- Hugh Childers
Hugh Culling Eardley Childers (
25 June 1827– 29 January 1896) was a British and Australian Liberal statesmanof the nineteenth century. He is perhaps best known for being the politician responsible for the sinking of HMS "Captain" and for his damaging 'reforms' at the Admiralty. However he had other failures. At the War Office he made budget cuts in the period before the First Boer War. As Chancellor of the Exchequer he made a failed attempt to convert Consols, and his attempt to correct a budget shortfall led to the fall of the government.
He was born in
Londonand educated at both Oxford and the University of Cambridge, graduating B.A. from the latter in 1850. He then decided to seek a career in Australia and in October emigrated to Victoria.
He joined the government of Victoria and served as inspector of schools and immigration agent, before becoming auditor-general in 1853. In 1852 he placed a bill before the state legislature proposing the establishment of a second university for Victoria, following the foundation of the
University of Sydneyin 1850. With the receipt of the Royal Assentin 1853, the University of Melbournewas founded, with Childers as its first vice-chancellor.
Return to Britain
Enters British Politics
In 1860 he entered Parliament as the Liberal member for
Pontefract, and served in a minor capacity in the government of Lord Palmerston, becoming a Civil Lord of the Admiraltyin 1864 and Financial Secretary to the Treasuryin 1865.
First Lord of the Admiralty
With the election of Gladstone's government in December 1868 he rose to greater prominence, serving as
First Lord of the Admiralty. Childers "had a reputation for being hardworking, but inept, autocratic and notoriously overbearing in his dealing with colleagues." He "initiated a determined programme of cost and manpower reductions, fully backed by the Prime Minister, Gladstone described him [Childers] as 'a man likely to scan with a rigid eye the civil expenses of the Naval Service'. He got the naval estimates just below the psychologically important figure of £10,000,000. Childers strengthened his own position as First Lord by reducing the role of the Board of Admiralty to a purely formal one, making meetings rare and short and confining the Naval Lords rigidly to the administrative functions... Initially Childers had the support of the influential Controller of the Navy, Vice-Admiral Sir [Robert Spencer Robinson| [Robert] Spencer Robinson] ." [Page 14, Smith, Paul (editor), "Government and the Armed Forces in Britain, 1856-1990", pub Hambledon Press, 1996, ISBN 1852851449
Note that the original anachronistically says 'Sea Lord'; at the time the title was Naval Lord.] "His re-organisation of the Admiralty was unpopular and poorly done."
Childers was responsible for the construction of HMS "Captain" in defiance of the advice of his professional advisers, the Controller (Robinson), and the Chief Constructor
Edward James Reed). The "Captain" was commissioned in April 1870, and sank on the night of 6/7 September 1870. She was, as predicted by Robison and Reed, insufficiently stable. "Shortly before "Captain" sank, Childers had moved his son, Midshipman Leonard Childers from Reed's designed HMS Monarch onto Captain; Leonard did not survive." Childers "faced strong criticism following the Court Martial on the loss of "Captain", and attempted to clear his name with a 359 page memorandum, a move described as "dubious public ethics". Vice Admiral Sir [Robert] Spencer Robinson wrote 'His endeavors were directed to throw the blame which might be supposed to attach to himself on those who had throughout expressed their disapproval of such methods of construction'." Childers unfairly blamed Robinson for the loss of the "Captain", and as a result of this Robinson was replaced as Third Lord and Controller of the navy in February 1871. [http://www.pdavis.nl/ShowBiog.php?id=112 Online biography Robert Spencer Robinson] ] "Following the loss of his son and the recriminations that followed, Childers resigned through ill health as First Lord in March 1871." [http://www.hmscaptain.co.uk/Characters/hughchilders.htm HMS Captain website biography of Hugh Childers.] ]
Following his resignation he spent some months on the Continent, and recovered sufficiently to take office in 1872 as
Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster.
When the Liberals regained power in 1880, Childers was appointed Secretary for War, a position he accepted reluctantly. He therefore had to bear responsibility for cuts in arms expenditure, a policy that provoked controversy when Britain found itself fighting first the Boers in South Africa in 1880 and invading Egypt in 1882.
Childers was also very unpopular with
Horse Guardsfor his reinforcement and expansion of the Cardwell reforms. In 1 May 1881 he passed General Order 41, which made a series of improvements known as the Childers reforms.
Chancellor of the Exchequer
Chancellor of the Exchequerin 1882, a post he had coveted. As such, he attempted to implement a conversion of Consolsin 1884. Although the scheme proved a failure, it paved the way for the subsequent conversion in 1888.
He attempted to resolve a budget shortfall in June 1885 by increasing alcohol duty and
income tax. His budget was rejected by Parliament, and the government - already unpopular due to events in Egypt - was forced out of office. The Earl of Rosebery commented resignedly: "So far as I know the budget is as good a question to go out upon as any other, and Tuesday as good a day."
At the subsequent election in December 1885 Childers lost his Pontefract seat, but returned as an independent
Home Ruler for Edinburgh South (one of the few Liberals who adopted this policy before Gladstone's conversion in 1886).
He then served as
Home Secretaryin the short-lived ministry of 1886. He was critical of the financial clauses of the first Home Rule Bill, and their withdrawal was largely due to his threat of resignation. Nevertheless, the Bill still failed to pass, and its rejection brought down the Liberal government.
He retired from parliament in 1892, and his last piece of work was the drafting of a report for the royal commission on Irish financial relations, of which he was chairman.
Towards the end of his ministerial career "HCE" Childers was notable for his girth, and so acquired the nickname "Here Comes Everybody".
Robert Erskine Childers, was the author of the famous spy novel " The Riddle of the Sands", and father of the fourth President of Ireland, Erskine Childers.
* "The Life and Correspondence of the Rt. Hon. Hugh C.E. Childers", Spencer Childers, 1901
* "The Educational Activities in Victoria of the Right Hon. H. C. E. Childers", E. Sweetman, 1940
* [http://digitalgallery.nypl.org/nypldigital/dgkeysearchdetail.cfm?trg=1&strucID=544236&imageID=1213762&word=childers&s=1¬word=&d=&c=&f=&lWord=&lField=&sScope=&sLevel=&sLabel=&total=4&num=0&imgs=12&pNum=&pos=1] A Portrait from the New York Public Library Archives
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Look at other dictionaries:
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Childers, Robert Erskine — ▪ Irish writer born June 25, 1870, London, Eng. died Nov. 24, 1922, Beggar s Bush, County Dublin, Ire. writer and Irish nationalist agitator, executed because of his support for the republican cause in the civil war that followed the… … Universalium
Childers — (spr. tschillders), 1) Hugh Culling Eardley, engl. Staatsmann, geb. 25. Juni 1827 in London, gest. daselbst 29. Jan. 1896, studierte und ward 1850 Mitglied der Regierung der australischen Kolonie Victoria. 1857 als Generalagent der Kolonie nach… … Meyers Großes Konversations-Lexikon
Hugh Coveney — (* 20. Juli 1935; † 15. März 1998) war ein irischer Politiker der Fine Gael. Biografie Coveney war ursprünglich amtlich zugelassener Kostenplanungsingenieur (Chartered Quantity Surveyor) sowie Direktor mehrerer Unternehmen in Cork. Er bekleidete… … Deutsch Wikipedia
CHILDERS, Hugh Culling Eardley (1827-1896) — founder of the university of Melbourne was born at London on 25 June 1827, the son of the Rev. Eardley Childers, who died when the boy was three years old. He had distinguished and remarkable people among his ancestors for some generations back.… … Dictionary of Australian Biography
Childers, Hugh Culling Eardley — ▪ British politician born June 25, 1827, London died Jan. 29, 1896, London politician in Australia and later in Great Britain. He was a prominent member of the British Liberal Party and a fervent supporter of William Ewart Gladstone (Gladstone,… … Universalium
Childers — I. /ˈtʃɪldəz/ (say childuhz) noun Hugh Culling Eardley, 1827–96, Australian and English politician, born in England; founder of Melbourne University. II. /ˈtʃɪldəz/ (say childuhz) noun a town in Qld, south of Bundaberg; sugar growing … Australian English dictionary