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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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Appendix: Execution of the Will


On Lord Beauchamp’s death in 1938, his firstborn son, Viscount Elmley, succeeded to the title. The 8th Earl Beauchamp married but had no issue. He died in 1979. Thus ended the Beauchamp earldom. The 7th Earl’s daughters followed their own careers. It is outside the scope of the present work to follow all this up, but it has been very well recorded elsewhere.1 However, documentation relating to the execution of the 7th Earl Beauchamp’s will in Australia does deserve a place in the present book.2

The Earl’s will was reproduced in Chapter 22. In it, property on Australian soil was left to the Earl’s secretary, David Smyth.


This [the will] is the document referred to in the annexed Affidavit of David Smyth sworn at Sydney this second day of March and shown to him at the time of swearing the said affidavit and marked by him in the margin hereof. Before me:

A Justice of the Peace

[Signature illegible]


In the Supreme Court of New South Wales ← 471 | 472 →

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