Walter Monckton, 1st Viscount Monckton of Brenchley

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The Right Honourable
The Viscount Monckton of Brenchley
Walter Monckton in 1957.jpg
Minister of Defence
In office
20 December 1955 – 18 October 1956
Prime Minister Anthony Eden
Preceded by Selwyn Lloyd
Succeeded by Anthony Head
Personal details
Born Walter Turner Monckton

Walter Turner Monckton, 1st Viscount Monckton of Brenchley, GCVO, KCMG, MC, PC (17 January 1891 – 9 January 1965) was a British politician.

Early years[edit]

Monckton was born in the small village of Plaxtol in northern Kent. He was the eldest child of paper manufacturer Frank William Monckton (1861–1924), and his wife, Dora Constance (d. 1915).[1] He was head boy of his preparatory school, The Knoll, at Woburn Sands in Buckinghamshire, and attended Harrow School from 1904 to 1910.[1] He chose to enter Balliol College, Oxford as a commoner (despite winning in 1910 an Exhibition to Hertford College, Oxford) and obtained a third in classical moderations (1912) and a second in history (1914). He was elected president of the Oxford Union in 1913.[1] He played cricket for Harrow against Eton in the famous Fowler's match in 1910. Whilst at Oxford, he played a first-class cricket match for the Combined Universities in 1911.


A lawyer, Monckton served as advisor to Edward VIII during the abdication crisis, having been Attorney General to the Duchy of Cornwall since 1932. He was Recorder of Hythe from 1930-37.

He worked in propaganda and information during World War II and became Solicitor General in Winston Churchill's 1945 caretaker government, although he refused to join the Conservative Party. He finally joined after the war and became a Member of Parliament for Bristol West at a 1951 by-election. Churchill soon appointed him to the cabinet as Minister of Labour and National Service, in which post he served from 1951 to 1955. He was Anthony Eden's Minister of Defence 1955–56, but was the only cabinet minister to oppose his Suez policy, and was moved to Paymaster-General 1956–57.

Monckton was made Viscount Monckton of Brenchley in 1957. He had wanted to become Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales and indeed had been promised the job by Churchill and the subsequent two prime ministers, but in 1957 he decided instead to join the board of Midland Bank.[2]

In 1960 he headed the Monckton Commission that concluded that the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland could not be maintained except by force or through massive changes in racial legislation. It advocated a majority of African members in the Nyasaland and Northern Rhodesian legislatures and giving these territories the option to leave the Federation after five years.[3][4]

Personal life[edit]

He married Polly Colyer-Fergusson, daughter of Sir Thomas Colyer-Fergusson,the family who owned Ightham Mote, Sevenoaks. In 1947, he married, secondly, to Bridget, the former Countess of Carlisle (CBE), the wartime head of the ATS counterpart in India, the Women's Army Corps (India), and also of the Women's Royal Indian Naval Service (WRINS). The Viscountess was already a peer in her right, as the 11th Lady Ruthven of Freeland. Her title passed to her son by her previous marriage, the Earl of Carlisle, and not to her stepson, Viscount Monckton.

Lord Monckton of Brenchley was chairman of Midland Bank (1957–64), President of the Marylebone Cricket Club (1956–1957), President of Surrey County Cricket Club (1950–52 and 1959–65), Chairman of the Iraq Petroleum Company (1958), Chairman of the Advisory Commission on Central Africa (1960), and Chancellor of the University of Sussex (1961–65).

He was succeeded by his son Gilbert on his death in 1965 at the age of 73.


  1. ^ a b c ODNB.
  2. ^ Devlin, Patrick, Easing the Passing, 1985. P 93
  3. ^ R Blake, (1977). A History of Rhodesia, Knopf P.331. ISBN 0-394-48068-6.
  4. ^ P Murray, (2005). British Documents on the End of Empire: Central Africa, Part I, Volume 9, pp.lxxiv-v, lxxx. ISBN 978-0-11290-586-8


External links[edit]

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Oliver Stanley
Member of Parliament for Bristol West
Succeeded by
Robert Cooke
Legal offices
Preceded by
David Maxwell Fyfe
Solicitor General for England and Wales
May 1945–July 1945
Succeeded by
Frank Soskice
Political offices
Preceded by
Alfred Robens
Minister of Labour and National Service
Succeeded by
Iain Macleod
Preceded by
Selwyn Lloyd
Minister of Defence
Succeeded by
Antony Head
Title last held by
The Earl of Selkirk
Succeeded by
Reginald Maudling
Peerage of the United Kingdom
New creation Viscount Monckton of Brenchley
Succeeded by
Gilbert Monckton