Henry Stanley, 3rd Baron Stanley of Alderley

Henry Edward John Stanley, 3rd Baron Stanley of Alderley and 2nd Baron Eddisbury or Abdul Rahman Stanley, (11 July 1827 – 11 December 1903), was a historian who translated The first voyage round the world by Magellan and other works from the Age of Discovery. A convert to Islam, in 1869 Lord Stanley became the first Muslim member of the House of Lords.[1]

The Lord Stanley of Alderley
Member of the House of Lords
Lord Temporal
In office
16 June 1869  11 December 1903
Hereditary Peerage
Preceded byThe 2nd Baron Stanley of Alderley
Succeeded byThe 4th Baron Stanley of Alderley
Personal details
Born11 July 1827
Died11 December 1903


Henrietta Stanley, Baroness Stanley of Alderley, 1860

In or before 1859, Stanley converted to Islam and may have adopted the name Abdul Rahman.[2][3] He likely converted to Islam while traveling in the Islamosphere in the 1850s, having visited cities such as Kandy & Colombo in what was then known as British Ceylon, as well as having conducting his Hajj to Mecca.[2] Lord Stanley was the first Muslim member of the House of Lords,[4][5][6] inheriting his titles in 1869 upon the death of his father, Edward John Stanley, 2nd Baron Stanley of Alderley. His mother, Henrietta Stanley, Baroness Stanley of Alderley, was an English educationist, while his sister Katharine was the mother of Bertrand Russell.[7] His younger brother Edward Lyulph Stanley succeeded him.

As alcohol is forbidden in Islam, he apparently ordered the closure of all public houses on his estate in Nether Alderley, south of Alderley Edge (then named Chorley).[8] Despite his new faith, he funded the restoration on Anglesey of St Mary's Church, Bodewryd, Llanbadrig Church in Cemaes,[9] St Dona's Church, Llanddona and St Peirio's Church, Rhosbeirio.

He took part in three marriage ceremonies[10] with Fabia, daughter of Santiago Federico San Roman of Seville — firstly in 1862, secondly on 6 November 1869 at the registry office of the parish of St George's, Hanover Square and finally on 15 May 1874 at the Roman Catholic Church of St Alban, Macclesfield. Although she was apparently received as his wife in Britain, Fabia turned out to be identical to Serafina Fernandez y Funes, of Alcaudete, Jaén, Spain, who had, on 30 September 1851 married Ramon Peres y Abril (died 16 May 1870), so that the first two marriage ceremonies were bigamous.[11]


He died and was buried on two of the most auspicious dates in the Muslim calendar, 21 and 25 Ramadan (11 and 15 December 1903 respectively). He was buried according to Muslim rites in unconsecrated ground in the garden of the Dower House on his family's estate, Alderley Park, at Nether Alderley, Cheshire. The chief mourner at his burial was the first secretary to the Ottoman Embassy in London. Islamic prayers were recited over his grave by the embassy's imam.[3] A Janaza service in memory of the deceased was held at the Liverpool Mosque, conducted by Abdullah Quilliam.

In the issue of the Review of Religions for February 1904, the death of Lord Stanley was reported;

"Death of a Muslim member of the House of Lords That the late Henry Edward John Stanley, third Baron Stanley of Alderley, was a sincere and devout Muslim, was known to very few men. Readers of the Safwat-ul-Itbar (Travels of Sheikh Muhammad Bairam Fifth of Tunis), however, knew very well that Lord Stanley had long been a sincere believer in the principles of Islam. But his faith was not limited to a profession by word of mouth. The author of the Safwat-ul-Itbar relates incidents which show how deeply Islam had entered into his heart. He found him not only regular in the five daily prayers, but also constant at tahajjud (the midnight prayers); and what is still more wonderful, he found him very humble in his prayers, and far above most born Muhammadans. When he talked of the Holy Prophet, it was with profound love and deep respect that he mentioned or named him. He found him also very well versed on the principles of Muslim theology, and in his conversation with him he found that the deep conviction of his mind was the result of a comprehensive knowledge of the principles of Islam. This was about the year 1880. Who could imagine that such a sincere and devout worshipper of the true God was living in the heart of Christendom?"

The Crescent gave the following account of his interment;

"On Tuesday, the 25th Ramadan (15th December) his mortal remains were laid silently to rest in a secluded plantation in Alderley Park, his late lordship’s ancestral home. The interment took place at an early hour, and was conducted strictly according to Muslim usage, in which Holy and Imperishable Faith his lordship lived and died (Alhamd-o-lillah!) The corpse was inclosed in a plain deal coffin, and borne from the hall by workmen on the Alderley estate. Following it on foot were the successor to the title (the Hon’ble Lyulph Stanley), his wife, their two sons, and other relatives. By the late Lord Stanley’s special direction there was also present as chief mourner his Excellency Hamid Bey, Premier Secretaire to the Ottoman Embassy in London. The Islamic prayers were recited over the grave by the Imam to the Turkish Embassy. A Janaza service in memory of the deceased was held at the Liverpool Mosque, and was conducted by His Honour Abdulla Quilliam Effendi, Sheikh-ul Islam of the British Isles."

According to Nancy Mitford, at the funeral, his brother turned to the new Lord Stanley, who had removed his hat out of respect, and snapped "Not your hat, you fool, your boots."[12]


His books were published by the Hakluyt Society, of which he was a member and vice-president. He wrote under the name Hon. Henry E. J. Stanley while his father was alive and Lord Stanley of Alderley after he acceded to that title.


  1. Muriel E. Chamberlain (2004). "Stanley, Henry Edward John, third Baron Stanley of Alderley and second Baron Eddisbury (1827–1903)". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography.
  2. "An Englishman Turned Turk". The Daily Delta (quoting The Times of Ceylon) (79). New Bern, North Carolina, USA (quoting a paper from Colombo, Sri Lanka). 6 July 1859. Retrieved 17 September 2020.
  3. Death of Lord Stanley of Alderley
  4. "Lord Henry Stanley: A Muslim who lovingly restored a church". Archived from the original on 7 November 2007. Retrieved 3 July 2007.
  5. Muslims of London
  6. Muslim Profile of the United Kingdom
  7. The Light & Islamic Review: Bertrand Russell's uncle was a Muslim, p.12
  8. Photographs of Nether Alderley
  9. Llanbadrig Church, Anglesey
  10. Burke's Peerage & Baronetage, Vol. 2, 1999, p. 2692.
  11. "Romance of a Peerage" Star 20 January 1909
  12. Nina Epton, Milord and Milady, Oldbourne: London 1962
  13. Barbaro, G., Stanley of Alderley, H. Edward John Stanley., Contarini, A. (1873). Travels to Tana and Persia. London: Printed for the Hakluyt Society.