[From Draper The House of Stanley]
Edward Smith Stanley, the son of Lord Stanley, M.P., was born at Patten House,* Preston, on the 1 2th of September, 1752, and was registered at Preston on the 3rd of October. He was educated at Trinity College, Oxford. On the death of his noble and talented father, in 1771, he was in the nineteenth year of his age, when he succeeded to the title of Lord Stanley ; and, shortly after attaining his majority, at the general election of 1774, he was elected a knight of the shire for the county of Lancaster, and held his seat in Parliament as such until his succession to the peerage. On the 23rd of June, 1774, he married the Lady Elizabeth Hamilton, only daughter of James, sixth Duke of Hamilton and Brandon, who was born in January, 1753, and was consequently in the twenty-second year of her age on her marriage with Lord Stanley.
On the death of his grandfather, in February, 1776, Lord Stanley succeeded to the earldom of Derby as twelfth earl; and on the 15th of March, in the same year, he was installed lord-lieutenant of the county of Lancaster, which distinguished office he efficiently held, with honour to himself and universal satisfaction, for the long period of fifty-eight years. Of the political career of the Earl of Derby there is little to note:
On the 29th of August, 1783, during the administration of the Duke of Portland, Lord Derby accepted the office of chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, which he retained for about four months ; and, in I 806, having been a warm supporter of Lords Grey and Holland, he again accepted the same appointment, which he held the second time for about twelve months ; but the political career of Lord Derby was not of that prominent character which his talents and accomplishments would have supported had his ambition run in that direction. As a sportsman, however, Lord Derby had no superior, and in this character the representative of the illustrious House of Stanley, and Englands proudest earl, made himself most conspicuous, and many are the pleasing anecdotes which might be enumerated to show that he merited that reputation and universal esteem he lived so long to enjoy.
His princely wealth allowed him to patronise, in true aristocratic style, the favourite sports and amusements of his day; and his name is intimately associated with the "Derby " and " Oaks " of Epsorn Downs. It is pretty generally known, by their magnetic effect upon the members of both Houses of Parliament peers and commoners, ministers and oppositionists, and even royalty itself that on Epsom Downs in the parish of Surrey, about fifteen miles from London, in the week preceding Whitsunday, the most fashionable and most numerously-attended horse-races in the kingdom are held, " The Derby Day " and " The Oaks " or " Ladies Day" being the great days of attraction. In the year 1780 Lord Derby instituted the greater and more valuable race, and honoured it with the name of his earldom. The Derby stakes (for three-year-old colts and fillies) are of the annual value of from £6,000 to £97,000 and are run for on the Wednesday " The Derby," that day being the great London holiday, when not less than half-a-million of people repair to Epsom Downs to consult " Dorlings correct card," and witness the competing speed and bottom of the fleetest horses in the world. It was not until the year 1787 that Lord Derby had the honour of carrying off " The Derby," but that year, and only that year, he won it by his Sir Peter Teazie, whose rider was S. Arnul. " The Oaks," worth from £4,000 to £5,000 (for fillies only) are run on the Friday the Ladies Day. They are so named after the villa of Lamberts Oaks, the racing residence of the Earl of Derby at Banstead, Surrey. The villa of Lamberts Oaks was formerly an inn of great repute in the parish of Woodmansterne, close by the Epsom Downs, and was erected by a society of sporting gentlemen, who adopted the name of "The Hunters Club," from whom it passed by purchase to General Burgoyne, the author of The Maid of the Oaks, who added a dining room to the villa 41 feet by 21 feet, having an arched roof elegantly finished and decorated. After the Earl of Derby purchased it, he considerably enlarged and improved the whole building, and the noble Earl used to boast, in a spirit of hospitality which knew no bounds, that he could accommodate his guests with more than fifty bed-chambers; and here George Prince of Wales, and other " choice and kindred spirits," enjoyed the princely hospitality of Edward, twelfth Earl of Derby. The first race for the " Oaks," in 1779, was won by Lord Derby, with a mare called Bridget, the rider being R. Goodison.
In addition to one of the best studs of race-horses, Lord Derby had the then coveted reputation of having the best breed of game-cocks in the kingdom ; and every farmer, who was fortunate enough to be one of his lordships tenants, had the honour of " walking " on his farm one or more of his noble landlords beautiful birds ; and his lordships cock-cart, hung round with large snow-white bags containing the feathered gladiators, was kept regularly on the move, for the purpose of collecting and distributing the favourite birds. For many years Lord Derby attended personally the Preston and Liverpool races, and took great interest in the matches of his horses and cocks, and many were the well-earned guerdons in his lordships possession as proof of their superior pluck and bottom. The enthusiastic sportsman, General Yates, whose breed of cocks had also a general celebrity, on almost all occasions presented himself as Lord Derbys opponent; and the noble Earl and the gallant General annually decided the question as to the superiority of their game-cocks by a well-contested match for a thousand guineas a-side ; and the palm of victory was not so partial as to always fall on the same side. Indeed, so strong was Lord Derbys sporting bias, that horse-racing and cock-fighting, in their season, almost formed his " Elysium on earth." It must be remembered that Lord Derby lived in a sporting age, in which the bent of the public mind and the customs of the country were very different to what they are at the present time.That was not an age of railways, electric-telegraph wires, sailing iron-sides, agricultural societies, and associations for the promotion of physical and social sciences, which now occupy in so laud-able a degree the time, talents, and attention of the aristocracy and moneyed classes of the country, and in the prosecution and development of which none take a more lively and ser viceable interest than the noble representatives of him whom we are now wont to style the "Old Earl of Derby," in whose gay days those who had money thought more about spending money than saving money, the hand being ever open to minister to the public and private enjoyments peculiar to the age ; and, at the same time, dispensing, but perhaps with a too indiscriminating hand, a liberal dole to all corners. Cock-fighting, which dates from antiquity, was decidedly the favourite entertainment of the last century, and in the Present State of England (the latter half of the eighteenth century) cock-fighting is termed "a recreation for persons of birth and distinction ;" nor was the sport illegalised by Act of Parliament until the passing of the Act 5 and 6 Wm. 4, c. 59, sec. 2. At one time a cock-fight took place on the first day of the Aintree races,* and from the town records of Liverpool, it appears the sport was so fashionable and popular that it was publicly countenanced by the authorities, as the following entry shows :" That for the further and greater repair of gentlemen and others to this town, we find it needful that there be a handsome cockfight-pit made ;" and this place of resort was erected, being situate in More-street, and was much frequented, for a great number of years, by many of the nobility and principal gentry.
* The Maghull races were first run in July, 1827, but were given up after the opening of the Aintree races, which were commenced in 1830.
The name of Lord Derby is associated with many of the local public charities of Liverpool and other places. In1795, the Countess of Derby established the Liverpool Ladies Charity, and up to the present time upwards of 100,000 have enjoyed the benefits of the timely aid afforded through its instrumentality ; and in 1820 the Liverpool Eye and Ear Infirmary was instituted under the patronage of the noble Earl ; and the other public and private charities also enjoyed his patronage and liberal aid.
On the 14th of March, 1797, the Countess died, leaving issue :1, Edward, Lord Stanley, who succeeded his father as thirteenth Earl ; 2, Charlotte, born 1 7th October, 1776, and married 22nd August, 1796, to her cousin, Edmund Hornby, ~ Esq., of Dalton Hall, Lancashire, and died 25th November,1805 ; 3, Elizabeth-Henrietta, born 29th April, 1778, and married 15th January, 1795, Thomas Stephen Cole, Esq., of Twickenham.
On the 1st of May following the death of his first Countess, Lord Derby married for his second consort the talented and accomplished Miss Elizabeth Farren, the celebrated actress, whose charming graces and abilities had made her a special favourite with the first nobility and leading characters of the kingdom, the nuptials being celebrated by special licence at his lordships town residence in Grosvenor-square. Miss Farren was the daughter of Mr. Farren, of Cork, and was born on the 12th of July, 1759, and at the time of her mar-riage was thirty-eight years of age, being nearly seven years younger than the EarL Previous to her marriage, Miss Farren ~ had shone for twenty years as the first actress in genteel comedy, and it is stated of her that " a more complete exhibition of graces and accomplishments never presented itself for admiration before the view of an audience," being justly considered " the finished pattern of female elegance. and fashion."
After her marriage, the Countess of Derby was at once received at Court, and moved in all the higher aristocratic circles ; and she was one in the procession at the marriage of the Princess Royal to the Duke of Wirtemburg ; but on no occasion did she obtrude herself before the public, but devoted herself to those domestic and parental and social duties which her exalted position had entailed upon her, and of which she was so distinguished an ornament and pattern. The Countess was held in universal esteem, and her graces and charms made her the object of public admiration and praise, and her virtues have been thus immortalised : Imperial Britain counts not in her train
Of dames high-born a name than thine more fair,
The greatest monarchs might indeed be vain,
Could they Noaiaivr like thine confer:
There fails een regal powr ! What kings bestow,
The mean oft grasp ; their stars the base may deck;
But when thy race is runthy head laid low,
When wealth, rank, grandeur, sink in one vast wreck,
In brighter lustre shall thy virtues shine,
And wreaths immortal shade thy hallowd shrine!
Lord Derby, true to the example of his ancestors, took a lively interest in the welfare of his native county, and the several local celebrations almost invariably enjoyed his patronage and support. The Preston Guild, held in 1802, was honoured with the presence of the Earl and Countess of Derby, Lord Stanley, and other members of the family, on which occasion " Proud Preston " perhaps made its most magnificent guild show. On the 18th of September, 1806, the Prince of Wales (afterwards King George IV.) and the Duke of Clarence (late King William IV.) paid the Earl of Derby a visit at Knowsley, whence the royal brothers, accompanied by the Earl, honoured the town of Liverpool by a visit, and had the freedom of the borough presented to them, the occasion being marked by a grand demonstration and a general illumination.
In politics, Lord Derby was a moderate Whig ; but he was universally respected by all political parties, and in discharging his duties as lord-lieutenant and principal magistrate of the county he never allowed his political predilections to interfere with the faithful discharge of his authority, but maintained a frank and generous demeanour towards all with whom he came in contact ; and he was ever found ready to give his friendly attention to all public matters which might require his official interposition. Lord Derby was a kind and liberal landlord, and all who might be drawn within the precincts of his lordships domain met with the most hospitable reception. In 1826, the deputy-lieutenants of the county presented Lord Derby with a magnificent candelabrum, on attaining his fiftieth anniversary as lord-lieutenant of the county, and it was this pleasing memorial which formed the central ornament on the table on the recent interesting occasion (June 24th, 1863) when the Prince and Princess of Wales were entertained by the present Lord Derby.
By his second Countess, Lord Derby had issue :1, a daughter, still-born 27th March, 1 798 ; 2, Lucy-Elizabeth, born I st March, 1799, and died, in the eleventh year of her age, 27th April, 1809, and buried at Ormskirk ; 3, James Smith Stanley, born 9th March, 1800, and died in London, 3rd April, 1 817, and buried at Ormskirk on the 17th April; 4, Mary-Margaret, born 23rd March, 1801, and married 29th November, 1821, to Thomas Egerton, second Earl of Wilton and Viscount Grey de Wilton, of Wilton Castle, county of Hereford. The Countess of Derby died on the 23rd April, 1829, and was interred at Ormskirk.
Lord Derby died on the 21st October, 1834, in the seventy-third year of his age, having survived his lamented Countess for upwards of five years, and was buried with his ancestors in the family vault in the Derby Chapel, Ormskirk, on the 31st of October, his remains being deposited by the side of those of his second Countess. The body was conveyed in a hearse having the form of a sarcophagus, the corners of which had Done columns in imitation of black marble, and was surmounted with sable plumes, and the sides bore escutcheons, &c. The coffin was covered with rich crimson velvet, and the plate, handles, coat-of-arms (in alto relieve), nails, &c., were all of solid silver of the most exquisite workmanship. The funeral was characterised by every mark of honour and rospect becoming his exalted station. The principal mourners were his only surviving sonthe Earl of Derby, and his three grandsons- .Lord Stanley, the Hon. Henry-Thomas Stanley, and the Hon. Charles-James-Fox Stanley ; and, in addition to the pall-bearers, the funeral was also attended, from Knowsley, by the Earl of Wilton, the Rev. F. Hopwood, the Rev. Geoffrey Hornby, Edmund S. Hornby, Esq., Colonel Hornby, Edmund Hornby, Esq., Edward Peurhyn, Esq., the Rev. J. J. Hornby, the Hon. Richard Bootle-Wilbraham, Captain Hornby, and Adam Hodgson, Esq. The procession formed at Stanley Gate, in Bickerstaffe, about two miles and a-half from Orrnskirk, where spacious temporary stables had been erected. The tenants assembled to the number of 450, mounted for the most part on black horses, and upwards of 100 carriages of the nobility and gentry of the county, and also the state carriage of the mayor of Liverpool, joined in the procession. Shortly after eleven oclock, the mournful cortege proceeded to move towards Ormskirk ; and by one oclock all had reached the churchyard, where the tenantry formed in double column, through which the corpse was borne into the church, which had been deeply draped in black, the vicar, the Rev. J. T. Horton, M.A.,* reading the funeral service. The following were the pall-bearers : On the right, H. Egerton, Esq., Wrillian~ Hulton, Esq., Lord Molyneux, and Lord Skelmersdale; and on the left, Lawrence Rawstorne, Esq., II. G. Hopwood, Esq., Sir Thomas Dalrymple Hesketh, Bart., and the Marquis of Westminster. During the mournful ceremony the relatives of the deceased nobleman were frequently affected to tears, and sorrow was depicted on the countenances of all present.
* This mansion was situated on the north side of Church Street, Preston, and was much admired for its stately appearance, the entrance at the front being gained by a double flight of steps. It was originally built by the Patten family, and passed by marriage to Sir Thomas Stanley, Bart, of Bickerstaffe, who, as already mentioned, married Elizabeth, only daughter and heiress of Thomas Patten, Esq. Patten House was for many years the residence of Lord Stanley, M.P., the father of the twelfth Earl of Derby ; and, previously to 1833, it possessed a number of valuable pictures, which were open to the inspection of visitors ; and, for many years during the Preston races, to the great advantage of the town, the twelfth Earl of Derby made the mansion his residence, where he entertained in the most princely style a large number of noble sporting friends. About the year 1835 the house was occupied as a barracks for soldiers, when the pictures were removed ; and in a few years afterwards Patten House itself was dismantled, and a number of shops now occupy its site.