Historical records matching Sir Robert Hamilton Bruce Lockhart, KCMG
About Sir Robert Hamilton Bruce Lockhart, KCMG
Sir Robert Hamilton Bruce Lockhart KCMG (2 September 1887 – 27 February 1970), was a journalist, author, secret agent, British diplomat in Moscow and Prague, and footballer. His 1932 book Memoirs of a British Agent became an international bestseller, and brought him to the world’s attention.
Bruce Lockhart was born in Anstruther, Fife, Scotland, the son of Robert Bruce Lockhart, the first headmaster of Spier’s School, Beith, Ayrshire, Scotland. His mother was a Macgregor, while his other ancestors include Bruces, Hamiltons, Cummings, Wallaces and Douglases. He also claimed he could trace a connection back to Boswell of Auchinleck. In his book, Memoirs of a British Agent, he wrote, "There is no drop of English blood in my veins."
His family were mostly schoolmasters. His brother John Harold Bruce Lockhart was the headmaster of Sedbergh School, while his nephews Rab Bruce Lockhart and Logie Bruce Lockhart went on to become headmasters of Loretto and Gresham’s. His great-nephew, Simon Bruce-Lockhart, is currently the headmaster of Glenlyon Norfolk School.
Bruce Lockhart went to school himself at Fettes College in Edinburgh.
At the age of twenty-one, Bruce Lockhart went out to Malaya to join two uncles who were rubber planters there. According to his own account, he was sent to open up a new rubber estate near Pantai in Negeri Sembilan, in a district where "there were no other white men". He then "caused a minor sensation by carrying off Amai, the beautiful ward of the Dato’ Klana, the local Malay prince… my first romance". However, three years in Malaya, and one with Amai, came to an end when "…doctors pronounced Malaria, but there were many people who said that I had been poisoned". One of his uncles and one of his cousins "bundled my emaciated body into a motor car and… packed me off home via Japan and America". The Dato’ Klana in question was the chief of Sungei Ujong, the most important of the Nine States of Negeri Sembilan, whose palace was at Ampangan.
Bruce Lockhart next joined the British Foreign Service and was posted to Moscow as Vice-Consul.
At the time of his arrival in Russia, people had heard that a great footballer named Lockhart from Cambridge was arriving, and he was invited to turn out for Morozov a textile factory team that played their games 30 miles east of Moscow – the manager of the cotton mill was from Lancashire, England. Bruce Lockhart played for most of the 1912 season and his team won the Moscow league championship that year. The great player however was Robert’s brother, John, who had played rugby union for Scotland, and by his own admission Robert barely deserved his place in the team and played simply for the love of the sport.
Bruce Lockhart was Acting British Consul-General in Moscow when the first Russian Revolution broke out in early 1917, but left shortly before the Bolshevik Revolution of October that year.
He soon returned to Russia at the behest of Prime Minister Lloyd George and Lord Milner as the United Kingdom’s first envoy to the Bolsheviks (Russia) in January 1918 in an attempt to counteract German influence.
Lockhart, on his return, was also working for the Secret Intelligence Service and had been given £648 worth of diamonds to fund the creation of an agent network in Russia.
Moura Budberg, the widow of a high-ranking Czarist diplomat Count Johann von Benckendorff, became his mistress.
Later, Bruce Lockhart spoke out for Arthur Ransome, saying he had been a valuable intelligence asset amid the worst chaos of the revolution. As the chaos worsened in Russia and purges took hold among the Bolshevik leaders, Lockhart recommended official assistance to bring Trotsky's secretary, Evgenia Petrovna Shelepina, to England.
Lockhart from then on was involved in numerous espionage plots against the Bolshevik government, including a plan to snatch Tsar Nicholas II from their custody.
Bruce Lockhart was asked in March 1918 to persuade the new Soviet government to allow a Japanese army onto Soviet territory to fight Germany on the Eastern Front.[dubious – discuss] He was unsuccessful in this endeavour.
Arrest and imprisonment
In 1918, Bruce Lockhart and fellow British agent, Sidney Reilly, were dramatically implicated in a plot to assassinate Bolshevik leader Vladimir Lenin. He was accused of plotting against the Bolshevik regime and, for a time during 1918, was confined in the Kremlin as a prisoner and feared being condemned to death. However, he escaped trial in an exchange of "secret agents" for the Russian diplomat Maksim Maksimovich Litvinov.
He later wrote about his experiences in his 1932 autobiographical book, Memoirs of a British Agent which became an instant worldwide hit, and was made into the 1934 film British Agent by Warner Brothers.
Second World War and after
During the Second World War, Lockhart became director-general of the Political Warfare Executive, co-ordinating all British propaganda against the Axis powers. He was also for a time the British liaison officer to the Czechoslovak government-in-exile under President Edvard Beneš.
After the war, he resumed his writing career, as well as lecturing and broadcasting, and made a weekly BBC Radio broadcast to Czechoslovakia for over ten years.
Lockhart was the father of author Robin Bruce Lockhart, who wrote the 1967 book Ace of Spies — about his father’s friend and fellow agent Sidney Reilly — from which the 1983 miniseries Reilly, Ace of Spies was produced.
Lockhart died in 1970 at the age of 82, but tales of his adventures in Moscow have recently returned to the public eye when Scottish professional footballer Garry O’Connor, made the move to Russian football club Lokomotiv Moscow in March 2006.
Honours Knight Commander of the Order of St Michael and St George (1943)
In TV drama
The 1983 British television series Reilly, Ace of Spies was based on a book by his son. Lockhart appeared in the series, portrayed by Ian Charleson.