|Encyclopaedia Britannica 11th Edition||Public Domain via Project Gutenberg|
The origin of the earldom of Buckingham (to be distinguished from that of Buckinghamshire, q.v.) is obscure. According to Mr J.H. Round (in G.E.C.'s Peerage, s.v.) there is some charter evidence for its existence under William Rufus; but the main evidence for reckoning Walter Giffard, lord of Longueville in Normandy, who held forty-eight lordships in the county, as the first earl, is that of Odericus Vitalis, who twice describes Walter as "Comes Bucchingehamensis," once in 1097, and again at his death in 1102. After the death of Walter Giffard, 2nd earl in 1164, the title was assumed by Richard de Clare, earl of Pembroke ("Strongbow"), in right of his wife, Rohais, sister of Walter Giffard I.; and it died with him in 1176. In 1377 Thomas of "Woodstock" (duke of Gloucester) was created earl of Buckingham at the coronation of Richard II. (15th of July), and the title of Gloucester having after his death been given to Thomas le Despenser, his son Humphrey bore that of earl of Buckingham only. On Humphrey's death, his sister Anne became countess of Buckingham in her own right. She married Edmund Stafford, earl of Stafford, and on her death (1438) the title of Buckingham passed to her son Humphrey Stafford, earl of Stafford, who in 1444 was created duke of Buckingham. This title remained in the Stafford family until the attainder and execution of Edward, 3rd duke, in 1521 (see Buckingham, Henry Stafford, 2nd duke of).
In 1617 King James I. created George Villiers earl, in 1618 marquess, and in 1623 duke of Buckingham (see Buckingham, George Villiers, 1st duke of). The marquessate and dukedom became extinct with the death of the 2nd (Villiers) duke (q.v.) in 1687; but the earldom was claimed, under the special remainder in the patent of 1617, by a collateral line of doubtful legitimacy claiming descent from John Villiers, 1st Viscount Purbeck. The title was not actually borne after the death of John Villiers, styling himself earl of Buckingham, in 1723. The claim was extinguished by the death of George Villiers, a clergyman, in 1774.
In 1703 John Sheffield, marquess of Normanby, was created "duke of the county of Buckingham and of Normanby" (see below). He was succeeded by his son Edmund who died in October 1735 when the titles became extinct.
The title of marquess and duke of Buckingham in the Grenville family (to the holders of which the remainder of this article applies) was derived, not from the county, but from the town of Buckingham. It originated in 1784, when the 2nd Earl Temple was created marquess of Buckingham "in the county of Buckingham," this title being elevated into the dukedom of Buckingham and Chandos for his son in 1822.
George Nugent Temple Grenville, 1st marquess of Buckingham (1753-1813), was the second son of George Grenville, and was born on the 17th of June 1753. Educated at Eton and Christ Church, Oxford, he was appointed a teller of the exchequer in 1764, and ten years later was returned to parliament as one of the members for Buckinghamshire. In the House of Commons he was a sharp critic of the American policy of Lord North. In September 1779 he succeeded his uncle as 2nd Earl Temple; in 1782 was appointed lord-lieutenant of Buckinghamshire; and in July of the same year became a member of the privy council and lord-lieutenant of Ireland in the ministry of the earl of Shelburne. On his advice the Renunciation Act of 1783 was passed, which supplemented the legislative independence granted to Ireland in 1782. By royal warrant he created the order of St Patrick in February 1783, with himself as the first grand master. Temple left Ireland in 1783, and again turned his attention to English politics. He enjoyed the confidence of George III., and having opposed Fox's East India Bill, he was authorized by the king to say that "whoever voted for the India Bill was not only not his friend, but would be considered by him as an enemy," a message which ensured the defeat of the bill. He was appointed a secretary of state when the younger Pitt formed his ministry in December 1783, but resigned two days later. In December 1784 he was created marquess of Buckingham "in the county of Buckingham." In November 1787 he was appointed lord-lieutenant of Ireland under Pitt, but his second tenure of this office was hardly as successful as the first. He was denounced by Grattan for extravagance; was censured by the Irish Houses of parliament for refusing to transmit to England in address calling upon the prince of Wales to assume the regency; and he could only maintain his position by resorting to bribery on a large scale. Having become very unpopular he resigned his office in September 1789, and subsequently took very little part in politics, although he spoke in favour of the union with Ireland. He died at his residence, Stowe House, [v.04 p.0722]Buckingham, on the 11th of February 1813, and was buried at Wotton. In 1775 he had married Mary Elizabeth (d. 1812), daughter of Robert, Earl Nugent.
His elder son, Richard Grenville, 1st duke of Buckingham and Chandos (1776-1839), was one of the members of parliament for Buckinghamshire from 1797 to 1813, and, as Earl Temple, took an active part in politics. In February 1813 he succeeded his father as marquess of Buckingham; and having married the only child of the 3rd duke of Chandos, he was created duke of Buckingham and Chandos in 1822. He died in 1839. Owing to financial embarrassments, the duke lived out of England for some time, and in 1862 an account of his travels was published, as The Private Diary of Richard, Duke of Buckingham and Chandos.
He was succeeded by his only child, Richard Grenville, 2nd duke of Buckingham and Chandos (1797-1861). Educated at Eton and Oriel College, Oxford, he was known as Earl Temple and subsequently as marquess of Chandos. He was member of parliament for Buckinghamshire from 1818 to 1839, and was responsible for the "Chandos clause" in the Reform Bill of 1832. He was lord privy seal from September 1841 to January 1842, and partly owing to his opposition to the repeal of the corn laws was known as the "Farmers' Friend." He found the estates heavily encumbered when he succeeded to the dukedom in 1839, and his own generous and luxurious tastes brought matters to a climax. In 1847 his residences were seized by his creditors, and the duke left England. His personal property and many of his landed estates were sold, and returning to England he devoted himself to literature. He died in London, on the 29th of July 1861. His wife, whom he married in 1819, was Mary (d. 1862), daughter of John, 1st marquess of Breadalbane, and she obtained a divorce from him in 1850. Buckingham's chief publications are, Memoirs of the Court and Cabinets of George III. (London, 1853-1855); Memoirs of the Court of England, 1811-1820 (London, 1856); Memoirs of the Court of George IV. (London, 1859); and Memoirs of the Court and Cabinets of William IV. and Victoria (London, 1861).
Richard Grenville, 3rd duke of Buckingham and Chandos (1823-1889), the only son of the 2nd duke, was educated at Eton and Christ Church, Oxford, and, as marquess of Chandos, represented the borough of Buckingham in parliament from 1846 to 1857. He was chairman of the London & North-Western railway from 1853 to 1861. After succeeding to the dukedom he became lord president of the council, and subsequently secretary for the colonies in the Conservative government of 1866-1868. From 1875 to 1880 he was governor of Madras, and in 1886 was chosen chairman of committees in the House of Lords. He was twice married and left three daughters. As he left no son the dukedom became extinct on his death; but the Scottish barony of Kinloss (to which he established his title in 1868) passed to his eldest daughter, Mary, the wife of Captain L. F. H. C. Morgan; the earldom of Temple to his nephew, William Stephen Gore-Langton; and the viscounty of Cobham to his kinsman, Charles George, 5th Baron Lyttelton. His widow married the 1st Earl Egerton of Tatton in 1894.