Richard Onslow, 5th Earl of Onslow

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Richard William Alan Onslow, 5th Earl of Onslow GBE PC (23 August 1876 – 9 June 1945), styled Viscount Cranley until 1911, was a British peer, diplomat, parliamentary secretary and government minister.

Background and education

Onslow was the son of William Onslow, 4th Earl of Onslow and the Honourable Florence Coulston Gardner. He was educated at Eton and New College, Oxford before joining the Diplomatic Service in 1901.

Diplomatic career

He became an Attaché to Madrid a year later, Third Secretary to Tangier in 1903 and to St Petersburg in 1904 and Second Secretary to Berlin in 1907. In 1909, he became assistant private secretary to Sir Edward Grey, the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs. He then held a number of positions in the Foreign Office as a clerk in 1910, private secretary to the Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs from 1911–13 and assistant clerk from 1913-14.

Military career

Onslow joined the army on the outbreak of World War I in 1914 and was mentioned in despatches three times, received an OBE and the French Legion of Honour. In later years he was Honorary Lieutenant-Colonel of the 3rd Battalion Queen's Royal Regiment (West Surrey) and Honorary Colonel of the 30th (Surrey) Searchlight Regiment, Royal Artillery.[1][2]

Political career

Onslow had succeeded to his father's title and seat in the House of Lords in 1911. After the war, he was a Lord-in-Waiting from 1919 to 1920, a Civil Lord of the Admiralty from 1920 to 1921, Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries in 1921, Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Health from 1921 to 1923, Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Education from 1923 to 1924, Under-Secretary of State for War and Vice-President of the Army Council from 1924 to 192828 and Chairman of the Committees and Deputy Speaker of the House of Lords from 1931-44.

Onslow was also President of the Royal Statistical Society from 1905 to 1906[3] and President of the Zoological Society of London from 1936 to 1942.[4]


Onslow devoted much of his retirement to writing, producing The Empress Maud (1939); Sixty-three Years: Diplomacy, the Great War and Politics, with Notes on Travel, Sport and Other Things (1939), which went through several editions; and The Dukes of Normandy and Their Origin, which was completed in the year of his death and published posthumously.


Lord Onslow married the Honourable Violet Marcia Catherine Warwick Bampfylde, the only daughter of Coplestone Bampfylde, 3rd Baron Poltimore, on 22 February 1906. They had two children:[5]

Lord Onslow died on 9 June 1945, aged 68, and was succeeded in the peerage by his only son.

As Dowager Countess of Onslow, Violet gave the future Queen Elizabeth II a diamond and ruby butterfly brooch as a wedding gift in 1947.[6] She died on 23 October 1954.


  1. Burke's Peerage, Baronetage and Knightage, 100th Edn, London, 1953.
  2. Army LIst 1927–39.
  3. "Royal Statistical Society Presidents". Royal Statistical Society. Retrieved 6 August 2010.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. ZSL (1995). The Zoological Society of London. The Charter and Byelaws.
  5. The Peerage, entry for 5th Earl of Onslow
  6. "The Diamond and Ruby Butterfly Brooch". From Her Majesty's Jewel Vault blog.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
Political offices
Preceded by
The Earl of Jersey
Succeeded by
The Earl of Lucan
Preceded by
The Earl of Lytton
Civil Lord of the Admiralty
Succeeded by
Bolton Eyres-Monsell
Title last held by
Sir Arthur Griffith-Boscawen
Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries
5 April–7 April 1921
Succeeded by
The Earl of Ancaster
Preceded by
Hon. Waldorf Astor
Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Health
Succeeded by
Lord Eustace Percy
Preceded by
Lord Eustace Percy
Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Education
Succeeded by
Morgan Jones
Preceded by
Clement Attlee
Under-Secretary of State for War
Succeeded by
The Duke of Sutherland
Preceded by
The Duke of Sutherland
Succeeded by
The Lord Arnold
Academic offices
Preceded by
Sir Francis Powell, Bt
President of the Royal Statistical Society
Succeeded by
Sir Richard Martin, Bt
Peerage of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
William Hillier Onslow
Earl of Onslow
Succeeded by
William Arthur Bampfylde Onslow