The Earl of Balfour is a title in the Peerage of the United Kingdom created to honour Arthur James Balfour who, in accordance with the tradition that all former British Prime Ministers deserve to be elevated to the peerage, was created the Viscount Traprain of Whittingehame and the Earl of Balfour on the 5th May 1922. Although Arthur Balfour died unmarried on the 19th March 1930, this was not an unexpected turn of events and the former Prime Minister had indeed ensured that his titles were created with a special remainder to cover just such an eventuality. This meant that in default of his own male issue, (and there weren't any), the titles would pass firstly to his brother Gerald and heirs male of his body, failing whom to his nephew Francis Cecil Balfour and the heirs male of his body, failing whom to his younger nephew Oswald Herbert Balfour and the heirs male of his body. As it turned out Oswald Herbert died unmarried on the 16th October 1953, so neither he nor his non-existent heirs were ever to feature in the succession.

Therefore in accordance with the special remainder, with the death of the 1st Earl the title simply passed to his younger brother Gerald William. He had earlier been something of a politician like his older brother, and as the Member of Parliament for Leeds Central between 1885 and 1906, had served as the Chief Secretary for Ireland in 1895–1900, the President of the Board of Trade in 1900–1905 and briefly as the President of the Local Government Board. He then abandoned politics after losing his seat at the 1906 General Election and devoted much of the rest of his life to psychical research where he became convinced of the reality of telepathy and of the merits of automatic writing as a means by which the dead communicated with the living.

The 2nd Earl died on the 14th January 1945 and was succeeded by his only son Robert Arthur. A lieutenant in Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve he commanded an anti-submarine trawler engaged on convoy duty at the beginning of World War II before becoming the Regional Controller for Scotland at the Ministry for Fuel and Power in 1942. With the conclusion of the war, and his inheritance of the title he followed a career in business and became the chairman and managing director of Bruntons (Musselburgh) Ltd, a manufacturer of cold worked steels including steel wire ropes, and was also a director of the Scottish Gas Board and of the Scottish Division of the National Coal Board. Appointed to the Board of Governors of the BBC in 1956, he was the National Governor for Scotland until 1960, and although he was appointed as the chairman of the Royal Commission on Scottish Affairs in 1952, he was not politically active and it wasn't until 1966 that he got around to making his maiden speech in the House of Lords.

The 3rd Earl died on the 27th November 1968 and was followed by his elder son, Gerald Arthur, a Master Mariner who had served in the Merchant Navy between 1944 and 1954 simply because his application to join the Royal Navy was turned down on the grounds of his dyslexia. In later life this affliction made him the bane of the parliamentary draftsmen, as it meant that he tended to scrutinise each parliamentary bill with a dictionary in hand, thereby detecting mistakes that others had overlooked. Although the 4th Earl was married, he died without issue on the 27th June 2003, and his death exhausted the category of the male issue of Gerald William, the 2nd Earl. The title therefore passed to the 4th Earl's second cousin once-removed, Roderick Francis Arthur Balfour who was the grandson of the aforementioned Francis Cecil Balfour.

The 5th and present Earl of Balfour, Roderick Francis Arthur Balfour, was a member of the London Stock Exchange between 1975 and 1981, and later became a director of Union Discount and the Rothschild Trust Corporation. Although he is married to Tessa Mary Isabel Fitzalan-Howard, the elder daughter of the 17th Duke of Norfolk, their eldest child Willa Anne was followed by three other daughters known as 'Shrimpy', 'Jubie' and 'Tuppy'.

The heir presumptive is therefore his younger brother Charles George Yule Balfour, who has also followed a career in the City, having worked for the likes of Hill Samuel & Co and Banque Paribas and was the managing director of NASDAQ International between 1993 and 2004. By his second marriage to the Austrian Reichsgräfin Svea Maria Cecily Lucrezia, he has one son George Eustace Charles Balfour, born on the 8th December 1990, who will ultimately bear the responsibility for ensuring the succession to the title.




  • George Edward Cokayne, Vicary Gibbs, et al, The Complete Peerage (St Catherine's Press, 1910-1959)
  • The entry for BALFOUR from Burke's Peerage and Baronetage 107th Edition
  • Obituary:The Earl of Balfour, Daily Telegraph, 04/07/2003
  • Charles Balfour at
  • See also sources for Gerald Balfour, 2nd Earl of Balfour

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