Tufton Beamish, Baron Chelwood

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Tufton Victor Hamilton Beamish, Baron Chelwood MC (27 January 1917 – 6 April 1989) was a British Army officer and Conservative Party Member of Parliament for Lewes (1945–1974).

During the Second World War, he served in France, Belgium (1940), Malaya (1942), India and Burma (1942–43), North Africa and Italy (1943–44). In 1940 he was awarded the Military Cross; was knighted in 1961[1] and upon his retirement from the House of Commons was created a life peer as Baron Chelwood, of Lewes in the County of East Sussex in May 1974.

Beamish's father was Tufton Percy Hamilton Beamish who served in the Royal Navy until 1925 when he retired with the rank of Rear Admiral. He had followed his career in the Navy by entering politics and served as the member of Parliament for Lewes from 1924 until 1931 and again from 1936 until 1945.

Military career[edit]

Beamish was educated at Stowe School and the Royal Military College Sandhurst. He received his commission as a 2nd Lieutenant in the Royal Northumberland Fusiliers in 1937. In 1938 Beamish served in Cairo and Palestine and developed a lifelong interest in the Arab people of the region. After the outbreak of the Second World War, he was transferred to France as a company commander with the British Expeditionary Force. Beamish was wounded on the retreat to Dunkirk and managed to secure his evacuation. In 1941, he was transferred to the far-east and was serving in Singapore when the Japanese began their assault of the Malayan peninsular. He avoided being captured at the fall of Singapore by taking to a rowing boat with seven other men. The men rowed to Sumatra but upon reaching their destination the found that it too had fallen to the Japanese and laid a new course for Ceylon, which they eventually reached safely. Beamish now worked as an intelligence officer in India before transferred to the Eighth Army in North Africa in 1943, taking part in the invasion of Italy later that year. He left the Army in 1945 with the rank of Captain.

Political career[edit]

In 1945, his father retired from politics, and Beamish was chosen to replace him as the Conservative candidate for the 1945 general election. He was elected and continued to serve as the constituency Member of Parliament until he retired from the Commons at the 1974 general election.

From 1947 to 1953, Beamish served on the executive of the 1922 Committee and, from 1965 to 1967, as opposition spokesman on defence. He never sought and even refused the offer of a ministerial position. Beamish was a firm believer in the creation of European harmony through the promotion of a strong European Economic Community (serving on the Monnet Action Committee for United States of Europe, 1971–76). He was strongly opposed to the Soviet Union's domination of Eastern Europe to which he addressed himself in his 1950 book Must Night Fall?.

In 1970, he published a book, Half Marx, warning against the rise of the extreme left in the Labour Party. His other noted publication was a book on the Battle of Lewes (1264) between King Henry III and Simon de Montfort, but he is most noted for his interest in nature conservancy. He was an active member of the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, and, from 1978, a member of the Nature Conservancy Council. He fought hard for the passing of a private members bill that was enacted as the Protection of Birds Act 1954, and the subsequent amendments in 1964 and 1967. As a member of the House of Lords, he campaigned vigorously for the passing of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981.

Beamish was married twice: first to Janet McMillan Stevenson of New York in 1950 (dissolved in 1973); and secondly to Pia "Maria" McHenry (also a divorcee) in 1975. Baron Beamish died on 6 April 1989, aged 72, and was survived by his second wife and by two daughters from his first marriage.

Although Beamish's name inspired the Private Eye character Sir Bufton Tufton, he was not actually as far to the right of the Tory party as that character (who bore a closer resemblance to the likes of Sir Gerald Nabarro, Sir Patrick Wall, Sir Marcus Fox and the general attitudes associated with the Monday Club and its supporters) might have suggested. Beamish was within the party considered a "One Nation Conservative" and as a member of the House of Lords he moved an amendment to the Community Charge ('Poll Tax') legislation to have the charge vary by income rather than being the same rate for all.[2]

Beamish's daughter, Claudia Hamilton Beamish, after standing for the South of Scotland in the 2003 and 2007 Scottish Parliament elections and for Dumfriesshire, Clydesdale and Tweeddale at the 2010 general election was elected Scottish Labour Party Member of the Scottish Parliament, representing the South of Scotland under the list system on 5 May 2011.

Honours and awards[edit]

Knight Bachelor - 1961
Military Cross - 20 December 1940
Mentioned in Despatches - 19 July 1945
Golden Cross of Merit - 1944
Polonia Restituta (Poland)
Commander, Order of the Phoenix (Greece) - 1949
Order of the Cedar (Lebanon) - 1969
Honorary Freeman, Lewes - 1970

References[edit]

  1. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 42231. p. 8889. 27 December 1960. Retrieved 8 August 2010.
  2. ^ David Butler, Andrew Adonis, Tony Travers, "Failure in British Government: The Politics of the Poll Tax" (Oxford University Press, 1994), p. 123

Works[edit]

External links[edit]

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Tufton Percy Hamilton Beamish
Member of Parliament for Lewes
1945Feb. 1974
Succeeded by
Tim Rathbone