Ivor Guest, 1st Viscount Wimborne


Ivor Guest, 1st Viscount Wimborne

Ivor Churchill Guest, 1st Viscount Wimborne (16 January 1873 – 14 June 1939) was a British politician, and one of the last Lords Lieutenant of Ireland, serving in that position at the time of the Easter Rising.

Guest was the son of Ivor Bertie Guest, 1st Baron Wimborne and Lady Cornelia Spencer-Churchill, daughter of John Spencer-Churchill, 7th Duke of Marlborough. He was first cousin of Winston Churchill. He was educated at Trinity College, Cambridge. He was elected to Parliament for Plymouth in 1900, as a Conservative, and retained his seat in the general election of 1900. In 1904, during the controversy within the Conservative Party over adopting protectionism, Guest and other members of his family followed Churchill into the Liberal Party in support of free trade. He sat as an MP until 1910, when he was raised to the peerage as Baron Ashby St Ledgers, and became Paymaster General in the government of H. H. Asquith. [Hazlehurst, C., Whitehead, S. and Woodland, C., "A Guide to the Papers of British Cabinet Ministers, 1900-1964", Cambridge University Press, 1996, p. 168] He served as Paymaster General until 1912, and later served as a Lord in Waiting on King George V. In 1914 he succeeded his father as Baron Wimborne. At the start of World War I he was appointed to the staff of the newly-formed 10th (Irish) Division under Lieutenant-General Sir Bryan Mahon at the Curragh Camp. [Ó Broin, Leon, "Dublin Castle & the 1916 Rising", Sidgwick & Jackson, 1970, p. 31 ] Townshend, Charles, "Easter 1916: The Irish Rebellion", Penguin, 2006, ISBN 978 0 141 01216 1, p. 147 ]

In February 1915 Wimborne was appointed Lord Lieutenant of Ireland in succession to Lord Aberdeen. At this time the Lord Lieutenant was largely a ceremonial position; real power was in the hands of the Chief Secretary and the Under-Secretary. Determined to be more involved in decision-making, he was appointed Director of Recruiting in October 1915, heading up the new Department of Recruiting for Ireland. He insisted on being kept up to date on the state of the country, and had the Under-Secretary, Sir Matthew Nathan, sent him police reports, details of prosecutions and recruitment figures. [Ó Broin, Leon, "Dublin Castle & the 1916 Rising" pp. 68-69]

On the weekend preceding the Easter Rising, following the capture of the German arms ship "Aud" and the arrest of Sir Roger Casement, Wimborne urged Nathan to order the arrest of a large number of rebel leaders. Nathan was unwilling to do so without the authorisation of the Chief Secretary, Augustine Birrell, who was in London. [Townshend, Charles, "Easter 1916: The Irish Rebellion" pp. 149-151] Before the authorisation was received the Rising began on 24 April 1916. Wimborne proclaimed martial law in Dublin. Thereafter the military took control. A new Commander-in Chief, General Sir John Maxwell, arrived in Ireland on 28 April and the rebels surrendered on 29 April. Wimborne initially refused to offer his resignation after the Rising. He resigned under pressure from the government but was re-appointed. [Ó Broin, Leon, "Dublin Castle & the 1916 Rising" pp. 120-121] The Royal Commission on the 1916 Rebellion (the Hardinge commission) exonerated Wimborne of any blame for the Rising, saying that his position as Lord Lieutenant was "anomalous in quiet times and almost unworkable in times of crisis". [Ó Broin, Leon, "Dublin Castle & the 1916 Rising" p. 161] He continued as Lord Lieutenant for another two years. On his retirement in 1918 he was created Viscount Wimborne.

Guest's brother, Frederick Edward Guest, was also a politician.

References

succession box
title = Member of Parliament for Plymouth
2-seat constituency
(with Sigismund Ferdinand Mendl, to Oct 1900
Henry Edward Duke, to 1906)

years = 1900–1906
before = Sir Edward George Clarke
Sigismund Ferdinand Mendl
after = Thomas William Dobson
Charles Edward Mallet
succession box
title = Member of Parliament for Cardiff
years = 1906–1910
before = Sir Edward James Reed
after = David Alfred Thomas

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