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Clayton, at meeting with church leaders in Jerusalem, 1922

Brigadier-General Sir Gilbert Falkingham Clayton KCMG KBE CB (6 April 1875 – 11 September 1929) was a British Army intelligence officer and colonial administrator, who worked in several countries in the Middle East in the early 20th century. In Egypt, during World War I as an intelligence officer, he supervised those who worked to start the Arab Revolt. In Palestine, Arabia and Mesopotamia, in the 1920s as a colonial administrator, he helped negotiate the borders of the countries that later became Israel, Jordan, Syria, Saudi Arabia and Iraq.


Early lifeEdit

Clayton become an officer in the Royal Artillery in 1895. He was part of the forces sent to the Sudan during the closing stages of the Mahdist War, seeing action in the Battle of Atbara (1898). He then served in Egypt, but in 1910 he retired and left the army to work as private secretary to the Governor-General of Sudan, Sir Francis Reginald Wingate. In 1912, he married Enid Caroline Thorowgood in London, with the ceremony being conducted by the Bishop of Khartoum.[1][2]

World War IEdit

During World War I, Clayton worked in army intelligence in Cairo, Egypt, serving in the newly formed Arab Bureau. In 1914, he sent a secret memorandum to Lord Kitchener, suggesting that Britain work with the Arabs to overthrow their Ottoman rulers. He became Director of Intelligence, and was promoted Brigadier-General. In this role, he worked with many of the people that helped to trigger the Arab Revolt against the Ottoman Turks.[1][2]

In Seven Pillars of Wisdom (1935), T. E. Lawrence described Clayton's role as chief of British intelligence in Egypt between 1914 and 1917:

Colonial administrationEdit

Following the war, Clayton worked as an advisor for the Egyptian government, and then in the colonial administration of the British Mandate of Palestine. He was Civil Secretary of Palestine from 1922 to 1925, at which point he was briefly acting High Commissioner. He was then involved in negotiations with Arab rulers for the Treaty of Jeddah (1927); he was an envoy to the Sultan Ibn Saud of Nejd,[2] tasked to undertake a mission to Yemen to negotiate with its ruler Imam Yahya Muhammad Hamid ed-Din.[3] From 1928, he was High Commissioner for the British Mandate of Mesopotamia (Iraq). Clayton was involved in negotiations for a new Anglo-Iraqi Treaty. His unexpected death, from a heart attack, delayed matters, but the new treaty was eventually signed in 1930.[1][2]


  • 1914-1916 - Director of Military Intelligence, British Army Headquarters, Cairo
  • 1916-1917 - Brigadier General, General Staff, Military Operations, Hejaz
  • 1917-1919 - Chief Political Officer, Egyptian Expeditionary Force. Military Governor, Palestine (O.E.T.A. South)
  • 1919-1922 - Adviser to the Egyptian Ministry of the Interior
  • 1922-1925 - Civil Secretary to the Palestine Government
  • 1925-1925 - Acting British High Commissioner for Palestine (British Mandate of Palestine)
  • 1925-1928 - Envoy to the Sultan Ibn Saud of Nejd
  • 1926 - Special Envoy to Yahya ibn Muhammad Hamid ad-Din, Imam of the Yemen
  • 1927 - Special Envoy to Rome
  • 1929 - British High Commissioner to the Kingdom of Iraq (British Mandate of Mesopotamia)



  • Clayton, Gilbert (1929). "Arabia and the Arabs". Journal of the Royal Institute of International Affairs. 8 (1): 8–20. doi:10.2307/3014987. JSTOR 3014987.
  • Collins, Robert O (1969). An Arabian Diary. Berkeley University of California Press.


  1. ^ a b c Gilbert Clayton, Jenab Tutunji, Encyclopedia of the Modern Middle East and North Africa, August 2004
  2. ^ a b c d Sir Gilbert Falkingham Clayton CMG CB KBE KCMG (1875 - 1929),, accessed 25 January 2010
  3. ^ The Clayton mission to Sana'a of 1926, the British-Yemeni Society, accessed 25 January 2010
  4. ^ "Clayton, Gilbert Falkington". Durham University. Retrieved 26 May 2019.

External linksEdit