George Bingham, 3rd Earl of Lucan

The Earl of Lucan

The 3rd Earl of Lucan. Engraving by D. J. Pound, c. 1860
Born (1800-04-16)16 April 1800
London, England
Died 10 November 1888(1888-11-10) (aged 88)
London, England
Allegiance  United Kingdom
Service/branch  British Army
Years of service 1816–1877
Rank Field Marshal
Commands held Cavalry Division
Battles/wars Crimean War
Awards Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Bath
Order of St. Anna, 2nd Class (Russia)
Order of the Medjidie, First Class (Ottoman Empire)[1]
Commander of the Legion of Honour (France)[2]

Field Marshal George Charles Bingham, 3rd Earl of Lucan, GCB (16 April 1800 – 10 November 1888), styled Lord Bingham before 1839, was an Anglo-Irish aristocrat and British Army officer. He was hated by the Irish because of his intolerant behaviour as a land owner during the Great Famine in the late 1840s. He was one of three men, along with Captain Nolan and Lord Raglan, responsible for the fateful order during the Battle of Balaclava in October 1854 that led to the Light Brigade commander, The Earl of Cardigan, leading the fateful Charge of the Light Brigade. Lord Lucan also made an important contribution in Parliament when he came up with a solution that allowed Jews to sit there. He was subsequently promoted to field marshal despite the debacle at Balaclava.

Military career

George, Lord Bingham, at age 14

Born the first son of Richard Bingham, 2nd Earl of Lucan, an Anglo-Irish peer, and Elizabeth Bingham (née Belasyse), Lord Bingham (as he was styled up until late June 1839) attended Westminster School but left formal education to be commissioned as an ensign in the 6th Regiment of Foot on 29 August 1816.[3] He transferred to the 11th Light Dragoons on 24 December 1818.[4]

Lord Bingham became a lieutenant in the 8th Regiment of Foot on 20 January 1820, a captain in the 74th Regiment of Foot on 16 May 1822 and was promoted to major, unattached, on 23 June 1825.[5] He transferred to the 17th Lancers on 1 December 1825 and became commanding officer of the regiment with the rank of lieutenant colonel on 9 November 1826; he lavished such expense on his officers' uniforms and horses that the officers became known as "Bingham's Dandies".[5] He was also elected as MP for County Mayo in 1826[6] and held that seat until 1830.[5] During the Russo-Turkish War, which began in 1828, he acted observer with the Imperial Russian Army.[5]

Lord Bingham succeeded his father as 3rd Earl of Lucan in the Peerage of Ireland on 30 June 1839 and, having become an Irish Representative Peer in June 1840[7] and having been promoted to colonel on 23 November 1841, he became Lord Lieutenant of Mayo in 1845.[3] During the Great Famine in the late 1840s, he acted in a sufficiently clumsy and insensitive manner, by introducing mass evictions from villages such as Ballinrobe, that he earned the hatred of many of the local people and became known as "The Exterminator".[8] He was promoted to major general on 11 November 1851.[9]

Crimean war

The Charge of the Light Brigade: it was Lucan who gave the order to Cardigan to lead the charge.

At the outbreak of the Crimean War, Lord Lucan applied for a post and was made commander of the Cavalry Division. His brother-in-law, the 7th Earl of Cardigan, was one of his subordinates, commanding the Light Brigade – an unfortunate choice as the two men heartily detested each other.[3] Promoted to brevet lieutenant general on 18 August 1854,[10] he was present at the Battle of Alma in September 1854 but, on the orders of the Army commander, Lord Raglan, he held his division in reserve.[11] At the Battle of Balaclava in October 1854, Lucan received an order from Raglan and in turn ordered Cardigan to lead the Charge of the Light Brigade, resulting in heavy British casualties without significant gains.[12] As Lucan brought the Heavy Brigade forward in support, he was lightly wounded in the leg.[13] Raglan blamed Lucan for the loss ("You have lost the light brigade"), and censured him in despatches.[14] Although Lucan complained against this censure, as the relationship between the army commander and the cavalry commander had clearly broken down, he was recalled to England, where he returned at the beginning of March 1855.[11]

On his arrival, Lucan's demand for a court-martial was declined and instead he defended himself with a speech to the House of Lords on 19 March 1855, blaming Raglan and his deceased aide-de-camp, Captain Louis Nolan.[3] This tactic appears to have been successful as he was subsequently appointed Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath on 5 July 1855,[15] and Colonel of the 8th Light Dragoons, who had charged with the Light Brigade, on 17 November 1855.[16]

Later life

A significant contribution was made by Lucan to Parliament when he produced a solution to the problem of admitting Jews to Parliament. Prior to this, distinguished Jews had declined to take the oath "on the true faith of a Christian" and having not been sworn in as required by statute, were refused voting rights although having been elected an MP. Lucan proposed, by way of a compromise, that each House could decide and modify its own oath. The House of Lords, who had long opposed the admission of Jews, agreed to this. A prominent Jew, Lionel Nathan Rothschild, was thus allowed to enter the House of Commons and was sworn in on 26 July 1858.[17]

Although Lucan never again saw active duty, he was promoted to lieutenant general on 24 December 1858,[18] and, having become colonel of the 1st Regiment of Life Guards on 27 February 1865,[19] he was to promoted to general on 28 August 1865 and advanced to Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Bath in 1869.[20][21] He formally retired in October 1877,[22] but after some lobbying he was promoted to field marshal on 21 June 1887.[23] He died at 13 South Street, Park Lane, London, on 10 November 1888 and was buried at Laleham in Middlesex.[3]


In 1829, Bingham married Lady Anne Brudenell, seventh daughter of Robert Brudenell, 6th Earl of Cardigan; they had six children.[3]



  1. The London Gazette: no. 22107. p. 1251. 2 March 1858. Retrieved 9 November 2013.
  2. The London Gazette: no. 21909. p. 2699. 4 August 1856. Retrieved 9 November 2013.
  3. 1 2 3 4 5 6 "George Bingham, 3rd Earl of Lucan". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Retrieved 9 November 2013.
  4. The London Gazette: no. 17454. p. 378. 27 February 1818. Retrieved 9 November 2013.
  5. 1 2 3 4 Heathcote, p. 41
  6. The London Gazette: no. 18289. p. 2282. 22 September 1826. Retrieved 9 November 2013.
  7. The London Gazette: no. 19870. p. 1548. 30 June 1840. Retrieved 9 November 2013.
  8. "Lord Lucan and the Irish potato famine". The Victorian Web. Retrieved 9 November 2013.
  9. The London Gazette: no. 21262. p. 2966. 11 November 1851. Retrieved 9 November 2013.
  10. The London Gazette: no. 21584. p. 2566. 18 August 1854. Retrieved 9 November 2013.
  11. 1 2 Heathcote, p. 42
  12. Calthorpe, p. 132
  13. The London Gazette: no. 21624. p. 3459. 12 November 1854. Retrieved 9 November 2013.
  14. The London Gazette: no. 21624. p. 3456. 12 November 1854. Retrieved 9 November 2013.
  15. The London Gazette: no. 21743. p. 2654. 10 July 1855. Retrieved 9 November 2013.
  16. The London Gazette: no. 21823. p. 4589. 4 December 1855. Retrieved 9 November 2013.
  17. "Journey Bank to Westminster: Lionel de Rothschild's journey to parliament, 1847–1858". Rothschold Archive. Retrieved 9 November 2013.
  18. The London Gazette: no. 22217. p. 79. 11 January 1859. Retrieved 9 November 2013.
  19. The London Gazette: no. 22945. p. 1324. 3 March 1865. Retrieved 9 November 2013.
  20. The London Gazette: no. 23012. p. 4409. 12 September 1865. Retrieved 9 November 2013.
  21. The London Gazette: no. 23503. p. 3179. 2 June 1869. Retrieved 9 November 2013.
  22. The London Gazette: no. 24508. p. 5455. 2 October 1877. Retrieved 9 November 2013.
  23. The London Gazette: no. 25773. p. 223. 5 January 1888. Retrieved 9 November 2013.


Further reading

Wikimedia Commons has media related to George Bingham, 3rd Earl of Lucan.
Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Dominick Browne
James Browne
Member of Parliament for Mayo
With: James Browne
Succeeded by
James Browne
Dominick Browne
Military offices
Preceded by
Sir John Brown
Colonel of the 8th (The King's Royal Irish) Hussars
Succeeded by
John Lawrenson
Preceded by
The Viscount Combermere
Colonel of the 1st Regiment of Life Guards
Succeeded by
Prince Edward of Saxe-Weimar
Honorary titles
Preceded by
The Marquess of Sligo
Lord Lieutenant of Mayo
Succeeded by
The Earl of Arran
Peerage of Ireland
Preceded by
Richard Bingham
Earl of Lucan
Succeeded by
Charles Bingham
Preceded by
The Earl of Enniskillen
Representative peer for Ireland
Succeeded by
Lord Clarina
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