Henry Vivian, 1st Baron Swansea

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The Lord Swansea
Henry Hussey Vivian, Vanity Fair, 1886-06-05.jpg
"Swansea". Caricature by Spy published in Vanity Fair in 1886.
Member of Parliament
for Swansea District
In office
Preceded byLewis Llewelyn Dillwyn
Succeeded byWilliam Williams
Member of Parliament
for Glamorganshire
In office
Preceded byChristopher Rice Mansel Talbot
Succeeded byAbolished
Member of Parliament
for Truro
In office
Preceded byHumphrey Willyams
Succeeded byEdward Brydges Willyams
Personal details
Born(1821-07-06)6 July 1821
Swansea, Wales
Died28 November 1894(1894-11-28) (aged 73)
Swansea, Wales
Political partyWhig / Liberal
Statue of Henry Hussey Vivian in Swansea.

Henry Hussey Vivian, 1st Baron Swansea (6 July 1821 – 28 November 1894), known as Sir Hussey Vivian and later Lord Swansea, was a Welsh industrialist and politician from the Vivian family.


Born at Singleton Abbey, Swansea, Henry was the eldest son of industrialist and MP John Henry Vivian and his wife Sarah, daughter of Arthur Jones, of Reigate. His younger brothers were Arthur Vivian (who would become an industrialist and MP), Richard Glynn Vivian (afterwards an art collector and philanthropist) and Graham Vivian. His uncle was Richard Hussey Vivian, first baron Vivian.[1] He was educated at Eton and studied metallurgy in Germany and France from 1838 before entering Trinity College, Cambridge in 1839.[2]

After two years he became manager of the Liverpool branch of the copper-smelting business founded by his grandfather, Vivian & Sons. Three years later he became a partner of the firm before coming to Swansea to manage the Hafod Works during the last ten years of his father’s life (1845–1855). He developed a range of by-products from copper-smelting and diversified into other metallurgical activities. He is credited with originating the "sliding scale" of miners' wages after the strike of 1889, though other authorities attribute the idea to William Thomas Lewis, afterwards Lord Merthyr. He was one of the chief promoters of the Rhondda and Swansea Bay Railway, helped to further extend the harbour facilities of the town and championed the merits of Welsh coal in Parliamentary debates. It was largely due to his efforts that Swansea became a major industrial centre.

He served as a Member of Parliament (MP) for Truro 1852–7, Glamorganshire 1857–85 and Swansea District 1885–93. In 1889 he became the first chairman of the Glamorgan County Council. He was also a Justice of the Peace, Deputy Lieutenant for Glamorgan and for some years first Lieutenant-Colonel of the 4th Glamorgan Rifle Volunteers.

He was created a baronet of Singleton in the Parish of Swansea in the County of Glamorgan on 13 May 1882[3] and Baron Swansea, of Singleton in the County of Glamorgan on 9 June 1893.[4]

After his death on 28 November 1894, probate was granted to his sons Henry Hussey Vivian and Odo Richard Vivian valuing his estate at £163,707 1s 9d, he was buried in the churchyard of St Paul's Church in Sketty. There is a bronze statue of Henry wearing a frock coat and gown in St. David's Shopping Centre, Swansea, created by Italian sculptor Mario Raggi.[5] There is also a plaque at St John's Church in Hafod. It was erected by his widow and contains the words 'Life's race well run. Life's work well done. Life's crown well won. Then comes rest'.

Lord Swansea's younger brother Sir Arthur Vivian was also a Liberal politician.

Marriages and children[edit]

Lord Swansea married, on 15 April 1847, to Jessie Dalrymple Goddard (c. 1825 – 28 February 1848), the daughter of Ambrose Goddard, of the Lawn, Swindon. His wife died of childbed fever a few weeks after the birth of their only child.

On 14 July 1853 he married Lady Flora Caroline Elizabeth Cholmeley (died 25 January 1868), daughter of Sir Montague Cholmeley, 2nd Baronet. They had one son;

  • The Hon. John Aubrey Vivian (23 July 1854 – 1 March 1898); died unmarried

Lord Swansea took as his third wife, on 10 November 1870, Averil Beaumont (1841 – 14 January 1934), daughter of Capt. Richard Beaumont, R.N., and granddaughter of the 3rd Baron Macdonald of Slate. He and his third wife had seven children;

  • Violet Averil Margaret Vivian (3 December 1871 – 30 March 1943)
  • Henry Hussey Vivian (5 February 1873 – 11 December 1898); died unmarried
  • Odo Richard Vivian, 3rd Baron Swansea (22 April 1875 – 16 November 1934)
  • Averil Vivian (4 December 1876 – 1 February 1959); married George Tryon, 1st Baron Tryon
  • Alexandra Gladys Vivian (c. 1879 – 17 July 1966)
  • Alberta Diana Vivian (10 February 1883 – 1968)
  • a daughter (10 February 1883)[6]


  1. ^ "Vivian, Henry Hussey" . Dictionary of National Biography. London: Smith, Elder & Co. 1885–1900.
  2. ^ "Vivian, Henry Hussey (VVN838HH)". A Cambridge Alumni Database. University of Cambridge.
  3. ^ "No. 25106". The London Gazette. 12 May 1882. p. 2221.
  4. ^ "No. 26412". The London Gazette. 13 June 1893. p. 3383.
  5. ^ Newman, John; Hughes, Stephen R.; Ward, Anthony (1995). Glamorgan: (Mid Glamorgan, South Glamorgan and West Glamorgan). Penguin Books; University of Wales Press. p. 601. ISBN 978-0-14-071056-4.
  6. ^ "Births". The Cornishman (241). 22 February 1883. p. 7.

Further reading[edit]

  • Burke, Sir Bernard; Burke, Ashworth P. (1928). Burke’s Peerage. London: Burke’s Peerage Ltd.
  • Thomas, Norman Lewis (1966). The Story of Swansea’s Districts and Villages. Neath: The Guardian Press (Neath) Ltd.

External links[edit]

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
John Ennis Vivian
Humphrey Willyams
Member of Parliament for Truro
With: John Ennis Vivian
Succeeded by
Augustus Smith
Edward Brydges Willyams
Preceded by
Christopher Rice Mansel Talbot
Sir George Tyler
Member of Parliament for Glamorganshire
With: Christopher Rice Mansel Talbot
Constituency abolished
Preceded by
Lewis Llewelyn Dillwyn
Member of Parliament for Swansea District
Succeeded by
William Williams
Peerage of the United Kingdom
New creation Baron Swansea
Succeeded by
Ernest Vivian