Person NameStanley; Lord; Edward George Villiers (1865-1948); 17th Earl of Derby; politician, racehorse owner, soldier, Secretary of State for War, British Ambassador to France, Chairman of the Imperial War Graves Commission
ForenamesEdward George Villiers
Title17th Earl of Derby
Epithetpolitician, racehorse owner, soldier, Secretary of State for War, British Ambassador to France, Chairman of the Imperial War Graves Commission
SourceCWGC Archive, IWGC Royal Charter 1917; CWGC Archive, WG 1831/243, COMMISSION MEETING NO. 301, 01/02/1948 - 29/02/1948; "Who Was Who, 1941-1950", (London: Adam and Charles Black, 1952)
Biographical NoteLord Edward George Villiers Stanley, 17th Earl of Derby KG GCB GCVO TD KStJ PC JP was a British soldier, Conservative politician, and racehorse owner. Lord Stanley was the Secretary of State for War (twice), the British Ambassador to France and the first Chairman of the Imperial War Graves Commission.

He was born in London on 4 April 1886 as the eldest son of Frederick Stanley, 16th Earl of Derby, and Lady Constance Villiers, eldest daughter of 4th Earl of Clarendon. Lord Edward Stanley married Lady Alice Montagu, daughter of the 7th Duke of Manchester and Lady of the Bedchamber to Queen Alexandra, in 1889. He was educated at Wellington College and served as a Lieutenant in the Grenadier Guards (1885-95), and as A.D.C. to Gov.-Gen. of Canada (1889-91). Lord Derby served in South Africa, first as Chief Press Censor, then as Private Secretary to Field Marshal Lord Roberts. He was one of the Lords of the Treasury (1895-1900), Financial Secretary of the War Office (1900-03), Post-Master General (1903-05), Member of Parliament for West Houghton Division of Lancashire (1892-1906).

From 1915 to 1916, Lord Derby was Director-General of Recruiting and then Under-Secretary for War. He was made Secretary of State for War for a brief period up until 1918, taking up the post again from 1922 to 1924. He was the Ambassador to France from 1918 to 1920. On 21 May 1917, Lord Derby was appointed as the first Chairman of the Imperial War Graves Commission by royal charter. Within the charter, his duties and responsibilities were specified:

"1. (i) There shall be a Chairman of the Commission who, in the absence of the President, shall preside at all meetings thereof.
(ii) The Chairman shall, subject to the power hereinbefore conferred upon the President, and subject to such regulations as may be made by the Commission as hereinafter provided, summon all meetings of the Commission for the despatch of business.
(iii) The Chairman of the Commission shall be Our Principal Secretary of State for War."

Lord Derby attended the second Meeting of the Commission on 18 February 1918, at which, H.R.H. the Prince of Wales, as President, took the Chair. He was Chairman of the Commission again from 1922 to 1924, whilst Secretary of State for War. Lord Derby's son and heir was also a Member of the Commission from 1928 until his death in 1938.

Lord Derby died on 4 February 1948, aged 82.

17th Earl of Derby

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