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Captain Robert Stayner Holford 1808 - 1892

Picture of Robert Stayner Holford
Robert Stayner Holford

Robert Stayner Holford, of Westonbirt, in the village of Weston Birt, Gloucestershire, MP for East Gloucestershire, was a wealthy landowner, gardening and landscaping enthusiast, and an art collector. With his vast wealth, he rebuilt Westonbirt House from the Georgian mansion erected only decades earlier by his father, and founded the Westonbirt Arboretum after succeeding his uncle and father during 1838 and 1839.

Holford served as MP for East Gloucestershire at a bye-election on the 19th December 1854 which was caused by the death of then MP Sir Michael Hicks Beach, 8th Baronet (d. 22 November 1854). He was re-elected in 1857 with Sir Christopher William Codrington and again in 1859 with Codrington (who died 1864 forcing another bye-election). He was re-elected in 1864 with the new member Sir Michael Hicks Beach, 9th Bt. (son of the previous MP). In 1872, he vacated the seat.

Holford died in 1892.


Holford was the son of George Peter Holford (d. 1839), himself the second son of Peter Holford (d. 1804) who made an immense fortune (lecerative shares in New River Company) by supplying London with fresh water through a canal. The Holfords had been seated at Westonbirt since 1666 when a Holford married the heiress Sarah Crew. Robert inherited Westonbirt in 1838/1839 from his uncle and namesake Robert Holford (d. 1839).

He married Mary Anne Lindsay, a daughter of Lt. General Sir James Lindsay of Balcarres (himself grandson of James Lindsay, 5th Earl of Balcarres) by his second wife Anne Trotter, daughter of Sir Coutts Trotter, 1st Baronet. (Mary Anne's sister Margaret had married their second cousin Alexander Lindsay, 25th Earl of Crawford). Holford and his wife had the following issue
Sir George Lindsay Holford (d. 1926) who never married
Margaret Holford (d. 9 February 1908) who married 17 June 1876[3] Albert Parker, 3rd Earl of Morley and had issue, three sons and one daughter. The two elder sons succeeded to the earldom as 4th and 5th Earls, and a third son was father of the 6th and present Earl of Morley. Unfortunately, these collateral successions necessitated death duties and also meant sale of the family estates, including Westonbirt House and eventually Saltram House.

Edmund Robert Parker, 4th Earl of Morley (19 April 1877-10 October 1951) who inherited Westonbirt from his maternal uncle and sold the house shortly thereafter. He died unmarried, and was succeeded by his next brother. Montagu Brownlow Parker, 5th Earl of Morley (13 October 1878 -28 April 1962), who succeeded his older brother in 1951 and also died unmarried, being succeeded by his nephew.
Hon. John Holford Parker (22 June 1886-27 February 1955), married the Hon. Marjory Katherine Elizabeth Alexandra St Aubyn, daughter of the Baron St Levan. Their eldest son, John St Aubyn Parker (b. 29 May 1923), became the 6th Earl of Morley, and has one son.
Alice Holford (d. 22 September 1944) who married on 9 June 1877 Albert Grey, 4th Earl Grey (1851-1917) and had issue, five children, one of whom died in early childhood.
Lady Victoria Mary Sybil Grey (9 June 1878-3 February 1907) married Arthur Morton Grenfell in 1901, and left issue 5th Earl Grey (15 December 1879-2 April 1963), who had two daughters by his wife Lady Mabel Laura Georgiana Palmer. The elder daughter Mary (1907-2002) married the 1st Baron Howick of Glendale.
Evelyn Holford (1856-1943)[5] who married the art collector, banker, and art patron Robert Henry Benson (1850-1929), and had issue. Their daughter Margaret Winifred Benson married 1915 Major General Sir Hereward Wake, 13th Bt. and had issue, including the present baronet. The eldest son Guy Holford Benson (1888-1975) married 1921 Lady Violet Elcho (1888-1971), widow of Lord Elcho, and 2nd daughter of the 8th Duke of Rutland, and had issue, three sons. Another son Constantine Evelyn Benson, a financier, married Lady Morvyth Lilian Ward, daughter of the 2nd Earl of Dudley, and had issue including Lady Tompkins (d. 2003).

Robert Holford purchased the Wootton Estate (on the death of the last male Lisle) from Mrs March Phillips in 1825.

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This page was last edited on: 26th January, 2022 17:50:34

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