George Lloyd, 1st Baron Lloyd

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The Lord Lloyd
George Lloyd, 1st Baron Lloyd.png
Leader of the House of Lords
In office
22 December 1940 – 4 February 1941
MonarchGeorge VI
Prime MinisterWinston Churchill
Preceded byThe Viscount Halifax
Succeeded byThe Lord Moyne
Secretary of State for the Colonies
In office
12 May 1940 – 4 February 1941
MonarchGeorge VI
Prime MinisterWinston Churchill
Preceded byMalcolm MacDonald
Succeeded byThe Lord Moyne
High Commissioner in Egypt
In office
MonarchGeorge V
Preceded byThe Viscount Allenby
Succeeded bySir Percy Loraine, Bt
Governor of Bombay
In office
16 December 1918 – 8 December 1923
MonarchGeorge V
Preceded byThe Marquess of Willingdon
Succeeded bySir Leslie Orme Wilson
Member of the House of Lords
Lord Temporal
In office
16 November 1925 – 4 February 1941
Hereditary Peerage
Preceded byPeerage created
Succeeded byThe 2nd Lord Lloyd
Member of Parliament
for Eastbourne
In office
29 October 1924 – 15 November 1925
Preceded byRupert Gwynne
Succeeded bySir Reginald Hall
Member of Parliament
for West Staffordshire
In office
10 February 1910 – 14 December 1918
Preceded byHenry McLaren
Succeeded byconstituency abolished
Personal details
Born(1879-09-19)19 September 1879
Olton Hall[1]
Died4 February 1941(1941-02-04) (aged 61)
Marylebone, London, England
Political partyConservative
Hon. Blanche Lascelles
(m. 1911)
ChildrenAlexander Lloyd, 2nd Baron Lloyd
Alma mater
Arms of Lloyd of Dolobran, Montgomeryshire, Wales (of which family were the Lloyd Quakers, bankers and steel manufacturers of Birmingham: Azure, a chevron between three cocks argent armed crested and wattled or[2]

George Ambrose Lloyd, 1st Baron Lloyd,[3] GCSI, GCIE, DSO, PC (19 September 1879 – 4 February 1941) was a British Conservative politician strongly associated with the "Diehard" wing of the party. From 1937 to 1941 he was chairman of the British Council, in which capacity he sought to ensure support for Britain's position in the Second World War.


Lloyd was born at Olton Hall, Warwickshire, the son of Sampson Samuel Lloyd (whose namesake father was also a Member of Parliament) and Jane Emilia, daughter of Thomas Lloyd. He was educated at Eton and Trinity College, Cambridge. He coxed the Cambridge crew in the 1899 and 1900 Boat Races.[4] He left without taking a degree, unsettled by the deaths of both his parents in 1899, and made a tour of India.[5]

George Lloyd.jpg

In 1901 Lloyd joined the family firm Stewarts & Lloyds as its youngest director. In 1903 he first became involved with the tariff reform movement of Joseph Chamberlain. In 1904 he fell in love with Lady Constance Knox, daughter of the 5th Earl of Ranfurly, who forbade the match with his daughter considering him unsuitable (she then married Evelyn Milnes Gaskell, son of Rt. Hon. Charles Gaskell, in November 1905).[6] In 1905 he turned down an offer by Stewarts & Lloyds of a steady position in London and chose to embark on a study of the East in the British Empire.

Foreign office[edit]

Through the efforts of his friends Samuel Pepys Cockerell, working in the commercial department of the Foreign Office, and Gertrude Bell, whom he had come to know, he started work as an unpaid honorary attaché in Constantinople. At "Old Stamboul"[7] – as he came to remember the Embassy of Sir Nicholas O'Conor – he worked together with Laurence Oliphant, Percy Loraine and Alexander Cadogan. There also he first met Mark Sykes and Aubrey Herbert. In April 1906 Aubrey Herbert joined him on an exploration of the state of the Baghdad Railway.[8] His confidential memorandum of November 1906 on the Hejaz railway gave a detailed account of many economic problems. This, and other papers – on Turkish finance, for example – led to his appointment in January 1907 as a special commissioner to investigate trading prospects around the Persian Gulf.[4]

Parliamentary candidate[edit]

Lloyd had been strongly influenced by Joseph Chamberlain's call for tariff reform to link Britain and the Dominions closer together, and the tariff issue now inspired Lloyd to enter politics.[9] At the January 1910 general election Lloyd was elected as a Liberal Unionist Member of Parliament (MP) for West Staffordshire, marrying Blanche Lascelles the following year. In February 1914, Lloyd was adopted as Unionist Parliamentary candidate for Shrewsbury ahead of the next general election (expected no later than the end of 1915[10]) when the sitting MP, unrelated namesake George Butler Lloyd, intended to retire.[11] Lloyd was completely opposed to women's suffrage, writing that to give women the right to vote would ensure that they would vote "for the beaux yeux of the candidates".[12]

The general election and his candidacy were both forestalled by the outbreak of the First World War, while the sitting member continued to hold his seat until 1922. He and another backbench colleague in Parliament, Leopold Amery, lobbied the Conservative leadership to press for an immediate declaration of war against Germany on 1 August 1914.[13]

In conjunction with Edward Wood (later Earl of Halifax) he wrote The Great Opportunity in 1918. This book was meant to be a Conservative challenge to the Lloyd George coalition and stressed devolution of power from Westminster and the importance of reviving English industry and agriculture.

First World War[edit]

As a Lieutenant in the Warwickshire Yeomanry, Lloyd was called up after Britain entered the war three days later.[14]

During that war he served on the staff of Sir Ian Hamilton at Gallipoli landing with the ANZACs on the first day of that campaign; took part in a special British mission to Petrograd to improve Anglo-Russian liaison; visited Basra to update his study of commerce in the Persian Gulf; and, after a time in Cairo, with T. E. Lawrence and the Arab Bureau in Hejaz, the Negev and the Sinai desert.[13] He reached the rank of Captain in the Warwickshire Yeomanry (in which regiment he continued to hold rank until 1925[15]) and was awarded the Distinguished Service Order and made Companion of the Indian Empire in 1917. For services in the same war he also received the Russian Empire's Order of St Anne, 3rd Class[4] and the Order of Al Nahda (2nd class) of the Kingdom of Hejaz.[16][page needed]

Colonial posts[edit]


In December 1918 he was appointed Governor of Bombay and made KCIE. His principal activities while governor were reclaiming land for housing in the Back Bay area of the city of Bombay and building the Lloyd Barrage (now Sukkur Barrage) an irrigation scheme, both of which were funded by loans raised in India instead of in England. Lloyd's administration was the first to raise such funds locally. His province was one of the centres of Indian nationalist unrest, to deal with which he insisted in 1921 on the arrest of Mahatma Gandhi, who was subsequently galled for six years for sedition.[13] Lloyd was very strongly opposed to Indian independence or even bringing a measure of democracy to the Raj, writing of what he called "the fundamental unsuitability of modern western democratic methods of government to any Oriental people".[17] A strong believer in what he regarded as the greatness of the British empire, Lloyd wrote from Bombay to a friend on 25 August 1920: "The real truth is that we can't withdraw the legions: every schoolboy knows what happened to Rome as the legions began to do so."[18] The British historian Louise Atherton wrote that Lloyd was: "Idealistically, almost mystically, devoted to the British Empire, he advocated the use of force, if necessary, to maintain British control".[9] He completed his term as governor in 1923 and was made a Privy Counsellor[19] and GCSI.[20]

He was instrumental in selecting and sending the first ever truly Indian team of athletes to Olympics in 1920 to the 7th Olympic Games held at Antwerp, Belgium. He helped form the ad-hoc Indian Olympic Association under the chairmanship of industrialist and philanthropist Sir Dorabji Tata. Si Lloyd made special arrangements for preparations and training of the six member team in England, arranged for their travel, stay in military facilities both in London and then in Antwerp. He negotiated the arrangements with Sir Winston Churchill and got the required permissions even when the British empire was broke due to the first world war and struggling even to send their own teams to the Games. Ref.: India at the 1920 Summer Olympics


He returned to Parliament again for Eastbourne in 1924, serving until 1925, when he was made Baron Lloyd, of Dolobran in the County of Montgomery, called after his Welsh ancestral home.[13] Following his ennoblement, he was appointed High Commissioner to Egypt, serving until his resignation was forced upon him by Labour Foreign Secretary Arthur Henderson in 1929. His views and experience formed the background of a self-justifying two-volume book, Egypt Since Cromer (published 1933–34).[13]


In 1930, Lloyd became president of the Navy League which lobbied the government for to spend more money on the Royal Navy and was a member of the India Defence League, which lobbied the government not to grant home rule to India.[9] During the 1930s he was one of the most prominent opponents of proposals to grant Indian Home Rule, working alongside Winston Churchill against the National Government. From 1931 to 1935 Lord Lloyd employed James Lees-Milne as one of his male secretaries. He was suspicious of Adolf Hitler and the Nazi movement, which he saw as a threat to Britain.[21] He was agitating for rearmament against Germany as early as 1930, before Churchill did.[22]

British Council[edit]

From July 1937 onward he was chairman of the British Council, in which he oversaw an increase in lectureships and made cultural tours of neutral capitals to maintain sympathy for Britain's cause during the early months of the Second World War.[23]

The council was a purportedly independent group meant to engage in cultural propaganda promoting the British way of life to the rest of the world that was in fact under the control of the Foreign Office.[24] As head of the British Council, Lloyd ran his own private intelligence network , employing as one his spies, the journalist Ian Colvin, who served as the Berlin correspondent of The News Chronicle.[25] Unusually, Lloyd enjoyed a privileged access to the secret reports of MI6, the British intelligence service.[25] The British historian D.C. Watt called Lloyd "one of those uncontrollable lusi naturae the British elite throws up from time to time".[26]

In November 1937, the Foreign Secretary, Anthony Eden, instructed Lloyd that the British Council was to concentrate especially on improving Britain's image in Portugal, Greece, Turkey, Yugoslavia, Romania, and Poland.[27] Regarding the Middle East, especially Egypt, as a crucial area of control for Britain, Lloyd regarded the approaches to the Near East as equally crucial, which led him to become obsessed with the Balkans, which called the "eastern approaches", independently of Eden's instructions.[28] In April 1938, he suggested in a memo sent to the Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain and the Foreign Secretary Lord Halifax that Britain needed to become more economically involved in the Balkans, which were rapidly falling into the German economic sphere of influence.[28] After discussing the issue with King George II of Greece during a visit to Athens in May 1938, Lloyd submitted another memo calling for Britain to increase the import of staple goods from Bulgaria, Turkey, Greece and Romania.[29] In response, Britain granted Turkey a credit of £16 million pounds sterling that month, through Lloyd's idea of an "economic offensive" in the Balkans was not taken up at the time.[30]


Lloyd was not in sympathy with the Chamberlain government's policies towards Czechoslovakia in August–September 1938, and his advice that he gave his old friend, Lord Halifax, who was serving as Foreign Secretary after Eden had resigned in February 1938 in protest against the Chamberlain's government's policies towards Fascist Italy, was not followed.[30]

Lloyd passed on to the government on 3 August 1938 a report from Colvin which stated that Germany planned to invade Czechoslovakia on 28 September 1938.[30] In September 1938, the Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain flew to Germany three times for summits with Hitler at Berchtesgaden, Bad Godesberg and Munich to discuss the Sudetenland crisis. In a letter of 20 October 1938 to Sir Percy Loraine , Lloyd sardonically wrote of these three summits: "If at first you don't concede, fly, fly again."[31]


In the tense atmosphere of 1938, Lloyd tried hard to increase British propaganda in the United States to an attempt to involve the United States in the Sudetenland dispute, favoring an approach of trying to appeal to the American elite rather than the American people in general.[32]

In June 1938, he argued that the British Council should arrange for British professors to serve as visiting lecturers at American universities to strengthen Anglo-American relations.[33] The same month, the U.S Congress passed the Foreign Agents Registration Act, which required all propaganda by foreign governments in the United States to be registered with the State Department and labelled as propaganda.[34] Representative Martin Dies Jr., chairman of the House Committee for the Investigation of Un-American Activities (HUAC), announced his committee would be investigating British attempts to get the United States involved in European conflicts, alleging that the only reason why the United States declared war on Germany in 1917 was because of improper British propaganda, and vowed his country would not be "tricked" again into declaring war on Germany.[33] In response to the xenophobic mood in Congress, the British ambassador in Washington, Sir Ronald Lindsay, objected to Lloyd's plans, writing if the Foreign Office knew "what they were at", saying that any British Council propaganda in America would offend Congress.[33] Even Lloyd's plans to use the British Pavilion at the upcoming World Fair in New York in 1939 to promote the British viewpoint drew objections from Lindsay that it would upset Congress.[33] Lindsay regarded Dies as a particular problem as the congressman from Texas was known for his grandstanding style and his love of publicity, which led him to make fantastic and often bizarre statements. As a result of Lindsay's objections, Britain instituted a "No-Propaganda" policy in the United States that lasted until 1940.[33] Die's investigation into British propaganda in America failed to find any, causing him to turn his attention to Hollywood, where he alleged that too many filmmakers had left-wing and therefore "un-American" views. Dies made headlines where he announced he found evidence that wealthy Hollywood filmmakers (who were all Jewish) were secretly members of the U.S Communist Party and were smuggling in Spanish Republican soldiers disguised as illegal immigrants from Mexico with the aim of staging a Communist coup, though the subsequent lack of evidence to back up these assertions discredited him.[citation needed]

Lloyd was forced to use a more informal approach to the United States, arranging for Americans with the power to influence American public opinion to visit Britain where they were met by notable British personalities who were instructed to impress them the importance of closer Anglo-American ties as a factor for world peace.[33] The Britons recruited for this work were Sir George Schuster, the president of Lipton's Tea; the American-born Conservative MP Ronald Tree; the Scottish aristocrat Lord Lothian, the secretary of the Rhodes Trust; the Labour MP Josiah Wedgewood; Angus Fletcher, the president of the British Library of Information; and Frank Darvall, the president of the English Speaking Union who had received his degree at Columbia University.[35] In particular, American journalists were cultivated with the principle theme being that Britain and the United States were both champions of freedom and democracy and should work together more closely for that reason.[36] As these meetings took place in Britain with individuals who were ostensibly expressing their own personal views, and the American correspondents in their writings and broadcasts merely recorded their own experiences of Britain, this completely by-passed the Foreign Agents Registration Act.

The Balkans[edit]

Accepting that Czechoslovakia was a lost cause after the Munich Agreement, in the autumn of 1938, Lloyd focused on convincing the government that greater British involvement was needed with the remaining two members of the Little Entente, Yugoslavia and Romania.[37] Lloyd was especially involved with the latter, where his two principal collaborators were Grigore Gafencu and Virgil Tilea, both of whom he knew from his work with the British Council.[37] In October 1938, Lloyd visited Bucharest to meet King Carol II, supposedly to encourage Anglo-Romanian cultural links, but in fact, to hear a plan from the king for Britain to stop Romania from becoming an economic colony of Germany.[38] Lloyd who rather liked Carol, sent a series of vigorously written telegrams from Bucharest urging that Britain commit itself to spending £500,000 on buying Romanian oil, purchase 600,000 tons of Romanian wheat, and assist Romania with building a naval base where the Danube river flowed into the Black Sea.[38] In the cabinet meetings, Lord Halifax used Lloyd's telegrams to argue that Britain should buy Romanian wheat, saying "how urgent the matter is, and of what importance it is without delay to try and do something in the economic sphere for Romania".[39] Chamberlain agreed with the idea, through he committed to buying only 200, 000 tons of Romanian wheat following objections from the Treasury.[39]

Lloyd was the most consistent advocate of greater British support for Romania, arguing to Lord Halifax that it was too dangerous to let that oil-rich kingdom fall into the German sphere of influence.[40] Lloyd noted that Germany had no oil of its own and there were only two places in Europe where oil could be obtained in massive quantities, namely the Soviet Union and Romania, and since the latter was by far the weaker of the two, he believed that Romania would be Hitler's next target.[41] In response, Halifax argued that the Germans saw Romania as being in their sphere of influence, and too great of British involvement in that kingdom would had been seen by Adolf Hitler as an "encirclement".[42] When Carol visited London between 15–18 November 1938, Lloyd was present to argue on his behalf.[40] Despite all of Lloyd's advocacy of Carol's case during his London visit, Britain agreed to buy 200,000 tons of Romanian wheat at above world prices with an option to buy 400,000 tons while refusing the king's request for a £30 million pound loan.[43] The Chamberlain government committed to spending £10 million pounds in support of threatened nations in November 1938 (through the bill authorising the spending was not passed until February 1939), of which the largest sum, £3 million pounds, went to China while in the Balkans £2 million pounds went to Greece and £1 million pounds to Romania.[26]

In a letter of 24 November, he mentioned that he just returned from the Balkans "to see what could be saved in the Balkans from the Nazis", an allusion to the recent tour of Balkans by the German economics minister, Dr Walther Funk, who pressed for greater economic integration of the region with the Reich.[40] Acting in his own capacity, Lloyd urged that the directors of the firm Spencer Limited to build grain silos in Romania as Carol had mentioned during his visit to London that Romania's ability to export wheat was hindered by the lack of grain silos.[44] In January 1939, Lloyd advised Gafencu, who just been appointed Romanian foreign minister, to appoint someone of "considerable energy and position" to be the Romanian minister in London, which led to Tilea receiving the appointment.[45] After King Carol, the Balkan leader whom Lloyd was closest to was Prince Paul, the Regent of Yugoslavia for the boy king Peter II.[40]

Working with a fellow member of the board of the Navy League, Lord Sempill, who had served as the deputy chairman of the London chamber of commence in 1931–34, Lloyd sought from January 1939 onward to encourage British businesses to buy many products from the Balkans as possible.[45] Lord Semphill had once been an enthusiast for Nazi Germany, having joined the Anglo-German Fellowship, but he was described as being " was impressed by Lloyd's propaganda efforts and wanted to back them with specific business arrangements."[45] In February 1939, he visited Athens to meet the Greek dictator, General Ioannis Metaxas, in an effort to improve Anglo-Greek relations.[45] In a bid to "soften the dictatorship", Lloyd arranged for greater British Council involvement with the National Youth Organisation, which he believed would allow the British Council to win over Greek public opinion.[45] During his visit to Athens, Lloyd also advised King George II to dismiss the Germanophile Metaxas as prime minister and appoint an Anglophile as his successor, advice that the king refused.[46] Lloyd made clear during his Greek visit his personal preference for Venizelism, meeting several Venizelist Greek politicians, which was also a way of expressing his distaste for the 4th of August Regime.[45] Upon his return from Greece, Lloyd pressed very strongly for the government to force British tobacco companies to buy the Greek tobacco crop.[47] During his visit to Greece, both King George and Mextaxas had told him that Germany had more to offer Greece economically than did Britain, which led Lloyd to decide on a dramatic gesture which would prove otherwise. Lloyd's advocacy of buying the entire Greek tobacco crop for 1939 led to bureaucratic struggle as objections were raised that it was unfair to force British smokers to use Greek tobacco (regarded as inferior) when they were used to American and Canadian tobacco (regarded as superior).[47]

Second world war[edit]

On 27 January 1939, Lloyd passed on to the government a report he received from Colvin that Germany was planning to invade Poland in the spring of 1939.[25] In March 1939, Lloyd played a major role in the "Tilea affair" when Tilea claimed that Romania was on the brink of a German invasion, a claim he strongly endorsed despite the denials of Gafencu.[48] Lloyd argued to Halifax based upon his sources in Romania that the Germany had indeed threatened an invasion, which the Romanians were denying out of the fear of enraging Hitler.[41] In late March 1939, Lloyd received information from Colvin that Germany was planning on invading Poland that spring and on 23 March 1939 told Colvin that he would arrange for him to meet Chamberlain and Lord Halifax.[41] Through Colvin did meet Chamberlain and Lord Halifax on 29 March 1939, it is not clear much credence Lloyd placed on his reports as on 31 March-the same day that Chamberlain announced the "guarantee" of Poland in the House of Commons-Lloyd told Halifax that he still regarded Romania rather than Poland as Hitler's probable next target.[41]

Lloyd argued that Britain and France should co-ordinate their policies in the Balkans as the best way of deterring Germany and played a major role in ensuring the Anglo-French "guarantees" of Romania and Greece issued on 13 April 1939.[49] After the Italians annexed Albania on 4 April 1939, there was a general consensus within the Chamberlain cabinet that Britain should "guarantee" Greece, but it was felt that the Romanians should commit to strengthening their alliance with Poland before Britain offered a "guarantee" of Romania.[41] As the Danzig crisis was just beginning, Carol was reluctant to strengthen the Romanian alliance with Poland.[41] When Tilea told Lloyd that Britain was hesitant to "guarantee" Romania while the French were not, Lloyd went to the French embassy.[49] Lloyd was regarded as such an important personality that he was able to barge in as the French ambassador Charles Corbin was on the telephone with the Premier Edouard Daladier.[49] Lloyd who was fluent in French was able to talk to Daladier and told him if France held firm in ensuring the "guarantees" to Romania and Greece, then Britain would have to follow suit.[49] As the British government did not wish to be seen operating out of sync with the French, the news that Daladier was going ahead with the "guarantee" forced London's hand.[49] Atherton wrote about Lloyd's actions in April 1939: "The beneficiary was Romania, who received a guarantee unconditional on a closer defensive alliance with Poland, and which helped her to balance between the western powers, Germany, and Russia. In this instance, Lloyd had been working on behalf of Romania rather than Great Britain."[49] However, Lloyd's attempts to lobby Halifax to issue a "guarantee" for Yugoslavia fell flat.[49]

Reflecting his special case in the Balkans, when Britain declared war on Germany on 3 September 1939, Lloyd had the pamphlet The British Case explaining why Britain had declared war, translated into Greek, Bulgarian, Romanian, Serbo-Croatian, and Slovene and ensured that it was widely distributed all over the Balkans.[50] A recurring theme of Lloyd's letters to Halifax during the Phoney War was that the Treasury was not providing enough money for the British Council's work in the Balkans.[50] In September 1939, Tilea began to promote the idea of an "Balkan bloc" consisting of all the Balkan state that would be committed to upholding neutrality in the Second World War with the understanding that the Allies would come to their aid should their neutrality be violated.[51] Lloyd who was in close contact with Churchill who was appointed First Lord of the Admiralty on 3 September 1939, called together with Churchill for a "Balkan league" which would form a line to block any German expansion into the Balkans.[51] On 27 September 1939, Tilea asked Sir Alexander Cadogan, the Foreign Office's Permanent Undersecretary "whether it would not be a good plan to send someone out to Bucharest, and he quoted as an example Lord Lloyd, who had the ear of the King and might be able to give good advice on the subject of Balkan reconciliation and consolidation".[52] It is possible that Lloyd and Tilea had been working together for the same day that Tilea had asked for Lloyd to go to the Balkans, Lloyd had told Lord Halifax of his desire to go the Balkans saying "the urgency of which at the present moment obviously cannot be exaggerated."[53]

Balkan tour[edit]

By October 1939, it was agreed that Lloyd would visit not just Romania, but all the Balkan states to work for a "Balkan pact".[54] Sir Reginald Hoare, the British minister in Bucharest, was opposed to the plan to send Lloyd to the Balkans, but George William Rendel, the minister in Sofia, and Sir Michael Palairet, the minister in Athens, were supportive.[55] In the interval, Lloyd had visited Spain to ask the Spanish dictator General Francisco Franco if he was willing to "guarantee" the proposed "Balkan pact", an aspect of his visit to Madrid that he neglected to tell the Foreign Office about.[54] The Foreign Office first learned of this plan from the Yugoslav Regent, Prince Paul, in November 1939.[54] On 3 November 1939, Lord Halifax called a meeting to discuss the merits and demerits of the Balkan League plan, which Lloyd was allowed to attend by special permission of Halifax over the objections of Cadogan who argued that an outsider like Lord Lloyd should be attending a Foreign Office meeting.[56]

On 14 November 1939, Lloyd's Balkan tour began with a visit to Bucharest.[57] Gafencu suggested a "machinery for common action", but negotiations broken down when King Carol learned that the British "guarantee" of Romania applied only against Germany, not the Soviet Union as he wanted.[57] As Carol had not seen Hoare for some time, the extended talks that Lord Lloyd had with the king was felt to provide "useful information and impressions".[58] In Belgrade and Sofia, Lloyd's visit was hampered by inability of Britain to supply weapons on the scale both the Prince Paul of Yugoslavia and King Boris III of Bulgaria wanted.[57] Moreover, the unwillingness of Boris to renounce Bulgarian territorial claims against Yugoslavia, Greece and Romania rendered the idea of a neutralist Balkan league impractical.[59] After finishing his Balkan tour, Lloyd went to Syria to see Maxime Weygand whose Armée de la Syrie was intended by the French General Staff before the war to go to Thessaloniki.[59]

Upon his return to Britain in December 1939, Lloyd backed French plans for a revival of the Salonika front strategy of World War I, urging at meetings of the Supreme War Council for British and French troops to land at Thessaloniki.[59] In this, he was against the British government, which opposed the French plans for a "second front" in the Balkans under the grounds that it was unclear if Italy intended to remain neutral or not.[59] Lloyd enlisted the aid of Foreign Office officials such as Robert Bruce Lockhart who summarised his thesis: "Lloyd says that the only argument in the Balkans is strength. If we do nothing we shall lose everything. If we are vigorous we have the support of the Balkans. Therefore, without too much consideration of Italy we must go ahead with the formation of the Near Eastern force."[60] In response to objections from Sir Percy Loraine, the British ambassador in Rome, that he was not certain how long Italy would remain neutral, Lloyd argued that Britain should just ignore the possibility of Italy entering the war and start troops to Thessaloniki at once.[61] At the same time, Lloyd advised Halifax that Britain should start shipping weapons to Yugoslavia at once to indicate that Britain was serious about defending the Balkans.[61] In January 1940, Lloyd wrote to Loraine that Benito Mussolini only respected force and of his belief that if the Allies landed in the Balkans that this was likely to persuade Mussolini to continue Italian neutrality.[61]


In January 1940, the attention of the Supreme War Council shifted towards Scandinavia, and the Balkan plan was abandoned.[50] Lloyd's major interest in February–March 1940 was in building a "British Institute" in Bucharest to promote British culture, who was supported by Lord Halifax against objections from the Treasury that this was a waste of money in wartime.[62] In an assessment of Lloyd's work in the Balkans, Atherton wrote: "His position was an ambivalent one: neither a diplomat nor a politician, but a peer with a semi-official position and influential political contacts. It was also increasingly irregular, but despite his opposition to the Munich agreement and, after September 1938, to further appeasement of Germany, Chamberlain never sought his removal".[63]

In cabinet[edit]

When Churchill became prime minister in May 1940, he appointed Lloyd as Secretary of State for the Colonies and in December of that year he conferred on him the additional job of Leader of the House of Lords.

London Central Mosque[edit]

Lord Lloyd was a leading proponent of the future London Central Mosque. As early as 1939 he worked with a Mosque Committee, comprising various prominent Muslims and ambassadors in London. After joining Churchill's cabinet, he sent a memo to the Prime Minister, pointing out that London contained "more [Muslims] than any other European capital" but that in the British Empire "which actually contains more Moslems (sic) than Christians it was anomalous and inappropriate that there should be no central place of worship for Mussulmans [sic]". He believed the gift of a site for the mosque would serve as "a tribute to the loyalty of the Moslems of the [British] Empire and would have a good effect on Arab countries of the Middle East".[64]

Other interests[edit]

In commerce, Lloyd was also director of the British South Africa Company and Wagon Lit Holdings.[23] In peacetime he habitually travelled in tropical countries every two months.[23]

In his fifties he trained for and obtained a civil pilot's certificate in 1934,[65] and in 1937 was appointed Honorary Air Commodore of No 600 (City of London) (Fighter) Squadron of the Auxiliary Air Force,[66] with which he insisted on training himself to qualify as a military pilot.[23]


In 1911, Lloyd married Blanche Isabella Lascelles, DGStJ, daughter of the Hon. Frederick Canning Lascelles, a Royal Navy Commander, and granddaughter of Henry Lascelles, 4th Earl of Harewood. Blanche was a lady in waiting to Alexandra of Denmark from 1905 to 1911, and to Mary, Princess Royal and Countess of Harewood (wife of Blanche's first cousin, Henry Lascelles, 6th Earl of Harewood) from 1941 to 1945.[67]

Lloyd died of myeloid leukaemia at a clinic in Marylebone, London, in February 1941, aged 61 and was buried at St Ippolyts, Hertfordshire.[68] He was succeeded in the barony by his son, Alexander. Lady Lloyd died in December 1969, aged 89.[69]

Some in the foreign office had thought Lloyd was a homosexual, and persisted in this view despite his marriage and the birth of his son.[70] He appears as the character 'Henry Fortescue' in Compton Mackenzie's novel Thin Ice.[citation needed]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ George Ambrose Lloyd 1st Baron Lloyd DSO GCSI GCIE PC – I20543 – Individual Information
  2. ^ Burke's Genealogical and Heraldic History of the Landed Gentry, 15th Edition, ed. Pirie-Gordon, H., London, 1937, pp.1392–1393
  3. ^ James Lees-Milne, Ancestral Voices, London:Chatto & Windus, 1975, p. 6, n. 1
  4. ^ a b c "Lloyd, George Ambrose (LLT898GA)". A Cambridge Alumni Database. University of Cambridge.
  5. ^ Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Volume 34. Oxford University Press. 2004. p. 124. ISBN 0-19-861378-4.Article by Jason Tombs.
  6. ^ Gamble, Cynthia, (2015) Wenlock Abbey 1857–1919: A Shropshire Country House and the Milnes Gaskell Family, Ellingham Press.
  7. ^ John Charmley: Lord Lloyd and the Decline of the British Empire St Martin's Press, New York 1987 ISBN 0-312-01306-X
  8. ^ John Charmley Lord Lloyd New York 1987 Chapter 2 The Lure of the East
  9. ^ a b c Atherton, 1994 page 26.
  10. ^ Based on the five-year term laid down by 1911 Parliament Act, calculated from the previous general election in December 1910.
  11. ^ "The Representation of Shrewsbury – Mr Butler Lloyd to Retire at the Next Election – Parliamentary Unionist Candidate Adopted". Shrewsbury Chronicle. 27 February 1914. p. 2.
  12. ^ Charmley, John Lord Lloyd and the Decline of the British Empire St Martin's Press, New York p. 68
  13. ^ a b c d e Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Volume 34. Oxford University Press. 2004. p. 125.
  14. ^ "War Jottings". Shrewsbury Chronicle. 14 August 1914. p. 3.
  15. ^ Kelly's Handbook to the Titled, Landed and Official Classes, 1925. Kelly's. p. 1053.
  16. ^ "London Gazette". 8 March 1920.
  17. ^ Charmley, John Lord Lloyd and the Decline of the British Empire St Martin's Press, New York p. 170
  18. ^ Charmley, John Lord Lloyd and the Decline of the British Empire St Martin's Press, New York p. 95
  19. ^ "No. 32893". The London Gazette (Supplement). 1 January 1924. p. 1.
  20. ^ "No. 32909". The London Gazette. 19 February 1924. p. 1454.
  21. ^ Michael Bloch, biography of James Lees-Milne, page 57, 2009
  22. ^ Lord Lloyd and the decline of the British Empire J Charmley, pp. 1, 2, 213ff.
  23. ^ a b c d Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Volume 34. p. 126.
  24. ^ Atherton, 1994 pages 26–27.
  25. ^ a b c Watt, D.C. How War Came, New York: Pantheon, 1989 p.182.
  26. ^ a b Watt, D.C. How War Came, New York: Pantheon, 1989 p.90.
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  • John Charmley, Lord Lloyd and the Decline of the British Empire, Weidenfeld, 1987.
  • Atherton, Louise (February 1994), "Lord Lloyd at the British Council and the Balkan Front, 1937–1940", The International History Review, 16 (1): 25–48
  • Goldstein, Erik "Neville Chamberlain, the British Official Mind and the Munich Crisis" pages 276–292 from The Munich Crisis, Prelude to World War II edited by Igor Lukes and Erik Goldstein, London: Frank Cass, 1999.

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