Owen Morshead

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Sir Owen Morshead
Born (1893-09-28)28 September 1893
Tavistock, Devon
Died 1 June 1977(1977-06-01) (aged 83)
Sturminster Newton, Dorset
Allegiance United Kingdom
Service/branch British Army
Years of service 1915–1919
Rank Major
Unit Royal Engineers
Commands held 9th Battalion, Berkshire Home Guard
Battles/wars First World War
Second World War
Awards Knight Grand Cross of the Royal Victorian Order
Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Bath
Distinguished Service Order
Military Cross
Mentioned in Despatches (5)
Legion of Honour (France)
War Merit Cross (Italy)

Sir Owen Frederick Morshead, GCVO, KCB, DSO, MC (28 September 1893 – 1 June 1977) was a British Army officer and librarian, who served as Royal Librarian from 1926 to 1958.[1]

Early life[edit]

Morshead was born in Tavistock, Devon, the son of Reginald Morshead and Ella Mary Moreshead. He was educated at Marlborough College and then, initially intending to pursue a career in the Royal Engineers, at the Royal Military Academy, Woolwich. In 1913 he relinquished his cadetship and entered Magdalene College, Cambridge.

Career[edit]

Morshead's studies were interrupted by the outbreak of the First World War, in which he saw active service on the Western Front and Italian Front as a commissioned officer in the Royal Engineers. During the war he was awarded the Military Cross, invested as a Companion of the Distinguished Service Order, awarded the Italian War Merit Cross and was Mentioned in Despatches five times.[2][3] He subsequently returned to Cambridge where he read Modern Languages. Upon graduating he became librarian of the Pepys Library.

In 1926 he became Royal Librarian at Windsor Castle and served in the position until 1958.[4] During the Second World War he commanded the 9th Battalion, Berkshire Home Guard and from 1946 to 1958 was a Deputy Lord Lieutenant of Berkshire. Morshead was appointed a Member of the Royal Victorian Order (MVO) in 1933, a Commander (CVO) in 1937,[5] a Knight Commander (KCVO) in 1944, and a Knight Grand Cross (GCVO) upon his retirement in 1958. He was made a Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath (KCB) in 1953.[6] Morshead was sent by George VI to Friedrichshof with Anthony Blunt in March 1945 to secure papers relating to the German Empress Victoria, the eldest child of Queen Victoria. It is now believed that the pair were recovering sensitive papers relating to correspondence between Edward VIII and Adolf Hitler.[7] From 1958 to 1971 he was given the honorary title of Emeritus Librarian by Elizabeth II.[8]

Personal life[edit]

Morshead married Paquita, daughter J.G. Hagemeyer, of Florence, Italy in 1926. They had one son and two daughters. Morshead was the founder and chairman of the Dorset Historic Churches Trust. He was a close personal friend of George V and a member of the Roxburghe Club.

References[edit]

  1. ^ http://www.oxforddnb.com/index/66/101066332
  2. ^ "No. 31094". The London Gazette (Supplement). 1 January 1919. p. 65. 
  3. ^ "No. 30614". The London Gazette (Supplement). 5 April 1918. p. 4198. 
  4. ^ "No. 14246". The Edinburgh Gazette. 6 July 1926. p. 755. 
  5. ^ "No. 34396". The London Gazette (Supplement). 11 May 1937. p. 3084. 
  6. ^ "No. 39863". The London Gazette (Supplement). 1 June 1953. p. 2943. 
  7. ^ Bradford, Sarah (1989). King George VI. London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson. ISBN 0-297-79667-4. p.426.
  8. ^ "No. 41511". The London Gazette. 30 September 1958. p. 5973.