Lord and Lady Skelmersdale

Lord and Lady Skelmersdale

A carte-de-visite portrait of Lord and Lady Skemersdale.

Born Edward Bootle-Wilbraham on 12 December 1837, his father was Hon. Richard Bootle-Wilbraham, son of the 1st Baron Skelmersdale. His father having died in 1844, Edward succeeded to the title of 2nd Baron Skelmersdale at the death of his grandfather in 1853 and took his seat in the House of Lords on his 21st birthday in 1858.

He was educated at Eton and at Christ Church, Oxford. Between 1866 and 1868 he held the office of Lord in Waiting. He served in the Conservative administrations of Benjamin Disraeli as a Government Whip from 1866 to 1868, and then as Conservative Chief Whip in the Lords. He was admitted to the Privy Council in 1874 and in 1880 he was created Earl of Lathom. Lord Lathom later held office under Lord Salisbury as Lord Chamberlain of the Household from 1885 to 1886, from 1886 to 1892 and from 1895 to 1898.

He married Lady Alice Villiers, daughter of the statesman Lord Clarendon, on 16 August 1860. They had nine children. She died on 23 November 1897, killed in a carriage accident.

The following report of her death appeared in The Times (24 November 1897): ‘We regret to announce the death of the Countess of Lathom as the result of a carriage accident yesterday. It seems that Lady Lathom was driving a phaeton drawn by two horses, and seated with her in the vehicle were Lady Leitrim and Lady Evelyn Mason, while a coachman sat behind. Her ladyship was driving home to Lathom-house, Ormskirk, so as to superintend arrangements for the dinner party when the shooting party got back. When the vehicle was entering Lathom-park from Dalton one of the reins which Lady Lathom held slackened and got under the tail of one of the horses. This irritated the animal, and made it restive. It swerved aside and one of the wheels of the phaeton struck against a heap of stones. Both horses became unmanageable, and as a result the vehicle was overturned, and the three ladies were thrown out. Lady Leitrim and Lady Evelyn Mason were thrown into the road and sustained no injury beyond slight bruises. Lady Lathom, however, was cast on to the margin of a roadside ditch, and a horse seems to have kicked her into the water. The ladies with the help of the coachman got Lady Lathom out of the ditch as rapidly as possible, but it was at once perceived that she had sustained very serious injury, and was unconscious. The coachman immediately brought Drs. Morris and Pendlebury to the spot, and these gentlemen had the injured lady removed on an ambulance to Lathom-house, where everything possible was done. Meanwhile, a mounted messenger was despatched to give the sad information to Lord Lathom, who was with the shooting party. His lordship rode rapidly home, and arrived at Lathom-house just in time to see his wife die. So far as could be ascertained the Countess succumbed partly to the effect of concussion of the brain and partly to that of immersion in water.’

Lord Lathom died the following year, aged 60, on 19 November 1898.

Photographed in 1860 by Camille Silvy of London.

Code: 123149
© Paul Frecker 2022