Edwin Samuel Montagu

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
The Right Honourable
Edwin Samuel Montagu
Edwin Samuel Montagu.jpg
Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster
In office
3 February – 25 May 1915
Monarch George V
Prime Minister Herbert Henry Asquith
Preceded by Charles Masterman
Succeeded by Winston Churchill
In office
11 January – 9 July 1916
Monarch George V
Prime Minister Herbert Henry Asquith
Preceded by Herbert Samuel
Succeeded by Thomas McKinnon Wood
Secretary of State for India
In office
17 July 1917 – 19 March 1922
Monarch George V
Prime Minister David Lloyd George
Preceded by Austen Chamberlain
Succeeded by The Viscount Peel
Personal details
Born 6 February 1879 (1879-02-06)
Died 15 November 1924 (1924-11-16)
Nationality British
Political party Liberal
Spouse(s) Venetia Stanley
(1887–1948)
Alma mater University College London
Trinity College, Cambridge

Edwin Samuel Montagu PC (6 February 1879 – 15 November 1924) was a British Liberal politician who served as Secretary of State for India between 1917 and 1922.

Background and education[edit]

Montagu was the second son and sixth child of Samuel Montagu, 1st Baron Swaythling, by his wife Ellen, daughter of Louis Cohen. He was educated at Clifton College, the City of London School, University College London and Trinity College, Cambridge.[1] At Cambridge, he was the first student president of Cambridge University Liberal Club, from 1902 to 1903,[2] and in 1902 was also president of the Cambridge Union.

Political career[edit]

Edwin Montagu (left) Secretary of State for India, shown in the 1910s.

Montagu was elected Member of Parliament for Chesterton in 1906, a seat he held until 1918, and then represented Cambridgeshire until 1922. He served under H. H. Asquith as Under-Secretary of State for India from 1910 to 1914, as Financial Secretary to the Treasury from 1914 to 1915 and again from 1915 to 1916 and as Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster (with a seat in the Cabinet) in 1915 and 1916. In 1915 he was sworn of the Privy Council. In 1916 he was promoted to Minister of Munitions. He was initially left out of David Lloyd George's coalition government, but in 1917 he was appointed Secretary of State for India, which he remained until March 1922, when he resigned. He was primarily responsible for the Montagu-Chelmsford Reforms which led to the Government of India Act 1919, committing the British to the eventual evolution of India to dominion status.

Montagu led the Indian delegation at the Paris Peace Conference in 1919, where he opposed plans for dividing Turkey (including the Greek occupation of Smyrna and the projected removal of the Sultan from Constantinople). On this subject, at the Council of Four on 17 May 1919, he introduced representatives of Muslim India (including the Aga Khan) and urged that Muslim peoples were beginning to see the Conference as "taking sides against Islam".[3]

Zionism[edit]

Montagu was the second British Jew to enter the Cabinet, the inner circle of government. However, he was strongly opposed to Zionism, which he called "a mischievous political creed", and opposed the Balfour Declaration of 1917, which he considered anti-semitic and whose terms he managed to modify. In a memo to the Cabinet, he outlined his views on Zionism thus: "...I assume that it means that Mahommedans [Muslims] and Christians are to make way for the Jews and that the Jews should be put in all positions of preference and should be peculiarly associated with Palestine in the same way that England is with the English or France with the French, that Turks and other Mahommedans in Palestine will be regarded as foreigners, just in the same way as Jews will hereafter be treated as foreigners in every country but Palestine. Perhaps also citizenship must be granted only as a result of a religious test."[4] He was opposed by his cousin Herbert Samuel, a moderate Zionist who became the first High Commissioner of the British Mandate of Palestine.

Family[edit]

World War I enlistment poster from Canada, with Jewish members of the British parliament, Montagu (extreme right).

In 1912, Montagu accompanied the prime minister on holiday in Sicily. H. H. Asquith brought along his daughter Violet, and she in turn brought her friend Venetia Stanley, daughter of Edward Stanley, 4th Baron Stanley of Alderley. It appears that during this holiday, both men fell in love with Stanley.

During the next three years, Asquith wrote more and more frequently to her, even during Cabinet meetings. At the same time, Montagu was attempting to court her, unsuccessfully proposing marriage in 1913. She liked him but did not reciprocate his love. Also, Montagu had to marry within his Jewish faith in order to keep his inheritance. Although Stanley was from a freethinking family and was not a devout Anglican, conversion to Judaism seemed too great a barrier.

Although Stanley was intelligent, well-read and keenly interested in politics, she apparently felt overwhelmed by Asquith's demands. As a result, she finally accepted Montagu's proposal on 28 April 1915. She converted to Judaism, and the couple were wed on 26 July 1915.

A 2012 book argues that the marriage was one of social convenience to cover both Montagu's homosexuality and Venetia's earlier affair with Asquith. Conspiracy of Secrets suggests that this affair had resulted in the 1912 birth of an illegitimate child, Louis Stanley, who grew up to run British Racing Motors.[5]

The marriage was unhappy and she had several affairs, including one with the press magnate Lord Beaverbrook. In 1923 a child was born: legally and socially Judith was Montagu's daughter, but she was probably fathered by William Humble Eric Ward, then Viscount Ednam and later 3rd Earl of Dudley. She grew up to befriend Princess Margaret during World War II and marry the American photographer Milton Gendel, with whom she created an artistic salon in Italy.[6] They had one child, Anna Mathias (née Gendel), the god-daughter of Princess Margaret.[citation needed]

Despite his wife's affairs, Montagu's marriage lasted until his premature death in 1924.

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Montagu, Edwin Samuel (MNTG898ES)". A Cambridge Alumni Database. University of Cambridge. 
  2. ^ http://keynessociety.wordpress.com/about-the-keynes-society/
  3. ^ The Deliberations of the Council of Four: Notes of the Official Interpreter Paul Mantoux tr. A. S. Link (Princeton, 1992) vol. 2 p. 99.
  4. ^ Montagu, Edwin (1917-08-23). "Memorandum of Edwin Montagu on the Anti-Semitism of the Present (British) Government". Retrieved 2010-11-07. 
  5. ^ Neate,B. Conspiracy of Secrets. John Blake, 2012.
  6. ^ "A Six-Decade Roman Holiday". Vanity Fair. November 2011.

External links[edit]

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Walter Raymond Greene
Member of Parliament for Chesterton
1906–1918
Constituency abolished
New constituency Member of Parliament for Cambridgeshire
1918–1922
Succeeded by
Harold Stannus Gray
Political offices
Preceded by
The Master of Elibank
Under-Secretary of State for India
1910–1914
Succeeded by
Charles Henry Roberts
Preceded by
Charles Masterman
Financial Secretary to the Treasury
1914–1915
Succeeded by
Francis Dyke Acland
Preceded by
Charles Masterman
Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster
1915
Succeeded by
Winston Churchill
Preceded by
Francis Dyke Acland
Financial Secretary to the Treasury
1915–1916
Succeeded by
Thomas McKinnon Wood
Preceded by
Herbert Samuel
Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster
1916
Succeeded by
Thomas McKinnon Wood
Preceded by
David Lloyd George
Minister of Munitions
1916
Succeeded by
Christopher Addison
Preceded by
Austen Chamberlain
Secretary of State for India
1917–1922
Succeeded by
The Viscount Peel