Robert Gascoyne-Cecil, 5th Marquess of Salisbury

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The Most Honourable
The Marquess of Salisbury
KG PC FRS
Lord Cranborne.jpg
Lord President of the Council
In office
25 November 1952 – 29 March 1957
Monarch Elizabeth II
Prime Minister Winston Churchill
Anthony Eden
Preceded by The Lord Woolton
Succeeded by The Earl of Home
Leader of the House of Lords
In office
21 February 1942 – 26 July 1945
Monarch George VI
Prime Minister Winston Churchill
Preceded by The Lord Moyne
Succeeded by The Viscount Addison
In office
28 October 1951 – 29 March 1957
Monarch George VI
Elizabeth II
Prime Minister Winston Churchill
Anthony Eden
Harold Macmillan
Preceded by The Viscount Addison
Succeeded by The Earl of Home
Personal details
Born 27 August 1893 (1893-08-27)
Died 23 February 1972 (1972-02-24) (aged 78)
Nationality British
Political party Conservative
Spouse(s) Elizabeth Cavendish
(1897–1982)

Robert Arthur James Gascoyne-Cecil, 5th Marquess of Salisbury, KG PC FRS[1] (27 August 1893 – 23 February 1972), known as Viscount Cranborne from 1903 to 1947, was a British Conservative politician.[2][3][4]

Background[edit]

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.

Political career[edit]

Salisbury was elected to the House of Commons as Member of Parliament (MP) for South Dorset in 1929, and served as Joint Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs from 1935 to 1938, as Paymaster-General in 1940 and 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 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. In 1947 he succeeded his father in the marquessate.

During the 1950s he held office under 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 1952 to 1957.

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.

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). 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 1961 he became the first president of the Conservative Monday Club, a post he held until his death.

Other public appointments[edit]

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. He was also Chancellor of the Order of the Garter between 1960 and 1972.

Family[edit]

Lord Salisbury married Elizabeth Vere Cavendish, daughter of Lord Richard Cavendish, in 1915. They had three sons, two of whom pre-deceased their parents.

The second son, the Hon. Michael Charles James Cecil (1918–1934) died as an adolescent while the third son the Hon. Richard Hugh Cecil (1924–1944) was killed in the Second World War.

Lord Salisbury died in February 1972, aged 78, and was succeeded by his eldest and only surviving son, Robert, who became the 6th Marquess. Lady Salisbury died in 1982.

References[edit]


Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Robert Yerburgh
Member of Parliament for South Dorset
1929–1941
Succeeded by
Viscount Hinchingbrooke
Political offices
Preceded by
The Earl Stanhope
Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs
1935–1938
with The Earl Stanhope 1935–1936
The Earl of Plymouth 1936–1938
Succeeded by
The Earl of Plymouth
Rab Butler
Vacant
Title last held by
The Earl Winterton
Paymaster-General
1940
Vacant
Title next held by
The Lord Hankey
Preceded by
The Viscount Caldecote
Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs
1940–1942
Succeeded by
Clement Attlee
Preceded by
The Lord Moyne
Colonial Secretary
1942
Succeeded by
Oliver Stanley
Preceded by
Hon. Sir Stafford Cripps
Lord Privy Seal
1942–1943
Succeeded by
The Lord Beaverbrook
Preceded by
The Lord Moyne
Leader of the House of Lords
1942–1945
Succeeded by
The Viscount Addison
Preceded by
Clement Attlee
Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs
1943–1945
Succeeded by
The Viscount Addison
Preceded by
Richard Stokes
Lord Privy Seal
1951–1952
Succeeded by
Harry Crookshank
Preceded by
The Viscount Addison
Leader of the House of Lords
1951–1957
Succeeded by
The Earl of Home
Preceded by
The Lord Ismay
Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations
1952
Succeeded by
The Viscount Swinton
Preceded by
The Lord Woolton
Lord President of the Council
1952–1957
Succeeded by
The Earl of Home
Party political offices
Preceded by
The Lord Moyne
Leader of the Conservative Party in the House of Lords
1942–1957
Succeeded by
The Earl of Home
Preceded by
Club established
Chairman of the Monday Club
May 1961 - 1962
Succeeded by
Paul Bristol
Honorary titles
Preceded by
The Earl of Halifax
Chancellor of the Order of the Garter
1960–1972
Succeeded by
The Viscount Cobham
Peerage of Great Britain
Preceded by
James Gascoyne-Cecil
Marquess of Salisbury
1947–1972
Succeeded by
Robert Gascoyne-Cecil
Peerage of England
Preceded by
James Gascoyne-Cecil
Baron Cecil
(writ of acceleration)

1941–1972
Succeeded by
Robert Gascoyne-Cecil