Thomas Inskip, 1st Viscount Caldecote

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The Right Honourable
The Viscount Caldecote
CBE PC KC
Thomas Inskip.jpg
8th Lord Chief Justice of England
In office
14 October 1940 – 23 January 1946
Monarch George VI
Preceded by The Viscount Hewart
Succeeded by The Lord Goddard
Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs
Leader of the House of Lords
In office
14 May 1940 – 3 October 1940
Monarch George VI
Prime Minister Winston Churchill
Preceded by Anthony Eden
Succeeded by Viscount Cranborne
Lord High Chancellor of Great Britain
In office
3 September 1939 – 12 May 1940
Monarch George VI
Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain
Preceded by The Lord Maugham
Succeeded by The Viscount Simon
Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs
In office
29 January 1939 – 3 September 1939
Monarch George VI
Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain
Preceded by Malcolm MacDonald
Succeeded by Anthony Eden
Minister for Coordination of Defence
In office
13 March 1936 – 29 January 1939
Monarch Edward VIII
George VI
Prime Minister Stanley Baldwin
Neville Chamberlain
Preceded by New Office
Succeeded by The Lord Chatfield
Personal details
Born Thomas Walker Hobart Inskip
5 March 1876 (1876-03-05)
Clifton, Bristol
United Kingdom
Died 11 October 1947(1947-10-11) (aged 71)
Godalming, Surrey
United Kingdom
Political party Conservative
Spouse(s) Lady Augusta Boyle
Alma mater King's College, Cambridge

Thomas Walker Hobart Inskip, 1st Viscount Caldecote CBE, PC, KC (5 March 1876 – 11 October 1947) was a British politician who served in many legal posts, culminating in serving as Lord Chancellor from 1939 until 1940. Despite legal posts dominating his career for all but four years, he is most prominently remembered for serving as Minister for Coordination of Defence from 1936 until 1939.

Background and education[edit]

Inskip was the son of James Inskip, a solicitor, by his second wife Constance Sophia Louisa, daughter of John Hampden. The Right Reverend James Inskip was his elder half-brother and Sir John Hampden, Lord Mayor of Bristol, his younger brother.[1] He attended Clifton College from 1886 to 1894 and King's College, Cambridge from 1894 to 1897.[2] He joined Clifton RFC in 1895–96.[citation needed] In 1899 he was called to the Bar, Inner Temple.[1]

Political and legal career[edit]

Inskip became a King's Counsel in 1914.[3] He served in the Intelligence Division from 1915 and from 1918 to 1919 worked at the Admiralty as head of the Naval Law branch.[1] From 1920–22, he served as Chancellor of the Diocese of Truro.[citation needed] In 1918 he entered Parliament as Member of Parliament (MP) for Bristol Central.[1][4] He was first appointed Solicitor General in 1922 and would hold this post for the next six years with one short interruption for the Labour government of 1924.[1] In 1922 he was knighted.[5] A staunch Protestant, he first came to high attention when in 1927 he joined with the Home Secretary Sir William Joynson-Hicks in attacking the proposed new version of the Book of Common Prayer. The law required Parliament to approve such revisions, normally regarded as a formality, but when the Prayer Book came before the House of Commons Inskip argued strongly against its adoption as he felt it strayed far from the Protestant principles of the Church of England. The debate on the Prayer Book is regarded as one of the most eloquent ever seen in the Commons, and resulted in the rejection of the Prayer Book. A revised version was submitted in 1928 but rejected again. However the Church of England Convocation then declared an emergency and used this as a pretext to use the new Prayer Book for many decades afterwards.[citation needed]

In 1928 Inskip was promoted to Attorney General, which post he held until the Conservative government fell in 1929. Inskip lost his Bristol seat in the 1929 election.[1] When Ramsay MacDonald formed his National Government in 1931, Inskip, who had been elected in a by-election for Fareham in February that year,[1][6] returned to the role of Solicitor General but the following year a vacancy occurred and he once more resumed his work as Attorney General.[1] He was sworn of the Privy Council in 1932.[7] In 1935 he prosecuted the 26th Baron de Clifford for manslaughter, which was the last ever criminal trial of a peer in the House of Lords.[citation needed]

Despite an exclusively legal track record, in 1936 Inskip became the first Minister for Coordination of Defence.[1] His appointment to this particular office was highly controversial. Winston Churchill had long campaigned for such an office and when its creation was announced, most expected Churchill to be appointed. When Inskip was named, one famous reaction was that "This is the most cynical appointment since Caligula made his horse a consul".[8] His appointment is now regarded as a sign of caution by Prime Minister Stanley Baldwin who did not wish to appoint someone like Churchill, because it would have been interpreted by foreign powers as a sign of the United Kingdom preparing for war. Baldwin anyway wished to avoid taking onboard such a controversial and radical minister as Churchill.[citation needed]

Inskip's tenure at Defence remains controversial, with some arguing that he did much to push Britain's rearmament before the outbreak of the Second World War but others argue he was largely ineffectual.[citation needed]In early 1939 he was replaced by the former First Sea Lord, Admiral of the Fleet Lord Chatfield, and moved to become Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs.[1] At the outbreak of war in 1939 he was raised to the peerage as Viscount Caldecote, of Bristol in the County of Gloucester,[9] and made Lord Chancellor, but in May 1940 he once more became Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs[1] to make room for the marginalising of Sir John Simon in the new government of Churchill.[10] After leaving ministerial office he served as Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales from 1940 until 1946.[1] As of 2011, Inskip was the last Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales to have held elected or ministerial office prior to his appointment.

Family[edit]

Lord Caldecote married Lady Augusta Helen Elizabeth, daughter of David Boyle, 7th Earl of Glasgow and widow of Charles Lindsay Orr-Ewing, in 1914. He died in October 1947, aged 71, and was succeeded by his son, Thomas. Lady Caldecote died in May 1967, aged 90.[1]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m thepeerage.com Thomas Walker Hobart Inskip, 1st Viscount Caldecote
  2. ^ "Inskip, Thomas Walker Hobart (INSP894TW)". A Cambridge Alumni Database. University of Cambridge. 
  3. ^ The London Gazette: no. 28935. p. 8125. 13 October 1914.
  4. ^ leighrayment.com House of Commons: Bristol to Buteshire and Caithness
  5. ^ The London Gazette: no. 32781. p. 9162. 29 December 1922.
  6. ^ leighrayment.com House of Commons: Fairfield to Fylde South
  7. ^ The London Gazette: no. 33798. p. 941. 12 February 1932.
  8. ^ This quote has been made on many occasions and the original source is unclear. The highly influential polemic Guilty Men (whose relevant chapter is entitled "Caligula's Horse") attributes it to a "great statesman" (page 74), whom some have surmised was Churchill. However Graham Stewart in Burying Caesar: Churchill, Chamberlain and the Battle for the Tory Party (London; Phoenix, 1999) (ISBN 0-7538-1060-3), page 487 attributes the originator of the quote to Churchill's non-politician friend Professor Frederick Lindemann.
  9. ^ The London Gazette: no. 34674. p. 6126. 8 September 1939.
  10. ^ Roy Jenkins, Baldwin (London: Collins, 1987), p. 178.

External links[edit]

Parliament of the United Kingdom
New constituency Member of Parliament for Bristol Central
19181929
Succeeded by
Joseph Herbert Alpass
Preceded by
Sir John Humphrey Davidson
Member of Parliament for Fareham
1931–1939
Succeeded by
Sir Rudolph Dymoke White
Legal offices
Preceded by
Sir Leslie Scott
Solicitor General
1922–1924
Succeeded by
Sir Henry Slesser
Preceded by
Sir Henry Slesser
Solicitor General
1924–1928
Succeeded by
Sir Frank Merriman
Preceded by
Douglas Hogg
Attorney General
1928–1929
Succeeded by
William Jowitt
Preceded by
Sir Stafford Cripps
Solicitor General
1931
Succeeded by
Sir Frank Merriman
Preceded by
William Jowitt
Attorney General
1932–1936
Succeeded by
Sir Donald Somervell
Preceded by
The Viscount Hewart
Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales
1940–1946
Succeeded by
The Lord Goddard
Political offices
New office Minister for Coordination of Defence
1936–1939
Succeeded by
Ernle Chatfield
Preceded by
Malcolm MacDonald
Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs
1939
Succeeded by
Anthony Eden
Preceded by
The Lord Maugham
Lord Chancellor
1939–1940
Succeeded by
The Viscount Simon
Preceded by
Anthony Eden
Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs
1940
Succeeded by
Viscount Cranborne
Preceded by
The Earl Stanhope
Leader of the House of Lords
1940
Succeeded by
The Viscount Halifax
Party political offices
Preceded by
The Earl Stanhope
Leader of the Conservative Party in the House of Lords
1940
Succeeded by
The Viscount Halifax
Peerage of the United Kingdom
New creation Viscount Caldecote
1939–1947
Succeeded by
Robert Andrew Inskip