Gerald Balfour, 2nd Earl of Balfour

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The Right Honourable
The Earl of Balfour
Gerald Balfour in an 1899 portrait
by George Frederic Watts.
President of the Board of Trade
In office
12 November 1900 – 14 March 1905
Monarch Victoria
Edward VII
Prime Minister The Marquess of Salisbury
Arthur Balfour
Preceded by Charles Ritchie
Succeeded by The Marquess of Salisbury
President of the Local Government Board
In office
14 March 1905 – 4 December 1905
Monarch Edward VII
Prime Minister Arthur Balfour
Preceded by Walter Long
Succeeded by John Burns
Personal details
Born 9 April 1853 (1853-04-09)
Died 14 January 1945 (1945-01-15)
Nationality British
Political party Conservative
Spouse(s) Lady Betty Bulwer-Lytton
Alma mater Trinity College, Cambridge

Gerald William Balfour, 2nd Earl of Balfour PC (9 April 1853 – 14 January 1945), known as Gerald Balfour or Rt Hon G. W. Balfour until 1930, was a senior British Conservative politician who became a peer on the death of his brother, former prime minister Arthur Balfour, in 1930.

Background and education

Balfour was the fourth son of James Maitland Balfour, of Whittingehame, Haddingtonshire, and Lady Blanche Cecil, daughter of James Gascoyne-Cecil, 2nd Marquess of Salisbury. Two Prime Ministers were immediate relations: Arthur Balfour, 1st Earl of Balfour, his elder brother, and Lord Salisbury, his uncle. He was educated at Eton and at Trinity College, Cambridge, where he gained 1st Class Honours in the Classical Tripos.[1]

Political career

Balfour sat as Conservative Member of Parliament for Leeds Central from 1885 to 1906. During this time he was a member of Commission on Labour, and private secretary to his brother, Arthur Balfour, when he was president of the Local Government Board from 1885 to 1886. He served as Chief Secretary for Ireland from 1895 to 1900, as president of the Board of Trade from 1900 to 1905 and as president of the Local Government Board in 1905. He was admitted to the Privy Council of Ireland in 1895, and to the Privy Council of the United Kingdom in 1905. On retiring from the House of Commons, he was chairman of the Commission on Lighthouse Administration in 1908, and chairman of the Cambridge Committee of the Commission on Oxford and Cambridge Universities. He succeeded his brother Arthur as second Earl of Balfour in 1930, according to a special remainder in the letters patent and took a seat in the House of Lords.

Personal life and academic honours

During his first spell at the Houses of Parliament, Balfour received an honorary LLD from Cambridge University, and was a fellow of Trinity.

From 1901 Balfour lived at Fisher's Hill House, a large home which he had built by Lutyens in Hook Heath, Woking, Surrey, also living in the rural hamlet by 1911 were Alfred Lyttelton (Lib. U.), Secretary of State for the Colonies (1903-1905) who married into his wider family and the Duke of Sutherland.[2]

Marriage and children

Lord Balfour married Lady Elizabeth Edith "Betty" Bulwer-Lytton, daughter of Robert Bulwer-Lytton, 1st Earl of Lytton, in 1887. They had six children:

The Countess of Balfour died in 1942, aged 74. Lord Balfour survived her by three years and died in January 1945, aged 91, by which time he was the last surviving member of any of long-serving Prime Minister Salisbury's cabinets. He was succeeded in the earldom by his only son Robert.


  1. "Balfour, Gerald, William (BLFR871GW)". A Cambridge Alumni Database. University of Cambridge.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. H.E. Malden (editor) (1911). "Parishes: Woking". A History of the County of Surrey: Volume 3. Institute of Historical Research. Retrieved 20 November 2013.CS1 maint: extra text: authors list (link)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • G.E. Cokayne; with Vicary Gibbs, H.A. Doubleday, Geoffrey H. White, Duncan Warrand and Lord Howard de Walden, editors, The Complete Peerage of England, Scotland, Ireland, Great Britain and the United Kingdom, Extant, Extinct or Dormant, new ed., 13 volumes in 14 (1910–1959; reprint in 6 volumes, Gloucester, UK: Alan Sutton Publishing, 2000), volume XIII, p. 373
  • Peter W. Hammond, editor, The Complete Peerage or a History of the House of Lords and All its Members From the Earliest Times, Volume XIV: Addenda & Corrigenda (Stroud, Gloucestershire: Sutton Publishing, 1998), p. 691
  • Charles Mosley, editor, Burke's Peerage and Baronetage, 106th edition, 2 volumes (Crans, Switzerland: Burke's Peerage (Genealogical Books) Ltd, 1999), volume 1, p. 173

External links

Parliament of the United Kingdom
New constituency Member of Parliament for Leeds Central
Succeeded by
Robert Armitage
Political offices
Preceded by
John Morley
Chief Secretary for Ireland
Succeeded by
George Wyndham
Preceded by
Charles Ritchie
President of the Board of Trade
Succeeded by
The Marquess of Salisbury
Preceded by
Walter Long
President of the Local Government Board
Succeeded by
John Burns
Peerage of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Arthur Balfour
Earl of Balfour
1930 – 1945
Succeeded by
Robert Balfour