Thomas Hamar Greenwood, 1st Viscount Greenwood

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About Thomas Hamar Greenwood, 1st Viscount Greenwood

Hamar Greenwood, 1st Viscount Greenwood PC, KC (7 February 1870 – 10 September 1948), known as Sir Hamar Greenwood, Bt, between 1915 and 1929 and as The Lord Greenwood between 1929 and 1937, was a Canadian-born British lawyer and politician. He served as the last Chief Secretary for Ireland between 1920 and 1922. Both his sons died unmarried rendering the Greenwood viscountcy extinct in 2003.

Greenwood was born in Whitby, Ontario in Canada and educated at the University of Toronto before migrating to England as a young man. Greenwood was originally a Liberal and sat as Member of Parliament for York from 1906 to 1910 and for Sunderland from 1910 to 1922. He served under David Lloyd George as Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department in 1919, as Additional Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, Additional Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Trade and Secretary for Overseas Trade from 1919 to 1920 and as the last Chief Secretary for Ireland, with a seat in the Cabinet, from 1920 to 1922. He was made a Privy Counsellor in 1920.

Sir Hamar Greenwood

As Chief Secretary he was closely identified with the aggressive use of two specially formed paramilitary forces — the Black and Tans and the Auxiliaries — during the Irish War of Independence. After the burning of the centre of the city of Cork by British auxiliary forces in December 1920 Greenwood blamed the "Sinn Féin rebels" and the people of Cork for burning their own city. He lost his seat in the 1922 general election.

At the 1924 general election, Greenwood was one of a small number of Liberals, including Winston Churchill, to stand as Constitutionalist candidates. These Liberals advocated closer ties between Liberals and Conservatives. Greenwood's candidature in Walthamstow East was supported by the local Conservative association but not by the local Liberals who had their own candidate. After the elections when it appeared that there was no prospect of formal closer ties between the two parties, Greenwood took the Conservative whip. He continued to represent Walthamstow East until 1929 although he never held office again.


Greenwood had been created a Baronet, of Onslow Gardens in the Royal Borough of Kensington, in 1915, and in the 1929 Dissolution Honours he was raised to the peerage as Baron Greenwood, of Llanbister in the County of Radnor.

In 1937 he was further honoured when he was created Viscount Greenwood, of Holbourne in the County of London. He was president of the British Iron and Steel Federation from 1938 to 1939 and chairman of the Pilgrims Society from 1945 till 1948, and president in 1948.


His wife, Margery, Viscountess Greenwood (née Spencer), was knighted as Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire in 1922. She had very considerable political and diplomatic skills, and according to recent research, played a considerable role, behind the scenes, in the negotiations which led to the Anglo-Irish Treaty of 1921.

They had two sons and two daughters. Their elder son, David Henry Hamar Greenwood, succeeded his father as second Viscount. He died unmarried and was succeeded as third Viscount by his younger brother, Michael George Hamar Greenwood, who died unmarried in 2003 rendering the title extinct.

Their elder daughter, Angela Margo Hamar Greenwood, married Edward Dudley Delevingne and is the paternal grandmother of model sisters Poppy and Cara Delevingne. Their younger daughter, Deborah Hamar Greenwood, married Patrick David de László, son of painter Philip de László.