Villiers, George Child- (DNB00)

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VILLIERS, GEORGE CHILD-, fifth Earl of Jersey and eighth Viscount Grandison (1773–1859), born at Middleton Park on 19 Aug. 1773, was elder son of George Bussy Villiers, fourth earl [q. v.] He was educated at Harrow, and graduated M.A. from St. John's College, Cambridge, in 1794. He twice held the office of lord chamberlain of the household of William IV, in 1830 and 1834–5, and twice also that of master of the horse to Queen Victoria in 1841–6 and 1852. He was an ardent foxhunter; ‘Nimrod’ in his ‘Crack Riders of England’ refers to him as ‘not only one of the hardest, boldest, and most judicious, but perhaps the most elegant rider to hounds the world ever saw.’ For a long series of years, beginning in 1807, he was one of the chief pillars of the turf, breeding and training his own horses at his Oxfordshire seat, Middleton, among which were many celebrated winners, such as Cobweb, winner of the Oaks in 1824; Middleton, winner of the Derby in 1825; Mameluke, winner of the Derby in 1827; and Bay Middleton, winner of the Derby in 1836. Jersey received the honorary degree of D.C.L. at Oxford in 1812, was appointed a privy councillor in 1830, and a knight grand cross of the Guelphs of Hanover in 1834. He died at 38 Berkeley Square, London, on 3 Oct. 1859, and was buried at Middleton Stoney. He married at Gretna Green, on 23 May 1804, Sarah Sophia (1785–1867), eldest daughter of John Fane, tenth earl of Westmorland [q. v.], by Anne, daughter and sole heiress of the banker, Robert Child, of Osterley Park, Middlesex. He assumed the additional name of Child on 1 Dec. 1819. By his wife he had five sons and three daughters. The countess, who owned the chief interest in Child's bank by Temple Bar, was for many years a leader of the best society in London. She offered an asylum to Byron at Middleton Park in 1814–5, and is said to have suggested the characters of Lady St. Julians in Disraeli's ‘Coningsby’ and ‘Sibyl.’

There are several fine portraits of the fifth Countess of Jersey, including a full-length as a child by Romney, a full-length at the age of twenty-two by Lawrence, a head by Hoppner, all at Middleton; and a full-length by Gerard at Osterley. There are engravings by Henry Meyer, by Cochran, by Lewis, and by Ryall. Lady Jersey's correspondence, preserved at Middleton, in- includes familiar letters from a number of persons distinguished in politics and literature.

[G. E. C[okayne]'s Complete Peerage; Gent. Mag. 1859, ii. 643; Waagen's Galleries of Art, 1857, pp. 269–74; New Sporting Mag. 1836, x. 302, with portrait; Doyle's Official Baronage; private papers at Middleton.]

H. E. M.