Born 13 February 1847, eldest son of the 2nd earl Cawdor of Golden Grove, Carmarthenshire, and his first wife Sarah, daughter of the Hon. Henry Compton-Cavendish. Educated at Eton and Christ Church, Oxford, he was Conservative M.P. for Carmarthenshire, 1874-85, but unsuccessfully contested West Carmarthenshire, 1885, south Manchester, 1892, and the Cricklade division of Wiltshire, 1898.
In 1880, he was appointed a member of the departmental committee of inquiry into the state of intermediate and higher education in Wales (Aberdare Committee), the report of which, published 18 August 1881, led to the Welsh Intermediate Education Act, 1889, and the establishment of the University Colleges of Cardiff (1883) and Bangor (1884). He was appointed ecclesiastical commissioner, 1880; honorary commissioner in lunacy, 1886-93; and chairman of the Great Western Railway, 1895-1905.
He succeeded as 3rd earl Cawdor on the death of his father, 1898. In 1905 (March-November) he was First Lord of the Admiralty in the Balfour Government. He played a leading part in opposition to the ' Lloyd George budget' of 1909 and in 1910 was concerned in discussions for the reform of the House of Lords. His interests included the Carmarthenshire Militia, which he commanded for ten years, and the Royal Agricultural Society of which he was president in 1901. He died of pneumonia at Mayfair on 8 February 1911, and was buried at Stackpole Church, Pembrokeshire.
Published date: 1959
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