Ralph King-Milbanke, 2nd Earl of Lovelace

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Ralph Gordon King Noel Milbanke, 2nd Earl of Lovelace (2 July 1839 – 28 August 1906) was a British author of Astarte: A Fragment of Truth concerning George Gordon Byron, first Lord Byron.


He was born at 10 St. James's Square, London on 2 July 1839, the second son of William King-Noel, 1st Earl of Lovelace, and, Ada Augusta, daughter of the poet, the 6th Lord Byron. The father, who succeeded as eighth Baron King in 1833, was created Earl of Lovelace on 30 June 1838. He was lord-lieutenant of Surrey from 1840 to his death in 1903, and interested himself in agricultural and mechanical engineering.[1]

During 1847-8, Ralph was a pupil at Wilhelm von Fellenberg's Pestalozsian school at Hofwyl, near Berne. Subsequently educated privately, he matriculated at University College, Oxford in 1859, but did not graduate. On 1 September 1862, upon the death of his elder brother, Byron Noel, Viscount Ockham, who had succeeded his grandmother, Lady Byron, as twelfth Baron Wentworth, Ralph himself became thirteenth Baron Wentworth. He had assumed the surname of Milbanke, Lady Byron's maiden surname, by royal licence on 6 November 1861.[1]

Taking little part in public life, he read widely and showed independent if rather erratic judgment. At the age of twenty-two he spent a year in Iceland, and was a zealous student of Norse literature. In early life he was a bold Alpine climber, he spent much time in the Alps, and in 1887 made the first ascent of the Aiguille Noire de Peuterey with his guide, Emile Rey,[2][3]:89 A peak of the Dolomites also bears his name.[4][citation needed] An accomplished linguist, he was especially conversant with Swiss and Tyrolese dialects. His intimate acquaintance with French, German, and English literature was combined with a fine taste in music and painting. He enjoyed the intimacy of W. E. H. Lecky and other men of letters.[1]

In 1898, he succeeded his father as second earl of Lovelace. In 1906, he privately printed Astarte: A Fragment of Truth concerning George Gordon Byron, first Lord Byron, dedicated to M. C. L. (his second wife). This vigorous if somewhat uncritical polemic purported to be a vindication of Lovelace's grandmother, Lady Byron, from the aspersions made upon her after the "revelations" of Mrs. Beecher Stowe in 1869-70. Lovelace alleged, on evidence of hitherto undivulged papers left by Lady Byron, and now at his disposal, that Byron's relations with his half-sister, Mrs. Augusta Leigh, were criminal, and that she was the Astarte of the poet's Manfred. Lovelace printed a statement signed in 1816 by Dr. Lushington, Sir Robert Willmot, and Sir Francis Doyle, and various extracts from correspondence. He also cited a letter in support of his conclusion from Sir Leslie Stephen, who had examined the papers. Astarte provoked replies from a Mr. John Murray and from a Mr. Richard Edgcumbe.[1]

Lovelace died very suddenly at Ockham Park, Ripley, Surrey, on 28 August 1906. After cremation at Woking his ashes were buried in the King chapel over the family vault in Ockham church.[1]


He was twice married: first on 25 August 1869, to Fanny (died 1878), third daughter of George Heriot, vicar of St. Anne's, Newcastle ; second on 10 December 1880, to Mary Caroline, eldest daughter of the Rt. Hon. James Stuart-Wortley; she survived him. There was no male issue. Lovelace's daughter, Ada Mary, by his first wife, succeeded to her father's barony of Wentworth. The earldom of Lovelace devolved on his half-brother Lionel Fortescue King, son of the first earl by his second wife.[1]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 Norgate 1912.
  2. Thompson, Simon (2010). Unjustifiable Risk?: The Story of British Climbing. Cicerone Press.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. Griffin, Lindsay (1990). Mont Blanc Massif Volume 1. London: Alpine Club. ISBN 0900523573. |access-date= requires |url= (help)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. Hilderley, Janet (2015). Harry Worsfold (1839-1939): ‘The life and times of a gentleman of Surrey’. Eastbourne: Alpha Press. p. 87. ISBN 9781898595656. Retrieved 22 November 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>


External links

  • ThePeerage.com: Ralph Gordon Noel King, 2nd Earl of Lovelace - website ThePeerage
  • Ralph Gordon Noel - website Cracroft's Peerage
Peerage of England
Preceded by
Byron King-Noel
Baron Wentworth
Succeeded by
Ada King-Milbanke
Peerage of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
William King-Noel
Earl of Lovelace
Succeeded by
Lionel Fortescue King