Robert Gascoyne-Cecil, 5th Marquess of Salisbury
|The Most Honourable
The Marquess of Salisbury
KG PC FRS
|Robert Gascoyne-Cecil in 1947|
|Lord President of the Council|
25 November 1952 – 29 March 1957
|Prime Minister||Winston Churchill
|Preceded by||The Lord Woolton|
|Succeeded by||The Earl of Home|
|Leader of the House of Lords|
21 February 1942 – 26 July 1945
|Prime Minister||Winston Churchill|
|Preceded by||The Lord Moyne|
|Succeeded by||The Viscount Addison|
28 October 1951 – 29 March 1957
|Prime Minister||Winston Churchill
|Preceded by||The Viscount Addison|
|Succeeded by||The Earl of Home|
|Born||27 August 1893|
|Died||23 February 1972 (aged 78)|
Robert Arthur James Gascoyne-Cecil, 5th Marquess of Salisbury, KG PC FRS (27 August 1893 – 23 February 1972), known as Viscount Cranborne from 1903 to 1947, was a British Conservative politician.
Nicknamed "Bobbety", Salisbury was the eldest son of James Gascoyne-Cecil, 4th Marquess of Salisbury, by his wife Lady Cicely, daughter of Arthur Gore, 5th Earl of Arran. He was the grandson of Prime Minister Robert Gascoyne-Cecil, 3rd Marquess of Salisbury. Bob was educated at Eton and Christ Church, Oxford, receiving an honorary Doctorate of Civil Laws 1951.
Bob Cecil served in the Army during the Great War. He was commissioned as a Lieutenant into the Grenadier Guards (SR) from 1915 throughout the war until its end. He was awarded the Croix de Guerre and Chevalier Order by the Crown of Belgium. When the war ended Cecil went to work at Westminster Bank. In 1928, he was appointed a director, and to the Royal Commission of Historical Manuscripts; being promoted Chairman of the commission in 1957.
Salisbury was elected to the House of Commons as MP for South Dorset in 1929. As Parliamentary Secretary to Lord Privy Seal in 1934 in Baldwin's government, he was promoted serving as Joint Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs from 1935 to 1938. He was made Paymaster-General by Churchill in May 1940 for the duration of the Battle of Britain. He was reshuffled to the old Colonial office as Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs from 1940 to 1942. In 1941 he was summoned to the House of Lords through a writ of acceleration in his father's junior title of Baron Cecil. He was Secretary of State for the Colonies in February–November 1942, Lord Privy Seal between 1942 and 1943, Leader of the House of Lords between 1942 and 1945 and again Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs between 1943 and 1945. It was as a friend of Churchill in 1943, that he was appointed President of the English Speaking-Union, to promote the universality of the language throughout the empire. In 1947 he succeeded his father in the marquessate, but was already elevated to the House of Lords having succeeded as Baron Cecil in 1941. His final wartime appointment was as President of University College south-west Exeter for a statutory ten years before conversion to university status. He became High Steward of Hertfordshire where he lived, in 1947, shortly before the tradition was abolished.
During the 1950s, returning to office with the Conservatives, successively, Winston Churchill, Anthony Eden, and Harold Macmillan as Lord Privy Seal from 1951 to 1952; Leader of the House of Lords from 1951 to 1957; Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations in 1952; and Lord President of the Council from December 1952 to 1957. During the period of Queen Elizabeth II's coronation he was appointed Acting Foreign Secretary. In November 1951 he was offered an Honourary Doctorate of Law by University of Liverpool.
Salisbury was known as a hardline imperialist. In 1952, as Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations, he tried to make permanent the exile of Seretse Khama, kgosi of the Bamangwato people in Bechuanaland, for marrying a white British woman. During the 1960s, Lord Salisbury continued to be a staunch defender of the white-dominated governments in South Africa and in Southern Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe), being granted Freedom of Salisbury on a visit in 1956. He was also a fierce opponent of liberal-left attempts to reform the House of Lords, yet he created what is known as the Salisbury Convention, whereby the House of Lords will not oppose the second or third reading of any government legislation promised in its election manifesto.
In January 1957, Eden resigned as prime minister, and did not give advice to Queen Elizabeth II as to who should succeed him. The two candidates were Rab Butler and Harold Macmillan. The Queen took advice from senior Ministers, as well as Winston Churchill (who backed Macmillan), Edward Heath (who as Chief Whip was aware of backbench opinion) and from Salisbury, who interviewed the Cabinet one by one and with his famous speech impediment asked each one whether he was for "Wab or Hawold" (it is thought that only between one and three were for "Wab"). The advice was overwhelmingly to appoint Macmillan as Prime Minister instead of Butler. The media were taken by surprise by this choice, but Butler himself later confessed in his memoirs that while there was a sizeable anti-Butler faction on the backbenches, there was no such anti-Macmillan faction. Nonetheless his cultural pursuits were recognized when he was made a Fellow of the Royal Academy that year.
These artistic credentials were enhanced as a Trustee of the National Gallery in 1960-66. The Queen made Salisbury a Knight of the Order of the Garter in 1960. In 1961 he became the first president of the Conservative Monday Club, a post he held until his death in 1972.
Apart from his political career Salisbury was Chancellor of the University of Liverpool from 1951 until 1971. In 1970, students at the university staged an occupation at Senate House to demand his removal, over his support for apartheid and similarly reactionary views.
Lord Salisbury married Elizabeth Vere Cavendish, daughter of Lord Richard Cavendish, on 8 December 1915. They had three sons, two of whom predeceased their parents:
- Robert Gascoyne-Cecil, 6th Marquess of Salisbury
- Michael Charles James Cecil (1918–1934), died as an adolescent, (21 Oct 1918 27 Oct 1934)
- Richard Hugh Cecil (31 Jan 1924 12 Aug 1944) was a Sergeant Pilot, RAF killed in the Second World War.
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|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Robert Gascoyne-Cecil, 5th Marquess of Salisbury.|
- Todd, L. (1973). "Robert Arthur James Gascoyne-Cecil, 5th Marquess of Salisbury 1893-1972". Biographical Memoirs of Fellows of the Royal Society 19: 621. doi:10.1098/rsbm.1973.0022.
- Hansard 1803–2005: contributions in Parliament by the Marquess of Salisbury
- Portraits of Robert Arthur James Gascoyne-Cecil, 5th Marquess of Salisbury at the National Portrait Gallery, London
- Archival material relating to Robert Gascoyne-Cecil, 5th Marquess of Salisbury listed at the UK National Archives
- Other academic honourary awards: Doctor of Law: Toronto University, 1949; Birmingham University, 1950; Cambridge, 1954; Manchester University, 1954; London, 1955. He also received an Honourary Doctorate of Literature, Exeter University, 1956; Hon LLD St Andrews, 1953.
- Burke's Peerage & Baronetage (106th ed.) (Salisbury)
- Burke's, ibid.