carnarvon, henry howard molyneux herbert, 4th earl of

Henry Herbert, 4th Earl of Carnarvon

Henry Howard Molyneux Herbert, 4th Earl of Carnarvon (24 June, 1831 - 29 June, 1890), was an English politician and a leading member of the Conservative Party. He was the brother of Auberon Herbert and father of Aubrey Herbert.

Herbert became the Earl of Carnarvon on the death of his father Henry, in 1849. After taking his degree at Oxford, he began to play a prominent role in the House of Lords. In 1858, he was Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies, and in 1866 secretary of state. In 1867 he introduced the British North America Act, which conferred self-government on Canada. Later that year, he resigned over Benjamin Disraeli's Reform Bill, along with Lord Cranborne and Jonathan Peel.

Resuming office in 1874, he endeavoured to confer self-government on South Africa as he had on Canada, but the times were not ripe. He addressed the concept of Imperialism in Africa many times while holding the title. In 1878 he resigned in opposition to Lord Beaconsfield's policy on the Eastern Question; but on his party's return to power in 1885 he became Lord Lieutenant of Ireland. His short period of office, memorable for a conflict on a question of personal veracity between himself and Charles Stewart Parnell as to his negotiations with the latter in respect of Home Rule, was terminated by another premature resignation. He never returned to office.

Carnarvon was regarded as a highly cultured man. He was high steward of Oxford University, and president of the Society of Antiquaries. He was a prominent freemason, having been initiated in the 'Westminster and Keystone Lodge', and with his permission a number of subsequently founded lodges bore his name in their titles.


  • Roberts, Andrew. Salisbury: Victorian Titan. London: Orion Books, 2000 [c1999].

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