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Reginald Baliol Brett, 2nd Viscount Esher

Reginald Baliol Brett, 2nd Viscount Esher, GCVO, KCB, PC, DL (30 June 1852 – 22 January 1930) was a historian and Liberal politician in the United Kingdom.

Brett was the son of William Baliol Brett, 1st Viscount Esher and Eugénie Mayer (1814–1904).[1] Born in London, Brett was educated at Eton and Trinity College, Cambridge.[2]

He began his political career in 1880, as MP for Penryn and Falmouth. However, five years later, he elected to withdraw from public politics, after losing an election at Plymouth, in favour of a behind the scenes role. In 1895, he became Permanent Secretary to the Office of Works. Upon his father's death on 24 May 1899, he succeeded him as Viscount Esher.

In 1901, Lord Esher was appointed a deputy lieutenant of Berkshire[3] and became Deputy Constable and Lieutenant-Governor of Windsor Castle, and remained close to the royal family until his death. He lived at 'Orchard Lea' at Winkfield on the edge of the Great Park. During this period, he helped edit Queen Victoria's papers, publishing a work called Correspondence of Queen Victoria (1907). He was appointed a deputy lieutenant of the County of London in 1909.[4] Behind the scenes, he influenced many of the pre-World War I reforms carried out by the Liberal governments of Henry Campbell-Bannerman and Herbert Henry Asquith, and was a supporter of the BritishFrench Entente Cordiale. He was a member of Lord Elgin's South African War Commission, which investigated Britain's near-failure in the Boer War, and chaired the War Office Reconstitution Committee, which recommended radical reform of the British Army. He was offered many public offices, including the Viceroyalty of India and the Secretaryship for War, but declined, accepting instead an appointment to the Privy Council in 1922. In 1928 he became Constable and Governor of Windsor Castle, an office he held until his death in 1930.

Lord Esher was also a historian; besides the aforementioned work, he also published works on King Edward VII and Lord Kitchener. Together with Liberal M. P. Lewis ("Loulou") Harcourt he established the London Museum, which opened its doors on 5 March 1912.[5]

Lord Esher's younger daughter, Sylvia, became the last Ranee of Sarawak on 24 May 1917, following the proclamation of her husband Charles Vyner Brooke as Rajah. His second son, Maurice Vyner Baliol Brett, married the famous musical theatre actress Zena Dare.


  1. ^ Hedley (2004)
  2. ^ Brett, Reginald Baliol in Venn, J. & J. A., Alumni Cantabrigienses, Cambridge University Press, 10 vols, 1922–1958.
  3. ^ London Gazette: no. 27281, p. 766, 5 February 1901.
  4. ^ London Gazette: no. 28255, p. 4062, 28 May 1909.
  5. ^ Bailkin, Jordanna "Radical Conservations: The Problem with the London Museum" Radical History Review - Issue 84, Fall 2002, pp. 43–7
  • Lees-Milne, James (1986). The Enigmatic Edwardian: The Life of Reginald, 2nd Viscount Esher. London: Sidgwick & Jackson.

External links

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Henry Thomas Cole
David James Jenkins
Member of Parliament for Penryn & Falmouth
With: David James Jenkins
Succeeded by
David James Jenkins
Peerage of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
William Brett
Viscount Esher
Succeeded by
Oliver Brett


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