Walter Long, 1st Viscount Long
|The Right Honourable
The Viscount Long
PC FRS JP
|The Viscount Long (1903).|
|Secretary of State for the Colonies|
10 December 1916 – 10 January 1919
|Prime Minister||David Lloyd George|
|Preceded by||Andrew Bonar Law|
|Succeeded by||The Viscount Milner|
|First Lord of the Admiralty|
10 January 1919 – 13 February 1921
|Prime Minister||David Lloyd George|
|Preceded by||Sir Eric Geddes|
|Succeeded by||The Viscount Lee of Fareham|
|Born||13 July 1854|
|Died||26 September 1924
Rood Ashton House, West Ashton, near Trowbridge, Wiltshire, England, UK
|Spouse(s)||Lady Dorothy Boyle
|Alma mater||Christ Church, Oxford|
Walter Hume Long, 1st Viscount Long PC, FRS, JP (13 July 1854 – 26 September 1924), was a British Unionist politician. In a political career spanning over 40 years, he held office as President of the Board of Agriculture, President of the Local Government Board, Chief Secretary for Ireland, Secretary of State for the Colonies and First Lord of the Admiralty. He is also remembered for his links with Irish Unionism and served as Leader of the Irish Unionist Party in the House of Commons from 1905 to 1910.
Background and education
Long was the eldest son of Richard Penruddocke Long, by his wife Charlotte Anna, daughter of William Wentworth FitzWilliam Dick (originally Hume). Richard Chaloner, 1st Baron Gisborough, was his younger brother. On his father's side he was descended from an old family of Wiltshire gentry, and on his mother's side from Irish gentry in County Wicklow. Long was educated at Harrow and Christ Church, Oxford. Upon his father's death in 1875, he took over management of the family properties.
Political career, 1880–1911
At the 1880 general election, Long was elected to parliament as a Conservative for North Wiltshire, a seat he held until 1885, and then represented Devizes between 1885 and 1892, Liverpool West Derby between 1893 and 1900, Bristol South between 1900 and 1906, South County Dublin between 1906 and 1910, Strand between 1910 and 1918 and St George's between 1918 and 1921. He entered government for the first time in 1886 in Lord Salisbury's second administration as Parliamentary Secretary to the Local Government Board, serving under Charles Ritchie, and became one of the architects of the Local Government Act 1888, which established elected county councils. After the Conservative defeat in 1892, Ritchie's defeat made Long the chief opposition spokesman on local government, and when the Tories returned to power in 1895, he entered the cabinet as President of the Board of Agriculture. In this role he was notable for his efforts to prevent the spread of rabies.
In 1895 he was also admitted to the Privy Council. With the ministerial shuffle in 1900, Long became President of the Local Government Board. In this role, he was criticised as too radical for his support of the Unemployed Workmen's Act 1905, which created an unemployment board to give work and training to the unemployed. In 1903, Long took a leading role as a spokesman for the protectionist wing of the party, advocating tariff reform and imperial preference alongside Joseph Chamberlain and his son Austen Chamberlain, which brought him into conflict with Charles Ritchie, Michael Hicks-Beach and others in the free-trade wing. Long was a moderate within the protectionist ranks and became the go-between between the protectionists and the free-traders, increasing his prominence and popularity within the party. He clashed with Edward Carson when he took a similarly equivocal position over the Parliament Bill of 1911, opposing the Bill but recommending acquiescence.
Political career, 1911–1921
When Arthur Balfour resigned as party leader in November 1911, Long was pre-eminent in the Conservative Party and one of the leading candidates to succeed him. However, he was opposed by Austen Chamberlain, who was backed by the Liberal Unionists still under the leadership of his father. It was feared that a divisive contest between Long and Chamberlain might split the protectionist majority of the Unionist coalition, so both agreed to withdraw in favour of Andrew Bonar Law, a relatively unknown figure.
With the formation of the wartime coalition government in May 1915, Long returned to office at the Local Government Board, and there dealt with the plight of thousands of Belgian refugees. He was actively involved in undermining attempts by Lloyd George to negotiate a deal between Irish Nationalists and Unionists in July 1916 over introducing the suspended Home Rule Act 1914, publicly clashing with his archrival Edward Carson. He was accused of plotting to bring down Carson by jeopardising his agreement that partition would be temporary, with the nationalist leader John Redmond, Long altering the clause to permanent, Redmond then abandoning further negotiations. Carson, in a bitter reposte, said of Long "The worst of Walter Long is that he never knows what he wants, but is always intriguing to get it. Austen Chamberlain, in 1911, was similarly critical of Long, saying he was "at the centre of every coterie of grumblers." With the fall of Asquith and the accession of the Lloyd George government in December 1916, Long was promoted to the Colonial Office, serving until January 1919, when he became First Lord of the Admiralty, a position in which he served until his retirement in 1921.
Long is best known, however, for his involvement with Irish Unionism. In March 1905, he became Chief Secretary for Ireland. Due to his Irish connections (both his wife and his mother were Irish), it was hoped that Long might be more acceptable to Irish Unionists than his predecessor, George Wyndham, who had become increasingly unpopular. Following the Unionist fall from power in December 1905, Long became one of the leading opposition voices against the Liberals' plans for home rule in Ireland, helping to found the Ulster Defence League in 1907. He also served as leader of the Irish Unionist Parliamentary Party before being succeeded by his archrival Edward Carson. Although he never openly supported the most militant Unionists, who were prepared to fight the Southern nationalists (and perhaps the British Army) to prevent home rule for Ireland, contemporary accounts indicate that he probably had prior knowledge of the Larne gunrunning. At the same time, Long was less attached to the constitution of the UK than other Unionists, and opposed last-ditch resistance to the Parliament Act 1911.
However, from October 1919 on, he was, once again, largely concerned with Irish affairs, serving as the chair of the cabinet's Long Committee on Ireland. In this capacity, he was largely responsible for the Government of Ireland Act 1920, which followed the findings of the 1917–18 Irish Convention, and created separate home rule governments for Southern Ireland and Northern Ireland, the latter he endowed with wider powers than its southern counterpart. Although in southern and western Ireland, this was soon superseded by the Anglo-Irish Treaty, which gave the new Irish Free State a much greater share of independence, the measure survived as the basis for the government of Northern Ireland until 1972.
Lord Long married Lady Dorothy (Doreen) Blanche, daughter of Richard Boyle, 9th Earl of Cork, in 1878. They had two sons, including Brigadier General Walter Long, who was killed in action in 1917, and three daughters. He died at his home, Rood Ashton House in Wiltshire, in September 1924, aged 70, and was succeeded by his 13-year-old grandson Walter. Lady Long died in June 1938.
- Inquisition Post Mortem: An Adventurous Jaunt Through a 500 Year History of the Courtiers, Clothiers and Parliamentarians of the Long Family of Wiltshire; Cheryl Nicol
- "The Great Fiscal Problem", The Evening Post, 11 June 1903.
- Alvin Jackson, "Long, Walter Hume, first Viscount Long (1854–1924)", Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004.
- Jackson p.193.
- The Times (Monday, 16 February 1920), p. 15.
- The Times (Monday, 23 May 1921), p. 10; (Tuesday, 31 May 1921), p. 10.
- Alvin Jackson, Home Rule: An Irish History 1800 — 2000 (Phoenix, 2004) p.193.
- Captain F.E. Crawford, a leading figure in the gunrunning, recorded contemporaneously being called to meet Long and Bonar Law before he left to set up the event, and that they "wished me God's speed and a successful issue." Crawford's recollections, however, are often inaccurate. Long's Parliamentary Secretary, William Bull, was actively involved in the plot. Jackson p.154.
- Alvin Jackson, Home Rule: An Irish History 1800 — 2000 (Phoenix, 2004)
- Sir Charles Petrie, Walter Long and his Times (London, 1936)
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Walter Hume Long.|
- Hansard 1803–2005: contributions in Parliament by the Viscount Long
- Photograph in the National Portrait Gallery
- George Earle Buckle (1922). "Long, Walter Hume Long, 1st Viscount". Encyclopædia Britannica (12th ed.).