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William Ormsby-Gore, 4th Baron Harlech

William George Arthur Ormsby-Gore, 4th Baron Harlech, KG, GCMG, PC (11 April 1885 – 14 February 1964) was a British Conservative politician and banker.

The Lord Harlech

William Ormsby-Gore, 4th Baron Harlech.jpg
Secretary of State for the Colonies
In office
28 May 1936 – 16 May 1938
MonarchEdward VIII
George VI
Prime MinisterStanley Baldwin
Preceded byJames Henry Thomas
Succeeded byMalcolm MacDonald
Personal details
Born11 April 1885 (1885-04-11)
Died14 February 1964 (1964-02-15) (aged 78)
Political partyConservative
Spouse(s)Lady Beatrice Gascoyne-Cecil (1891-1980)



Harlech, the son of George Ormsby-Gore, 3rd Baron Harlech, and Lady Margaret Gordon, daughter of Charles Gordon, 10th Marquess of Huntly, was born at Eaton Square, London. He was educated at Eton College and New College, Oxford.[1]

Military service and First World WarEdit

Ormsby-Gore served in the Territorial Army, being commissioned a second lieutenant in the Shropshire Yeomanry in 1907[2] and promoted lieutenant in 1911.[3]

He was mobilized at the outbreak of the First World War and accompanied his regiment to Egypt, where he was promoted captain in 1915 and went onto the general staff.[4] In 1916 he joined the Arab Bureau as an intelligence officer, attached to the British High Commissioner Sir Henry A. McMahon.[5]

According to the writer Scott Anderson, Ormsby-Gore by 1916 had become a convert to Judaism and was one of the primary figures in the British government who favored the creation of a Jewish homeland in Palestine.[6]

He was recalled to England in 1917 to serve as Parliamentary Private Secretary to Lord Milner and as assistant secretary in the War Cabinet headed by Prime Minister David Lloyd George, and to Sir Mark Sykes. Zionist leader Chaim Weizmann, a personal friend, took refuge in Ormsby-Gore's London home while the former was in the capital for the cabinet approval of the Balfour Declaration. With Weizmann's approval, Ormsby-Gore was the British military liaison officer with the Zionist mission in the Holy Land (then lately liberated from Ottoman Turkish rule) during March to August 1918. After the armistice, he was part of the British delegation to the peace conference at Paris in 1919.[5]

Ormsby-Gore remained serving in the yeomanry after the war until 1921.[7] In 1939 he was appointed an honorary colonel of the 10th Battalion of the Royal Welch Fusiliers.[8]

Political careerEdit

Harlech was elected as Member of Parliament (MP) for Denbigh Boroughs by a majority of eight votes at the January 1910 general election,[1] sitting for the seat until he was selected for and won Stafford at the 1918 general election. He sat in the House of Commons until he entered the House of Lords on succeeding to his father's peerage in 1938.

He served as Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies from 1922 to 1929 (with a brief interruption during the short-lived Labour government of 1924). He was British representative to the Permanent Mandates Commission of the League of Nations from 1921 to 1922. In the 1927 New Year Honours, he was sworn of the Privy Council.[9][10][11][12] Harlech also held office in the National Government as Postmaster-General in 1931, as First Commissioner of Works from 1931 to 1936 and as Colonial Secretary between 1936 and 1938, resigning, eight days after he entered the House of Lords, as protest of support of partitioning Palestine after pressure of Arab protests over Jewish immigration. After his resignation, he was appointed to the Order of St Michael and St George as a Knight Grand Cross (GCMG) in the 1938 Birthday Honours.[13][14] He was also a firm protester against Nazi Germany at that time.[5]

During the Second World War, he was Civil Defence Commissioner for the North-East of England and then High Commissioner to South Africa from 1941 to 1944.

After retiring from politics he served on the board of Midland Bank, owner of a banking house founded by his family, and was chairman of the Bank of West Africa. He also held the honorary post of Lord Lieutenant of Merionethshire between 1938 and 1957. On 12 March 1948 he was appointed to the Order of the Garter.[15]

Cultural interestsEdit

Described as having "a deep interest in the arts",[5] Lord Harlech was trustee of the National Gallery (with brief interval) from 1927, and of the Tate Gallery from 1945 to 1953, chairman of the advisory committee to the Victoria and Albert Museum and of the Standing Commission on Museums and Galleries from 1948 to 1956.[8] He had an extensive library at his Shropshire home, Brogyntyn near Oswestry, which he downsized after moving out of the mansion in 1955.[5]

He was author of:

  • Florentine Sculptors of the Fifteenth Century (1930)
  • Guide to the Mantegna Cartoons at Hampton Court (1935)
  • three volumes in series Guides to the Ancient Monuments of England.[16]

Personal lifeEdit

Lord Harlech married Lady Beatrice Edith Mildred Gascoyne-Cecil (born 10 August 1891, died 1980), daughter of James Gascoyne-Cecil, 4th Marquess of Salisbury, in 1913. They had six children:[17]

Lord Harlech died in February 1964, aged 78, and was succeeded in the barony by his second, but eldest surviving son David, who followed him into politics and served as British Ambassador to the United States in the 1960s. Lady Beatrice died in 1980.

Styles and armsEdit

Styles of addressEdit

  • 1885–1904: Mr William Ormsby-Gore
  • 1904–1910: The Honourable William Ormsby-Gore
  • 1910–1927: The Honourable William Ormsby-Gore MP
  • 1927–1938: The Right Honourable William Ormsby-Gore MP
  • 1938: The Right Honourable The Lord Harlech PC
  • 1938–1948: The Right Honourable The Lord Harlech GCMG PC
  • 1948–1964: The Right Honourable The Lord Harlech KG GCMG PC

Coat of armsEdit


  1. ^ a b Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Volume 22. Oxford University Press. 2004. p. 987. ISBN 0-19-861372-5.Article by K. E. Robinson.
  2. ^ Kelly's Handbook to the Titled, Landed and Official Classes, 1909. Kelly's. p. 1249.Under Ormsby-Gore, William George Arthur. His sketch in the ODNB dates his commissioning in 1908.
  3. ^ Kelly's Handbook to the Titled, Landed and Official Classes, 1913. Kelly's. p. 1313.
  4. ^ Kelly's Handbook to the Titled, Landed and Official Classes, 1920. Kelly's. p. 1237.
  5. ^ a b c d e Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Volume 22. p. 988.
  6. ^ Lawrence in Arabia. Doubleday. 2014. p. 254.
  7. ^ Kelly's Handbook of Distinguished People, 1939. Kelly's. p. 886.
  8. ^ a b Kelly's Handbook to the Titled, Landed and Official Classes, 1964. Kelly's. p. 949.
  9. ^ "No. 33235". The London Gazette (Supplement). 31 December 1926. p. 1.
  10. ^ "No. 14301". The Edinburgh Gazette. 4 January 1927. p. 1.
  11. ^ "No. 33246". The London Gazette. 8 February 1927. p. 833.
  12. ^ "No. 14312". The Edinburgh Gazette. 11 February 1927. p. 173.
  13. ^ "No. 34518". The London Gazette (Supplement). 7 June 1938. p. 3689.
  14. ^ "No. 15500". The Edinburgh Gazette. 14 June 1938. p. 487.
  15. ^ "No. 38236". The London Gazette (Supplement). 12 March 1948. p. 1859.
  16. ^ Who Was Who, 1961-1970. C and A Black. 1972. p. 493. ISBN 0-7136-1202-9.
  17. ^ The Peerage, entry for 4th Lord Harlech
  18. ^ The Peerage, entry for Hon Mary Ormsby-Gore
  19. ^ The Peerage, entry for Hon Katherine Ormsby-Gore
  20. ^ Obituary
  21. ^ The Peerage, entry for Hon Elizabeth Ormsby-Gore


External linksEdit