Philip Cunliffe-Lister, 1st Earl of Swinton

Philip Cunliffe-Lister, 1st Earl of Swinton

Philip Cunliffe-Lister, 1st Earl of Swinton, GBE, CH, MC, PC (1884 – 1972), known as Philip Lloyd-Greame until 1924 and as The Viscount Swinton from 1935 until 1955, was a prominent British Conservative politician from the 1920s until the 1950s.

He was first elected as Member of Parliament for Hendon in the 1918 general election and would hold this seat until his elevation to the House of Lords in 1935. He was knighted in 1920 when he achieved his first ministerial post as Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Trade. He took charge of the Overseas Trade Department in 1921. In 1922 he became a privy counsellor and was appointed as President of the Board of Trade, an office he would hold with two breaks until 1931. This fast elevation to the Cabinet came about because of the collapse of the Lloyd George Coalition Government and the new Prime Minister Andrew Bonar Law was forced to promote many inexperienced MPs.

In 1923 Law was forced to resign due to failing health and there was discussion as to whether he would be succeeded by Stanley Baldwin or Lord Curzon. As the last survivor of Law's Cabinet, Lloyd-Greame would later assert that it was Cabinet hostility to Curzon that prevented his appointment as Prime Minister.

On November 7 1924 Lloyd-Greame changed his surname to Cunliffe-Lister so as to be able to inherit property from his wife's family.

In 1931 Cunliffe-Lister was one of the Conservatives chosen to negotiate with the Labour Prime Minister Ramsay MacDonald as the latter's government collapsed and was replaced by the multi-party National Government. As a sign of his prominence within the party, Cunliffe-Lister was one of just four Conservatives in the emergency Cabinet of 10, serving for the third and final time as President of the Board of Trade.

The National Government won a massive election victory in the 1931 general election but was internally divided on the question of protective tariffs. So as to balance the Cabinet Cunliffe-Lister was replaced at the Board of Trade by the supposed Free Trader Walter Runciman, and instead became Secretary of State for the Colonies, which he would hold until 1935.

When MacDonald retired as Prime Minister and was succeed by Stanley Baldwin a Cabinet reshuffle took place in which Cunliffe-Lister became Secretary of State for Air. At the 1935 general election he did not contest his seat and was instead ennobled as Viscount Swinton, retaining his ministerial office for the next three years into the premiership of Neville Chamberlain.

As Swinton was now in the House of Lords it was difficult for members of the House of Commons to hold the Air Ministry to account, and so Chamberlain appointed the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster Lord Winterton (an Irish peer who sat in the House of Commons) to speak for the Air Ministry in the Commons. This arrangement did not prove successful and in May 1938 there was a disastrous debate on air and it became clear to Chamberlain that the Secretary of State must sit in the House of Commons. Swinton was dismissed, his political career seemingly over.

During the Second World War Swinton's career revived when he was appointed as the first Minister of Civil Aviation, a post he held until the end of the war. He was made a Companion of Honour in 1943. When Winston Churchill formed his peacetime government in 1951 he appointed Swinton as Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster for a year, then as Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations for three years. When in 1955 Churchill retired, Swinton insisted on retiring too, and he was further ennobled as the Earl of Swinton.

He is mentioned, in the entry for 6th April 1967, in the diary of gay playwright Joe Orton. He went to dinner with Orton and his lover Kenneth Halliwell on the evening of the television premiere of Orton's play The Good and Faithful Servant and watched it with them. He was effusive in his praise for it according to Orton. Orton had to be told about Swinton's role as Air Minister as he otherwise didn't recognise his name.


Philip Lloyd-Graeme (1884-1972) was born the younger son of Lt Col Yarburgh George Lloyd-Greame, of Sewerby House, Bridlington, Yorkshire (1840-1928) by his wife Dora Letitia O'Brien, d. of Rt. Rev. James Thomas O'Brien, Bishop of Ossory. His paternal grandfather Yarburgh Gamaliel Lloyd, later Lloyd-Graeme (1813-1890) had inherited Sewerby (or Sowerby) House by the will of his maternal uncle Yarburgh Greame, later Yarburgh (1782-1856).

Lord Swinton, previously Philip Lloyd-Greame, married Mary Constance "Molly" Boynton (d. 1974) in 1912. [] . She was the granddaughter of industrialist Samuel Cunliffe-Lister, 1st Lord Masham who had bought the castle in 1882. In 1924, Philip and Molly Lloyd-Greame took the name of Cunliffe-Lister and moved to Swinton Park (sold in 1980 by the 2nd Earl and bought back 2000 by his nephew Lord Masham and his family). []

Their elder son John was killed in the Second World War, leaving two sons of his own, of whom the elder grandson succeeded his grandfather as the 2nd Earl of Swinton, and was succeeded 2006 by his younger brother as the 3rd Earl of Swinton. The third Earl has two sons, both of whom are now married.

Titles from birth to death

*Philip Lloyd-Greame, Esq (1884–1918)
*Philip Lloyd-Greame, Esq, MP (1918–1920)
*Sir Philip Lloyd-Greame, MP (1920–1922)
*The Right Honourable Sir Philip Lloyd-Greame, MP (1922–1924)
*The Right Honourable Sir Philip Cunliffe-Lister, MP (1924–1935)
*The Right Honourable the Viscount Swinton, PC (1935–1955)
*The Right Honourable the Earl of Swinton, PC (1955–1972)

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