It’s the last Sitting Peer Sunday of 2013 and this week we have Arthur Colum Michael Connolly-Gore, 9th Earl of Arran, of the Arran Islands in the County of Galway.
Born Viscount Sudley in 1938, Lord Arran was educated at Eton and Balliol College, Oxford, before joining the Grenadier Guards, where he attained the rank of Second Lieutenant.
Following his time in the Army, Lord Arran became assistant manager of the Daily Mail before becoming general manager of the Daily Express and Sunday Express in the 1970s. His business career has also included a directorship of Waterstone’s.
He succeeded to the earldom in 1983 following the death of his father the 8th Earl and took on several junior ministerial roles after entering the House as a Conservative peer, firstly as Government Whip and Spokesman for the Home Office, Department for Education and Science and Department of Health and Social Security between 1987 and 1989; Department of the Environment 1988-89; Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Armed Forces) 1989-92; Northern Ireland Office 1992-94; Department of the Environment 1994 and Government Deputy Chief Whip 1994-1995.
In 1999 Lord Arran was elected as one of 92 hereditary peers to remain in the House. Since that time, he has sat on a number of Lords Committees, including the Committee on the Assisted Dying for the terminally ill Bill (2004-05), the Committee on Regulators (2006-07), EU Sub-Committee D – Agriculture, Fisheries and Environment (2007-12) and the Olympic and Paralympic Legacy Committee (2013). Under financial interests, Lord Arran lists Member of Lloyd’s: marine, non-marine, aviation; motors.
In 1974, he married Eleanor van Cutsem, grand-daughter of Hugh Fortescue, 5th Earl Fortescue, who served as Lord-in-Waiting under Baldwin, Chamberlain and Churchill and Captain of the Honourable Corps of Gentlemen-at-Arms under both Churchill and Eden. Both are Government Whip titles in the Lords.
Lord and Lady Arran run the Fortescue family’s stately home, Castle Hill House and gardens in Devon, as a venue for weddings and corporate hospitality. They also let out 50 properties on the 5,000-acre Devon estate. In 2008, Lady Arran was appointed a Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) in the Queen’s Birthday Honours.
Lord and Lady Arran have two daughters, Lady Laura Duckworth-Chad and Lady Lucy Fortescue-Gore, meaning the heir presumptive to the earldom is a distant and elderly cousin, descended from the youngest brother of the 4th Earl.
Earlier this year, Lord Arran courted controversy by comparing equal marriage to the decadence of the late Roman Empire and arguing marriage of any sort without children was pointless. In 1967, the 8th Earl voted to decriminalise homosexual activity by consenting adults, but Lord Arran said he believed his father would still oppose the Equal Marriage Bill as a ‘flaunting of homsexuality’.
Created in 1762, the earldom was one of the first during the reign of George III who, despite initial restraint, would go on to create 400 peerages before his death in 1820. It was created for Sir Arthur Gore, 3rd Baronet, a member of the Irish House of Commons between 1727 and 1758.
In the latter year he was ennobled as Baron Saunders, of Deeps in the County of Wexford, and Viscount Sudley, of Castle Gore in the County of Mayo by George II, who died two years later. All three titles are in the Peerage of Ireland.