Paul Methuen, 3rd Baron Methuen

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The Lord Methuen
Paul Methuen, The 3rd Baron Methuen.png
Born(1845-09-01)1 September 1845
Corsham Court, Wiltshire
Died30 October 1932(1932-10-30) (aged 87)
Corsham Court, Wiltshire
AllegianceUnited Kingdom
Service/branchBritish Army
Years of service1864–1912
RankField Marshal
UnitThird Anglo-Ashanti War
Second Boer War
Commands heldMalta
South Africa
1st Division
Eastern Command
Home District
AwardsKnight Grand Cross of the Order of the Bath
Knight Grand Cross of the Order of St Michael and St George
Knight Grand Cross of the Royal Victorian Order
Mentioned in Despatches

Field Marshal Paul Sanford Methuen, 3rd Baron Methuen, GCB, GCMG, GCVO, DL (1 September 1845 – 30 October 1932) was a British Army officer. He served in the Third Anglo-Ashanti War in 1873 and then in the expedition of Sir Charles Warren to Bechuanaland in the mid 1880s. He took a prominent role as General Officer Commanding the 1st Division in the Second Boer War. He suffered a serious defeat at the Battle of Magersfontein, during which he failed to carry out adequate reconnaissance and accordingly his artillery bombarded the wrong place leading to the Highland Brigade taking heavy casualties. He was later captured by the Boers at Tweebosch. After the war he became General Officer Commanding-in-Chief in South Africa in 1908, Governor and Commander-in-Chief of Natal in 1910 and then Governor and Commander-in-Chief of Malta in 1915.

Early life[edit]

Paul Sanford Methuen was born at Corsham Court, Wiltshire, the eldest of three sons of Frederick Methuen, 2nd Baron Methuen and his wife Anna Horatia Caroline Methuen (née Sanford).[1]

Early military career[edit]

Paul Methuen, 3rd Baron Methuen

Educated at Eton College, Methuen served two years as a cornet in the Royal Wiltshire Yeomanry and then joined the Scots Fusilier Guards as an ensign in the regiment and lieutenant in the army on 22 November 1864.[2] He was promoted to lieutenant in the regiment and captain in the army on 25 December 1867,[3] and became adjutant of the 1st battalion in 1868.[4] He became brigade major, Home District in 1871 and saw active duty on the staff of Sir Garnet Wolseley at Amoaful in 1873 during the Third Anglo-Ashanti War.[4] Promoted to captain in the regiment and lieutenant colonel in the army on 15 July 1876,[5] he became assistant military secretary in Ireland in 1877, military attaché in Berlin in 1878 and quartermaster-general at the Home District in April 1881,[6] before being promoted to colonel on 1 July.[7] He was the commandant of headquarters in Egypt for three months in 1882,[8] being present at the Battle of Tel el-Kebir.[4] On return to the UK he became assistant-adjutant and quartermaster-general for the Home District again.[9] He was promoted to major in the regiment on 25 October 1882.[10]

Methuen served in the expedition of Sir Charles Warren to Bechuanaland in 1884 to 1885, where he commanded Methuen's Horse, a corps of mounted rifles.[4] He became deputy adjutant-general, in South Africa in 1888, and having been promoted to major general on 21 May 1890,[11] he succeeded his father as 3rd baron in 1891.[12] He became Major-General commanding the Brigade of Guards and General Officer Commanding the Home District in April 1892[13] and then served as press censor at headquarters on the Tirah expedition in 1897.[12] Promoted to lieutenant general on 1 April 1898,[14] he was given the command of the 1st Division on the outbreak of the Second Boer War.[15]

Second Boer War[edit]

Field Marshal Lord Methuen by Leslie Ward.
Methuen was a perfect Christian knight – there could not be a nobler gentleman

Koos de la Rey[16]

Methuen reached South Africa in November 1899 with orders to relieve Kimberley but initially just expelled the Boers from Belmont and Graspan.[12] He was slightly wounded at the Battle of Modder River.[17] He suffered both defeats and successes during the war. His greatest defeat was at the Battle of Magersfontein, during which he failed to carry out adequate reconnaissance and accordingly his artillery bombarded the wrong place leading to the Highland Brigade taking heavy casualties.[1] The battle was regarded as one of the three British disasters in "Black Week" that led to the despatch of Lord Roberts to South Africa.[12]

After Magersfontein, Methuen remained in the Kimberley–Boshof area trying to capture Boer General Christiaan de Wet.[1] Methuen was himself captured by the Boers at Tweebosch on 7 March 1902.[18] He had been wounded in the battle when he broke his leg after his horse fell on him. Boer General Koos de la Rey released him due to the severity of his injuries, providing his personal cart to take Methuen to hospital in Klerksdorp. The two allegedly became lifelong friends as a result of this action.[19] Following the end of hostilities in early June 1902, he left Cape Town with other invalids and convalescents on board the SS Assaye, arriving in Southampton the following month, still walking with crutches.[20]

In his final despatch from South Africa in June 1902, Lord Kitchener, Commander-in-Chief of the forces during the latter part of the war, described the effort of his brother officer the following way:

Lieutenant-General Lord Methuen has done more than most Officers towards maintaining throughout this campaign the high standard for personal courage, modesty and humanity which characterize the British Army. I share his own deep regret that his wounds have prevented him from remaining in the field until the conclusion of peace.[21]

For his war service he received the Queen's South Africa Medal with clasps and was promoted to a Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath (KCB) in the 1901 South Africa Honours list (the order was dated to 29 November 1900,[22] and he was only invested as such after his return home, by King Edward VII at Buckingham Palace on 24 October 1902[23]) He was further promoted to a Knight Grand Cross in the Order (GCB) in the October 1902 South Africa Honours list.[24]

Later military career[edit]

Despite visible setbacks on the battlefield during the Boer War, Methuen continued to be well regarded, and was given more responsibilities. Appointed colonel of the Scots Guards on 1 May 1904[25] and promoted to full general on 26 May,[26] he was given the command of the IV Army Corps in June 1904,[27] before it was reconstituted as Eastern Command in June 1905.[28] He was also invited to become a board member of the Royal Patriotic Fund Corporation in August 1905.[29] He became General Officer Commanding-in-Chief in South Africa in April 1908[30] and Governor and Commander-in-Chief of Natal in January 1910[31] before being promoted to field marshal on 19 June 1911.[32]

Methuen helped raise the standards of training of the British Expeditionary Force in 1914[1] and was appointed Governor and Commander-in-Chief of Malta in February 1915, a post he held until he retired in May 1919.[33]

In retirement Methuen was appointed Constable of the Tower late in 1919 and deputy lieutenant of Wiltshire in 1921.[34] He devoted himself to the interests of the Brigade of Guards and died at Corsham Court on 30 October 1932.[1]


The Battle of Magersfontein, at which Methuen suffered a serious defeat, during the Second Boer War

Lord Methuen was married twice, first to Evelyn, the eldest daughter of Sir Frederick Hervey-Bathurst, of Clarendon Park, Wiltshire.[4] They were married in 1878 until her death in 1879.[4] He then married in 1884, his cousin Mary Ethel, the second daughter of William Ayshford Sanford, of Nynehead Court. They had three sons and two daughters.[1] He was succeeded by his eldest son, the painter and zoologist Paul Ayshford Methuen, 4th Baron Methuen. A portrait painting of Methuen by his son from 1920 is in the National Portrait Gallery, London.[35]





Coat of arms of Paul Methuen, 3rd Baron Methuen
Coronet of a British Baron.svg
Methuen Escutcheon.png
Argent three wolves’ heads erased Proper on the breast of an eagle with two heads displayed Sable.
On either side two fiery lynxes reguardant Proper collared having a line passing between their forelegs reflexed over their backs Or.
Virtus Invidiae Scopus [41]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h "Methuen, Paul Sanford". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/35003. (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  2. ^ "No. 22914". The London Gazette. 22 November 1864. p. 5606.
  3. ^ "No. 23336". The London Gazette. 24 December 1867. p. 7008.
  4. ^ a b c d e f Heathcote 1999, p. 205.
  5. ^ "No. 24353". The London Gazette. 11 August 1876. p. 4479.
  6. ^ "No. 24943". The London Gazette. 1 March 1881. p. 920.
  7. ^ "No. 24999". The London Gazette. 26 July 1881. p. 3676.
  8. ^ "No. 25134". The London Gazette. 1 August 1882. p. 3581.
  9. ^ "No. 25168". The London Gazette. 17 November 1882. p. 5108.
  10. ^ "No. 25168". The London Gazette. 17 November 1882. p. 5107.
  11. ^ "No. 26057". The London Gazette. 30 May 1890. p. 3072.
  12. ^ a b c d Heathcote 1999, p. 206.
  13. ^ "No. 26268". The London Gazette. 15 March 1892. p. 1514.
  14. ^ "No. 26958". The London Gazette. 19 April 1898. p. 2439.
  15. ^ "No. 27126". The London Gazette. 13 October 1899. p. 6179.
  16. ^ Spender 1911, p. 85.
  17. ^ Wills 1900, p. 35.
  18. ^ Creswicke 1900, p. 185.
  19. ^ Jeppe, p. 243
  20. ^ "The Army in SA - Arrival Home of Lord Methuen". The Times (36816). London. 10 July 1902. p. 10.
  21. ^ "No. 27459". The London Gazette. 29 July 1902. pp. 4835–4836.
  22. ^ a b "No. 27306". The London Gazette. 19 April 1901. p. 2695.
  23. ^ "Court Circular". The Times (36908). London. 25 October 1902. p. 8.
  24. ^ a b "No. 27490". The London Gazette. 31 October 1902. p. 6897.
  25. ^ "No. 27672". The London Gazette (Supplement). 2 May 1904. p. 2837.
  26. ^ "No. 27680". The London Gazette. 27 May 1904. p. 3413.
  27. ^ "No. 27684". The London Gazette. 10 June 1904. p. 3711.
  28. ^ "No. 27822". The London Gazette. 28 July 1905. p. 5223.
  29. ^ "No. 27830". The London Gazette. 25 August 1905. p. 5838.
  30. ^ "No. 28127". The London Gazette. 10 April 1908. p. 2756.
  31. ^ "No. 28326". The London Gazette. 7 January 1910. p. 143.
  32. ^ "No. 28505". The London Gazette (Supplement). 16 June 1911. p. 4597.
  33. ^ Heathcote 1999, p. 207.
  34. ^ "No. 32515". The London Gazette. 11 November 1921. p. 8942.
  35. ^ "Paul Methuen, 3rd Baron Methuen". National Portrait Gallery, London. National Portrait Gallery, London. Retrieved 1 May 2020.
  36. ^ "No. 25169". The London Gazette. 17 November 1882. p. 5166.
  37. ^ "No. 31597". The London Gazette (Supplement). 10 October 1919. p. 12651.
  38. ^ "No. 26871". The London Gazette. 9 July 1897. p. 3819.
  39. ^ "No. 30263". The London Gazette (Supplement). 31 August 1917. p. 9101.
  40. ^ "No. 30848". The London Gazette (Supplement). 16 August 1918. p. 9649.
  41. ^ Burke's Peerage. 1959.


Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]

Military offices
Preceded by
Philip Smith
GOC Home District
Succeeded by
Sir Henry Trotter
Preceded by
The Duke of Connaught and Strathearn
Colonel of the Scots Guards
Succeeded by
The Duke of York
Preceded by
The Lord Grenfell
GOC IV Army Corps
(GOC-in-C Eastern Command from 1905)

Succeeded by
Sir Arthur Paget
Government offices
Preceded by
Sir Leslie Rundle
Governor of Malta
Succeeded by
Lord Plumer
Honorary titles
Preceded by
Sir Evelyn Wood
Constable of the Tower of London
Succeeded by
Lord Milne
Peerage of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Frederick Henry Paul Methuen
Baron Methuen
Succeeded by
Paul Ayshford Methuen