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William Ormsby-Gore, 4th Baron Harlech

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Title: William Ormsby-Gore, 4th Baron Harlech  
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Subject: Baron Harlech, Katharine Macmillan, Viscountess Macmillan of Ovenden, Charles Vane-Tempest-Stewart, 7th Marquess of Londonderry, J. H. Thomas, David Ormsby-Gore, 5th Baron Harlech
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William Ormsby-Gore, 4th Baron Harlech

The Right Honourable
The Lord Harlech
Secretary of State for the Colonies
In office
28 May 1936 – 16 May 1938
Monarch Edward VIII
George VI
Prime Minister Stanley Baldwin
Preceded by James Henry Thomas
Succeeded by Malcolm MacDonald
Personal details
Born 11 April 1885 (1885-04-11)
Died Did not recognize date. Try slightly modifying the date in the first parameter. (aged 78)
Nationality British
Political party Conservative
Spouse(s) Lady Beatrice Gascoyne-Cecil (1891-1980)

William George Arthur Ormsby-Gore, 4th Baron Harlech GCMG PC (11 April 1885 – 14 February 1964) was a British Conservative politician and banker.


  • Background 1
  • Military service and First World War 2
  • Political career 3
  • Cultural interests 4
  • Family 5
  • Coat of arms 6
  • Notes 7
  • References 8
  • External links 9


Harlech, the son of Charles Gordon, 10th Marquess of Huntly, was born at Eaton Square, London. He was educated at Eton College and New College, Oxford.[1]

Military service and First World War

Ormsby-Gore served in the Territorial Army, being commissioned a second lieutenant in the Shropshire Yeomanry in 1907[2] and promoted lieutenant in 1911.[3]

He was mobilized at the outbreak of the First World War and accompanied his regiment to Egypt, where he was promoted captain in 1915 and went onto the general staff.[4] In 1916 he joined the Arab Bureau as an intelligence officer, attached to the British High Commissioner Sir Henry A. McMahon.[5]

According to Scott Anderson in Lawrence in Arabia (Doubleday, 2013, at p. 254), Ormsby-Gore by 1916 had become a convert to Judaism and was one of the primary figures in the British government who favoured the creation of a Jewish homeland in Palestine.

He was recalled to England in 1917 to serve as Parliamentary Private Secretary to Lord Milner and as assistant secretary in the War Cabinet headed by Prime Minister Sir Mark Sykes. Zionist leader Chaim Weizmann, a personal friend, took refuge in Ormsby-Gore's London home while the former was in the capital for the cabinet approval of the Balfour Declaration. With Weizmann's approval, Ormsby-Gore was the British military liaison officer with the Zionist mission in the Holy Land (then lately liberated from Ottoman Turkish rule) during March to August 1918. After the armistice, he was part of the British delegation to the peace conference at Paris in 1919.[5]

Ormsby-Gore remained serving in the yeomanry after the war until 1921.[6] In 1939 he was appointed an honorary colonel of the 10th Battalion of the Royal Welch Fusiliers.[7]

Political career

Harlech was elected as Member of Parliament (MP) for Denbigh Boroughs by a majority of eight votes at the January 1910 general election,[1] sitting for the seat until he was selected for and won Stafford at the 1918 general election. He sat in the House of Commons until he entered the House of Lords on succeeding to his father's peerage in 1938.

He served as Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies from 1922 to 1929 (with a brief interruption during the short-lived Labour government of 1924). He was British representative to the Permanent Mandates Commission of the League of Nations from 1921 to 1922. In 1927 he was admitted to the Privy Council. Harlech also held office in the National Government as Postmaster-General in 1931, as First Commissioner of Works from 1931 to 1936 and as Colonial Secretary between 1936 and 1938, resigning, eight days after he entered the House of Lords, as protest of support of partitioning Palestine after pressure of Arab protests over Jewish immigration. He was also a firm protestor against Nazi Germany at that time.[5]

During the Second World War he was Civil Defence Commissioner for the North-East of England and then High Commissioner to South Africa from 1941 to 1944.

After retiring from politics he served on the board of Midland Bank, owner of a banking house founded by his family, and was chairman of the Bank of West Africa. He also held the honorary post of Lord Lieutenant of Merionethshire between 1938 and 1957. In 1948 he was made a Knight of the Garter.

Cultural interests

Described as having "a deep interest in the arts",[5] Lord Harlech was trustee of the National Gallery (with brief interval) from 1927, and of the Tate Gallery from 1945 to 1953, chairman of the advisory committee to the Victoria and Albert Museum and of the Standing Commission on Museums and Galleries from 1948 to 1956.[7] He had an extensive library at his Shropshire home, Brogyntyn near Oswestry, which he downsized after moving out of the mansion in 1955.[5]

He was author of:

  • Florentine Sculptors of the Fifteenth Century (1930)
  • Guide to the Mantegna Cartoons at Hampton Court (1935)
  • three volumes in series Guides to the Ancient Monuments of England.[8]


Lord Harlech married Lady Beatrice Edith Mildred, daughter of James Gascoyne-Cecil, 4th Marquess of Salisbury, in 1913. His eldest son Owen Gerard Cecil Ormsby-Gore predeceased him. Harlech died in February 1964, aged 78, and was succeeded in the barony by his second son David, who followed him into politics and served as British Ambassador to the United States in the 1960s. Lady Harlech died in 1980.

Coat of arms

Arms of William Ormsby-Gore, 4th Baron Harlech
Coat of arms of the Ormsby-Gore family
A coronet of a Baron
1st: an Heraldic Tiger rampant Argent; 2nd: a Dexter Arm embowed in armour proper holding in the hand a Man's Leg also in armour couped at the thigh
Quarterly: 1st and 4th, Gules a Fess between three Cross Crosslets fitchy Or (Gore); 2nd and 3rd, Gules a Bend between six Cross Crosslets Or (Ormsby)
Dexter: an Heraldic Tiger Argent maned and tufted Sable ducally gorged Or; Sinister: a Lion Or
In Hoc Signo Vinces (Under this sign thou shalt conquer)


  1. ^ a b Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Volume 22. Oxford University Press. 2004. p. 987.  Article by K. E. Robinson.
  2. ^ Kelly's Handbook to the Titled, Landed and Official Classes, 1909. Kelly's. p. 1249. Under Ormsby-Gore, William George Arthur. His sketch in the ODNB dates his commissioning in 1908.
  3. ^ Kelly's Handbook to the Titled, Landed and Official Classes, 1913. Kelly's. p. 1313. 
  4. ^ Kelly's Handbook to the Titled, Landed and Official Classes, 1920. Kelly's. p. 1237. 
  5. ^ a b c d e Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Volume 22. p. 988. 
  6. ^ Kelly's Handbook of Distinguished People, 1939. Kelly's. p. 886. 
  7. ^ a b Kelly's Handbook to the Titled, Landed and Official Classes, 1964. Kelly's. p. 949. 
  8. ^ Who Was Who, 1961-1970. C and A Black. 1972. p. 493.  


  • Kidd, Charles, Williamson, David (editors). Debrett's Peerage and Baronetage (1990 edition). New York: St Martin's Press, 1990,
  • Leigh Rayment's Peerage Pages
  • Leigh Rayment's Historical List of MPs
  • Lundy, Darryl. "FAQ". The Peerage. 

External links

  • Hansard 1803–2005: contributions in Parliament by William Ormsby-Gore
Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Allen Clement Edwards
Member of Parliament for Denbigh Boroughs
Jan. 19101918
Succeeded by
Sir David Sanders Davies
Preceded by
Sir Walter Essex
Member of Parliament for Stafford
Succeeded by
Peter Thorneycroft
Political offices
Preceded by
Hon. E. F. L. Wood
Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies
Succeeded by
The Lord Arnold
Preceded by
The Lord Arnold
Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies
Succeeded by
William Lunn
Preceded by
Clement Attlee
Postmaster General
Succeeded by
Sir Kingsley Wood
Preceded by
The Marquess of Londonderry
First Commissioner of Works
Succeeded by
The Earl Stanhope
Preceded by
James Henry Thomas
Secretary of State for the Colonies
Succeeded by
Malcolm MacDonald
Diplomatic posts
Preceded by
Edward Harding
High Commissioner to South Africa
Succeeded by
Evelyn Baring
Honorary titles
Preceded by
The Lord Harlech
Lord Lieutenant of Merionethshire
Succeeded by
John Francis Williams-Wynne
Peerage of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
George Ormsby-Gore
Baron Harlech
Succeeded by
David Ormsby-Gore
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