Historical records matching Samuel Hoare, 1st Viscount Templewood
About Samuel Hoare, 1st Viscount Templewood
Samuel John Gurney Hoare, 1st Viscount Templewood GCSI, GBE, CMG, PC (24 February 1880 – 7 May 1959), more commonly known as Sir Samuel Hoare, was a senior British Conservative politician who served in various Cabinet posts in the Conservative and National governments of the 1920s and 1930s. He was Secretary of State for Air during most of the 1920s and briefly again in 1940. He is perhaps most famous for serving as Foreign Secretary in 1935, when he authored the Hoare–Laval Pact with French Prime Minister Pierre Laval. He also served as Home Secretary from 1937 to 1939 and as British ambassador to Spain from 1940 to 1944.
He was a descendant of the Quaker Samuel Hoare and the son of Sir Samuel Hoare, 1st Baronet. Hoare was educated at Harrow and New College, Oxford.
Entry into politics
Hoare entered local politics in March 1907, when he was elected to the London County Council as a member of the Municipal Reform Party representing Brixton. He served as Chairman of the London Fire Brigade Committee. He was first elected to the House of Commons at the January 1910 general election as Member of Parliament (MP) for Chelsea. In these early years he was a member of the Anti-Socialist Union.
Aged 34 at the time, he started World War I as a soldier, having been commissioned into the Norfolk Yeomanry but, due to illness, was unable to serve at the front. Whilst a recruiting officer, he learnt Russian and was,subsequently recruited in 1916 by Mansfield Cumming to be, the still to become, MI6's liaison with the Russian Intelligence service in Petrograd (St Petersburg). In that post, he reported to the British Government the death of Rasputin and apologised, because of the sensational nature of the event, for having written it in the style of the "Daily Mail". (Source: MI6 The History of the Secret Intelligence Service 1909 - 1949, Keith Jeffrey ISBN 978 0 7475 9183 2 (hardback) pages 103-106)
In Italy, he met and recruited the then unknown Benito Mussolini on behalf of the British overseas intelligence service, which was then known as MI1(c). Newly uncovered documents show that Britain’s intelligence service helped Benito Mussolini finance his first forays into Italian politics. Hoping to keep Italy on its side in 1917, during World War I, MI5 gave Mussolini, then 34 and editor of a right-wing newspaper, the equivalent of what’s now $9,500 a week to keep propaganda flowing. Hoare returned to enter Parliament and became one of the principal Conservatives who revolted against continued participation in the government of David Lloyd George in 1922. He was rewarded with the position of Secretary of State for Air, which he held in all the various Conservative governments of the 1920s.
When the Conservatives joined the National Government in 1931, Hoare became Secretary of State for India in which capacity he negotiated, with great difficulty, the passage of the landmark Government of India Act 1935. He was, however, most famous for his activities as Foreign Secretary beginning in 1935. In 1935, Hoare was instrumental in obtaining approval for the British rescue effort on behalf of endangered Jewish children in Europe known as the Kindertransport.
In the same year, Hoare dealt with the Italian invasion of Ethiopia. Together with French Prime Minister Pierre Laval, he developed the so-called Hoare–Laval Pact, which would have granted Italy considerable territorial concessions in Ethiopia, and put the rump of Ethiopia under Italian hegemony. In his memoirs Hoare claimed that his intentions were twofold: to appease Italy to keep Mussolini away from a German alliance, and to find a compromise which preserved elements of the Ethiopian state from Mussolini. He admitted that his negotiations in Paris with Laval had caught him at a disadvantage. He noted that in the absence of the Hoare–Laval Pact the Italians seized all of Ethiopia, and drew closer to Germany leading eventually to the destabilisation of Austria and the indefensibility of Czechoslovakia. The public uproar against this apparent sell-out of the Ethiopians led to Hoare's resignation as Foreign Secretary at the end of the year. His successor was Anthony Eden. When Eden had his first audience with King George V, the King is said to have remarked "No more coals to Newcastle, no more Hoares to Paris."
At least in retrospect Hoare stressed that he shared with Chamberlain's close allies a realist position - conscious of the need to prevent a military conjunction of Germany, Italy and Japan which would be too great for Britain's naval power unless France were to prove robust and the Americans would abandon their isolationism. The minority alternative which emerged, led in particular by Eden, would have confronted Italy without regard to the German threat.
Hoare quickly returned to important posts in government, at Baldwin's invitation. This was too quickly, Halifax thought, who criticised Baldwin for giving in to Hoare's importunity. Appointed First Lord of the Admiralty in 1936, Hoare vigorously endorsed Britain's naval rearmament, including ordering the first three King George V class battleships, and worked to reverse the subordination of the British naval aviation to the Royal Air Force. Hoare was consistently close to Chamberlain, on whose taking over from Baldwin, Hoare was moved to the Home Office. The descendant of Quaker prison reformers, he oversaw significant judicial reforms but these were largely held up by the advent of war in 1939: he had intended to abolish corporal punishment in prisons and had been keen to work towards the abolition of the death penalty, of whose risks he was very aware.
Along with Halifax and Simon he was a key member of Chamberlain's inner ministerial circle and his account of Munich is anguished. Hoare had close links to the Czech government. In retirement he stood strongly by Chamberlain's essential judgements, but regretted Chamberlain's lack of sensitivity in foreign affairs, and his tendency for personal intervention which not only led to his failure to retain Eden, but overrode his Foreign Office advisers. But as Hoare repeatedly points out, public opinion was vociferously pacifist and Chamberlain's actions were widely endorsed, not least by Roosevelt. The Labour opposition strongly opposed rearmament and the introduction of conscription, even after Munich. But in spring 1939 Hoare aligned himself very firmly with Chamberlain's upbeat belief that war was now unlikely, rather than with Halifax's increasing focus on shoring up alliances and rearming for a conflict that to the Foreign Secretary seemed imminent.
“These five men, working together in Europe and blessed in their efforts by the President of the United States of America, might make themselves eternal benefactors of the human race."
Samuel Hoare speaking of a possible future disarmament conference between Adolf Hitler, Benito Mussolini, Edouard Daladier, Joseph Stalin and Neville Chamberlain, March 1939
Hoare after the outbreak of World War II
On the outbreak of war, Hoare became Lord Privy Seal in the War Cabinet, with a wide-ranging brief, until the downfall of the Neville Chamberlain regime. Hoare was one of the foremost Chamberlain loyalists, and was shocked at the apparent disloyalty of others such as Halifax. In May 1940, the resignations of Hoare, Sir John Simon and Kingsley Wood were essential conditions for the broadening of the Chamberlain government.
On Winston Churchill's appointment as Prime Minister in 1940, Hoare lost his Cabinet position, and was, after some months of unemployment, sent as Ambassador to Spain, with his wife Lady Maud Hoare. In this demanding and critical role he sought to encourage Francisco Franco, whom he loathed and found a puzzling and obtuse interlocutor, to keep Spain out of the war, in which he was successful. His fluent memoir of this period "Ambassador on Special Mission" is an excellent insight into the day to day life of a demanding diplomatic position; his primary challenge was to dissuade Franco from his preferred drift to the Axis powers, while preventing the Allies from reacting with undue haste to repeated Spanish provocations.
Hoare's memoir however is not completely frank about his deployment of an array of bluff, leaks, bribery and subterfuge to disrupt unfriendly elements in Franco's regime, and the operations of the German Embassy; but they were remembered fondly by his team.
He remained Ambassador until 1944 when, with the issue of the war no longer in doubt, he returned to Britain and was raised to the peerage as Viscount Templewood, of Chelsea in the County of Middlesex. From 1937 to 1959 he served as Chancellor of the University of Reading. The baronetcy and peerage became extinct upon his death in 1959.
Hoare was literate and widely read in several languages, especially French, but appears also to have picked up a command of the Spanish language and its literature during his embassy there. He was a keen tennis player, and on his dismissal from office in 1935 convalesced in Switzerland by practising for a skating contest. His career included demanding work in Russia and Italy during World War I, followed by the good fortune to be part of the wave of young Conservatives propelled into the 1922 government, which ensured he spent most of the next 18 years in increasingly senior Cabinet positions, followed by four years in the embassy in Fascist Spain.