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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 22: Last Will and Testament


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Last Will and Testament

Immediately after Hugh’s funeral Earl Beauchamp returned to his rented pallazo on the Grand Canal in Venice. His companion at that time was David Smyth, his secretary. On 30 August 1936, Beauchamp sent a moving letter from Venice to his ‘Darling Dorothy’. ‘I want,’ he said, ‘to write a special line of thanks for all your loving sympathy these last dreadful days. You had more courage than I and I can never forget your help. How bad it has been I now begin to realise and have collapsed – not ill but just unhappy… your loving Daddy.’1 A year later, in mid July 1937, Beauchamp was told that the charges against him had been dropped and the warrant revoked. How this happened we do not know. But we could conjecture that it may have occurred through Sibell’s constant pestering of her former lover, Lord Beaverbrook. This so called ‘baron of Fleet Street’ was one of the most powerful men in Britain in the Thirties. He had been, even if for a short period, a cabinet member in Lloyd George’s Coalition Government in 1918. Beaverbrook’s Daily Express, with a circulation of over 2 million copies a day, could ‘make or break almost anyone’. It is thus highly probable that Beaverbrook prevailed on the Home Secretary, Sir John Simon, to declare the warrant invalid. When this was done, Beauchamp returned to Madresfield as a free man. This was...

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