Ryder, Dudley (1798-1882) (DNB00)
|←Ryder, Dudley (1762-1847)||Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900, Volume 50
Ryder, Dudley (1798-1882)
RYDER, DUDLEY, second Earl of Harrowby (1798–1882), born at the army pay office, Whitehall, London, on 19 May 1798, was the eldest son of Dudley, first earl [q. v.], by his wife, Lady Susan Leveson-Gower, sixth daughter of the first Marquis of Stafford. He was known until his father's death as Viscount Sandon. At first privately educated, he matriculated from Christ Church, Oxford, on 19 Oct. 1816, and in 1819 secured a ‘double-first.’ He graduated B.A. on 10 Feb. 1820, M.A. on 21 June 1832, and was created D.C.L. on 5 July 1848. Among his personal friends at Oxford were the fourteenth Earl of Derby, Henry Labouchere (afterwards Lord Taunton) [q. v.], Lord Ossington, and Lord F. Egerton (afterwards Lord Ellesmere). In 1819 he was elected to parliament as member for the family borough of Tiverton [see Ryder, Sir Dudley]. He was re-elected in 1820, 1826, and 1830.
In 1827 Lord Sandon was appointed a lord of the admiralty in Lord Liverpool's administration, but resigned next year, believing that the Duke of Wellington, who then became premier, would oppose catholic emancipation. Though a conservative, he held, like his father, many liberal opinions. He voted for the inquiry into the civil list which overturned the Wellington administration (1830). But on 18 Dec. in the same year he again accepted office under Wellington as secretary to the India board, and retained that post till May 1831. At the dissolution in this year Lord Sandon did not again contest Tiverton, but, accepting an invitation from Liverpool, he was duly returned, and thus at the age of thirty-three became one of the representatives of that great commercial town. Its business interests largely engrossed his time for eighteen years, and made official work difficult. He had many memorable contests for this seat, but was always returned by triumphant majorities, being re-elected in 1832, 1835, 1837, and 1841. He supported the Reform Bill ‘as a measure of peace’ (Address to Liverpool Electors, 1834).
In 1835, when Sir Robert Peel was prime minister, Lord Sandon was appointed commissioner for inquiring into army punishments, a subject then attracting much attention. Again, in the events which led to the dissolution of 1841, he took a prominent part. The whig ministry of Lord Melbourne, to regain its waning popularity, proposed to abolish the sliding scale and impose a fixed duty on corn, and no longer to prohibit the importation of slave-grown sugar. A resolution to this effect was brought before the House of Commons by Lord John Russell; but Sandon moved an amendment which, being carried, virtually turned out the whig government. The general election which ensued made Sir Robert Peel prime minister (Disraeli, Lord G. Bentinck, p. 329). Sandon followed Peel in his adoption of free-trade principles in 1845, not because he was convinced by Peel's arguments, but because he considered that the policy was no longer a matter for discussion now that the leaders on both sides of the House were hostile to protection. He was by temperament indisposed to support unreservedly any tory dogma. He had already voted, though a conservative and strong protestant, for the repeal of the Test Acts and for the grant to Maynooth; he further, aided by his friend Lord Ashley (afterwards Lord Shaftesbury), was active in supporting philanthropic measures, such as the emancipation of negroes, and the shortening of work-time in factories.
When parliament was dissolved in 1847, Sandon did not seek re-election. He was appointed an ecclesiastical commissioner on 18 Dec., and on the 26th he succeeded his father as second Earl of Harrowby. In the House of Lords his liberal sympathies enabled him in 1852 to act successfully as mediator between Lord Derby and the free-traders. On 31 March 1855 he became chancellor of the duchy of Lancaster in Palmerston's first administration, and was sworn of the privy council. From December 1855 to December 1857 he was lord privy seal. He was intimate with Palmerston, and supported his foreign policy. During the closing episodes of the Crimean war he fully shared with his colleagues the consequent labours and anxieties; but his health gave way, and he was forced to resign, his services being subsequently recognised by his admission to the order of the Garter on 28 June 1859. The first standing committee of the cabinet, consisting of the political heads of the admiralty, war, and colonial departments, was established at his instance, and succeeded in redeeming many of the errors and shortcomings which had led to disaster in the early stages of the war.
Harrowby seldom made speeches in the House of Lords. But he spoke in July 1861 on behalf of Poland, and again in 1862 of the changes effected in Italy. His two most important interventions in public affairs were in the interests of the established church, to which he was earnestly devoted. On the first occasion, in 1869, he moved the rejection of Mr. Gladstone's Irish Church Bill in a speech of vigour and ability. Secondly, in 1880 in connection with the Burials Bill, he acted as peacemaker, being the author of the arrangement which was finally adopted. Harrowby did good public service as chairman of the Maynooth commission, member of the first Oxford University commission, of the ritual commission, and of the clerical subscription commission; he was also a governor of the Charterhouse and of King's College, London, a magistrate for the counties of Stafford and Gloucester, and was much interested in prison reform. As a speaker he was solid, sensible, and reasonable, remarkable for independent thought and felicity of expression, without attempting oratorical display.
He continued through life that connection with literary and scientific pursuits which he had commenced at the university. He was elected fellow of the Royal Society on 24 Nov. 1853, and frequently attended its meetings, and presided over one of the early meetings of the British Association; thus maintaining friendly relations with the chief scientific men of his time. He was an early member of the Geographical and Statistical Societies, and lengthened residences at Rome in his later years rendered him an acknowledged judge and authority on the works of the old masters. Being an accomplished French and Italian scholar, he cultivated relations with the leading men on the continent whom he had met in his father's house in Grosvenor Square when it was the centre of the leading diplomatic and official society of London.
As a landlord he was one of the earliest promoters of reform and of county agricultural societies, being a founder of that in Staffordshire. Till his eightieth year he was the active president of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, and pleaded its cause in English and French with equal facility and success.
Lord Harrowby died at Sandon, Stone, Staffordshire, on 19 Nov. 1882.
He married at Berne, in 1823, Lady Frances Stuart, fourth daughter of the first Marquis of Bute, a lady of great beauty and attractive character, who died in London in 1859. They had two daughters and four sons. Dudley Francis Stuart Ryder (1831–1900), his eldest surviving son, succeeded to the peerage.
His portrait by Richmond is at Sandon; it has been engraved, and there is an excellent copy at High Ashurst, Surrey, belonging to his second son, the Hon. Henry Dudley Ryder, who also has miniatures of Lady Harrowby.[Notes and Memoranda supplied by the Earl of Harrowby; Documents kindly lent by the Hon. H. D. Ryder; a sermon preached in Sandon Church and a memoir, reprinted from the Staffordshire Advertiser, 25 Nov. 1882; Obituary notices: Times, 21 Nov. 1882; Morning Post, 21 Nov. 1882; Hertfordshire Express, 26 Nov. 1882; Tablettes Biographiques des Hommes du Temps, Paris-Neuilly, 1882; Dod's Peerage; Lists of the Fellows of the Royal Society; Foster's Alumni Oxon. 1715–1886; Official Return of Members of Parliament; Doyle's Baronage; Torrens's Memoirs of Lord Melbourne.]