Military Wiki
The Right Honourable
The Viscount Templewood
Home Secretary

In office
28 May 1937 – 3 September 1939
Prime Minister Stanley Baldwin
Neville Chamberlain
Preceded by Sir John Simon
Succeeded by Sir John Anderson
Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs

In office
7 June 1935 – 18 December 1935
Prime Minister Stanley Baldwin
Preceded by Sir John Simon
Succeeded by Anthony Eden
Personal details
Born 24 February 1880 (2022-05-10UTC18:46:02)
Died 7 May 1959 (2022-05-10UTC18:46:03) (aged 79)
Nationality British
Political party Conservative
Spouse(s) Lady Maud Lygon
Alma mater New College, Oxford

Samuel John Gurney Hoare, 1st Viscount Templewood GCSI, GBE, CMG, PC, OWL (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. In 1936 he became First Lord of the Admiralty, then served as Home Secretary from 1937 to 1939 and was British ambassador to Spain from 1940 to 1944.[1]


Hoare was born in London,[2] an Anglican[3] descendant of the Quaker Samuel Hoare and the son of Sir Samuel Hoare, 1st Baronet, to whose baronetcy he succeeded in 1915. Hoare was educated at Harrow School and New College, Oxford, where he graduated B.A. in 1903 and Master in 1910 and later became Honorary Fellow. He married in 1909 Lady Maud Lygon, youngest daughter of Frederick Lygon, 6th Earl Beauchamp. Their marriage was childless.[4]

Entry into politics

Hoare, who had become a J.P. for the county of Norfolk in 1906,[5] and unsuccessfully stood in that year's General Election for Parliament at Ipswich,[3] 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.[1][6] 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.[7]

First World War

Aged 34 at the time, he began the First World War as a soldier, having been commissioned into the Norfolk Yeomanry but, due to illness, was unable to serve at the front. While acting as a recruiting officer, he learnt Russian and in 1916 was recruited by Mansfield Cumming to be the future MI6's liaison officer 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.[8]

In Italy, he met and recruited the former socialist leader Benito Mussolini on behalf of the British overseas intelligence service, which was then known as MI1(c). Newly published documents show that Britain’s intelligence service helped Benito Mussolini to finance his first forays into Italian politics as a right-wing politician. Hoping to keep Italy on its side in 1917, during the First World War, MI5 gave Mussolini, then aged 34 and editor of a right-wing newspaper, the equivalent of $9,500 a week at 2009 values to keep his propaganda flowing.[9]

Hoare was promoted Lieutenant-Colonel[3] and for his services in the war was twice mentioned in despatches; appointed Commander of the Order of St Michael and St George (CMG) in 1917; awarded the Orders of St Anne and St Stanislas of Russia, and of St Maurice and St Lazarus of Italy.[4]

Politics Inter-War

Hoare returned to 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. He maintained the Royal Air Force as an independent armed service, presided over the creation of the university air squadrons at Oxford and Cambridge, re-established on permanent basis the air cadet college at Cranwell, and championed civil aviation.[3] In 1927 he was appointed Knight Grand Cross of the British Empire (GBE).[4] He followed his interest in aviation affairs as Honorary Air Commodore of No 601 (County of London) (1930–32) and No 604 (County of Middlesex) (1932–57) Bomber Squadrons of the Auxiliary Air Force.[10]

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 appointed Knight Grand Cross of the Star of India (GCSI) in 1934.[4]

He was, however, most famous for his activities as Foreign Secretary beginning in 1935. In 1938, 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 humorously, "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, thought Halifax, 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 (Elizabeth Fry was his great-great-aunt),[11] 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.[citation needed] 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.[citation needed] 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[12]

Hoare after the outbreak of the Second World War

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 Spanish entry into 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. In the House of Lords he served on the Political Honours Scrutiny Committee from 1950, chairing it from from 1954.[13] He was also President of the Howard League for Penal Reform from 1947 and of the Air League of the British Empire from 1953.[4]

From 1937 to 1959 he served as Chancellor of the University of Reading.[14]

In addition to those awarded for his services in the First World War, Viscount Templewood held the following foreign honours:[4]

Viscount Templewood died of a heart attack, at his home, 12a Eaton Mansions, Chelsea, London, in 1959 aged 79. He was buried at Sidestrand parish churchyard in Norfolk. As his marriage was childless and he left no surviving brother, the baronetcy and peerage became extinct upon his death.[13] Viscountess Templewood died in 1962.


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 served as national president of the Lawn Tennis Association from 1932 to 1957.[4] On his resignation from office in 1935 he convalesced in Switzerland by practising for a skating contest, and later became president of the British National Skating Association in 1946.[4]

His career included demanding work in Russia and Italy during the First World War, 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.


  1. 1.0 1.1 "TEMPLEWOOD, 1st Viscount". Who Was Who. Oxford University Press. December 2007. Retrieved 2 January 2012. 
  2. Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Volume 27. Oxford University Press. 2004. p. 364. ISBN 0-19-861377-6. Article by R.J.Q. Adams.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Volume 27. p. 365. 
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 4.5 4.6 4.7 Burke's Peerage, Baronetage and Knightage, 1959. Burke's Peerage Ltd. p. 2207. 
  5. Kelly's Handbook of the Titled, Landed and Official Classes, 1920. Kelly's. p. 829. 
  6. The London County Council Election, Great Municipal Reform Victory, The Times, 4 March 1907, p.6
  7. Markku Ruotsila, British and American Anticommunism Before the Cold War, Routledge, 2001, p. 8
  8. Jeffrey, Keith. MI6 The History of the Secret Intelligence Service 1909 - 1949, pp. 103-106. ISBN 978-0-7475-9183-2
  9. Kington, Tom (13 October 2009). "Recruited by MI5: the name's Mussolini. Benito Mussolini". The Guardian. 
  10. Kelly's Handbook of the Titled, Landed and Official Classes, 1959. Kelly's. p. 2063. 
  11. Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Volume 27. p. 367. 
  12. INTERNATIONAL: Peace Week, TIME Magazine, 20 March 1939
  13. 13.0 13.1 Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Volume 27. p. 368. 
  14. J. C Holt, 'The University of Reading: the first fifty years', Reading: University of Reading Press, 1976, p. 331

External links

Some bibliographical references

  • Sir Samuel Hoare, Viscount Templewood, Ambassador on Special Mission, Collins ed. (1946), 320 pages. No ISBN registration as it was printed before 1970. Edited in Spanish translation by Sedmay ed. Madrid (1977) .
  • Giles Milton Russian Roulette: How British Spies Thwarted Lenin's Global Plot, Sceptre, 2013. ISBN 978 1 444 73702 8
  • Manuel Ros Agudo. La guerra secreta de Franco, (1939 - 1945). 410 pages. In panish. edit. Editorial Critica, (2002), ISBN 84-8432-383-8
  • Charles B. Burdick. Germany's Military strategy and Spain In World War II.Syracuse Univ. Press, Syracuse, U.S.A., (1968). 228 pages. ISBN 256692
  • Cristian Leitz. Economic relations between Nazi Germany and Franco's Spain, 1936 - 1945. Oxford Historical Monographs. Clarendon Press, Oxford, (1995). ISBN 0-19-820645-3
  • R.J.Q. Adams, Stanford University British Politics and Foreign Policy in the Age of Appeasement, 1935-1939, Stanford University Press, (1993), 204 pages. ISBN 978-0-8047-2101-1
Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Emslie John Horniman
Member of Parliament for Chelsea
Succeeded by
William Sidney
Political offices
Preceded by
Frederick Guest
Secretary of State for Air
Succeeded by
The Lord Thomson
Preceded by
The Lord Thomson
Secretary of State for Air
Succeeded by
The Lord Thomson
Preceded by
William Wedgwood Benn
Secretary of State for India
Succeeded by
The Marquess of Zetland
Preceded by
Sir John Simon
Foreign Secretary
Succeeded by
Anthony Eden
Preceded by
The Viscount Monsell
First Lord of the Admiralty
Succeeded by
Duff Cooper
Preceded by
Sir John Simon
Home Secretary
Succeeded by
Sir John Anderson
Preceded by
Sir John Anderson
Lord Privy Seal
Succeeded by
Sir Kingsley Wood
Preceded by
Sir Kingsley Wood
Secretary of State for Air
Succeeded by
Sir Archibald Sinclair
Diplomatic posts
Preceded by
Sir Henry Chilton
British ambassador to Spain
Succeeded by
Sir Victor Mallet
Baronetage of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Samuel Hoare
(of Sidestrand Hall)
Peerage of the United Kingdom
New creation Viscount Templewood
Academic offices
Preceded by
Sir Austen Chamberlain
Chancellor of the University of Reading
Succeeded by
Lord Bridges

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