Earl of Beaconsfield

Earl of Beaconsfield

The title Earl of Beaconsfield in the peerage of the United Kingdom was created in 1876 for Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli, a favourite of Queen Victoria. Victoria favoured Disraeli's Tory policies over those of his Liberal rival, William Ewart Gladstone. Disraeli had also promoted the Royal Titles Act 1876 that had given Victoria the title of "Empress of India." Disraeli's subsidiary title was Viscount Hughenden.

In 1868, at the end of his first term as Prime Minister, Disraeli's wife Mary Anne had been created Viscountess Beaconsfield in her own right, allowing her husband to remain a member of the House of Commons. Mary died in 1872. When Disraeli became an earl in 1876 he automatically lost his seat in the Commons but remained Prime Minister, leading his government from the House of Lords.

Beaconsfield is the name of a town in the county of Buckinghamshire. For most of his parliamentary career, Disraeli served as a member for Buckinghamshire. He owned an estate, Hughenden Manor, in the nearby town of High Wycombe, but never lived in Beaconsfield. His choice of title might have been partly influenced by the fact that in 1794 the conservative political philosopher and parliamentarian Edmund Burke, whom Disraeli admired, had turned down King George III's offer to raise him to the peerage as Lord Beaconsfield. [http://www.gutenberg.org/files/13220/13220-h/13220-h.htm#BEACONSFIELD]

In 1878, Disraeli refused Queen Victoria's offer to make him a duke, accepting instead membership in the Order of the Garter. The Disraelis died without heirs and their titles became extinct.

Earls of Beaconsfield, creation 1876

*Benjamin Disraeli, 1st Earl of Beaconsfield
**Died without issue; all titles became extinct upon his death in 1881

Viscount Beaconsfield, creation 1868

*Mary Disraeli, 1st "suo jure" Viscountess Beaconsfield
**Married Benjamin Disraeli, later Earl of Beaconsfield. Peerage expired upon her death in 1872

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