Spencer, John Poyntz, 5th Earl Spencer (1835 -1910)

John Poyntz Spencer was known as Viscount Althorp from 1845 to 1857. He was also named the Red Earl because of his distinctive long red beard. He was the son of Frederick Spencer, 4th Earl Spencer, by his first wife Georgiana, daughter of William Poyntz. He was educated at Harrow and Trinity College, Cambridge, from which he graduated in 1857. Right away he was elected to Parliament for South Northamptonshire as a Liberal, before departing for a tour of North America. He returned in December 1857, and within a few days his father died, leaving him as the new Earl Spencer. He was sworn of the Privy Council in 1859, and made a Knight of the Garter in 1864. In 1866 Spencer split from other aristocratic Liberals on the issue of Russell's reform bill, which he supported, and his loyalty was rewarded by his appointment as Lord Lieutenant of Ireland when Gladstone returned to power in 1868. Ireland came to be a major preoccupation of the remainder of Spencer's long political career. In this first tenure as Lord Lieutenant, he had to deal with implementation of the disestablishment of the Church of Ireland in 1869, and of the Irish Land Act of 1870, Spencer supported coercive legislation to deal with the increase in agrarian crime, but at the same time supported a policy of releasing Fenian prisoners when possible. The government lingered on for a further year, until the election defeat of February 1874, when Spencer found himself out of office. When Gladstone returned to power for his second government in 1880, Spencer joined the Cabinet as Lord President of the Council, having responsibility for education policy. The situation in Ireland, however, commanded an increasing portion of his time. In May 1882, Gladstone's decision to release the Irish Nationalist leader Charles Stewart Parnell from prison led to the resignation of the hardline Chief Secretary for Ireland, W. E. Forster. As a result, Spencer was again appointed Lord Lieutenant to take charge of the government's Irish policy, while retaining his seat in the cabinet, and position as Lord President. On 6 May 1882, Gladstone's nephew, Lord Frederick Cavendish, and the permanent under-secretary, Thomas Henry Burke, were murdered by extremist Irish nationalists in Phoenix Park, Dublin. Spencer acted quickly to reform the Irish police forces and destroy the secret societies responsible for the murders, leading to condemnation of Spencer from Irish Nationalist sources. By the time of Gladstone's third government in February 1886, Spencer had become a convert to Irish Home Rule. As Lord President, he was instrumental in the formulation of Home Rule legislation, which led to his social ostracism by other members of his class, including the Queen herself. In Gladstone’s fourth government in August 1892, Spencer was appointed First Lord of the Admiralty, but Gladstone's opposition to Spencer's policy of naval expansion, led to Gladstone's final resignation in March 1894. Gladstone himself still hoped that Spencer would be his successor, but the Queen did not seek his advice, and chose Lord Rosebery instead. Spencer continued to serve under Rosebery, and went out when the Liberal government fell in June 1895. In 1902, Spencer was elected Liberal leader in the House of Lords. Despite health problems, he was rumoured as late as February 1905 to be a potential candidate for Liberal Prime Minister. However, on 11 October of that year he suffered a major stroke, which ended his political career, only two months shy of the Liberals' return to power. Lord Spencer married Charlotte Seymour, daughter of Frederick Charles William Seymour, and Lady Mary Gordon, on 8 July 1858. The marriage was childless. Lady Spencer died in October 1903, aged 68. Spencer died at Althorp in August 1910, aged 74, and was succeeded by his half-brother, Charles.
Seat / Residence(s): Althorp House
Stamp(s) Stamp Information
Spencer, John Poyntz, 5th Earl Spencer (1835 - 1910) (Stamp 1) Title: Spencer, John Poyntz, 5th Earl Spencer (1835 - 1910) (Stamp 1)
Arms: Quarterly 1 & 4 quarterly in 1st and 4th quarters A fret overall on a bend three escallops (Spencer) 2 & 3 Barry of eight (Poyntz) 2. Quarterly of eight 1 & 6 quarterly in 1st and 4th quarters A fret overall on a bend three escallops (Spencer) 2 & 5 Barry of eight (Poyntz) 3 & 8 On a pile between six fleurs de lys three lions of England (Seymour augmentation of honour) 4 & 7 Two wings conjoined in lure tips downwards (Seymour)
Crest: Out of a ducal coronet a demi-griffin wings raised gorged with a bar gemelle
Motto: Dieu defend le droit
Order: Garter
Supporters: Dexter A griffin sergeant chained Sinister A wyvern chained
Dimensions (height x width): 77mm x 78mm
Coronet: Earl
Heraldic Charges: bar gemelle, Heraldic Charges: barry (8), Heraldic Charges: bend, on a, Heraldic Charges: coronet, ducal, out of a, Heraldic Charges: escallops (3), Heraldic Charges: fleurs-de-lys (6), Heraldic Charges: fret, Heraldic Charges: griffin, demi-, Heraldic Charges: lions passant gardant (3), Heraldic Charges: pile, on a, Heraldic Charges: quarterly, Heraldic Charges: wings (2)
Spencer, John Poyntz, 5th Earl Spencer (1835 - 1910) (Stamp 2) Title: Spencer, John Poyntz, 5th Earl Spencer (1835 - 1910) (Stamp 2)
Order: Garter
Dimensions (height x width): 25mm x 12mm
Coronet: Earl
Title: Spencer, John Poyntz, 5th Earl Spencer (1835 - 1910) (Stamp 3)
Dimensions (height x width): 20mm x 23mm
Coronet: Earl