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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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Chapter 11: First Commissioner of Works

Extract

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CHAPTER 11

First Commissioner of Works

For the next two years, Earl Beauchamp, as Lord Steward, proceeded to further Asquith’s policies in the House of Lords.

Bishoprics Bill

The Lord Steward presented a bill to facilitate the foundation of new bishoprics and the alteration of dioceses, and to amend the Bishops’ Resignation Act, 1869.1

Cattle drivers in Ireland

On 18 March 1909, the Earl of Donoughmore moved for a ‘Return of the number and localities of cattle-drives in Ireland which had been reported by the police during the years 1906, 1907, and 1908,2 showing the residence and occupation of the persons who had been convicted or bound-over to ← 187 | 188 → keep the peace, and the quantity and Poor-law valuation of the land held by any such persons’.3

The Lord Steward replied, in the absence of Lord Denman, who represented the Irish Office in the Lords. There were, Lord Steward said, no cattle drives in the year 1906; they began in April 1907. The government was ready to supply part of that report the noble Earl had asked for, including the information for the years 1907 and 1908. But to obtain the statistics as desired would involve ‘personal inquiries into more than 1,000 cases and reference to rate-books, which are not in the possession of the police, and it is not thought that the labour and expense involved would be justified...

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