Victor Albert George Child-Villiers

Victor Albert George Child-Villiers, 7th Earl of Jersey (1845-1915) was senior partner in Child & Co, 1867-1915.

Background and early life

Victor Albert George Child-Villiers was born on 20 March 1845. He was the son of George Augustus Frederick Child-Villiers, 6th Earl of Jersey, and his wife Julia Peel, eldest daughter of the British Prime Minister Sir Robert Peel.

He was educated at Eton College. In October 1859, when he was aged 14 and still at school, his father died. Victor succeeded to the family estates and titles, becoming the 7th Earl of Jersey.

He was a student of Balliol College, Oxford University, between 1864 and 1867.

Banking career

In 1867 Victor’s grandmother Sarah Sophia Child-Villiers, Lady Jersey, died. From her, Victor inherited the role of senior partner in the family bank Child & Co. Initially his uncle Frederick William Child-Villiers managed the bank as a trustee on his behalf, but in 1872 Victor took charge in his own right. He held the post for over 40 years until his death in 1915.

During his time in charge Child & Co moved premises from Fleet Street to The Strand, where a new building designed for the bank by John Gibson opened in August 1880.

In the late 19th century private banks were facing growing competition from joint stock banks, which enjoyed the advantage of a much broader capital base. A number of Child & Co’s fellow private banks were either taken over by joint stocks or themselves converted to joint stock status, but Child & Co continued to thrive as a private partnership. It remained a traditional, conservative establishment with an extensive and prestigious network of wealthy aristocratic clients.

Political career and public appointments

From 1875 until 1877 the Earl served as lord-in-waiting to the Queen. In 1889 he served as paymaster-general for the prime minister Lord Robert Cecil, 3rd Marquess of Salisbury. In 1890 he was invested as a knight grand cross of the Order of St Michael and St George. In the same year he was invested as a privy counsellor.

In 1890 he was appointed governor of New South Wales. He arrived in Sydney to take up his post in January 1891 but resigned in November 1892 citing ‘pressing business affairs’. He left Australia in March 1893.

Between 1896 and 1905 he was chairman of the Light Railway Commission. He was invested as a knight grand cross, Order of the Bath in 1900. He also held the offices of justice of the peace for Warwickshire, deputy lieutenant of Warwickshire, and justice of the peace for Oxfordshire.

He acted as agent-general in London for New South Wales from 1903 until 1905. His familiarity with banking institutions as principal proprietor of Child & Co helped with negotiations over loan terms to the state.

He was an active freemason and served as senior grand warden of England and as provincial grand master of Oxfordshire. He was also a grand master in New South Wales.

Family life and death

On 19 September 1872 he married Margaret Elizabeth Leigh, the daughter of William Henry Leigh, Baron of Stoneleigh and his wife Lady Caroline Amelia Grosvenor. They had six children together:

  • George Henry Robert (1873-1923)
  • Margaret (1874)
  • Margaret (1875-1959)
  • Mary Julia (1877-1933)
  • Beatrice (1880-1970)
  • Arthur George (1883-1969)

The Earl’s wife Lady Jersey (d.1945) was the founding president of the conservative Victoria League, an opponent of women’s suffrage, an accomplished public speaker and an author of travel articles, children’s plays and verse.

The Earl suffered a stroke in 1909 which left him incapacitated. He died at home at Osterley Park, Middlesex on 31 May 1915. His eldest son George Henry Robert Child-Villiers succeeded to his title, becoming the 8th Earl of Jersey, and to his role at the head of Child & Co.

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