Walter Monckton, 1st Viscount Monckton of Brenchley
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Walter Monckton, 1st Viscount Monckton of Brenchley

Walter Monckton, 1st Viscount Monckton of Brenchley English lawyer and politician

English lawyer and politician
The basics
Quick Facts
Intro English lawyer and politician
Countries United Kingdom
Occupations Athlete Cricketer Politician Lawyer
Type Law Politics Sports
Gender male
Birth 17 January 1891 (Kent, South East England, England, United Kingdom)
Death 9 January 1965
Politics Conservative Party
Children: Gilbert Monckton, 2nd Viscount Monckton of Brenchley
Education Balliol College, Harrow School
The details

Walter Turner Monckton, 1st Viscount Monckton of Brenchley, (17 January 1891 – 9 January 1965) was a British politician.

Early years

Monckton was born in the village of Plaxtol in north Kent. He was the eldest child of paper manufacturer Frank William Monckton (1861–1924), and his wife, Dora Constance (d. 1915). He was head boy of his preparatory school, The Knoll, at Woburn Sands in Buckinghamshire, and attended Harrow School from 1904 to 1910. He chose to enter Balliol College, Oxford as a commoner (despite winning in 1910 an Exhibition to Hertford College, Oxford) and obtained a third in classical moderations (1912) and a second in history (1914). He was elected president of the Oxford Union in 1913. He played cricket for Harrow against Eton in the famous Fowler's match in 1910. Whilst at Oxford, he played a first-class match for the combined Oxford and Cambridge Universities cricket team in 1911.


Monckton was called to the bar at the Inner Temple in 1919. In 1927 he was appointed legal advisor to the Simon Commission. He took silk in 1930.

Monckton served as advisor to Edward VIII during the abdication crisis, having been Attorney General to the Duchy of Cornwall since 1932. He was Recorder of Hythe from 1930-37. Thanks to his royal connections, he was appointed constitutional advisor to the last Nizam of Hyderabad.

He worked in propaganda and information during World War II and became Solicitor General in Winston Churchill's 1945 caretaker government, although he refused to join the Conservative Party.

After the 1945 general election, Monckton returned to legal practice. He also continued to serve as advisor to the Nizam of Hyderabad.

He finally joined after the war and became a Member of Parliament for Bristol West at a 1951 by-election. Churchill soon appointed him to the cabinet as Minister of Labour and National Service, in which post he served from 1951 to 1955. He was Anthony Eden's Minister of Defence 1955–56, but was the only cabinet minister to oppose his Suez policy, and was moved to Paymaster-General 1956–57.

Monckton was made Viscount Monckton of Brenchley in 1957. He had wanted to become Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales and indeed had been promised the job by Churchill and the subsequent two prime ministers, but in 1957 he decided instead to join the board of Midland Bank.

Lord Monckton of Brenchley was chairman of Midland Bank (1957–64), President of the Marylebone Cricket Club (1956–1957), President of Surrey County Cricket Club (1950–52 and 1959–65), Chairman of the Iraq Petroleum Company (1958), Chairman of the Advisory Commission on Central Africa (1960), and Chancellor of the University of Sussex (1961–65).

In 1960 he headed the Monckton Commission that concluded that the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland could not be maintained except by force or through massive changes in racial legislation. It advocated a majority of African members in the Nyasaland and Northern Rhodesian legislatures and giving these territories the option to leave the Federation after five years.

Personal life

He married Polly Colyer-Fergusson, daughter of Sir Thomas Colyer-Fergusson, the family who owned Ightham Mote, Sevenoaks. In 1947, he married, secondly, to Bridget Monckton, 11th Lady Ruthven of Freeland, CBE, the wartime head of the ATS counterpart in India, the Women's Army Corps (India), and also of the Women's Royal Indian Naval Service (WRINS).

He was succeeded by his son Gilbert, born of his first marriage, on his death in 1965 at the age of 73.

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