharncliffe
In office
22 November 1830  14 November 1834
MonarchWilliam IV
Prime MinisterThe Earl Grey
The Viscount Melbourne
Preceded byThe Earl Bathurst
Succeeded byThe Earl of Rosslyn
Secretary of State for the Home Department
In office
16 July 1827  22 January 1828
MonarchGeorge IV
Prime MinisterThe Viscount Goderich
Preceded byWilliam Sturges Bourne
Succeeded byRobert Peel
Chancellor of the Exchequer
In office
5 February 1806  26 March 1807
MonarchGeorge III
Prime MinisterThe Lord Grenville
Preceded byWilliam Pitt the Younger
Succeeded bySpencer Perceval
Member of the House of Lords
Lord Temporal
In office
16 November 1809  31 January 1863
Hereditary Peerage
Preceded byThe 2nd Marquess of Lansdowne
Succeeded byThe 4th Marquess of Lansdowne
Member of Parliament
for Cambridge University
In office
15 December 1806  27 April 1807
Preceded byWilliam Pitt the Younger
Succeeded byVicary Gibbs
Member of Parliament
for Calne
In office
31 August 1802  24 October 1806
Preceded bySir Francis Baring, Bt
Succeeded byOsborne Markham
Personal details
Born(1780-07-02)2 July 1780
Lansdowne House, Mayfair, Middlesex, England
Died31 January 1863(1863-01-31) (aged 82)
Bowood House, Derry Hill, Wiltshire, England
Political partyWhig
Spouse(s)Lady Louisa Fox-Strangways
Alma materUniversity of Edinburgh
Trinity College, Cambridge

Background and education

Lansdowne was the son of Prime Minister William Petty, 1st Marquess of Lansdowne (better known as the Earl of Shelburne) by his second marriage to Lady Louisa, daughter of John FitzPatrick, 1st Earl of Upper Ossory. He was educated at Westminster School, the University of Edinburgh, and Trinity College, Cambridge.[1][2]

Political career

He entered the House of Commons in 1802 as member for the family borough of Calne and quickly showed his mettle as a politician. In February 1806 he became Chancellor of the Exchequer in Lord Grenville's Ministry of All the Talents, being at this time member for the University of Cambridge, but he lost both his seat and his office in 1807. In 1809 he became Marquess of Lansdowne, and in the House of Lords and in society he continued to play an active part as one of the Whig leaders. His chief interest was perhaps in the question of Roman Catholic emancipation, a cause which he consistently championed, but he sympathised also with the advocates of the abolition of the slave trade and with the cause of popular education. Lansdowne, who had succeeded his cousin, Francis Thomas Fitzmaurice, as 4th Earl of Kerry in 1818, took office with Canning in May 1827 and was Secretary of State for the Home Department from July of that year until January 1828.[1]

He was Lord President of the Council under Earl Grey and then under Lord Melbourne from November 1830 to August 1841, with the exception of the few months in 1835 when Sir Robert Peel was prime minister. He held the same office during the whole of Lord John Russell's ministry (1846–1852), and, having declined to become prime minister, sat in the cabinets of Lord Aberdeen and of Lord Palmerston, but without office. In 1857 he refused the offer of a dukedom, and he died on 31 January 1863. Lansdowne's social influence and political moderation made him one of the most powerful Whig statesmen of the time; he was frequently consulted by Queen Victoria on matters of moment, and his long official experience made his counsel invaluable to his party.[1] In Kenmare, he donated the site of the Holy Cross Church to the town. In 1864, Father John O'Sullivan (1806-74) built the church on that site.

Other public appointments

Lansdowne chaired the inaugural meeting of the London Statistical Society, and was its first president (1834–1836). He later served a second term (1842–1844). (See The Times 15 and 17 March 1834, and John Bibby (1987) HOTS: History of Teaching Statistics.)


Lord Lansdowne married Lady Louisa Fox-Strangways, daughter of the 2nd Earl of Ilchester, in 1808. They had three sons and one daughter:

  • Lady Louisa (d. 12 June 1906) married Hon. James Kenneth Howard, son of Thomas Howard, 16th Earl of Suffolk. They had a son Kenneth (married Lady Emily Bury, daughter of the Earl of Charleville) and daughter Winifrede.
  • William Thomas Petty-FitzMaurice, Earl of Kerry (30 Mar 1811 - 21 Aug 1836)
  • Henry Petty-FitzMaurice, 4th Marquess of Lansdowne (7 Jan 1816 - 5 July 1866)
  • Hon. Bentinck Yelverton (1855 - 1892), died unmarried.

Louisa died in April 1851, aged 65, and Lord Lansdowne in January 1863, aged 82. His eldest son, the Earl of Kerry, had predeceased him and he was succeeded in the marquessate by his eldest surviving son, Henry. The latter was the father of Henry Petty-FitzMaurice, 5th Marquess of Lansdowne, who also became a distinguished statesman.


  1. One or more of the preceding sentences incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Lansdowne, William Petty Fitzmaurice, 1st Marquess of s.v. Henry Petty Fitzmaurice". Encyclopædia Britannica. Vol. 16 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 184.
  2. "Fitzmaurice, Lord Henry Petty (FTSY798HP)". A Cambridge Alumni Database. University of Cambridge.
In A Great Stream from a Petty-Fountain (1806), James Gillray caricatured the budget of Petty, then the new Chancellor of the Exchequer, as a stream from which his fellow Whigs fed. Petty is the fountainhead at the upper right.
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