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The Seventh Earl Beauchamp

A Victim of His Times

Peter Raina

The 7 th Earl Beauchamp was a prominent figure in English public life in the years 1900–30, but his career ended in scandal. He was barred from English soil, his reputation was destroyed and his papers were withheld from public view. In this book, Peter Raina uses previously unreleased documents to reassess Beauchamp’s life and legacy.
Born into the aristocracy, Beauchamp was driven by a sense of noblesse oblige and devoted his life to public service. Though some of this was ceremonial, Beauchamp was keen to involve himself in practical politics, where he showed his independence of mind. He joined the Liberals as they pushed through change against obstruction from his own landowning class. He championed Irish Home Rule. In 1914 he opposed entry into the war and lost any chance of promotion. However, he remained deeply loyal to his party even after its split and decline, and worked tirelessly in its cause.
His life touched on great events such as the formation of Australia and, in Britain, the great reforms of 1906–9, the 1911 Parliament Act, the crisis of 1914, the creation of the Irish Free State, the Liberal collapse, the first Labour government and the economic slump. Through all these, he busied himself in party affairs, but one aspect of his private life worked against him and, in a Sophoclean twist, he fell from grace.
This book documents the Earl’s involvement in politics, explores his personality and looks carefully at the issues that brought him down. In the light of this analysis, it is hoped that historians will recognize his significant contribution to the events of his day.


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List of Illustrations xi Preface xv Acknowledgements xxv Chapter 1 Early Years 1 Chapter 2 A Seat in the House of Lords 25 Chapter 3 Governor of New South Wales 35 Chapter 4 The Governor and the French Consul General: Further Estrangement 91 Chapter 5 A Most Charming Hostess: Lady Mary Lygon 103 Chapter 6 The Governor’s Profile: The Year 1900 109 Chapter 7 Resignation from the Governorship 137 viii Chapter 8 Marriage 143 Chapter 9 Captain of the Gentlemen-at-Arms 155 Chapter 10 Lord Steward of the Household 177 Chapter 11 First Commissioner of Works 187 Chapter 12 Lord Lieutenant of Gloucestershire 223 Chapter 13 Lord Warden of the Cinque Ports 241 Chapter 14 Advocate of Irish Home Rule 287 Chapter 15 Man of Peace 301 Chapter 16 Lord President of the Council 317 Chapter 17 Maintaining the Liberal Cause in the House of Lords 331 ix Chapter 18 Liberal Leader in the House 361 Chapter 19 Chancellor of the University of London 397 Chapter 20 Divorce 415 Chapter 21 Exile 425 Chapter 22 Last Will and Testament 461 Chapter 23 The Earl’s Death 465 Appendix: Execution of the Will 471 Bibliography 483 Index 489

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