Lewis Harcourt, 1st Viscount Harcourt
|The Right Honourable
The Viscount Harcourt
Lewis Harcourt MP
|First Commissioner of Works|
10 December 1905 – 3 November 1910
|Prime Minister||Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman
H. H. Asquith
|Preceded by||The Lord Windsor|
|Succeeded by||The Earl Beauchamp|
25 May 1915 – 10 December 1916
|Prime Minister||H. H. Asquith|
|Preceded by||The Lord Emmott|
|Succeeded by||Sir Alfred Mond, Bt|
|Secretary of State for the Colonies|
3 November 1910 – 25 May 1915
|Prime Minister||H. H. Asquith|
|Preceded by||The Earl of Crewe|
|Succeeded by||Bonar Law|
|Born||31 January 1863
Nuneham Courtenay, Oxfordshire
|Died||24 February 1922 (aged 59)
Brook Street, London
|Spouse(s)||Mary Ethel Burns (m. 1899-1922; his death); 4 children|
Lewis Vernon Harcourt, 1st Viscount Harcourt, PC (born Reginald Vernon Harcourt; 31 January 1863 – 24 February 1922) was a British Liberal Party politician who held the Cabinet post of Secretary of State for the Colonies from 1910 to 1915. Lord Harcourt's nickname was "Loulou".
Harcourt was born at Nuneham Courtenay, Oxfordshire, the only surviving son of politician Sir William Vernon Harcourt and his first wife Theresa Lister. He was originally christened with the name Reginald, in honour of his father's university friend Reginald Cholmondeley, but when George Cornewall Lewis died just over two months after, he was rechristened with the name Lewis. He never knew his mother who died only a day after giving birth to him. His elder brother, Julian Harcourt, had died the previous year. He was educated at Eton.
Harcourt was private secretary to his father, Sir William, as Home Secretary from 1880 to 1885. He was Liberal Member of Parliament for Rossendale, Lancashire, from 1904 to 1916 and served as First Commissioner of Works in Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman's 1905 ministry (appointed to Cabinet in 1907) and to H. H. Asquith's Cabinet between 1908 and 1910 and again between 1915 and 1916. In this role he authorised the placement in Kensington Gardens of the Peter Pan statue, sculpted by George Frampton, erected on 1 May 1912.
Between 1910 and 1915 he was Secretary of State for the Colonies under Asquith. Harcourt received an Honorary DCL from Oxford University, and was raised to the peerage as Viscount Harcourt, of Stanton Harcourt in the County of Oxford, in 1917.
During the debate over Chancellor David Lloyd George's proposed "People's Budget" Harcourt was amongst its foremost critics, with Roy Jenkins noting that he was “the most inveterate in obstructing his proposals, while posing all the time as an ardent Radical.”
Other public appointments
Port Harcourt, capital of Rivers State in southern Nigeria, is named after him. When the port was established in 1912, there was much controversy about the name it should receive. In August 1913, the Governor-General of Nigeria, Sir Frederick Lugard wrote to Harcourt, then Secretary of State for the Colonies, "in the absence of any convenient local name, I would respectfully ask your permission to call this Port Harcourt", to which the Secretary of State replied, "It gives me pleasure to accede to your suggestion that my name should be associated with the new Port."
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Archibald Primrose, 5th Earl of Rosebery served as Liberal Prime Minister from 1894–1895 (after William Ewart Gladstone's fourth term and before Lord Salisbury's third). His main rival was Harcourt's father William. Loulou's attempts to have his father appointed were so fervent that many Liberal politicians criticised him. He helped to wreck Rosebery's administration, wrongly believing that his father would then succeed to the premiership. However, the Liberal Party was instead thrown into opposition for 10 years, and Harcourt was despised by Lord Rosebery for the remainder of his life.
Harcourt's diaries contain a report that one of Queen Victoria's chaplains, Revd Norman Macleod, made a deathbed confession repenting of his action in presiding over Queen Victoria's marriage to her servant, John Brown. Little credence is given to this report, in view of the many years which would have passed from the time of the "marriage" until Harcourt recorded it.
Harcourt was known as a sexual predator attracted to both sexes. He attempted to rape Dorothy Brett, the daughter of Lord Esher, and followed this by an attempt to seduce his son. Dorothy Brett wrote of him that "it is so tiresome that Loulou is such an old roué. He is as bad with boys as with girls ... he is simply a sex maniac. It isn't that he is in love. It is just ungovernable Sex desire for both sexes". His criminal perversion was known and tolerated in certain private quarters. After, however, he attempted to rape a 12-year-old boy (Edward James, who grew up to become a great collector of surrealist and other contemporary art), the boy's mother began making the matter public. Faced with public exposure, Harcourt committed suicide by taking an overdose of a sedative at his London home in Brook Street on 24 February 1922, aged 59.
Marriage and children
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On 1 July 1899, Harcourt married Mary Ethel, daughter of Anglo-American banker Walter Hayes Burns and his wife Mary Lyman (née Morgan), a sister of J.P. Morgan. Through her, the family acquired the famous 'Harcourt emeralds'.
His wife Mary, Viscountess Harcourt, was appointed a Lady of Grace of the Order of St John and then Dame Grand Cross of the Order of the British Empire (GBE) in 1918; she died 7 January 1961.
Lord and Lady Harcourt had four children:
- Doris Mary Thérèse Harcourt (30 March 1900 – 1981); married Alexander Baring, 6th Baron Ashburton: their elder son John succeeded as 7th Baron Ashburton
- Olivia Vernon Harcourt (5 April 1902 – 2 August 1984); married The Hon. John Mulholland (d. 1948); 1 son, 2 daughters; named CVO in 1958
- William Edward Harcourt, 2nd Viscount Harcourt (1908–1979)
- Barbara Vernon Harcourt (1905–1961); married Robert Jenkinson (1900–1970; later divorced); 3 children; named OBE on 19 May 1961.
- Blake, Robert; Nicholls, Christine Stephanie (1986). The Dictionary of National Biography, (ninth Supplement) 1971–1980. Oxford University Press. ISBN 9780198652083.
- Viscount Lewis Harcourt Harcourt (2006). Loulou: selected extracts from the journals of Lewis Harcourt (1880–1895). Fairleigh Dickinson University Press. ISBN 9780838641033.
- Roy Jenkins, "The Chancellors", Macmillan, 1998, p. 45.
- See Viscount Harcourt for a separate holder of this title
- Mr Balfour's Poodle; Lord Jenkins of Hillhead
- Okafor, S.O. (January 1973). "The Port Harcourt Issue: A Note on Dr Tamuno's Article" (PDF). African affairs. Royal African Society. Oxford University Press. 72 (286): 74.
- Lamont-Brown, Raymond (December 2003). "Queen Victoria's 'secret marriage'". Contemporary Review.
- See John Brown (servant) for a fuller discussion re Queen Victoria)
- "Oxford Dictionary of National Biography". Oxforddnb.com. Retrieved 30 August 2013.
- Matthew Parris, Kevin Maguire, Great parliamentary scandals: five centuries of calumny, smear and innuendo, Robson, 2004; ISBN 1-86105-736-9, pg. 88
- "Magnificent antique emerald and diamond tiara". Christies.
- "The Hon Mrs J. Mulholland" (obituary), The Times, 4 August 1984, p. 8.
|Wikisource has original works written by or about:
Lewis Vernon Harcourt, 1st Viscount Harcourt
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to House of Harcourt.|
- Hansard 1803–2005: contributions in Parliament by Lewis Vernon Harcourt
- Portraits of Lewis Vernon Harcourt at the National Portrait Gallery, London
|Parliament of the United Kingdom|
Sir William Mather
|Member of Parliament for Rossendale
1904 – 1917
Sir John Henry Maden
The Lord Windsor
|First Commissioner of Works
The Earl Beauchamp
The Earl of Crewe
|Secretary of State for the Colonies
The Lord Emmott
|First Commissioner of Works
Sir Alfred Mond, Bt
|Peerage of the United Kingdom|
|New creation||Viscount Harcourt
William Edward Harcourt