Lord Moyne


Walter Edward Guinness, first Baron Moyne (1880 – 1944), was born in Dublin on 29 March 1880. He was the third son of the brewer and philanthropist Edward Cecil Guinness, later the first earl of Iveagh (1847 – 1927), and his wife, Adelaide Maria Guinness (1844 – 1916). He was educated at Eton College where he was a keen rower and captain of the boats. At Eton he developed an interest in biology which he intended to pursue at Oxford. Instead he volunteered for service in the South African War with the Suffolk yeomanry (Loyal Suffolk Hussars). He was wounded, mentioned in dispatches, and awarded the queen's medal with four clasps.

On 24 June 1903 he married Lady Evelyn Hilda Stuart Erskine (1883 – 1939), daughter of the fourteenth earl of Buchan. They had two sons and one daughter.

In the early 1890s his father bought a famous sporting estate at Elveden in Suffolk. Walter Guinness would later stand as Conservative candidate for the Stowmarket division. He was defeated at the general election of 1906, but he was returned at a by-election in 1907 for Bury St Edmunds, which he continued to represent until 1931. He was a member of the London county council from 1907 to 1910.

During the First World War Guinness served first in Gallipoli and Egypt as a major with the Suffolk yeomanry and afterwards with the 10th battalion of the London regiment. He had been three times mentioned in dispatches, and was appointed DSO in 1917 with bar in 1918. He retired as a lieutenant-colonel.

Moyne led a particularly active political life; he was appointed under-secretary of state for war in 1922, followed by the financial secretaryship of the Treasury in 1923, and again in 1924–5 under Winston Churchill as chancellor of the exchequer. He was sworn of the privy council in 1924 and entered the cabinet in November 1925 as minister of agriculture. In 1929 he retired from office, and in January 1932 he was made Baron Moyne of Bury St Edmunds.

Moyne acted as chairman of the departmental committee on housing in 1933, of the royal commission on the University of Durham in 1934, and of the departmental committee on British films in 1936, but he was also financial commissioner to Kenya in 1932 and chairman of the West Indies royal commission in 1938 and 1939.

Away from politics Moyne was a keen traveller; in 1902 he went on the first of many big-game hunting expeditions and before 1914 he travelled extensively on map-making expeditions in Asia Minor. In September 1933, Moyne bought a passenger ferry SS Dieppe from the Southern Railway. She was converted to diesel power and renamed Rosaura. In December 1934, he sailed to the Pacific where he made a collection of objects for museums which he brought back to Britain. He wrote a book about the jopurney: Walkabout; a Journey between the Pacific and Indian oceans (1936) . He wrote about a later journey to Greenland in Atlantic Circle (1938).

On the outbreak of war in 1939 Moyne acted as chairman of the Polish Relief Fund. The next year Moyne succeeded Lord Lloyd as Secretary of State for the Colonies and Leader of the House of Lords. In August 1942 he was appointed Deputy Minister of State in Cairo, and in January 1944 he became Minister Resident in the Middle East.

Moyne had previously declared his support for the establishment of an Arab and, as a result he became a target for radical Zionist groups.
On 6 November 1944 Moyne was assassinated in Cairo by two members of the Fighters for Israel's Freedom.

Moyne was cremated at Golders Green, Middlesex, on 17 November 1944, after his body had been flown back to Britain.

Brief biography

politician and traveller (1880 - 1944)

Collection Information

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