A Victim of His Times
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.
Chapter 8: Marriage
← 142 | 143 →
Earl Beauchamp was quite happy to return to Madresfield Court, where he could relax and enjoy the beauty of the place. He recorded his feelings in a scrapbook: ‘Be it ever so humble, there’s no place like home.’1 When ‘his carriage approached Madresfield, the tenants unfastened the six matching black horses and themselves hauled the vehicle up to the front of the great house, where they presented him with a silver casket containing their welcome address in manuscript on vellum’.2
Before Beauchamp could settle down, there were a few things connected with New South Wales that he felt obliged to attend to. One such matter was the granting of honours to Australians to celebrate the royal tour of Australia. The King was to open the first federal parliament of the Commonwealth of Australia. Perhaps the Colonial Office had not paid due regard to the number of honours being granted, and it was in this respect that a prominent member of the New South Wales legislative assembly, E. W. O’Sullivan, approached Beauchamp, asking if he would help correct the imbalance. The Earl duly responded:
Lord Beauchamp to the Hon. E. W. O’Sullivan3
Madresfield Court, Malvern Link
26 XII 01
My dear Mr O’Sullivan, ← 143 | 144 →
I will communicate the substance of yr letter to the Colonial Office tho’ it will have little effect as compared with a recommendation...
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