Charles Vane-Tempest-Stewart, 7th Marquess of Londonderry
|The Most Honourable
The Marquess of Londonderry
KG MVO PC PC (Ire)
The Marquess, c.1921
|First Commissioner of Works|
18 October 1928 – 4 June 1929
|Prime Minister||Stanley Baldwin|
|Preceded by||The Viscount Peel|
|Succeeded by||George Lansbury|
25 August 1931 – 5 November 1931
|Prime Minister||Ramsay MacDonald|
|Preceded by||George Lansbury|
|Succeeded by||Hon. William Ormsby-Gore|
|Secretary of State for Air|
5 November 1931 – 7 June 1935
|Prime Minister||Ramsay MacDonald|
|Preceded by||The Lord Amulree|
|Succeeded by||The Viscount Swinton|
|Leader of the House of Lords|
7 June 1935 – 22 November 1935
|Prime Minister||Stanley Baldwin|
|Preceded by||The Viscount Hailsham|
|Succeeded by||The Viscount Halifax|
|Lord Privy Seal|
7 June 1935 – 22 November 1935
|Prime Minister||Stanley Baldwin|
|Preceded by||Anthony Eden|
|Succeeded by||The Viscount Halifax|
|Born||13 May 1878|
|Died||10 February 1949
Mount Stewart, County Down
|Spouse(s)||Hon. Edith Chaplin
(m. 1899; his death 1949)
|Children||Lady Maureen Vane-Tempest-Stewart
Robin Vane-Tempest-Stewart, 8th Marquess of Londonderry
Lady Margaret Vane-Tempest-Stewart
Lady Helen Vane-Tempest-Stewart
Lady Mairi Vane-Tempest-Stewart
|Alma mater||Royal Military College, Sandhurst|
Charles Stewart Henry Vane-Tempest-Stewart, 7th Marquess of Londonderry KG MVO PC PC (Ire) (13 May 1878 – 10 February 1949), styled Lord Stewart until 1884 and Viscount Castlereagh between 1884 and 1915, was a British peer known for his political career in Britain. He is best remembered for his tenure as Secretary of State for Air in the 1930s and for his praise of Nazi Germany in the 1930s. He was forced out of the government in 1935 and never returned. His main record at the Air Ministry included:
- He preserved the core of the RAF at a time when even this was under threat from the Treasury. He encouraged the planning of vital new fighter aircraft such as the Hurricane and Spitfire. It was under his tutelage that radar was developed for use by the RAF. The Staff College at Cranwell was opened in the last months of his time as air minister....[But in underestimating the Luftwaffe he was] badly astray over the issue of German air strength in 1934–5."
Background and education
The eldest son of Charles Vane-Tempest-Stewart, 6th Marquess of Londonderry, and Lady Theresa Susey Helen, daughter of Charles John Chetwynd-Talbot, 19th Earl of Shrewsbury, he was educated at Eton College and at the Royal Military College, Sandhurst.
On 22 May 1895, Lord Castlereagh was appointed a second lieutenant in the 2nd Durham (Seaham) Artillery Volunteer Corps (later the 1st Durham Volunteer Artillery), at the time a volunteer corps within the Volunteer Force and attached to the Royal Garrison Artillery (Western Division). After passing out from Sandhurst, he was commissioned into the Royal Horse Guards as a second lieutenant on 8 September 1897. He was promoted lieutenant on 30 August 1899, and appointed adjutant on 9 May 1900.
In early 1901 he was appointed by King Edward to take part in a special diplomatic mission to announce the King's accession to the governments of Austria-Hungary, Romania, Serbia, and Turkey. In August 1903, following the King's visit to Ireland, he was appointed a Member Fourth Class (present-day Lieutenant) of the Royal Victorian Order, his father being honoured with the Knight Grand Cross of the Order at the same time. He resigned his position of adjutant in the Royal Horse Guards on 24 March 1904, and was promoted to captain on 6 April.
Castlereagh was subsequently pressed by his parents to stand for election to the House of Commons at the 1906 general election for Maidstone. He retained his army commission, but was placed on the half-pay list from January 1910. His relatively unsuccessful career on the depleted Unionist backbenches was broken by a return to the British Army during the First World War.
In the First World War
As Captain Castlereagh MP he travelled to northern France in the first weeks of the war and reached Paris on 29 August 1914, having been gazetted ADC to General William Pulteney the previous day. Although a staff officer, Castlereagh immediately saw plenty of fighting and believed he had personally shot and killed one of the enemy on 2 September 1914. In the following months of 1914 Castlereagh extensively witnessed the destruction of war, and the terrible suffering of the British wounded. He was promoted to the temporary rank of major in his old regiment on 1 November, and to the substantive rank on the 7th.
Hitherto reluctant to involve himself like his father in Irish politics, the war prompted him to take up the cause of recruitment in Ireland. With his father's death in 1915 he ceased to be MP for Maidstone and inherited the Londonderry title and the immense wealth and status that went with it. His exalted position helped his political career, not least in Ireland, which later brought him favourable attention at Westminster. In 1915 Lord Londonderry (as he had now become) was mentioned in despatches and rejoined his regiment, the Royal Horse Guards (The Blues). He saw in 1915 for the first time the horrific effects of gas attack upon human beings when visiting soldiers gassed at the first Battle of Ypres.
In 1916 Londonderry was appointed second-in-command of The Blues, part of the 8th Cavalry Brigade. He served at the front during the Battle of the Somme, witnessing the mass slaughter first hand; his closest friend, Lt Colonel Harold Brassey, best man at his wedding in 1899, was killed. He was an acting lieutenant-colonel from 15 December 1916 until 20 January 1917.
In 1917 Londonderry took command of a composite battalion drawn from the 8th Cavalry Brigade with the brevet rank of Lt-Colonel, and the Royal Horse Guards (The Blues) took part in the massed mounted cavalry attacks on Monchy-le-Preux on the morning of 11 April 1917, during the Battle of Arras. Monchy-le-Preux was one of the keys to the northern end of the Hindenburg Line. While reconnoitring the enemy near Monchy that the GOC 8th Cavalry Brigade, Brigadier-General Charles Bulkeley-Johnson, was shot in the face; he fell with a piercing shriek, the thirtieth British General to be killed in action or to die of wounds on the Western Front. This put Brevet Lt-Colonel Londonderry temporarily in command of the 8th Cavalry Brigade during their charge in the Battle of Arras. At Monchy 600 cavalrymen were casualties and many more horses died. The animals were tethered in the open, as their riders took cover; attempts to take them to the rear during a "box barrage" only increased the casualties. For Londonderry these experiences of war, carnage of his brother officers and the family and school friends he grew up with, would, as Professor Kershaw comments, "leave an indelible mark on him".
After serving in the Irish Convention of 1917–18, Lord Londonderry served on the short-lived Viceroy's Advisory Council, meeting at Dublin Castle in the autumn of 1918. Promoted to brevet lieutenant-colonel on 7 November 1918, he retired from the army on 10 September 1919 as a major and brevet lieutenant-colonel.
British politics and between the wars
He was appointed to the new Air Council at Westminster in 1919 by the postwar coalition government. Promoted to Under-Secretary of State for Air in 1920, Londonderry was nevertheless frustrated and took advantage of his Ulster connections to join the first Government of Northern Ireland in June 1921, as Leader of the Senate and Minister for Education. At Belfast he acted as a check on the increasingly partisan and survivalist government of Prime Minister Sir James Craig. Nevertheless, Londonderry's Education Act of 1923 received little in the way of good will from either Protestant or Catholic educational interests, and was amended to the point that its purpose, to secularise schooling in Northern Ireland, was lost.
In 1926, he resigned from the Northern Ireland Parliament and involved himself in the General Strike of that year, playing the role of a moderate mine owner, a stance made easier for him by the relative success of the Londonderry mines in County Durham. His performance earned him high praise, and along with the Londonderrys' role as leading political hosts, he was rewarded by Prime Minister Stanley Baldwin with a seat in the Cabinet in 1928 as First Commissioner of Works. Londonderry was also invited to join the emergency National Government under Prime Minister Ramsay MacDonald and Lord President Baldwin in 1931. This was the cause of some scandal as MacDonald's many critics accused the erstwhile Labour leader of being too friendly with Edith, Lady Londonderry.
When the National Government won the 1931 General Election he returned to the Cabinet as Secretary of State for Air (Londonderry also held a pilot's licence). This position became increasingly important during his tenure, not least due to the deliberations of the League of Nations Disarmament Conference at Geneva. Londonderry toed the British government's equivocal line on disarmament, but opposed in Cabinet any moves that would risk the deterrent value of the Royal Air Force. For this he was attacked by Clement Attlee and the Labour Party, and thus became a liability to the National Government. In the spring of 1935 he was removed from the Air Ministry but retained in the Cabinet as Lord Privy Seal and Leader of the House of Lords. Combined with his role as a leading member of the Anglo-German Fellowship, he attracted the popular nickname of "Londonderry Herr".
The sense of hurt Lord Londonderry felt at this, and of accusations that he had misled Baldwin about the strength of Nazi Germany's Luftwaffe, led him to seek to clear his reputation as a 'warmonger', by engaging in diplomacy. This involved visits to meet Hitler, Hess, Goering, Himmler, von Papen, and other senior members of the German Government and the much-discussed two stays, of several days each, in 1936, of Joachim von Ribbentrop, German Ambassador to the Court of St. James, later the German foreign minister, at the principal ancestral homes of the Marquess in Northern Ireland and England. They came to Mount Stewart on 29 May – 2 June, and were at Wynyard Hall on 13–17 November, and for subsequent briefings with government officials in London.
Between January 1936 and September 1938 Lord Londonderry made six visits to Nazi Germany, the first lasting for three weeks, but a seventh invitation previously accepted for March 1939 was abruptly declined by Londonderry following the Nazi occupation of Prague.
During the first two visits, prior to the abdication of Edward VIII (who the Nazis assessed as a supporter of their party), Londonderry was considered an aristocrat of real influence by Hitler. The friendly regard in which the Marquess was held in Berlin was reflected in Hitler indiscreetly informing his guest, in October 1936, of his intended moves both on Czechoslovakia and Poland years in advance of these two invasions being actioned.
Although Londonderry immediately passed this information regarding Hitler's indicated future direction of German policy on to a member of the British Government, via a letter to Lord Halifax on 24 December 1936 rearmament was not notably accelerated in Britain at this point. In the end, Londonderry's high-profile promotion of Anglo-German friendship marked him with a far greater slur than that which had led him to engage in appeasement in the first place.
Fall from grace
Under attack from anti-Nazis inside and outside Westminster, Lord Londonderry attempted to explain his position by publishing Ourselves and Germany in March 1938. Then, after the Munich agreement, in October 1938, Londonderry wrote in a letter that he was aware that Hitler was "gradually getting back to the theories which he evolved in prison", when working on Mein Kampf.
After playing a marginal role in the resignation of Neville Chamberlain as Prime Minister in 1940, he failed to win any favour from the new Prime Minister, Winston Churchill (his second cousin), who thought little of his talents. Out of office during the war, he produced his memoirs, Wings of Destiny (1943), a relatively short book that was considerably censured by some of his former colleagues.
Lord Londonderry also served as Lord Lieutenant of County Down between 1915 and 1949 and of County Durham between 1928 and 1949 and was Chancellor of the University of Durham and The Queen's University of Belfast. He was Mayor of Durham during the year of George VI's Coronation (1937). He was sworn of the Irish Privy Council in 1918 and of the British Privy Council in 1925 and appointed a Knight of the Garter in 1919.
On 28 November 1899, Lord Londonderry married the Hon. Edith Helen Chaplin, eldest daughter of Henry Chaplin, 1st Viscount Chaplin, and Lady Florence Sutherland-Leveson-Gower (herself a daughter of the 3rd Duke of Sutherland) at St Peter's Church, Eaton Square and had issue:
- Lady Maureen Helen Vane-Tempest-Stewart (1900–1942), who married in 1920 the Hon. Oliver Stanley and had issue: (i) Michael Charles Stanley (1921–1990), who married (Aileen) Fortune Constance Hugh Smith and had two sons; and (ii) Kathryn Edith Helen Stanley DCVO (1923–2004), Lady-in-Waiting to Queen Elizabeth II from 1955 to 2002 and who married Sir John Dugdale KCVO (1923–1994) and had two daughters and two sons, one of whom, Henry Dugdale (b. 1963) is married to Litia Mara Dugdale.
- Edward Charles Stewart Robert Vane-Tempest-Stewart, 8th Marquess of Londonderry (1902–1955)
- Lady Margaret Frances Anne Vane-Tempest-Stewart (1910–1966), who married in 1934 (div. 1939) Frederick Alan Irving Muntz and in 1952 (div) 1958 as his 3rd wife, Hugh Falkus (1917–1996).
- Lady Helen Maglona Vane-Tempest-Stewart (1911–1986), who married in 1935 Edward Jessel, 2nd Baron Jessel, and had issue: (i) Hon. Timothy Edward Jessel (1935–1969) who married twice and has issue; (ii) Hon. Camilla Edith Mairi Elizabeth Jessel (b. 1940) who was married and has issue; and (iii) Hon. Joanne Margaret Jessel (b. 1945) who is married and has issue.
- Lady Mairi Elizabeth Vane-Tempest-Stewart (1921–2009), who married in 1940 (div. 1958) Derek William Charles Keppel, Viscount Bury (1911–1968), eldest son of Walter Keppel, 9th Earl of Albemarle and had issue: (i) Lady Elizabeth Mairi Keppel (1941–2014) who married in 1962 (div.) Alastair Michael Hyde Villiers (1939–2005) and has issue, and in 1980 (div. 1988) Merlin Hanbury-Tracy, 7th Baron Sudeley; and (ii) Lady Rose Deirdre Margaret Keppel (b. 1943) who married Peter Lathrop Lauritzen and has issue.
Lord Londonderry also had an illegitimate daughter with actress Fannie Ward, named Dorothé Mabel Lewis [b.1900]. She first married, in 1918, a nephew of mining magnate Barney Barnato, Capt. Jack Barnato, who died of pneumonia shortly after their wedding. Her second husband, whom she married in 1922, was Terence Plunket, 6th Baron Plunket, and with him she had three sons: Patrick Plunket, 7th Baron Plunket, Robin Plunket, 8th Baron Plunket, and the Hon Shaun Plunket. Lord and Lady Plunket were killed in an aircraft crash in California in 1938.
- Alvin Jackson, ‘Stewart, Charles Stewart Henry Vane-Tempest-, seventh marquess of Londonderry (1878–1949)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, 2004; online edn, Jan 2008 accessed 6 Jan 2016
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- "Magnificent jewels and noble jewels".
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- Montgomery Hyde, p 116
- "No. 29084". The London Gazette. 26 February 1915. p. 1980.
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- Montgomery Hyde, p. 122
- "No. 29957". The London Gazette (Supplement). 20 February 1917. p. 1860.
- "No. 29984". The London Gazette (Supplement). 13 March 1917. p. 2606.
- Davies & Maddocks, "Bloody Red Tabs: General Officer Casualties of the Great War, 1914–18"
- "April 1917 – The Real War Horse" Commonwealth War Graves Commission Newsletter, April 2012; "War Horse at Monchy-le-Preux – 11 April 1917" article by Stephen Barker
- Hoffmann, Stanley (28 January 2009). "Making Friends With Hitler: Lord Londonderry, the Nazis, and the Road to War". Retrieved 11 May 2017 – via www.foreignaffairs.com.
- "No. 31450". The London Gazette (Supplement). 11 July 1919. p. 8929.
- "No. 31618". The London Gazette (Supplement). 24 October 1919. p. 13112.
- Martin Pugh, "Hurrah For the Blackshirts!" Fascists and Fascism in Britain Between the War, Pimlico, 2006, p. 270
- Fleming, p.189
- later reproduced in "Ourselves and Germany"- see below – as letter "to a friend", p. 130–4.
- "No. 33018". The London Gazette. 6 February 1925. p. 843.
- "No. 31678". The London Gazette. 9 December 1919. p. 15189.
- "The Marquess of Londonderry". Retrieved 11 May 2017.
- N. C. Fleming. "Lord Londonderry and education reform in 1920s Northern Ireland", History Ireland (spring 2001) ·
- N.C. Fleming, The Marquess of Londonderry: Aristocracy, Power and Politics in Britain and Ireland. (London, 2005)
- H. Montgomery Hyde. British air policy between the wars, 1918–1939 (1976) ·
- H. Montgomery Hyde, The Londonderrys: A Family Portrait. (London, 1979)
- Alvin Jackson, "Stewart, Charles Stewart Henry Vane-Tempest-, seventh marquess of Londonderry (1878–1949)", Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004; online edn, Jan 2008 accessed 6 Jan 2016
- Ian Kershaw, Making Friends with Hitler: Lord Londonderry and the British Road to War. (London, 2004)
- Edith, Lady Londonderry, Retrospect. (London, 1938)
- Lord Londonderry, Ourselves and Germany. (London, 1938)
- Lord Londonderry, Wings of Destiny. (London, 1943)
- Hansard 1803–2005: contributions in Parliament by the Marquess of Londonderry