Lord Leighton’s Short Peerage

From William Denton I followed a link to this recording of a Royal Academy talk by David Cannadine on Churchill and art.

In the introduction to the talk, Christopher Le Brun, President of the Royal Academy, mentions Lord Leighton:

And I immediately thought of my predecessor, Lord Leighton; that’s a slightly sad story, because he is the possessor of the shortest hereditary peerage in history: he was raised to the peerage on the 25th of January, I think 1896, and he died the very next day, so there’s not much material there, but there’s certainly plenty of material when it comes to Churchill. 

Being a lapsed student, and a dilettante with regard to the arts, I’d never heard of Frederic Lord Leighton, but I was prompted to learn more.

Perhaps Le Brun was being sarcastic when he said “there’s not much material there,” as the more I learn about Lord Leighton, the more I am fascinated. While I will leave you to pursue your own curiosity in this regard, this catalogue from an exhibition of his works, held the year after he died, is a good place to start. My favourite part of the catalogue, what with me being me, is this note from the introduction:

No sticks, umbrellas or parasols are allowed to be taken into the Galleries. They must. be given up to the attendants at the Cloak Room in the Entrance Hall. The other attendants are strictly forbidden to take charge of anything.

You might also start with this 1996 article from The Independent that makes a compelling case for Lord Leighton having had an unrecognized son.

(And also, if some kind student of the British peerage would care to shed light, I’d love to understand more about what being “raised to the peerage” means, why Layton was a Lord in the first place, and why Leighton isn’t known as Baron Leighton today).