Walter Beaupré Townley

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Townley, dressed in diplomatic uniform for the coronation of George V, 1911

Sir Walter Beaupré Townley KCMG (8 January 1863 – 5 April 1945) was a British diplomat, who most notably served as the British Ambassador to the Netherlands during the final years of the First World War.


Townley (of the Townley of Dutton family) was educated at Eton College. He entered the Foreign Office in 1885 and served at Paris, Teheran, Bucharest, Lisbon, Berlin, Rome, Peking, Constantinople and Washington, D.C. He was Minister to Argentina and concurrently to Paraguay 1906–10,[1] Minister to Romania 1911–12,[2] Minister to Persia 1912–15[3] and Minister to the Netherlands 1917–1919.[4] During his time in the Netherlands he had to engage in long negotiations on the fate of the exiled German Emperor, who arrived in November 1918. In Townley's obituary The Times said:

The friendly relations between Holland and England during the last two years of the 1914–18 war were due to him. He and Lady Susan Townley had also made the Legation an attractive centre for the large British colony, official and other, that congregated in Holland during the last war.[5]

Townley resigned in January 1919 but was asked to stay on until August of that year.[6] After retiring he was chairman of the Anglo-Batavian Society.[7]

Townley was knighted KCMG in the 1911 Coronation Honours.[8]

Lady Susan Townley[edit]

In 1896 Walter Townley married Lady Susan Keppel, daughter of William Keppel, 7th Earl of Albemarle. She published My Chinese note book (Methuen, London, 1904) and a volume of reminiscences,‘Indiscretions’ of Lady Susan (Thornton Butterworth, London, 1922). After her death in 1953, The Times said:

The fourth daughter of the seventh Earl of Albemarle, she came of a family with a record of public service since the days of William of Orange. Widely travelled even before her marriage in 1896, she was an ideal partner for her husband in his career in Lisbon, Berlin, Rome, Peking, Constantinople, South America, Persia, Belgium, and finally Holland, the home of her ancestors. She had that best of all conversational gifts, that of stimulating conversation in others, and she had a long and accurate memory, as her delightful volume of reminiscences proves. These, though published over 30 years ago, are still very well worth reading for the picture they give of the life of a bygone era, not only in this country but in, for instance, China, which in the days recalled by Lady Susan was still dominated by the Dowager Empress.[9]

Note: Lady Susan had higher precedence as the daughter of an earl than as the wife of a knight. Therefore, after her husband was knighted, she was still known as Lady Susan Townley rather than as Lady Townley.


  1. ^ The London Gazette: no. 27969. p. 7816. 20 November 1906.
  2. ^ The London Gazette: no. 28498. p. 3996. 26 May 1911.
  3. ^ The London Gazette: no. 28596. p. 2496. 5 April 1912.
  4. ^ The London Gazette: no. 29939. p. 1466. 13 February 1917.
  5. ^ The Times, 7 April 1945
  6. ^ Sir Walter Townley, Hansard, 24 February 1919
  7. ^ Flight, 21 May 1925, page 311
  8. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 28505. p. 4594. 19 June 1911.
  9. ^ Lady Susan Townley, The Times, London, 30 June 1953, page 8

External links[edit]

Diplomatic posts
Preceded by
William Haggard
Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary to the Argentine Republic
Succeeded by
Sir Reginald Tower
Minister Plenipotentiary to the Republic of Paraguay
Preceded by
Conyngham Greene
Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary at the Court of His Majesty the King of Romania
Succeeded by
Sir George Barclay
Preceded by
Sir George Barclay
Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary to His Imperial Majesty the Shah of Persia
Succeeded by
Sir Charles Marling
Preceded by
Sir Alan Johnstone
Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary to Her Majesty the Queen of the Netherlands
Succeeded by
Sir Ronald Graham

Lady Susan Townley: