Francis Cowper, 7th Earl Cowper

The Earl Cowper
Lord Lieutenant of Ireland
In office
4 May 1880 – 4 May 1882
Monarch Victoria
Prime Minister William Ewart Gladstone
Preceded by The Duke of Marlborough
Succeeded by Lord Spencer
Personal details
Born 11 June 1834 (1834-06-11)
Died 18 July 1905(1905-07-18) (aged 71)
Nationality British
Political party Liberal
Spouse(s) Lady Katrine Compton
Parent(s) George Cowper, 6th Earl Cowper
Anne de Grey,
Alma mater University of Oxford

Francis Thomas de Grey Cowper, 7th Earl Cowper KG PC DL (11 June 1834 – 18 July 1905), known as Viscount Fordwich from 1837 to 1856, was a British Liberal politician. He was Lord Lieutenant of Ireland from 1880 to 1882.

Overwhelmingly by inheritance he was rendered a sterling millionaire, a threshold reached by his own death estate which is estimated to apply to seven other British residents per year, only, in 1905.


Cowper (pronounced "Cooper") was the eldest son of George Cowper, 6th Earl Cowper, by his wife Anne de Grey, 7th holder of the barony of Lucas of Crudwell, daughter of Thomas de Grey, 2nd Earl de Grey. He was educated at Harrow School and the University of Oxford.

He was commissioned a cornet in the Yorkshire Hussars on 19 February 1852.[1] On 22 November 1855, his father appointed him a deputy lieutenant of Kent.[2]

Political career

Cowper entered the House of Lords on his father's death in 1856 and served under William Ewart Gladstone as Captain of the Honourable Corps of Gentlemen-at-Arms (Government Chief Whip in the House of Lords) from 1871 to 1874 and as Lord Lieutenant of Ireland from 1880 to 1882. He became a Knight of the Garter in 1865 and was admitted to the Privy Council in 1871.

Other public positions

Apart from his political career Cowper held the position of Lord Lieutenant of Bedfordshire between 1861 and 1905. He was also a Deputy Lieutenant of Nottinghamshire and Kent.


In 1871, Cowper managed to obtain a reversal of the attainder of the Scottish lordship of Dingwall and the English barony of Butler, which had been under attainder since 1715, and he became the 4th Lord Dingwall and the 3rd Baron Butler as well. In 1880, he succeeded his mother as 8th Baron Lucas.

Relative wealth

He came to own more than £1M of assets which Sir Leo Chiozza Money, an analyst of the rich of the era, estimated was true of only eight British people who died "in an average year". In the US, a concentration of greater wealth existed: by the start of the World War I, Rockefeller had become the world's first billionaire estimated (in somewhat cheaper US dollars), in the year he died.[3]


Lord Cowper married Lady Katrine Compton, daughter of William Compton, 4th Marquess of Northampton, in 1870. The marriage was childless. Cowper died in July 1905, aged 71. On his death, the baronetcy of Ratlingcourt, barony of Cowper, viscountcy of Fordwich and earldom of Cowper became extinct. He was succeeded in the barony of Lucas of Crudwell and the lordship of Dingwall by his nephew, Auberon.

His probate was resworn as per the official Calendar in 1905 at £1,326,681 (equivalent to about £145,600,000 in 2020).[4] Because Lord Cowper died childless and there were no other male-line descendants of the first Earl Cowper at the time of his death, his wealth stated mainly devolved to issue of his three married sisters (Lady Florence Herbert, Lady Adine Fane and Amabel, Lady Mark Kerr) ;


  1. ^ "No. 21294". The London Gazette. 24 February 1852. p. 526.
  2. ^ "No. 21822". The London Gazette. 30 November 1855. p. 4539.
  3. ^ "Who wants to be a millionaire?", The Guardian, feature, 29 Sep 1999
  4. ^ Calendar of Probates and Administrations
Political offices
Preceded by Captain of the Gentlemen-at-Arms
Succeeded by
Preceded by Lord Lieutenant of Ireland
Succeeded by
Honorary titles
Preceded by Lord Lieutenant of Bedfordshire
Succeeded by
Peerage of England
Preceded by
Anne Cowper
Baron Lucas
Succeeded by
Title last held by
James Butler
Baron Butler
In abeyance
Preceded by Baron Cowper
Peerage of Scotland
Title last held by
James Butler
Lord Dingwall
Succeeded by
Peerage of Great Britain
Preceded by Earl Cowper