Dictionary of National Biography, 1912 supplement/Holroyd, Henry North

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HOLROYD, HENRY NORTH, third Earl of Sheffield (1832–1909), patron of cricket, born at 58 Portland Place, St. Marylebone, on 18 Jan. 1832, was elder surviving son of George Augustus Frederick Charles Holroyd, second earl of Sheffield, by Harriet, eldest daughter of Henry Lascelles, second earl of Harewood. His grandfather, John Baker Holroyd, first earl of Sheffield [q. v.], was the patron and friend of Edward Gibbon, the historian [q. v.]. Until he succeeded to the earldom in 1876 he bore the courtesy title of Viscount Pevensey. Educated at Eton, he entered the diplomatic service and was attached successively to the embassies at Constantinople (1852), Copenhagen (1852-3), and again at Constantinople (1853-6). From 1857 to 1865 he sat in the House of Commons as conservative M.P. for East Sussex.

Sheffield, although he never gained distinction as a player, deeply interested himself in cricket. From 1855 he was a member of the M.C.C., the presidency of which he several times declined. From 1879 to 1897 and from 1904 till death he was president of the Sussex County Club, which owed its secure financial position to his active interest and generosity. Many Sussex players, notably Mr. George Brann, owed their first appearance for the county to Lord Sheffield's discerning interest. In 1887, at his own expense, he engaged Alfred Shaw [q. v. Suppl. II], then lately retired from the Nottinghamshire XI, and William Mycroft to coach the young players of Sussex. At Sheffield Park, Fletching, his Sussex seat, Sheffield kept up one of the finest private cricket grounds in the kingdom. On this ground the visiting Australian teams of 1884, 1886, 1890, 1893, and 1896 all opened their tours with matches against more or less representative English XI's raised by Lord Sheffield. King Edward VII (then Prince of Wales) was present in 1896. The ground was freely placed at the service of local cricket. Lord Sheffield discouraging the use of boundaries in club matches. In 1891-2 Lord Sheffield, at his sole expense, took to Australia a team including Dr. W. G. Grace, under the management of Alfred Shaw. This enterprise greatly stimulated Australian cricket; the earl presented the Sheffield Shield, a trophy to be competed for annually by cricketers of Victoria, New South Wales, and South Australia. Sheffield was actively interested in the volunteer and, later, in the territorial movements. He gave a recreation ground to Newhaven in 1889 at a cost of 4000l.

In 1894 Sheffield served as president of the Gibbon Commemoration Committee of the Royal Historical Society, and lent the Gibbon MSS. and relics in his possession to the centenary exhibition in the British Museum, November 1894. The MSS. he sold to the Museum in the following year (Add. MSS. 34874-87), having previously allowed the publication of variant readings and passages omitted from his grandfather's edition of Gibbon's 'Autobiography,' justifying himself by the passage of time for acting contrary to the first earl's injunction that no further publication be made from Gibbon's MSS. To this volume 'The Autobiographies of Edward Gibbon,' edited by Mr. John Murray (1896), and to 'Private Letters of Edward Gibbon,' edited by Mr. Rowland E. Prothero (2 vols. 1896), Lord Sheffield contributed introductions. Other Gibbon papers of lesser interest were sold by auction after the earl's death, together with the Sheffield Park library and pictures.

Lord Sheffield, who was unmarried, died at Beaulieu in the south of France on 21 April 1909, and was buried in the family vault in Fletching churchyard. His younger brother, the Hon. Douglas Edward Holroyd (b. 20 June 1834), had predeceased him on 9 Feb. 1882. His sister. Lady Susan Holroyd, married in 1849 Edward William Harcourt (d. 1891) of Nuneham, and was mother of Aubrey Harcourt (1852-1904), who died unmarried, and of Edith, wife of the twelfth earl of Winchilsea. On Sheffield's death the Irish earldom became extinct. The English baronetcy of Sheffield passed by special remainder to Edward L3ailph Stanley, fourth Baron Stanley of Alderley, heir male of the elder daughter of the first Lord Sheffield; Lord Stanley was thenceforth known as Lord Sheffield.

[The Field, 24 April 1909; Cricket, 29 April 1009; Sussex Daily News, 22 April 1909; Haygarth's Scores and Biographies, xiv. 1007; A. W. Pillion, Alfred Shaw, Cricketer, 1902; Burke's Peerage.]

P. L.