Albert Edward Harry Meyer Archibald Primrose,
6th Earl of Rosebery, Baron Epsom of Epsom
Albert Primrose 6th Earl Rosebery
Image courtesy of "The Ernest Fawbert Collection" Flicker.com
Albert Edward Harry Meyer Archibald Primrose was born on 8 January 1882 (GRO: Mar 1882 St George Hanover Square 1a 414) in Mayfair, Westminster, London, the first son and third child of Archibald and Hannah Primrose, nee De Rothschild. He was baptised on 21 February 1882 at the Chapel Royal in St.James Palace London. The Prince of Wales (later Edward VII) was one of his godfathers. Although Albert was known by the courtesy title of Lord Dalmeny from birth until he inherited the family title of Earl of Rosebery in 1929, he was best known by his third name of Harry. The Peerage of Scotland created the title 'Earl of Rosebery', in 1703 for Archibald Primrose, 1st Earl of Rosebery, which then pasted on to his male and female issue successively.
His father, Archibald Philip Primrose
(1847-1929), the 5th Earl of Rosebery, not only had the title of Lord Rosebery but was also a member of the Order of the Garter and of the Privy Council of the United Kingdom. He was a Liberal Party statesman and Prime Minister of the United Kingdom between 1894-95. Harry's mother, who was known as the Countess of Rosebery, was an English social leader and philanthropist and the daughter of Baron Mayer Amschel de Rothschild and his wife Juliana, nee Cohen. When her father died in 1874 she became the richest woman in Britain.
One of Harry's passions was cricket; he played for the Middlesex County Cricket Club and served, between 1902-5, as captain to the Surrey County Cricket Club based at The Oval cricket ground in south London. Records show that his batting style was 'Right handed' and his bowling style 'Right-arm fast'.
Harry attended Eton College and then the Royal Military College, Sandhurst. He joined the British Army and became a Lieutenant in the Grenadier Guards, which was the most senior regiment of the Guards Division of the British Army. At the age of 24 he resigned his commission and began in 1906 his short political career in the House of Commons by being elected the youngest Liberal Party Member of Parliament for the Scottish seat of Edinburghshire, now known as Midlothian. This was an area where the family had long been prominent landowners. His maiden speech in March 1906 was on army expenditure and reorganization. Harry retired from the House of Commons in January 1910.
On 15 April 1909 Harry married Lady Dorothy Alice Margaret Augusta Grosvenor, daughter of Lord Henry George and Dora Mina Grosvenor, nee Erskine-Wymess. This was a marriage that was to end in divorce in 1919. The couple did however have two children from their marriage, Archibald Ronald, who became Lord Dalmeny as was his birthright, born 1 August 1910 and Lady Helen Dorothy born in 1913. Lady Helen died on 6 Oct 1998.
Harry's eldest son Lord Dalmeny, Archibald Ronald, played several times for Middlesex County Cricket Club between 1929 and 1931, before dying aged just 21 from blood poisoning contracted during a dental operation at Oxford, on 11 November 1931.
During the First World War Harry rejoined the Grenadier Guards and served in France 1914-1917 as Camp Commandant and ADC to General Allenby and subsequently in Palestine as Allenby's Military Secretary. Harry was mentioned in dispatches and was awarded the MC in 1916. In 1917 he was admitted to the French Légion d'honneur and was appointed DSO in 1918. His brother Captain Neil James Archibald Primrose
was killed in Hill of Gezer during the Siniai and Palestine Campaign.
Harry's second marriage was on 24 June 1924 in Prince's Row Register Office London to Hon. Eva Isabel Marion Bruce, daughter of Major Henry and Constance Mary Campbell Bruce, nee Beckett. It was from this marriage that the future 7th earl of Rosebery, Neil Archibald, was born on 11 February 1929. The birth and death of Harry's fourth child Mary was on 15 March 1935.
After the death of his father in 1929, Harry became the 6th Earl of Rosebery and took on all of his father's hereditary titles including the title created in 1911 of Baron Epsom of Epsom. Harry also became a member of the House of Lords and was made Lord Lieutenant of Midlothian 1929-1964.
Having been elected to the Jockey Club in 1924, Harry twice won the Epsom Derby with horses bred at his Mentmore and Crafton Studs, which were part of the Mentmore Towers family estate on the Bedfordshire and Buckinghamshire borders. He also became president of the Thoroughbred Breeders' Association and remained so until 1955.
Harry's three year old horse 'Blue Peter', his favourite, won not only the Two Thousand Guineas, the Blue Riband at Epsom, and the Eclipse stakes but also won the 1939 Derby, finishing four lengths ahead of the field. This was the first Derby win for the family since 1905 when his father had won his third and last Derby. Harry told reporters that the silks his jockey had wore in the race had belonged to his father and had been discovered in an old trunk during house-cleaning a few weeks before. After Blue Peter's death in 1957 Harry said,
"He was just like a human being although a placid animal. Blue Peter was particular about what he ate. Give him something he didn't like and he would take one look at it and turn away. He was the best horse I ever had and was the best I had ever seen and he had only half a career as a racehorse"
This was because of the outbreak of World War 2 in September 1939, after the Derby was run. Blue Peter's offspring 'Ocean Swell' was the second Derby winner for Harry in 1944, and the last winner to date for the Rosebery/Primrose family.
In February 1941, during the Second World War, he was appointed Regional Commissioner for Civil Defence in Scotland. When the wartime coalition government broke up in 1945, Winston Churchill formed a caretaker administration to hold office until the 1945 general election. One appointment Churchill made was to install Harry as a member of the Privy Council of the United Kingdom, just as his father had been, and as the Secretary of State for Scotland.
Harry was President of the National Liberal Party between1945-1957. He was also appointed Chairman of the Royal Fine Art Commission for Scotland, a Scottish public body, in 1952.
Harry died age 92 on 30 May 1974 in Mentmore House, Buckinghamshire. His son, Neil Archibald Primrose, was duly made the 7th Earl of Rosebery. Neil and his wife Deirdre live in the family home in Dalmeny Scotland. They have four daughters and son. It is their youngest child, Harry Ronald Neil Primrose, born in 1967, who bears the courtesy title of Lord Dalmeny as heir to the Rosebery earldom. The Heir Apparent's Heir Apparent is his son, the Hon. Albert Caspian Harry Primrose who was born in 2005.
Harry's wealth at death was £9,941,699
This article was written by Hazel Ballan, March 2009.
With thanks to www.thepeerage.com for help in sourcing the image.