EGERTON, Sir Philip de Malpas Grey, 10th bt. (1806-1881), of Oulton Park, Cheshire and 18 Jermyn Street, Mdx.
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Family and Education
b. 13 Nov. 1806, 1st s. of Rev. Philip Grey Egerton, rect. of Malpas and Tarporley, Cheshire, and Rebecca, da. of Josias Du Pré of Wilton Park, Bucks. educ. Eton 1820-4; Christ Church, Oxf. 1825. m. 8 Mar. 1832, Anna Elizabeth, da. of George John Legh of High Legh, Cheshire, 2s. 2da. suc. fa. as 10th bt. 13 Dec. 1829. d. 5 Apr. 1881.
Capt. Cheshire yeoman cav. 1825, lt.-col. 1847.
Egerton, one of the most eminent antiquaries and palaeontologists of his time, was the eldest of the seven sons and a daughter born to the Rev. Philip Egerton, a leading freemason, who in 1825 succeeded his brother Sir John Grey Egerton† to the Egerton baronetcy and 9,000-acre Oulton Park estate, which had been denuded of timber to meet electioneering costs in Chester.[footnote] His mother was the daughter of a nabob and sister of James du Pré†. He was educated at Eton and Oxford, where he studied geology under William Buckland and William Conybeare and became a close friend of William Willoughby, Viscount Cole (afterwards 3rd earl of Enniskillen), with whom he travelled in Germany, Switzerland and Italy in search of fossil fishes, the subject of his work and reputation as a palaeontologist.[footnote] His coming of age was celebrated at Oulton and at Chester’s Albion hotel, the venue of his late uncle’s Egerton or ‘Independent’ party, for whom his kinsman General Charles Egerton had almost recaptured one of the borough seats from the Grosvenors in 1826 and seemed set to do so at the next opportunity.[footnote] Egerton graduated in 1828, was elected a fellow of the Royal Geological Society the following year and in December 1829 succeeded his father, who died worth less than £8,000 and having willed everything to his widow, to the baronetcy and entailed estates.[footnote] At the 1830 general election Egerton canvassed early and came in unopposed for Chester with the 2nd earl Grosvenor’s son Robert. His notices and speeches made frequent references to the Egertons’ achievements, and he promised to support ‘every measure for economizing the resources of the country, reducing the burdens of the people’, and abolishing sinecures and useless places. He declined to attend the nomination for Cheshire, where Lord Grosvenor’s heir Lord Belgrave, who had stood down at Chester, was a successful candidate.[footnote] As his late uncle Sir John had wished, Egerton was a major beneficiary of the will (proved under £25,000) of the dowager Lady Egerton (d. 11 Aug. 1830).[footnote]
The Wellington ministry interpreted Egerton’s election as a gain and classified him as one of their ‘friends’, and he divided with them when they were brought down on the civil list, 15 Nov. 1830. Afterwards, he joined Grosvenor in issuing an equivocal declaration of support for moderate reform; but, unlike him, he refused to endorse the Chester reform meeting’s petition in favour of the Grey ministry’s bill, and caused a great stir by stating in an explanatory letter to the mayor, 14 Mar. 1831:
Upon subjects of local interest I should at all times pay the utmost deference to your opinions; but on one of great national importance, like the present ... I shall consider it my bounden duty to throw every obstacle in the way of so crude and dangerous a measure.
He added that in the likely event of a dissolution the freemen could judge his conduct.