Monday 03rd of February 2003 02:52 AM 
Biographies: British Political Figures

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To save space and 'travel', Commonwealth, i.e., Australian, New Zealand, Canadian, South-Asian, etc. political figures will be included on this page.

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EnglandUnited Kingdom
ASQUITH, Herbert Henry, 1st Earl of Oxford and Asquith. (1852-1928).
Herbert Asquith - thumbnail only
Born, Morley, Lincolnshire. Liberal Prime Minister of Great Britain from 1908 to 7 December 1916.
At the turn of the century, Herbert H. Asquith was considered one of the rising young stars of the Liberal party. An accomplished barrister, he was along with Sir Edward Grey and Richard Burdon Haldane, a member of the so-called "Liberal Imperialist" section of the party and as such supported British involvement in the Boer War of 1899-1901. He was an MP for 20 years, Home Secretary under William Gladstone, and Chancellor of the Exchequer under Henry Campbell-Bannerman before becoming Prime Minister on the latter's retirement in 1908.
His performance as Prime Minister is the subject of much dispute. He was undoubtedly a man of high intelligence and personal integrity. Asquith lacked the charisma of David Lloyd George and Winston Churchill, however, and as an administrator he was lackadaisical. As his management of the Home Rule crisis of 1912-14 demonstrated, he postponed difficult decisions rather than confronting them head-on, and had little skill in coordinating the activities of the members of his cabinet. A social conservative, he opposed women's suffrage.

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ScotlandUnited Kingdom
BUCHAN, John, Baron Tweedsmuir (1875 - 1940)1John Buchan
John Buchan was born in Perth, Scotland in 1875, the son of a Free Kirk minister. He was educated at Hutchesons' Grammar School, Glasgow, and Glasgow University, before winning a scholarship to Brasenose College, Oxford, where he took a First in Greats. He was called to the Bar in 1901, and combined journalism and work as a barrister until October of that year, when he became one of 'Milner's Young Men' (AKA Milner's kindergarten) in South Africa, resettling the country after the South African War. Back in London in 1903, he continued work in law and for the Spectator, and maintained his steady output of books, reviews, articles and leaders. In 1907 he married Susan Gosvenor and became literary advisor to, and then partner in, the publishers Thomas Nelson & Sons.
In the First World War he worked as The Times correspondent on the Western Front, and in Intelligence and propaganda for the Foreign Office and War Office, before being appointed Director of the new Department (later Ministry) of Information. By the end of the war he had published some forty books, eleven of them novels, including the Richard Hannay stories which made him famous, The Thirty-Nine Steps and Greenmantle.
He settled near Oxford, and became Deputy Chairman of Reuters, though continuing to work for Nelson's. His literary output increased, and included important biographies of Montrose, Walter Scott, Cromwell, and others. He also undertook a complete revision of his single-handed and massive history of the First World War. He became M.P. for the Scottish Universities in 1927, and was twice High Commisioner to the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland. Created Baron Tweedsmuir of Elsfield, he ended his life as an adventurous and pioneering Governor-General of Canada. He died in Montreal, unexpectedly, in February 1940.

ScotlandUnited Kingdom
CAMPBELL-BANNERMAN, Sir Henry (1836-1908) Campbell-Bannerman - Thumbnail only
Prime Minister of Great Britain. Born in Scotland, he studied medicine at the University of Glasgow and became associated with the Liberal Party, first holding office in the Government in 1871. Having become Prime Minister in 1905, he introduced self-government for the former Boer Republics (the Transvaal and the Orange Free State) in 1907. He retired as Prime minister in 1908.



EnglandUnited Kingdom
CHAMBERLAIN, Joseph (1836-1914) Chamberlain - Thumbnail only
Born in Camberwell, London, of a well-to-do manufacturing family, he joined the Birmingham screw works of the Nettlefolds, his relatives and secured a partnership. In 1873 he entered municipal politics and as Mayor of Birmingham, made many improvements. Retiring at 38, he entered Parliament in 1876 as a Liberal under W.E. Gladstone. In 1895 he became a Conservative. One of the ablest financiers in the House, he was appointed Secretary for the Colonies under Lord Salisbury. Immediately involved in the Uitlander disputes in the Transvaal, he came strongly under the influence of Cecil Rhodes. Though it was never proved, allegations that he knew of the plans for the Jameson Raid were well supported. His Imperialist attitude made him popular during the War. In 1902, after it had ended, he went to South Africa on tour and made a considerable impression by his charm (sic) on many Afrikaner leaders. He tried vainly to evolve a closer Inter-Imperial Union. Defeated with the Conservatives in 1906, over the alleged Chinese Slavery on the Rand mines, he retired in ill health.

, Alfred (1856 - 1919 )
Alfred Deakin - Thumbnail only
Australian statesman and Prime Minister (1903-04, 1905-08, 1909-10). Born in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia. He became Minister of Public Works and Water Supply, and Solicitor-General of Victoria; then, under the Commonwealth, Attorney-General (1901) and Prime Minister. One of the architects of Federation, he established the industrial arbitration system and the first protective tariff, outlined defence policies, advocated the White Australia policy, and introduced the Commonwealth Literary Fund.



EnglandUnited Kingdom
EDWARD VII (1841 - 1910) Edward VII - Thumbnail only
King of the United Kingdom (1901-1910), born in London, England, United Kingdom, the eldest son of Queen Victoria. Educated privately, and at Edinburgh, Oxford, and Cambridge, in 1863 he married Alexandra, the eldest daughter of Christian IX of Denmark. They had three sons and three daughters: Albert Victor (1864-92), Duke of Clarence; George (1865-1936); Louise (1867-1931), Princess Royal; Victoria (1868-1935); Maud (1869-1938), who married Haaken VII of Norway; and Alexander (born and died 1871). As Prince of Wales, his behaviour led him into several social scandals, and the Queen excluded him from affairs of state. As King, he carried out several visits to Contintental capitals which strove to allay international animosities.


EnglandUnited Kingdom
GLADSTONE, Herbert John, 1st Viscount (1854 - 1930)
British statesman, born in Dane End, Hertfordshire, south-east England, United Kingdom, the youngest son of W. E. Gladstone. He was Liberal MP for Leeds (1880-1910), became Liberal chief whip in 1899, and home secretary (1905-10). He was appointed first Governor-General of the Union of South Africa (1910-14) and raised to the peerage in 1910. He was head of the War Refugees Association (1914-19), and published his political reminiscences, After Thirty Years, in 1928.

IrelandUnited Kingdom
HELY-HUTCHINSON, Sir Walter Francis (1849-1913) Hely-Hutchinson
Governor of Natal (1893-1901). Governor of the Cape Colony (1901-1910). Born in Dublin, son of the Earl of Donoughmore. Educated at Harrow and Cambridge. Was appointed attache to Sir Hercules Robinson on a mission to the Fiji Islands amd Australia. Appointed Colonial Secretary for Barbados, West Indies (1877-1883). Became, first, Secretary to the Government and then Lieutenant-Governor of Malta (1884-89), Governor of the Windward Islands, West Indies (1889-93). First Governor of Natal (1893-1910) under responsible government. There he handled delicate problems and annexed the "Trans-Pongola" territories of Amatongaland, thus forestalling President Kruger. During the South African War, he was appointed to the responsible post of Governor of Cape Colony. Noted for his tact and popularity, he returned to England where he settled in Kent.

EnglandUnited Kingdom
LYTTELTON, Alfred (1857-1913)
British statesman and Secretary of State for the Colonies. Born in England, and educated at Eton and Cambridge, he took up a legal career, and in 1903 joined the Balfour Cabinet as Secretary of State for the Colonies. As such he was responsible, against many protests, for allowing the introduction to the Rand of Chinese labourers. He put forward the first version of the Transvaal constitution in 1905 under the Crown Colony regime, which was named after him, the Lyttelton Constitution. It was altered owing to the advent to power of the Liberals soon after and superseded.

MACBRIDE, Maud (née Gonne) (1865-1953)
Maude GonneGonne was born on Dec. 20, 1865, in Aldershot, England; her father was a wealthy British army colonel of Irish descent and her mother was English. Her mother died in 1871 and Maud was educated in France by a governess before moving to Dublin in 1882, when her father was posted there. Maud's father died in 1886 leaving her financially independent. Moving back to France for health reasons after a tubercular haemorrhage, Gonne met and fell in love with French journalist Lucien Millevoye, editor of La Patrie. The pair agreed to work for both Irish and French nationalist causes. Maud had been introduced to Fenianism by John O'Leary, a Fenian and veteran of the 1848 Young Irelander uprising. Irish politician Tim Harrington of the National League recognized that this beautiful, intelligent young woman could be an asset to the nationalist movement. He sent her to Donegal, where mass evictions were taking place. Gonne was successful in organizing the locals in protest against these actions. The fact that she soon had to leave for France to avoid arrest is probably a good measure of her success there.
In 1889, John O'Leary would introduce Maud to a man whose infatuation with her would last most of his life: poet William Butler Yeats. Yeats would propose to Gonne in 1891, and be refused; largely through Maud's influence, Yeats would become involved with Irish nationalism, later joining the Irish Republican Brotherhood. Yeats would later refer to his meeting with Gonne, saying, "all the trouble of my life began" then.
Wrote Yeats, in his poem, "An Old Song Resung":

How many loved your movements of glad grace,
And loved your beauty with love false or true;
But one man loved the pilgrim soul in you,
And loved the sorrows of your changing face.

And bending down beside the glowing bars
Murmur, a little sadly, how love fled.
And paced upon the mountains overhead
And hid his face amid a crowd of stars.

Gonne helped Yeats found the National Literary Society of London in 1891, the same year she refused his first marriage proposal; undaunted, Yeats would propose again in the future and even proposed to Maud's daughter by Millevoye, Iseult, also unsuccessfully. By now the name of Maud Gonne was well known among Irish nationalists. Returning to Ireland, Gonne co-founded the Transvaal Committee, which supported the Afrikaners in the Boer War, and on Easter Sunday 1900 she co-founded Inghinidhe na hÉireann (Daughters of Erin), a revolutionary women's society. Later she would write many political and feminist articles for the monthly journal of the Inghinidhe, Bean na hÉireann (Daughers of Ireland). Somehow, while doing all this, she found time to star on stage in Yeats play, Cathleen ní Houlihan, which Yeats had written for her.
In 1900, in Paris, Irish politician Arthur Griffith introduced Maud to Major John MacBride, who had been second in command of the Irish Brigade that fought for the Boer side in the South African War. In 1903 Maud married MacBride. This marriage would produce a son, Seán, but it would be short-lived. The couple separated, with MacBride moving to Dublin while Maud, afraid she might lose custody of her son if she returned to Ireland, remained in Paris. Gonne would continue to write political articles for Bean na hÉireann, and in 1910 she helped the Inghinidhe organize a scheme for feeding the poor children of Dublin. She also worked with the Red Cross in France during World War I. She would not return to Ireland until 1917. The Ireland she found on her return was in turmoil after the Easter Rising of 1916 and the execution of the leaders of that rising, including her estranged husband, John MacBride. Within a year she was jailed by the British for her part in the anti-conscription movement. This was part of the trumped-up "German Plot" that the British used to discredit the Irish anti-conscription movement. Gonne was interned at Holloway Jail for six months along with Hanna Sheehy Skeffington, Kathleen Clarke, Countess Markievicz and others. After she was released, she worked for the White Cross for relief of Irish victims during the War of Independence.
When Ireland's Civil War came, Maud supported the anti-Treaty side. She and Charlotte Depard founded the Women's Prisoners Defense League to help Republican prisoners and their families. In 1923, she once again found herself imprisoned, this time by the Irish Free State government, without charge. Along with 91 other women, Gonne immediately went on hunger strike. The Free State government had obviously learned a lesson from the actions of the British in similar situations - she was released after 20 days. For the rest of her life Gonne would continue to support the Republican cause and work for the Women's Prisoners Defense League, which mobilized again in defense of Republican prisoners in 1935. In 1938, she published A Servant of the Queen, a biography of her life up to 1903. Gonne died on April 27, 1953, but her influence on Ireland and the world continued after her death through her son, Seán MacBride. Maud's union with Major John MacBride was a short, unhappy one, but the son it produced may have soothed any regrets Gonne had about it. As a young man, Seán fought on the Republican side in the Civil War and later carried on his mother's crusade for the fair treatment of political prisoners, not just in Ireland, but all over the world. Seán was one of the founders of Amnesty International. In 1976, her son was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.
Maud Gonne MacBride is buried in the Republican plot in Dublin's famous Glasnevin Cemetery, a fitting final tribute to the woman some called Ireland's Joan of Arc.

GermanyUnited Kingdom
MILNER, Lord Alfred (1852-1925)Lord Milner
Born Alfred Milner in Bonn on the Rhine, he was partly of German origin. After studying at Tubingen, London and Oxford, he entered journalism before joining Government service, first in Egypt and then in England. An exceptionally able administrator, he was appointed Governor of Cape Colony in 1897, and took charge of the negotiations with President Kruger, meant to avoid the outbreak of the South African War. Unfortunately, his uncompromising views led to the breakdown of last-minute discussions in Bloemfontein, 1899. After the annexation of the two Boer Republics, Lord Milner was made Governor of both the Transvaal and the Orange River Colony in 1901. His admitted aim of overcoming the power of the Afrikaner by the importation of English settlers aroused the antagonism of the Boers, but it was acknowledged that the Civil Service and other departments which he established were extremely efficient, and some think he did a great deal for the development of the country. However, many historians might agree with Professor L.M. Thompson, who argues that,

On balance...there can be little doubt that Lord Milner and the Unionist government wrought harm in South Africa. Encouraging unattainable aspirations among British South Africans, increasing Anglophobia amongst Afrikaners and doing little to improve the prospects of the non-Whites they made it immeasurably more difficult for the people of South Africa to establish for themselves a stable and humane society.2

He returned to Britain in 1905 after much of the war damage had been 'repaired'. During World War I Lord Milner was one of the principal members of the British Cabinet.

EnglandUnited Kingdom
VICTORIA, Alexandrina, Queen (1819 - 1901) Queen Victoria - Thumbnail only
Queen of Great Britain (1837 - 1901) and (from 1876) Empress of India, born in London, England, United Kingdom, the only child of George III's fourth son, Edward, and Victoria Maria Louisa of Saxe-Coburg, sister of Leopold, King of the Belgians. Taught by Lord Melbourne, her first prime minister, she had a clear grasp of constitutional principles and the scope of her own prerogative, which she resolutely exercised in 1839 by setting aside the precedent which decreed dismissal of the current ladies of the bedchamber, thus causing Peel not to take up office as prime minister. In 1840 she married Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, and had four sons and five daughters. She was strongly influenced by her husband, with whom she worked in closest harmony. After his death (1861) she went into lengthy seclusion, neglecting many duties, which brought her unpopularity and motivated a republican movement. But with her recognition as Empress of India, and the celebratory Golden (1887) and Diamond (1897) Jubilees, she rose high in her subjects' favour, and increased the prestige of the monarchy. She had strong preferences for certain prime ministers (notably Melbourne and Disraeli) over others (notably Peel and Gladstone), but following the advice of Albert did not press these beyond the bounds of constitutional propriety. At various points in her long reign she exercised some influence over foreign affairs, and the marriages of her children had important diplomatic, as well as dynastic implications in Europe. She died at Cowes, Isle of Wight, England, and was succeeded by her son as Edward VII.

C. R. B. Barrett, History of the XIII Hussars, London and Edinburgh: William Blackwood and Sons, 1911.
Belfield, Eversley. The Boer War. Hamden: Archon, 1975.
1Daniel, David [ed] in Buchan, John. Sick Heart River. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1994.
C.F.J. Muller, 500 Years: A History of South Africa. Cape Town: H & R Academia, 1981.
Rosenthal. Eric [comp.] Southern African Dictionary of National Biography. London: Frederick Warne, 1966.
2Thompson, L.M. The Unification of South Africa: 1902-1910. Oxford: At the Clarendon Press, 1960.

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Ken Hallock
Piet Steyl
Prof. Christo Viljoen


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Further Reading

Beak, G.B. The Aftermath of War. London: Arnold, 1906. DT904B32.
[Ref. p. 3.]

Benyon, John. Proconsul and Paramountcy in South Africa: the High Commission, British Supremacy and the Sub-Continent - 1806-1910. Pietermaritzburg, Natal: University of Natal Press, 1980.

Bryce, James, & Brooks, Sidney. Britain and Boer: Both Sides of the Question. NY: Harper, 1900. DT926B87.

Butler, J. 'The German Factor in Anglo-Transvaal Relations' in Gifford, P. & Louis, W. R. [eds] Britain and Germany in Africa. New Haven: 1967, pp. 179-214.

Caldwell, T.C., [ed]. The Anglo-Boer War: Why Was it Fought? Who was Responsible? Boston: University of Massachusetts, 1965.

Camack, D. 'The Politics of Discontent: the Grievances of the Uitlander Refugees, 1899-1902.' JSAS 8, 1982, pp. 243-270.

Camack, D. 'Class, Politics and War: a Socio-Economic Study of the Uitlanders of the Witwatersrand, 1897 - 1902'. Ph.D thesis, University of California, Irvine, 1983.

Camack, D. 'The Johannesburg Republic: the Re-Shaping of Rand Society, 1900-1901'. SAHJ 18, 1986, pp. 47-72.

Connolly, C.N. 'Class, Birthplace, Loyalty: Australian Attitudes to the Boer War'. Historical Studies, 18, 71 (October 1978), pp. 210-232.

Connolly, C.N. 'Manufacturing 'Spontaneity': the Australian Offers of Troops for the Boer War'. Historical Studies, 17, 70 (April 1978), pp. 106-117.

Cook, Edward T. Rights and Wrongs of the Transvaal War. London: Arnold, 1901. DT930C66.

Cuthbertson, G.C. 'The Non-Conformist Conscience and the South African War, 1899 - 1902'. D.Litt & Phil., University of South Africa, 1986.

De Kiewiet, Cornelius. British Colonial Policy and the South African Republics, 1848-1909. London: Longman, Green & Co, 1929.

De Kiewiet, Cornelius. The Imperial Factor in South Africa: a Study in Politics and Economics. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1937.

Emden, P.H. Randlords. 1935. [other details unavailable]

Evans, W. Sanford. The Canadian Contingents and Canadian Imperialism: a Story and a Study. Toronto: Publishers' Syndicate, 1901. 352 pp.

Farrelly, M.J. The Settlement After the War in South Africa. NY: MacMillan, 1900. DT930F36.

Gordon, Donald. The Dominion Partnership in Imperial Defense, 1870-1914. Baltimore: John Hopkins Press, 1965.

Hobson, J.A. The War in South Africa: Its Causes and Effects. NY: Macmillan, 1900. DT930H62.

Imperial South African Assoc. The British Case Against the Boer Republics. London, 1900. DT930A2B74.

Ireland, Alleyne. The Anglo-Boer Conflict: Its History and Causes. Boston: Small, Maynard, 1900. 141 p. DT930I74.

Koss, Stephen. The Pro-Boers: the Anatomy of an Anti-War Movement. Chicago: Chicago University Press, 1973. DT935P77.

Marks, Shula & Trapido, Stanley. 'Lord Milner and the South African State'. History Workshop. v7, (1979).
[Socialist revision of the formation of the Union and Milner's post-war policies]

Mulanax, Richard. The Boer War in American Politics and Diplomacy. Lanham: University Press of America, 1993.

Neal, Joan. 'Charters Towers and the Boer War'. Thesis (BA Hons) - James Cook University of North Queensland, 1980.

Page, Robert. The Boer War and Canadian Imperialism. (Canadian Historical Association Booklet no. 44.) Ottawa: Canadian Historical Association. 1987. 27pp.

Penny, Barbara. 'Australia's Reactions to the Boer War - a Study in Colonial Imperialism'. Journal of British Studies, 7, 1 (November 1967), pp. 97-130.

Penny, Barbara. 'The Australian Debate on the Boer War'. Historical Studies, 14, (October 1969), pp. 526-545.

Porter, A.N. The Origins of the South African War: Joseph Chamberlain and the Diplomacy of Imperialism, 1895-99. Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1980.

Price, Richard. An Imperial War and the British Working Class: Working-Class Attitudes and Reactions to the Boer War, 1899-1902. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1982. DT935P75.

Smith, Iain. R. The Origins of the South African War, 1899-1902. Essex: Longman, 1996.

Stead, William T. Shall I Slay My Brother Boer? London: 1899.
- The War in South Africa. Methods of Barbarism. London: 1901.
- How Britain Goes to War. London: Review of Reviews, 1903. DT931.3N68.

Surridge, K.T. 'British Civil-Military Relations and the South African War, 1899-1902'. Ph.D thesis. London University, 1994.

Tamarkin, Mordechai. Cecil Rhodes and the Cape Afrikaners: the Imperial Colossus and the Colonial Parish Pump. London: Frank Cass, 1996.

Taylor, Phil. ''Pro Deo et Patria: A Survey of Victoria's Boer War Memorials'. MA thesis. Monash University, 1997.

Thompson, L.M. The Unification of South Africa: 1902-1910. Oxford: At the Clarendon Press, 1960.

Yakutiel, M. 'Treasury Control and the South African War, 1899-1905'. D.Phil. thesis, Oxford University, 1989.