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Richard Burdon HALDANE (1856-1928)

Known As
Lord Haldane
Biographical Details

Richard Burdon Haldane, 1st Viscount Haldane (1856-1928), was born in Edinburgh on 30th July 1856.  He was educated at Edinburgh Academy, Göttingen University and the University of Edinburgh.

After studying law in London, he was called to the bar in 1879.  In 1885 Haldane was elected Liberal Member of Parliament for Haddingtonshire, a seat he held until 1911.  He was Secretary of State for War 1905-1912 during which time the British Army "Haldane Reforms" were implemented, despite budgetary constraints.  The reforms were aimed at preparing the army for an Imperial war but with the more likely (and secret) task of a European war. The main element of this was the establishment of the British Expeditionary Force of six infantry divisions and one cavalry division.

Raised to the peerage as Viscount Haldane in 1911, he was Lord Chancellor 1912-1915, when he was forced to resign because of false allegations of German sympathies.

He later joined the Labour Party and once again served as Lord Chancellor in 1924 in the first ever Labour administration.

Apart from his legal and political careers, Haldane was also an influential writer on philosophy, in recognition of which he was elected a Fellow of the British Academy in 1914.

Haldane never married.  He died suddenly of heart disease at his home in Scotland on 19th August 1928.  The viscountcy became extinct on his death.

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