Robert Gascoyne-Cecil, 5th Marquess of Salisbury
|The Most Honourable
The Marquess of Salisbury
KG PC FRS
Robert Gascoyne-Cecil in 1947
|Lord President of the Council|
25 November 1952 – 29 March 1957
|Prime Minister||Winston Churchill
|Preceded by||The Lord Woolton|
|Succeeded by||The Earl of Home|
|Leader of the House of Lords|
21 February 1942 – 26 July 1945
|Prime Minister||Winston Churchill|
|Preceded by||The Lord Moyne|
|Succeeded by||The Viscount Addison|
28 October 1951 – 29 March 1957
|Prime Minister||Winston Churchill
|Preceded by||The Viscount Addison|
|Succeeded by||The Earl of Home|
|Born||27 August 1893|
|Died||23 February 1972 (aged 78)|
|Children||Robert Gascoyne-Cecil, 6th Marquess of Salisbury
Michael Charles James Cecil
Richard Hugh Cecil
Robert Arthur James Gascoyne-Cecil, 5th Marquess of Salisbury, KG PC FRS (27 August 1893 – 23 February 1972), known as Viscount Cranborne from 1903 to 1947, was a British Conservative politician.
Nicknamed "Bobbety", Salisbury was the eldest son of James Gascoyne-Cecil, 4th Marquess of Salisbury, by his wife Lady Cicely, daughter of Arthur Gore, 5th Earl of Arran, and the grandson of Prime Minister Robert Gascoyne-Cecil, 3rd Marquess of Salisbury. He was educated at Eton and Christ Church, Oxford, receiving an honorary Doctorate of Civil Laws 1951.
He served in the Army during the First World War. He was commissioned as a lieutenant into the Grenadier Guards (SR) from 1915 throughout the war until its end. He was awarded the Croix de Guerre and Chevalier Order of the Crown of Belgium. When the war ended, he went to work at Westminster Bank. In 1928, he was appointed a director and to the Royal Commission on Historical Manuscripts; he was promoted to chairman of the commission in 1957.
Salisbury was elected as a Conservative to the House of Commons as MP for South Dorset in 1929. As Parliamentary Secretary to the Lord Privy Seal in 1934 in Ramsay MacDonald's National Government, he was promoted serving as Joint Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs from 1935 to 1938. He was made Paymaster-General by Winston Churchill in May 1940 for the duration of the Battle of Britain but was reshuffled to the old Colonial Office as Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs from 1940 to 1942.
In 1941, he was summoned to the House of Lords through a writ of acceleration in his father's junior title of Baron Cecil. He was Secretary of State for the Colonies in February–November 1942, Lord Privy Seal between 1942 and 1943, Leader of the House of Lords between 1942 and 1945 and again Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs between 1943 and 1945. As a friend of Churchill, in 1943, he was appointed President of the English-Speaking Union to promote the universality of the language throughout the British Empire. His final wartime appointment was as President of University College South-West Exeter for a statutory ten years before it was converted to university status.
In 1947, he succeeded his father in the marquessate, but he had already been already elevated to the House of Lords, as he had succeeded as Baron Cecil in 1941. He became High Steward of Hertfordshire, where he lived, in 1947, shortly before the tradition was abolished.
During the 1950s, when his party returned to office, successively, he served Churchill, Anthony Eden and Harold Macmillan as Lord Privy Seal from 1951 to 1952; Leader of the House of Lords from 1951 to 1957; Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations in 1952 and Lord President of the Council from December 1952 to 1957. During the period of the coronation of Elizabeth II, he was appointed Acting Foreign Secretary, as Eden was then seriously ill after a series of botched operations on his bile duct.
In November 1951, he received an honorary doctorate of law from the University of Liverpool.
Salisbury was known as a hardline imperialist. In 1952, as Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations, he tried to make permanent the exile of Seretse Khama, kgosi (leader) of the Bamangwato people in Bechuanaland, for marrying a white British woman. During the 1960s, Lord Salisbury continued to be a staunch defender of the white-dominated governments in South Africa and in Southern Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) and was granted Freedom of Salisbury on a visit in 1956. He was also a fierce opponent of liberal-left attempts to reform the House of Lords, and yet he created what is known as the Salisbury Convention, under which the House of Lords will not oppose the second or third reading of any government legislation promised in its election manifesto.
In January 1957, Eden resigned as prime minister and did not give advice to Queen Elizabeth II as to who should succeed him. The two candidates were Rab Butler and Harold Macmillan. The Queen took advice from senior ministers, as well as Winston Churchill (who backed Macmillan), Edward Heath (who, as Chief Whip, was aware of backbench opinion), and Salisbury, who interviewed the Cabinet one by one and with his famous speech impediment asked each one whether he was for "Wab or Hawold" (it is thought that only between one and three were for "Wab"). The advice was overwhelmingly to appoint Macmillan as Prime Minister instead of Butler.
The media were taken by surprise by this choice, but Butler himself later confessed in his memoirs that while there was a sizeable anti-Butler faction on the backbenches, there was no such anti-Macmillan faction. Nonetheless, his cultural pursuits were recognized when he was made a Fellow of the Royal Academy that year.
These artistic credentials were enhanced as a Trustee of the National Gallery from 1960 to 1966. The Queen made Salisbury a Knight of the Order of the Garter in 1960. In 1961, he became the first president of the Conservative Monday Club and held the post until his death in 1972.
Apart from his political career, Salisbury was Chancellor of the University of Liverpool from 1951 until 1971. In 1970, students at the university staged an occupation at Senate House to demand his removal over his support for apartheid and other reactionary views.
Lord Salisbury married Elizabeth Vere Cavendish, daughter of Lord Richard Cavendish, on 8 December 1915. They had three sons, two of whom predeceased their parents:
- Robert Gascoyne-Cecil, 6th Marquess of Salisbury
- Michael Charles James Cecil (1918–1934), died as an adolescent, (21 Oct 1918 27 Oct 1934)
- Richard Hugh Cecil (31 Jan 1924 12 Aug 1944) was a Sergeant Pilot, RAF killed in the Second World War.
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|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Robert Gascoyne-Cecil, 5th Marquess of Salisbury.|
- Todd, L. (1973). "Robert Arthur James Gascoyne-Cecil, 5th Marquess of Salisbury 1893-1972". Biographical Memoirs of Fellows of the Royal Society 19: 621. doi:10.1098/rsbm.1973.0022.
- Hansard 1803–2005: contributions in Parliament by the Marquess of Salisbury
- Portraits of Robert Arthur James Gascoyne-Cecil, 5th Marquess of Salisbury at the National Portrait Gallery, London
- Archival material relating to Robert Gascoyne-Cecil, 5th Marquess of Salisbury listed at the UK National Archives
- Other academic honorary awards: Doctor of Law: Toronto University, 1949; Birmingham University, 1950; Cambridge, 1954; Manchester University, 1954; London, 1955. He received as well an honorary Doctorate of Literature, Exeter University, 1956; Hon LLD St Andrews, 1953.
- Burke's Peerage & Baronetage (106th ed.) (Salisbury)
- Burke's, ibid.