John Wodehouse, 1st Earl of Kimberley (1826-1902)
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John Wodehouse, 1st Earl of Kimberley (1826-1902)

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He is one of the ablest of our public men, but being utterly destitute of vanity, he has never cared to captivate public attention, and consequently has been never fully appreciated.
Lord Dufferin.

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John Wodehouse, 1st Earl of Kimberley (1826-1902)

In 1846 John Wodehouse succeeded his grandfather as Baron Wodehouse. He entered Parliament in 1852, becoming Undersecretary of State for Foreign Affairs. In 1864 he became Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, and was created Earl of Kimberley two years later. In 1868 Wodehouse was made Lord Privy Seal in Gladstone's cabinet, and succeeded Granville as Colonial Secretary in 1870. It was in this position that Wodehouse is best remembered. In 1871 his administration saw the conquest and annexation of Griqualand West (Australia), and after the British flag was hoisted, the township became known as 'Kimberley' (after Wodehouse, Earl of Kimberley). Between 1882 and 1885 Wodehouse held the India Office, and spoke frequently in Parliament on Egyptian and Sudanese affairs. He was an avid supporter of Gladstone's policy of home rule during this period.

In 1891 Wodehouse succeeded Lord Granville as the leader of the Liberal Party in the House of Lords, and became Secretary for India once more. During 1896 he resumed leadership of the Liberals in the Lords, and is said to have been a spirited leader. He was much admired by his peers in government although he was little known to the general public. In 1901 Wodehouse made his last appearance in Parliament due to ill health and distress. He died in 1902.


Wodehouse displayed resolution in dealing with his difficulties... He spoke fluently but not eloquently, and never used notes. Though he generally kept his temper under strict control, he was naturally impulsive.
- Dictionary of National Biography.

Kimberley is not impressive, although extremely able and efficient.
- Henry Bruce, after Kimberley's maiden speech in the House of Lords, 1872. Advanced Category Search

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