James Dodds (diplomat)

Sir James Leishman Dodds KCMG (5 May 1891 – 13 August 1972) was a British career diplomat who served in Madrid, Berne, Stockholm, The Hague, Tehran, Tokyo and as Minister to Bolivia, Minister to Cuba and lastly, as Ambassador to Peru.

Sir James Dodds
British Ambassador to Peru
In office
Preceded byWalter Roberts
Succeeded bySir Oswald Scott
British Minister to Cuba
In office
Preceded bySir George Ogilvie-Forbes
Succeeded byAdrian Holman
British Minister to Bolivia
In office
Preceded byGordon Vereker
Succeeded byT. Ifor Rees
Personal details
James Leishman Dodds

(1891-05-05)5 May 1891
Died13 August 1972(1972-08-13) (aged 81)
Beckley, East Sussex, England
Etelka Surtees Bell
(m. 1927)
Parent(s)Sir James Miller Dodds
Helen Picton Baumgarten
EducationMarlborough College
Alma materOxford University

Early lifeEdit

James Leishman Dodds was born on 5 May 1891. He was a son of Sir James Miller Dodds KCB (1861–1935) and the former Helen Picton Baumgarten.[1] He had two sisters and a younger brother; Frances Jean Macalister Dodds (wife of Peter Hately Waddell), Helen Isobel Mackenzie Dodds, and Edward Anthony Charles Dodds.[2]

His father, who served as Permanent Under-Secretary of State for Scotland from 1909 to 1921, was the second son of Rev. James Dodds, minister of the parish of Corstorphine, Scotland.[3] His maternal grandparents were Capt. Edward Picton Baumgarten of the 10th Royal Hussars and Anna Isabella (née Mackenzie) Baumgarten.[4]

Dodds entered Marlborough College in September 1904,[5] before studying at Oxford University. While at Oxford, Dodds, Michael Nethersole, (later Commissioner for Indian Civil Service) another student were charged with being "drunk and disorderly" and with assault of a cinema attendant who threw them out of the Palace Cinema.[6]


During World War I, Dodds served in the British Army, achieving the rank of Second Lieutenant, then Captain with the Royal Garrison Artillery.[7] He entered the Foreign Office and throughout his career, he served all over the world, beginning as third Secretary and ending his career as an Ambassador.[8]

In August 1937, as the British chargé d'affaires in Tokyo, he was tasked with delivering to Japans's Foreign Minister Kōki Hirota (and former Prime Minister), his government's official protest of a Japanese airman's wounding of Sir Hughe Knatchbull-Hugessen, the Britain's Ambassador to China.[9] Hirota was later executed for war crimes committed during World War II in the Tokyo Trials.[10] On 12 March 1938, he was appointed a Counsellor of Embassy in His Majesty's Diplomatic Service by the King.[11]

From 1940 to 1943, during World War II, he served as the British Minister to Bolivia in La Paz.[12] After his service in Bolivia,[13] he was the Minister to Cuba in Havana from 1944 to 1949.[14] While in Cuba, the family stayed in a two-story house in suburban Jaimanitas that overlooked a golf course and contained the Dodd's collection of Chinese art objects he had bought while stationed there.[15] His last post was as the British Ambassador to Peru from 1949 to 1951.[16]

Personal lifeEdit

On 7 July 1927, Dodds was married to Etelka Bertha (née Surtees) Bell (1891–1974) in Paris.[17] Etelka, a daughter of Brig. Gen. Sir Herbert Conyers Surtees,[18] was the widow of American diplomat Edward J. Bell,[19] who died in Peking while serving as the acting British Minister to China in 1924.[20] Her sister, Dorothy was married to Sir Patrick Ramsay, the second son of John Ramsay, 13th Earl of Dalhousie and a brother-in-law of Princess Patricia of Connaught (through her husband Sir Alexander Ramsay).[21] From his wife Etelka's first marriage, he was a stepfather to Evangeline Bell (1914–1995),[22] who married David K. E. Bruce (a son of U.S. Senator William Cabell Bruce, he served as the U.S. Ambassador to France, the Federal Republic of Germany, and the United Kingdom),[23] and Virginia Bell (1917–2017),[24][25] who married (and later divorced) Sir Henry Ashley Clarke, the British Ambassador to Italy.[26][27] From their marriage, Etelka and James were the parents of one daughter:[28]

  • Josephine Leishman Dodds (b. 1928), who married the King's Messenger, Squadron Leader Hugh Glyn Laurence Arthur Brooking (1914–2000) in 1949. Brooking was a younger son of Hugh Cyril Arthur Brooking.[6]

Sir James died on 13 August 1972 at Church House in Beckley.[28]


  1. ^ "Dodds, Sir James Leishman, (1891–13 Aug. 1972)". www.ukwhoswho.com. Who's Who & Who Was Who. Retrieved 8 April 2020.
  2. ^ Dod's Peerage, Baronetage and Knightage, of Great Britain and Ireland, for ...: Including All the Titled Classes. S. Low, Marston & Company. 1923. Retrieved 8 April 2020.
  3. ^ Walford, Edward (1860). The County Families of the United Kingdom; or, Royal manual of the titled and untitled aristocracy of England, Wales, Scotland, and Ireland. Dalcassian Publishing Company. p. 388. Retrieved 8 April 2020.
  4. ^ Debrett's Peerage, Baronetage, Knightage, and Companionage. Kelly's Directories. 1884. p. 333. Retrieved 8 April 2020.
  5. ^ England), Marlborough College (Marlborough (1905). Marlborough College Register from 1843 to 1904 Inclusive: With Alphabetical Index. H. Hart, printer. p. 617. Retrieved 8 April 2020.
  6. ^ a b "1947 Rolls-Royce Silver Wraith Hooper Touring Limousine. - www.realcar.co.uk". www.realcar.co.uk. Retrieved 7 April 2020.
  7. ^ James Leishman Dodds on Lives of the First World War
  8. ^ Steinberg, S. (2016). The Statesman's Year-Book: Statistical and Historical Annual of the States of the World for the Year 1949. Springer. p. 1253. ISBN 978-0-230-27078-7. Retrieved 8 April 2020.
  9. ^ "Britain Demands Formal Apology – Delivers "Emphatic Protest" Against Wounding of Ambassador Near Shanghai – Insist on Punishment". The Gazette and Daily. 30 August 1937. p. 14. Retrieved 8 April 2020.
  10. ^ "Kōki Hirota". imtfe.law.virginia.edu. University of Virginia Law Library. Retrieved 8 April 2020.
  11. ^ "Foreign Office" (PDF). The London Gazette. 8 April 1938. p. 2323. Retrieved 8 April 2020.
  12. ^ "Dodds, Sir James Leishman". Who Was Who. A & C Black. Retrieved 7 November 2012.
  13. ^ "New Minister at Havana". The Guardian. 13 July 1944. p. 6. Retrieved 8 April 2020.
  14. ^ Drinot, Paulo (2010). Che's Travels: The Making of a Revolutionary in 1950s Latin America. Duke University Press. pp. 92, 93–98. ISBN 978-0-8223-9180-7. Retrieved 8 April 2020.
  15. ^ Bellamy, Jeanne (9 February 1946). "Cuban Interlude Ends As Churchills Return". The Miami Herald. p. 31.
  16. ^ Cook, C.; Jones, P.; Sinclair, J.; Weeks, Jeffrey (2015). Sources in British Political History, 1900-1951: Volume 2: A Guide to the Private Papers of Selected Public Services. Springer. p. 69. ISBN 978-1-349-15566-8. Retrieved 8 April 2020.
  17. ^ "Mrs. Etelka Bell to Wed – U.S. Diplomat's Widow Engaged to J. L. Dodds, British Official". The New York Times. 5 June 1927. Retrieved 7 April 2020.
  18. ^ "Gen. Sir Conyers Surtees – Commanded British Infantry Brigade in World War". The New York Times. 19 April 1933. Retrieved 7 April 2020.
  19. ^ "Edward Bell Engaged – Attache of American Embassy in London to Marry Miss Surtees". The New York Times. 19 January 1914. Retrieved 7 April 2020.
  20. ^ "Sudden Stroke Kills Edward Bell in Peking – Death of the Legation's Charge Shocks Washington – F.L. Mayer Succeeds Him". The New York Times. 29 October 1924. Retrieved 7 April 2020.
  21. ^ "Dalhousie, Earl of (S, 1633)". www.cracroftspeerage.co.uk. Heraldic Media Limited. Retrieved 7 April 2020.
  22. ^ Barron, James (14 December 1995). "Evangeline Bruce, 77, Hostess Known for Washington Soirees". The New York Times. Retrieved 7 April 2020.
  23. ^ Owens, Mitchell (16 March 1995). "At Home With: Evangeline Bruce; The Improbable Author". The New York Times. Retrieved 7 April 2020.
  24. ^ "Virginia Surtees". 1 December 2017 – via www.thetimes.co.uk.
  25. ^ "Virginia Surtees, scholar of Pre-Raphaelite art – obituary". 25 October 2017 – via www.telegraph.co.uk.
  26. ^ Scarborough, Nan (16 May 1937). "Diplomat to Wed Miss Virginia Bell – Daughter of the Late Edward Bell of New York Will Be Bride of H. A. Clarke – Gerard Attends Party – Overseas Visitors in London Are Guests at Reception Given by English-Speaking Union". The New York Times. Retrieved 7 April 2020.
  27. ^ Dorment, Richard (5 December 2017). "Virginia Surtees Obituary". The Guardian. Retrieved 8 April 2020.
  28. ^ a b Debrett's Peerage, Baronetage, Knightage, and Companionage. Kelly's Directories. 1973. Retrieved 8 April 2020.

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