Freeman Freeman-Thomas, 1st Marquess of Willingdon

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Major the Most Honourable
the Marquess of Willingdon
PC GCSI GCMG GCIE GBE
Freeman Freeman-Thomas by Henry Walter Barnett.jpg
22nd Viceroy and Governor-General of India
In office
18 April 1931 – 18 April 1936
Monarch George V
Edward VIII
Prime Minister Ramsay MacDonald
Stanley Baldwin
Preceded by The Lord Irwin
Succeeded by The Marquess of Linlithgow
13th Governor General of Canada
In office
5 August 1926 – 4 April 1931
Monarch George V
Prime Minister William Lyon Mackenzie King
Richard Bedford Bennett
Preceded by The Viscount Byng of Vimy
Succeeded by The Earl of Bessborough
More...
Personal details
Born (1866-09-12)12 September 1866
Died 12 August 1941(1941-08-12) (aged 74)
Spouse(s) Marie Adelaide Freeman-Thomas
Profession Politician

Major Freeman Freeman-Thomas, 1st Marquess of Willingdon PC GCSI GCMG GCIE GBE (12 September 1866 – 12 August 1941) was a British Liberal politician and administrator who served as Governor General of Canada, the 13th since Canadian Confederation, and as Viceroy and Governor-General of India, the country's 22nd.

Freeman-Thomas was born in England and educated at Eton College and then the University of Cambridge before serving for 15 years in the Sussex Artillery. He then entered the diplomatic and political fields, acting as aide-de-camp to his father-in-law when the latter was Governor of Victoria, and in 1900 was elected to the British House of Commons. He thereafter occupied a variety of government posts, including secretary to the British prime minister and, after being raised to the peerage as Lord Willingdon, as Lord-in-Waiting to King George V. From 1913 on, Willingdon held gubernatorial and viceregal offices throughout the British Empire, starting with the governorship of Bombay and then the governorship of Madras, before he was in 1926 appointed as Canadian governor general by the King, on the recommendation of Prime Minister of the United Kingdom Stanley Baldwin, to replace the Viscount Byng of Vimy as viceroy, and he occupied the post until succeeded by the Earl of Bessborough in 1931. Willingdon was immediately thereafter appointed as Governor General and Viceroy of India by the King, on the advice of British prime minister Ramsay MacDonald, to replace the Lord Irwin, and he served in the post until succeeded by the Marquess of Linlithgow in 1936.

After the end of his viceregal tenure, Willingdon was installed as the Lord Warden of the Cinque Ports and was elevated in the peerage as the Marquess of Willingdon. After representing Britain at a number of organisations and celebrations, Willingdon died in 1941 at his home in London, and his ashes were interred in Westminster Abbey.

Early life and education[edit]

Freeman Thomas was born the only son of Frederick Freeman Thomas, an officer in the rifle brigade of Ratton and Yapton, and his wife, Mabel, who was the daughter of the Viscount Hampden. By the age of two, Thomas' father died and Thomas was raised thereafter by his mother, who sent him to Eton College.[1] There, he acted as President of the Eton Society and was for three years a member of the school's cricket team, serving as captain of the playing eleven during his final year. He carried this enthusiasm for sport on to the University of Cambridge, where he was accepted to Trinity College after leaving Eton,[1] and was drafted into the Cambridge playing eleven, playing for Sussex and I Zingari. His father had also played for Sussex. Upon his general admission from university, Freeman-Thomas then volunteered for fifteen years for the Sussex Artillery, achieving the rank of major.

Marriage and political career[edit]

It was in 1892 that Freeman-Thomas assumed his surname through a royal licence and married Lady Marie Adelaide Brassey, the daughter of the Lord Brassey, and a woman whom Freeman-Thomas often cited as a source of support, stating once: "My wife has been a constant inspiration and encouragement."[2] The couple had two sons: Gerard, born 1893, and Inigo, born 1899. Gerard, was killed in World War I and Inigo eventually succeeded his father as Marquess of Willingdon.

Freeman-Thomas' political career began in 1897 with his appointment as aide-de-camp to his father-in-law, who was then the Governor of Victoria, Australia.[2] Upon his return to the United Kingdom, Freeman-Thomas joined the Liberal Party and in 1900 was elected to the British House of Commons to represent the borough of Hastings.[3] He then served as a junior lord of the Treasury in the Liberal Cabinet that sat from 1905 to 1906.[4] Though he lost in the 1906 elections, Freeman-Thomas returned to the House of Commons by winning the by-election for Bodmin,[5] and, for some time, served as a secretary to the prime minister, Herbert Asquith. For his services in government, Freeman-Thomas was in 1910 elevated to the peerage as Baron Willingdon of Ratton in the County of Sussex,[6] and the following year was appointed as Lord-in-Waiting to King George V, becoming a favourite tennis partner of the monarch.[2]

Governorship of Bombay[edit]

A 1916 charity stamp for the Bombay Presidency War and Relief Fund organised by Lady Willingdon.

Willingdon was on 17 February 1913 appointed as the Crown Governor of Bombay, replacing the Lord Sydenham of Combe,[7] and to mark this event, Willingdon was on 12 March 1913 honoured with induction into the Order of the Indian Empire as a Knight Grand Commander (additional).[8] Within a year, however, the First World War had erupted, and India, as a part of the British Empire, was immediately drawn into the conflict. Lord Willingdon strove to serve the Allied cause, taking responsibility for treating the wounded from the Mesopotamian campaign. In the midst of those dark times, Mahatma Gandhi returned to Bombay from South Africa and Willingdon was one of the first persons to welcome him and invite him to Government House for a formal meeting. This was the first meeting Willingdon had with Gandhi and he later described the Indian spiritual leader as "honest, but a Bolshevik and for that reason very dangerous."

Mahatma Gandhi, whose return to India and subsequent nationalistic activities would cause problems for Willingdon as Crown Governor of Bombay and Madras

In 1917, the year before Willingdon's resignation of the governorship, a severe famine broke out in the Kheda region of the Bombay Presidency, which had far reaching effects on the economy and left farmers in no position to pay their taxes. Still, the government insisted that tax not only be paid but also implemented a 23% increase to the levies to take effect that year. Kheda thus became the setting for Gandhi's first satyagraha in India, and, with support from Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, Narhari Parikh, Mohanlal Pandya, and Ravi Shankar Vyas, organised a Gujarat sabha. The people under Gandhi's influence then rallied together and sent a petition to Willingdon, asking that he cancel the taxes for that year. However, the Cabinet refused and advised the Governor to begin confiscating property by force, leading Gandhi to thereafter employ non-violent resistance to the government, which eventually succeeded and made Gandhi famous throughout India after Willingdon's departure from the colony. For his actions there, in relation to governance and the war effort, Willingdon was on 3 June 1918 appointed by the King as a Knight Grand Commander of the Order of the Star of India.[9]

Governorship of Madras[edit]

Willingdon returned to the United Kingdom from Bombay only briefly before he was appointed on 10 April 1919 as the Governor of Madras. This posting came shortly after the Montagu-Chelmsford Reforms of 1918 were formalised by the Government of India Act, which distributed power in India between the executive and legislative bodies.[10] Thus, in November 1920, Willingdon dropped the writs of election for the first election for the Madras Legislative Council; however, due to their adherence to Gandhi's non-cooperation movement, the Indian National Congress party refused to run any candidates and the Justice Party was subsequently swept into power. Willingdon appointed A. Subbarayalu Reddiar as his premier and Prince Arthur, Duke of Connaught and Strathearn (a former Governor General of Canada) opened the first meeting of the Legislative Assembly.

The following year, the Governor found himself dealing with a series of communal riots that in August 1921 broke out in the Malabar District.[11] Following a number of cases of arson, looting, and assaults,[12] Willingdon declared martial law just before the government of India sent in a large force to quell the riots.[11][13] At around the same time, over 10,000 workers in the Buckingham and Carnatic Mills of Madras city organised for six months a general strike contemporaneous with the non-cooperation movement, which also sparked riots between pro- and anti-strike workers that were again only put down with police intervention.[14][15]

When he returned once more to the United Kingdom at the end of his tenure as the governor in Madras, Willingdon was elevated within the peerage to the status of a viscount, becoming on 24 June 1924 the Viscount Willingdon and Baron Willingdon,[16] the latter used by his eldest son as a courtesy title.

Governor General of Canada[edit]

The Viscount Willingdon inspects the Governor General's Foot Guards on Parliament Hill as part of the Dominion Day celebrations, 1927, the 60th jubilee of Canadian confederation

It was announced on 5 August 1926 that George V had, by commission under the royal sign-manual and signet, approved the recommendation of his British prime minister, Stanley Baldwin, to appoint Willingdon as his representative in Canada. The sitting Conservative British Cabinet had initially not considered Willingdon as a candidate for the governor generalcy, as he was seen to have less of the necessary knowledge of affairs and public appeal that other individuals held. However, the King himself put forward Willingdon's name for inclusion in the list sent to Canada, and it was that name that the then Canadian prime minister, William Lyon Mackenzie King, chose as his preference for the nomination to the King.[17] George V readily accepted, and Willingdon was notified of his appointment while on a diplomatic mission in China.

This would be the last Canadian viceregal appointment made by the monarch in his or her capacity as sovereign of the United Kingdom, as it was decided at the Imperial Conference in October 1926 that the Dominions of the British Empire would thereafter be equal with one another, and the monarch would operate for a specific country only under the guidance of that country's ministers. Though this was not formalised until the enactment of the Statute of Westminster on 11 December 1931, the concept was brought into practice at the start of Willingdon's tenure as Governor General of Canada.[2]

Princes Edward and George, along with Viscount Willingdon, outside Rideau Hall's main door, August 1927

Willingdon arrived at Quebec City in late 1926, and on 2 October was sworn in as governor general in a ceremony in the salon rouge of the parliament buildings of Quebec. His following journey to Ottawa to take up residence in the country's official royal and viceroyal home, Rideau Hall, was just the first of many trips Willingdon took around Canada, meeting with a variety of Canadians and bringing with him what was described as "a sense of humour and an air of informality to his duties."[17] He also became the first governor general to travel by air, flying from Ottawa to Montreal and back, as well as the first to make official visits abroad; not only did he tour the Caribbean in 1929, but he further paid a visit to the United States, going there in 1927 to meet with and receive state honours from President Calvin Coolidge.[18] On that visit, the Governor General was welcomed in Washington by the King's emissary to the US, Vincent Massey, who would later himself be appointed as Governor General of Canada.[2]

In Canada, Willingdon hosted members of the Royal Family, including the King's two sons, Prince Edward, Prince of Wales, and Prince George, who, along with Baldwin, came to Canada to participate in the celebrations of the Diamond Jubilee of Confederation. The Princes resided at Rideau Hall and the Prince of Wales, accompanied by Willingdon, dedicated at the Peace Tower both the altar of the Memorial Chamber and the Dominion Carillon,[19] the first playing of which on that day was heard by listeners across the country on the first ever coast-to-coast radio broadcast in Canada.[20] This dedication marked the completion of the Centre Block of Parliament Hill, and the following year, Willingdon moved the annual governor general's New Year's levée to that building from the East Block, where the party had been held since 1870.[21] A few months before the end of his viceregal tenure in Canada, Willingdon was once more elevated in the peerage, becoming on 23 February 1931 the Earl of Willingdon and Viscount Ratendone.[22]

In their time the viceroyal couple, the Earl and Countess of Willingdon fostered their appreciation of the arts, building on previous governor general the Earl Grey's Lord Grey Competition for Music and Drama by introducing the Willingdon Arts Competition, which dispensed awards for painting and sculpture. They also left at Rideau Hall a collection of carpets and objets d'art that they had collected during their travels around India and China, and many of which were restored in 1993 to the Long Gallery of Rideau Hall.[23] However, Willingdon's tastes also included sports, particularly fishing, tennis, skating, skiing, curling, cricket, and golf.[2] For the latter, he in 1927 donated to the Royal Canadian Golf Association the Willingdon Cup for Canadian interprovincial amateur golf competition, which has been contested annually since that year.

Viceroy and Governor-General of India[edit]

The Marquess of Willingdon in later life.

He had not been governor general of Canada for five years before Willingdon received word that he was to be sent back to India as that country's viceroy and governor general. After being admitted to the King's British privy council on 20 March 1931,[24] he was sworn in as such on 18 April 1931, merely two weeks after he was replaced in Canada by the Earl of Bessborough. When Willingdon arrived again in India, the country was gripped by the Great Depression and was soon leading Britain's departure from the gold standard, seeing thousands of tonnes of gold shipped to the United Kingdom through the port of Bombay. Of this, Willingdon said: "For the first time in history, owing to the economic situation, Indians are disgorging gold. We have sent to London in the past two or three months, £25,000,000 sterling and I hope that the process will continue."

Simultaneously, Willingdon found himself dealing with the consequences of the nationalistic movements that Gandhi had earlier started when Willingdon was Governor of Bombay and then Madras. Against the Indian agitators, the Governor-General adopted much stricter measures, as opposed to his predecessors, who had favoured reconciliatory tactics. The Governor-in-Council in 1931 ordered the arrest of Gandhi—who was lodged in jail until 1933—and the civil disobedience movement was suppressed, with thousands of congressmen arrested, all of which led to threats on Willingdon's life. He therefore relied on his military secretary, Hastings Ismay, for his safety and took precautions after he was threatened by assassins.[25]

A cartoon from 1932 depicting the Viscount Willingdon on a hunger strike against Gandhi

It was also by Willingdon's hand, as Governor-in-Council, that the Lloyd Barrage was commissioned, seeing £20 million put into the construction of the barrage across the mouth of the Indus River, which not only provided labour but also brought millions of hectares of land in the Thar Desert under irrigation.[26] Further, Willingdon established the Willingdon Airfield (now known as Safdarjung Airport) in Delhi and, after he was denied entry to the Royal Bombay Yacht Club because he was accompanied by Indian friends, despite his being the viceroy, Willingdon was motivated to establish the Willingdon Sports Club in Bombay, with membership open to both Indians and British and which still operates today.[27]

As he had been in Canada, Willingdon acted for India as chief scout of the Bharat Scouts and Guides and took this role as more than an ex-officio title. Convinced that Scouting would contribute greatly to the welfare of India, he promoted the organisation, especially in rural villages, and requested that J. S. Wilson pay special attention to cooperation between Scouting and village development.[28]

Post-viceregal life[edit]

Once back in the United Kingdom, Willingdon associated with Roland Gwynne, attending, along with numerous other luminaries such as Rudyard Kipling, parties at Gwynne's East Sussex estate, Folkington Manor.[29] He was also honoured by George V, not only by being appointed as the Lord Warden of the Cinque Ports—one of the higher honours bestowed by the sovereign and normally reserved for members of the Royal Family and former prime ministers—but he was also elevated once more in the peerage, being created Marquess of Willingdon by Edward VIII on 26 May 1936, making him the most recent person to be promoted to such a rank.

Willingdon did not cease diplomatic life altogether: he undertook a goodwill mission to South America, representing the Ibero-American Institute, and chaired the British committee on the commissioning of army officers. In 1940, he also represented the United Kingdom at the celebrations for the centennial of the formation of New Zealand. The next year, however, on 12 August, the Marquess of Willingdon died at 5 Lygon Place, London, and his ashes were interred in Westminster Abbey.

Titles, styles, and honours[edit]

Viceregal styles of
The Viscount Willingdon
(1926-1931)
then
The Earl of Willingdon
(1931-1936)
Crest of the Viceroy of India.svg  CAN-GG-crest-1921-1931.png
Reference style His Excellency the Right Honourable
(in Canada, also) Son Excellence le très honorable
Spoken style Your Excellency
(in Canada, also) Votre Excellence
Alternative style Sir
(in Canada, also) Monsieur
  • 12 September 1866 – 1884: Mister Freeman Thomas
  • 1884 – 1892: Freeman Thomas, Esquire
  • 1892 – 26 October 1901: Freeman Freeman-Thomas, Esquire[30]
  • 26 October 1901 – 5 December 1901: Captain Freeman Freeman-Thomas[31]
  • 5 December 1901 – 21 July 1910: Major Freeman Freeman-Thomas
  • 21 July 1910 – 17 February 1913: Major the Right Honourable the Lord Willingdon
  • 17 February 1913 – 16 December 1918: Major the Right Honourable the Lord Willingdon, Governor of the Presidency of Bombay
  • 16 December 1918 – 10 April 1919: Major the Right Honourable the Lord Willingdon
  • 10 April 1919 – 12 April 1924: Major the Right Honourable the Lord Willingdon, Governor of the Presidency of Madras
  • 12 April 1924 – 24 June 1924: Major the Right Honourable the Lord Willingdon
  • 24 June 1924 – 5 August 1926: Major the Right Honourable the Viscount Willingdon
  • 5 August 1926 – 23 February 1931: His Excellency Major the Right Honourable the Viscount Willingdon, Governor General and Commander-in-Chief of the Militia and Naval and Air Forces of Canada
  • 23 February 1931 – 4 April 1931: His Excellency Major the Right Honourable the Earl of Willingdon, Governor General and Commander-in-Chief of the Militia and Naval and Air Forces of Canada[22]
  • 4 April 1931 – 18 April 1931: Major the Right Honourable the Earl of Willingdon
  • 18 April 1931 – 18 April 1936: His Excellency Major the Right Honourable the Earl of Willingdon, Viceroy and Governor-General of India
  • 18 April 1936 – 26 May 1936: Major the Right Honourable the Earl of Willingdon
  • 26 May 1936 – 12 July 1941: Major the Most Honourable the Marquess of Willingdon[32]

Honours[edit]

Ribbon bars of the Marquess of Willingdon
Statue of Lord Willingdon in Coronation Park, Delhi
Appointments
Medals

Honorary military appointments[edit]

Honorific eponyms[edit]

Awards
Organizations
Geographic locations
Schools

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "Thomas (post Freeman-Thomas), Freeman (THMS885F)". A Cambridge Alumni Database. University of Cambridge. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f Office of the Governor General of Canada. "Governor General > Former Governors General > The Marquess of Willingdon". Queen's Printer for Canada. Retrieved 3 April 2009. 
  3. ^ The London Gazette: no. 27244. p. 6770. 6 November 1900. Retrieved 4 April 2009.
  4. ^ The London Gazette: no. 27866. p. 9171. 22 December 1905. Retrieved 4 April 2009.
  5. ^ The London Gazette: no. 27935. p. 5130. 27 July 1906. Retrieved 4 April 2009.
  6. ^ The London Gazette: no. 28398. p. 5269. 22 July 1910. Retrieved 13 December 2008.
  7. ^ The London Gazette: no. 28693. p. 1446. 25 February 1913. Retrieved 4 April 2009.
  8. ^ The London Gazette: no. 28701. p. 2060. 18 March 1913. Retrieved 5 April 2009.
  9. ^ The London Gazette: no. 30723. p. 6529. 31 May 1918. Retrieved 5 April 2009.
  10. ^ "Episodes in the chronology of the world's revival" (PDF). The New York Times. 1 January 1922. Retrieved 5 April 2009. 
  11. ^ a b Associated Press (28 August 1921). "Military occupy riot area in India" (PDF). The New York Times. Retrieved 5 April 2009. 
  12. ^ "More Moplah Disorders" (PDF). The New York Times. 14 September 1921. Retrieved 5 April 2009. 
  13. ^ "64 Out of 100 Moplah Prisoners Suffocated In a Closed Car on Train in India" (PDF). The New York Times. 22 November 1921. Retrieved 5 April 2009. 
  14. ^ "Ambush British in India" (PDF). The New York Times. 2 September 1921. Retrieved 5 April 2009. 
  15. ^ Mendelsohn, Oliver; Marika Vicziany (1998). The Untouchables: Subordination, Poverty, and the State in Modern India. Cambridge University Press. p. 94. ISBN 978-0-521-55671-2. 
  16. ^ The London Gazette: no. 32949. p. 4887. 24 June 1924. Retrieved 13 December 2008.
  17. ^ a b Hillmer, Norman. "Biography > Governors General of Canada > Willingdon, Freeman Freeman-Thomas, 1st Marquess of". In Marsh, James H. The Canadian Encyclopedia. Toronto: Historica Foundation of Canada. Retrieved 6 April 2009. 
  18. ^ Hubbard, R.H. (1977). Rideau Hall. Montreal and London: McGill-Queen's University Press. p. 166. ISBN 978-0-7735-0310-6. 
  19. ^ Library and Archives Canada. "The Books of Remembrance > History of the Books". Queen's Printer for Canada. Retrieved 23 December 2008. 
  20. ^ Library of Parliament. "The House of Commons Heritage Collection > Carillon > History". Queen's Printer for Canada. Retrieved 24 December 2008. 
  21. ^ Phillips, R. A. J. (1982). "The House That History Built". Canadian Parliamentary Review (Ottawa: Queen's Printer for Canada) 5 (1). Retrieved 4 January 2009. 
  22. ^ a b The London Gazette: no. 33692. p. 1283. 24 February 1931. Retrieved 13 December 2008.
  23. ^ MacMillan, Margaret; Harris, Majorie; Desjardins, Anne L. (2004). Canada's House: Rideau Hall and the Invention of a Canadian Home. Toronto: Alfred A. Knopf Canada. ISBN 978-0-676-97675-5. 
  24. ^ The London Gazette: no. 33700. p. 1877. 20 March 1931. Retrieved 18 April 2010.
  25. ^ Ismay, Hastings (1960). The Memoirs of General Lord Ismay. New York: Viking Press. p. 66. ISBN 978-0-8371-6280-5. 
  26. ^ George, Robert E.; Sencourt, Robert (1949). Heirs of Tradition: Tributes of a New Zealander. p. 66. 
  27. ^ Streat, Raymond, Marguerite Dupree (1987). Lancashire and Whitehall. Manchester University Press ND. p. 260. ISBN 0-7190-2390-4. 
  28. ^ Wilson, John S.; Baden-Powell, Olave (1959). Scouting Round the World. London: Blandford Press. pp. 91–93. ASIN B0000CKE7M. 
  29. ^ Cullen, Pamela V. (2006). A Stranger in Blood: The Case Files on Dr John Bodkin Adams. London: Elliott & Thompson. ISBN 1-904027-19-9. 
  30. ^ The London Gazette: no. 27368. p. 6923. 25 October 1901. Retrieved 4 April 2009.
  31. ^ The London Gazette: no. 27389. p. 8985. 20 December 1901. Retrieved 4 April 2009.
  32. ^ The London Gazette: no. 34289. p. 3440. 29 May 1936. Retrieved 13 December 2008.
  33. ^ The London Gazette: no. 28515. p. 5429. 21 July 1911. Retrieved 6 April 2009.
  34. ^ The London Gazette: no. 28686. p. 761. 31 January 1913. Retrieved 6 April 2009.
  35. ^ The London Gazette: no. 33184. p. 4795. 20 July 1926. Retrieved 5 April 2009.
  36. ^ The London Gazette: no. 33700. p. 1877. 20 March 1931. Retrieved 5 April 2009.
  37. ^ "Friends of Geographical Names of Alberta > 300 Names > Top 300 Names > Willingdon, Mount". Friends of Geographical Names of Alberta. Retrieved 4 April 2009. 

External links[edit]

Government offices
Preceded by
George Clarke
Governor of Bombay
17 February 1913 – 16 December 1918
Succeeded by
George Lloyd
Preceded by
Alexander Cardew
Governor of Madras
10 April 1919 – 12 April 1924
Succeeded by
The Viscount Goschen
Preceded by
The Lord Byng of Vimy
Governor General of Canada
1926–1931
Succeeded by
The Earl of Bessborough
Preceded by
The Viscount Goschen
Viceroy of India
1931–1936
Succeeded by
The Marquess of Linlithgow
Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
William Lucas-Shadwell
Member of Parliament for Hastings
19001906
Succeeded by
William Harvey du Cros
Preceded by
Thomas Agar-Robartes
Member of Parliament for Bodmin
July 1906January 1910
Succeeded by
Cecil Grenfell
Court offices
Preceded by
The Lord Colebrooke
Lord-in-Waiting
1911–1913
Succeeded by
The Lord Ashby St. Ledgers
Honorary titles
Preceded by
The Marquess of Reading
Lord Warden of the Cinque Ports
1936–1941
Succeeded by
Winston Churchill
Peerage of the United Kingdom
New creation Marquess of Willingdon
26 May 1936 – 12 July 1941
Succeeded by
Inigo Freeman-Thomas
Earl of Willingdon
23 February 1931 – 12 July 1941
Viscount Willingdon
24 June 1924 – 12 July 1941
Baron Willingdon
21 July 1910 – 12 July 1941