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Walter Long, 1st Viscount Long: Wikis


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The Right Honourable
 The Viscount Long 

The Viscount Long (1903).

In office
10 December 1916 – 10 January 1919
Monarch George V
Prime Minister David Lloyd George
Preceded by Andrew Bonar Law
Succeeded by The Viscount Milner

In office
10 January 1919 – 13 February 1921
Monarch George V
Prime Minister David Lloyd George
Preceded by Sir Eric Geddes
Succeeded by The Viscount Lee of Fareham

Born 13 July 1854 (1854-07-13)
Died 26 September 1924 (1924-09-27)
Rood Ashton House, West Ashton, near Trowbridge, Wiltshire, England, UK
Nationality British
Political party Conservative
Spouse(s) Lady Dorothy Boyle
(c. 1860-1938)
Alma mater Christ Church, Oxford

Walter Hume Long, 1st Viscount Long PC, FRS, JP (13 July 1854 - 26 September 1924), was a British Unionist politician. In a political career spanning over 40 years, he held office as President of the Board of Agriculture, President of the Local Government Board, Chief Secretary for Ireland, Secretary of State for the Colonies and First Lord of the Admiralty. However, he is best remembered for his links with Irish Unionism and served as Leader of the Irish Unionist Party in the House of Commons from 1905 to 1910.


Background and education

Long was the eldest son of Richard Penruddocke Long, by his wife Charlotte Anna, daughter of William Wentworth FitzWilliam Dick (originally Hume). Richard Chaloner, 1st Baron Gisborough, was his younger brother. On his father's side he was descended from an old family of Wiltshire gentry, and on his mother's side from Irish gentry in County Wicklow. Long was educated at Harrow and Christ Church, Oxford. Upon his father's death in 1875, he took over management of the family properties.

Political career, 1880-1911

At the 1880 general election, Long was elected to parliament as a Conservative for North Wiltshire, a seat he held until 1885, and then represented Devizes between 1885 and 1892, Liverpool West Derby between 1893 and 1900, Bristol South between 1900 and 1906, South County Dublin between 1906 and 1910, Strand between 1910 and 1918 and St George's between 1918 and 1921. He entered government for the first time in 1886 in Lord Salisbury's second administration as Parliamentary Secretary to the Local Government Board, serving under Charles Ritchie, and became one of the architects of the Local Government Act 1888, which established elected county councils. After the Conservative defeat in 1892, Ritchie's defeat made Long the chief opposition spokesman on local government, and when the Tories returned to power in 1895, he entered the cabinet as President of the Board of Agriculture. In this role he was notable for his efforts to prevent the spread of rabies. In 1895 he was also admitted to the Privy Council. With the ministerial shuffle in 1900, Long became President of the Local Government Board. In this role, he was criticized as too radical for his support of the Unemployed Workmen's Act 1905, which created an unemployment board to give work and training to the unemployed.

Political career, 1911-1921

When Arthur Balfour resigned as party leader in November 1911, Long was the leading candidate to succeed him. However, he was opposed by Austen Chamberlain, who was supported by the protectionists and Liberal Unionists. A divisive contest was avoided by the withdrawal of both candidates in favor of Andrew Bonar Law, a relatively unknown figure. With the formation of the wartime coalition government in May 1915, Long returned to office at the Local Government Board, and there dealt with the plight of thousands of Belgian refugees. He was actively involved in undermining attempts by Lloyd George to negotiate a deal between Irish Nationalists and Unionists in July 1916 over introducing the suspended Home Rule Act 1914, publicly clashing with his archrival Edward Carson. He was accused of plotting to bring down Carson by jeopardising his agreement that partition would be temporary, with the nationalist leader John Redmond , Long altering the clause to permanent, Redmond then abandoning further negotiations. Carson, in a bitter reposte, said of Long "The worst of Walter Long is that he never knows what he wants, but is always intriguing to get it.[1] Austin Chamberlain, in 1911, was similarly critical of Long, saying he was "at the centre of every coterie of grumblers."[1] With the fall of Asquith and the accession of the Lloyd George government in December 1916, Long was promoted to the Colonial Office, serving until January 1919, when he became First Lord of the Admiralty, a position in which he served until his retirement in 1921. The latter year he was raised to the peerage as Viscount Long, of Wraxall in the County of Wiltshire. Between 1923 and his death the following year he held the honorary post of Lord-Lieutenant of Wiltshire.

Irish politics

Long is best known, however, for his involvement with Irish Unionism. In March 1905, he became Chief Secretary for Ireland. Due to his Irish connections (both his wife and his mother were Irish), it was hoped that Long might be more acceptable to Irish Unionists than his predecessor, George Wyndham, who had become increasingly unpopular. Following the Unionist fall from power in December 1905, Long became one of the leading opposition voices against the Liberals' plans for home rule in Ireland, helping to found the Ulster Defence League in 1907. He also served as leader of the Irish Unionist Parliamentary Party before being succeeded by his archrival Edward Carson.[2] Although he never openly supported the most militant Unionists, who were prepared to fight the Southern nationalists (and perhaps the British Army) to prevent home rule for Ireland, contemporary accounts indicate that he probably had prior knowledge of the Larne gunrunning.[3] At the same time, Long was less attached to the constitution of the UK than other Unionists, and opposed last ditch resistance to the Parliament Act 1911.

However, from October 1919 on, he was, once again, largely concerned with Irish affairs, serving as the chair of the cabinet's Long Committee on Ireland. In this capacity, he was largely responsible for the Government of Ireland Act, which created separate home rule governments for Southern Ireland and Northern Ireland, the latter he endowed with wider powers than its southern counterpart. Although in southern and western Ireland, this was soon superseded by the Anglo-Irish Treaty, which gave the new Irish Free State a much greater share of independence, the measure survived as the basis for the government of Northern Ireland until 1972.


Lord Long married Lady Dorothy (Doreen) Blanche, daughter of Richard Boyle, 9th Earl of Cork, in 1878. They had two sons, including Brigadier General Walter Long, who was killed in action in 1917, and three daughters. He died at his home, Rood Ashton House in Wiltshire, in September 1924, aged 70, and was succeeded by his 13-year-old grandson Walter. Lady Long died in June 1938.


  1. ^ a b Jackson p.193.
  2. ^ Alvin Jackson, Home Rule: An Irish History 1800 — 2000 (Phoenix, 2004) p.193.
  3. ^ Captain F.E. Crawford, a leading figure in the gunrunning, recorded contemporaneously being called to meet Long and Bonar Law before he left to set up the event, and that they "wished me God's speed and a successful issue." Crawford's recollections, however, are often inaccurate. Long's Parliamentary Secretary, William Bull, was actively involved in the plot. Jackson p.154.


External links

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
George Sotheron-Estcourt
Sir George Jenkinson, Bt
Member of Parliament for Wiltshire North
With: George Sotheron-Estcourt
Constituency abolished
Preceded by
Sir Thomas Bateson, Bt
Member of Parliament for Devizes
Succeeded by
Charles Hobhouse
Preceded by
Hon. William Henry Cross
Member of Parliament for Liverpool West Derby
Succeeded by
Samuel Higginbottom
Preceded by
Sir Edward Stock Hill
Member of Parliament for Bristol South
Succeeded by
Sir Howell Davies
Preceded by
John Joseph Mooney
Member of Parliament for Dublin County South
Succeeded by
Bryan Cooper
Preceded by
Hon. William Danvers Smith
Member of Parliament for Strand
Constituency abolished
Preceded by
Sir Newton Moore
Member of Parliament for Westminster St George's
Succeeded by
James Erskine
Political offices
Preceded by
William Copeland Borlase
Parliamentary Secretary to the Local Government Board
Succeeded by
Preceded by
Herbert Gardner
President of the Board of Agriculture
Succeeded by
Robert William Hanbury
Preceded by
Henry Chaplin
President of the Local Government Board
Succeeded by
Gerald Balfour
Preceded by
George Wyndham
Chief Secretary for Ireland
Succeeded by
James Bryce
Preceded by
Herbert Samuel
President of the Local Government Board
Succeeded by
William Hayes Fisher
Preceded by
Andrew Bonar Law
Secretary of State for the Colonies
Succeeded by
The Viscount Milner
Preceded by
Sir Eric Geddes
First Lord of the Admiralty
Succeeded by
The Lord Lee of Fareham
Party political offices
Preceded by
Edward James Saunderson
Leader of the Irish Unionist Party
in the House of Commons

Succeeded by
Edward Carson
Honorary titles
Preceded by
The Marquess of Lansdowne
Lord Lieutenant of Wiltshire
Succeeded by
The Earl of Radnor
Peerage of the United Kingdom
New creation Viscount Long
Succeeded by
Walter Long


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