His father was John Stuart-Wortley (1801-1855), 2nd Baron Wharncliffe. Edward was the 3rd Baron. In 1855 he married Susan Charlotte Granville, née Lascelles. He was created 1st Earl of Wharncliffe and Viscount Carlton in 1876. He was succeeded as earl by his nephew Francis (b. 1856).
He was best known as chairman of the Manchester, Lincoln and Sheffield railway, which was converted under him into the Great Central. His name was prominently identified with railway enterprise.
WHistler visited the Wharncliffes in the mid 1880s at their home, Wortley Hall near Sheffield. Through them, he gained access to a rich, upper class and aristocratic society, and gained both subjects to paint and patrons to buy his work.
Burke, E., The Peerage and Baronetage of Great Britain and Ireland; http://19.1911encyclopedia.org (accessed 2003.11.5).