Edward Grigg, 1st Baron Altrincham

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The Lord Altrincham

Edward Grigg.jpg
Governor of Kenya
In office
10 February 1925 – 27 September 1930
Preceded byEdward Denham (Acting)
Succeeded byHenry Monck-Mason Moore
Personal details
Born(1879-09-08)8 September 1879
Madras, Madras Presidency, British India
(now Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India)
Died1 December 1955(1955-12-01) (aged 76)
Tormarton, Gloucestershire, England
Nationality England
Political partyLiberal, then Conservative
Spouse(s)Joan Alice Katherine Dickson-Poynder
ChildrenJohn Grigg (son) Anthony Ulick David Dundas Grigg (son)
Alma materNew College, Oxford
OccupationJournalist, civil servant
Military career
Allegiance United Kingdom
Service/branch British Army
Years of service1914-1920
UnitGrenadier Guards
Battles/warsFirst World War

Edward William Macleay Grigg, 1st Baron Altrincham KCMG KCVO DSO MC PC (8 September 1879 – 1 December 1955) was a British colonial administrator and politician.


Early years[edit]

Grigg was the son of Henry Bridewell Grigg, a member of the Indian Civil Service, and Elizabeth Louisa, née Thomson, the daughter of Edward Deas Thomson. Born in Madras, he was educated at Winchester College and New College, Oxford, where he won the Gaisford Prize for Greek verse in 1902.[1] Upon graduation, he embarked on a career in journalism. He joined The Times in 1903 as secretary to the editor, George Earle Buckle, then moved to The Outlook in 1905, where he worked as assistant editor under J. L. Garvin. Grigg returned to The Times in 1906, where he was the head of the colonial department until he resigned in 1913 in order to become the co-editor of The Round Table Journal.[2]

Military service[edit]

At the start of the First World War, Grigg enlisted in the Grenadier Guards, and was commissioned as a special-reserve second lieutenant (on probation) on 13 March 1915.[3] He was confirmed in his rank on 11 August,[4] with a promotion to temporary lieutenant.[5] He was subsequently promoted to lieutenant (effective 15 July 1915),[6] and to temporary captain on 8 November.[7] Serving in France, he distinguished himself in combat before his transfer to the staff as a GSO 3 on 4 February 1916,[8] briefly relinquishing his temporary rank of captain with effect from 27 January,[9] and resuming it from 15 April.[10]

He received the Military Cross in 1917 and the Distinguished Service Order the following year, and was a lieutenant-colonel by the end of the war. Grigg was created Commander of the Order of St Michael and St George in 1919 and served as military secretary to Edward, Prince of Wales (later Edward VIII) from 1919 until 1920, accompanying the prince on tours of Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. For his services, Grigg was appointed Commander of the Royal Victorian Order in 1919 and Knight Commander of the Royal Victorian Order in 1920.

Entry into politics[edit]

Upon his return in 1920, Grigg became a private secretary to Prime Minister David Lloyd George. Grigg became devoted to Lloyd George, developing a deep respect for the "Welsh Wizard" that subsequently limited his political career. After Lloyd George's departure in 1922, Grigg passed up a number of appointments within the civil service to enter the House of Commons. He was elected to Parliament as a Liberal Member of Parliament (MP) in 1922 from the constituency of Oldham. During this period he also served as secretary to the Rhodes Trust, a position he held from 1923 until 1925.[2]

In 1923, Grigg married Joan Dickson-Poynder, daughter of his fellow politician Lord Islington. [11] They had three children:

  • John Edward Poynder Grigg, 2nd Baron Altrincham (b. 15 Apr 1924, d. 31 Dec 2001), a journalist and author
  • Hon. Annabel Desirée Grigg, (b. 19 Nov 1931),
  • Anthony Ulrick David Dundas Grigg, 3rd Baron Altrincham (b. 12 Jan 1934).

Governor of Kenya[edit]

In 1925, Grigg resigned his seat to accept an appointment as governor of Kenya. While frustrated in his assigned task to merge Kenya with the bordering British colonies of Uganda and Tanganyika, he provided energetic administration to the colony, improving agriculture, education, and infrastructure during his governorship. Yet Grigg opposed consideration of the colony's development into a multi-racial state, believing that the native African population was ill-prepared for managing the government. During this period he was named KCMG in 1928.[12]

Resuming politics[edit]

Grigg returned to Britain in 1930. Though offered his choice of Indian governorships, his poor health, along with that of his wife, forestalled accepting an appointment. Instead, Grigg decided to reenter politics. Though initially nominated as the Conservative candidate for the Leeds Central constituency in the 1931 general election, Grigg loyally stood aside for the National Labour candidate, Richard Denman. Two years later, he returned to Parliament in a by-election for the constituency of Altrincham. He would serve as MP for Altrincham until the constituency was abolished in 1945.

Grigg's return to politics coincided with the rise to power of Adolf Hitler as German chancellor. Grigg feared the Nazi movement and in two books he pressed the case for a strong defence against the threat it posed. Yet Grigg never openly challenged the policy of appeasement advanced by the governments of Stanley Baldwin and Neville Chamberlain, keeping his criticisms private. When war did break out, Grigg joined the government as Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Information. In April 1940 he became first the financial secretary, then joint parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for War, a post he held until March 1942. He declined Winston Churchill's invitation to become First Commissioner of Works, as it was dependent upon acceptance of a peerage, and did not return to government until he was selected as Minister Resident, Middle East in November 1944. He was also appointed a Privy Counsellor in 1944.[12]

Final years[edit]

In the aftermath of the Conservative caretaker government's defeat in the 1945 general election, Grigg was raised to the peerage as Baron Altrincham, ending his political career. Three years later, he assumed the editorship of the National Review, a post he held until failing health forced his retirement in 1954. Grigg died a year later in Gloucestershire aged 76. His son, John Grigg, who became the second Baron Altrincham upon his father's death, disclaimed the peerage in 1963 under the terms of the Peerage Act of that year.


  • The Greatest Experiment in World History (1924)
  • Unity (1935)
  • The Faith of an Englishman (1936)
  • Britain Looks at Germany (1938)
  • The British Commonwealth: Its Place in the Service of the World (1944)
  • Kenya's Opportunity: Memories, Hopes and Ideas (1955)


Coat of arms of Edward Grigg, 1st Baron Altrincham
Coronet of a British Baron.svg
Altrincham Escutcheon.png
A grenade Sable fired Proper between two roses Argent barbed and seeded also Proper.
Sable three owls Argent on a chief Azure issuant from the base thereof a sun in splendour Or.
On either side a lion Gules gorged with a chain collar pendent therefrom a portcullis Or and supporting a date palm fructed Proper.
Servire Et Servare (To Serve And Preserve) [13]


  1. ^ "University intelligence". The Times (36771). London. 19 May 1902. p. 8.
  2. ^ a b Kenneth Rose, "Grigg, Edward William Macleay, first Baron Altrincham" in The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, H.C.G. Matthew and Brian Harrison, eds. (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004), vol. 24, p. 1.
  3. ^ "No. 29098". The London Gazette. 12 March 1915. p. 2507.
  4. ^ "No. 29258". The London Gazette. 10 August 1915. p. 7907.
  5. ^ "No. 29312". The London Gazette. 1 October 1915. p. 9647.
  6. ^ "No. 29396". The London Gazette (Supplement). 7 December 1915. p. 12293.
  7. ^ "No. 29431". The London Gazette. 7 January 1916. p. 343.
  8. ^ "No. 29495". The London Gazette (Supplement). 29 February 1916. p. 2331.
  9. ^ "No. 29518". The London Gazette (Supplement). 21 March 1916. p. 3164.
  10. ^ "No. 29580". The London Gazette (Supplement). 12 May 1916. p. 4823.
  11. ^ "Joan Alice Katherine (née Dickson-Poynder), Lady Altrincham; Edward William Macleay Grigg, 1st Baron Altrincham". National Portrait Gallery.
  12. ^ a b Kenneth Rose, "Grigg, Edward William Macleay, first Baron Altrincham" in The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, H.C.G. Matthew and Brian Harrison, eds. (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004), vol. 24, p. 2.
  13. ^ Debrett's Peerage & Baronetage. 1985.

External links[edit]

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Sir William Barton
Edmund Denniss
Member of Parliament for Oldham
With: William John Tout 1922–1924
Duff Cooper 1924–1925
Succeeded by
Duff Cooper
William Wiggins
Preceded by
Cyril Atkinson
Member of Parliament for Altrincham
Constituency abolished
Political offices
Preceded by
Sir Robert Coryndon
Governor of Kenya
Succeeded by
Sir Joseph Byrne
Peerage of the United Kingdom
New creation Baron Altrincham
Succeeded by
John Grigg
Media offices
Preceded by
Violet Milner
Editor of National Review
Succeeded by
John Grigg