CHOLMONDELEY, George Horatio, earl of Rocksavage (1792-1870).

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1820-1832, ed. D.R. Fisher, 2009
Available from Cambridge University Press



21 Feb. 1817 - 21 Dec. 1821

Family and Education

b. 16 Jan. 1792, at Paris, 1st s. of George James, 1st mq. of Cholmondeley, and Lady Georgiana Charlotte Bertie, da. of Peregrine, 3rd duke of Ancaster; bro. of Lord William Henry Hugh Cholmondeley*. educ. Eton 1805. m. (1) 20 Oct. 1812, at Gibraltar, Caroline (d. 12 Oct. 1815), da. of Lt.-Gen. Sir Colin Campbell, lt.-gov. of Gibraltar, s.p.; (2) 11 May 1830, Lady Susan Caroline Somerset, da. of Henry Charles Somerset†, 6th duke of Beaufort, s.p. styled Visct. Malpas 1792-1815; earl of Rocksavage 1817-21; summ. to Lords in his fa.’s barony as Lord Newburgh 21 Dec. 1821;1 suc. fa. as 2nd mq. of Cholmondeley 10 Apr. 1827; mother as jt. hered. gt. chamberlain 1838. d. 8 May 1870.

Offices Held

PC and acting jt. gt. chamberlain 19 July 1830.

Constable, Castle Rising 1858-d.


Rocksavage, who after a youthful flirtation with Catholicism became an enthusiastic Methodist, was again returned on his father’s interest for Castle Rising in 1820.2 A silent supporter hitherto of Lord Liverpool’s administration, in October 1820 the wife of his kinsman Thomas Cholmondeley heard him say that he would ‘certainly’ vote against the royal divorce, even though his father was lord steward of the household: ‘as he is quite an ultra loyalist ... [so] I suppose we shall have all the Sainta [Saints] against the bill’.3 The abandonment of the bill of pains and penalties spared him from this embarrassment and he divided with government on their handling of the Queen Caroline affair, 6 Feb. 1821, the additional malt duty, 3 Apr., army reductions, 11 Apr., and the disfranchisement of ordnance officials, 12 Apr. In December 1821 he was called to the Lords at the request of his father, who had stipulated it as a condition of his own resignation from office to accommodate Lord Conyngham (the husband of the king’s mistress), whose preferment ministers resented.4 It was said that Lord Cholmondeley wanted Rocksavage out of the way ‘so that his second and favourite son, Lord Henry, may come into Parliament’, which he duly did.5

Rocksavage did not inherit his father’s robust sexual appetite and, notwithstanding a brief first marriage, he remained the subject of innuendo.6 In 1826 Mrs. Arbuthnot noted that the pregnancy of his brother’s wife had brought ‘inexpressible joy’ to the family, who ‘despair of ... Rocksavage’s ever marrying and are most anxious for an heir’.7 When, after succeeding to the marquessate, he married Lady Susan Somerset, who was considered ‘excessively arrogant’ and ‘very methodistical’ like her mother, she commented:

I don’t think he could do better, and as it is a very well behaved, good family, if he is as poor Ld. Choly. used to say, one has a good chance that a wife of that sort won’t introduce any left-handed child.8

With the acquiescence of his mother’s fellow chamberlain, the 2nd Baron Gwydir, the duke of Wellington and William IV, he took over his mother’s duties as deputy great chamberlain in July 1830 and officiated at the coronation in 1831.9 A lifelong Conservative, he voted against Catholic emancipation in 1829 and the reform bill in October 1831.10 Rioting in Cheshire that year ‘frightened him out of his wits’, and religion remained his consuming interest.11 In 1846 he declined Sir Robert Peel’s offer of the lord lieutenancy of Norfolk on account of ‘my inexperience in county business, my unacquaintedness with the Norfolk gentry, and my habit of residing for the greater part of the year in Cheshire’.12 A neighbour there wrote of him: ‘If all Englishmen were like Lord Cholmondeley, they would be religious and delightful men, but the French would soon come and take London’.13 He died without issue in May 1870. His brother and residuary legatee Lord Henry succeeded him in his titles and estates.14

Ref Volumes: 1820-1832

Author: Margaret Escott


  • 1. London Gazette; CP gives 5 Jan. 1822.
  • 2. HP Commons, 1790-1820, iii. 438-9.
  • 3. Williams Wynn Corresp. 250.
  • 4. Add. 38290, f. 86; Hobhouse Diary, 81-82; Geo. IV Letters, ii. 966; Christ Church, Oxf. Phillimore mss, Buckingham to Phillimore, 25 Nov. 1821.
  • 5. Lady Holland to Son, 6.
  • 6. HP Commons, 1790-1820, iii. 438-9.
  • 7. Arbuthnot Jnl. ii. 53.
  • 8. Ibid. ii. 350; Arbuthnot Corresp. 143A.
  • 9. Wellington mss WP1/993/61, 68; 1121/20; 1124/31; 1130/25, 31; 1133/25.
  • 10. The Times, 15 Apr. 1829, 10 Oct. 1831.
  • 11. NLW ms 2797 D, Lady Delamere to H. Williams Wynn [23 Jan. 1831]; The Times, 16 Feb. 1832, 10 May 1870.
  • 12. Add. 40593, f. 300.
  • 13. CP, iii. 205.
  • 14. The Times, 2 July 1870.