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Edward George Villiers STANLEY (1865-1948)

Known As
Lord Derby
Biographical Details

Edward George Villiers Stanley, 17th Earl of Derby (1865-1948), was a British soldier, Conservative politician, diplomat, and racehorse owner. He was twice Secretary of State for War and also served as British Ambassador to France.

Lord Derby was born on 4th April 1865 in London.  He received a lieutenant’s commission in the King’s Own (Royal Lancaster Regiment) in 1882, then joined the Grenadier Guards from 1885-1895.

Derby entered Parliament for Westhoughton in 1892.  In 1908 he succeeded his father in the earldom and took his seat in the House of Lords.

In August 1914 Lord Derby organised one of the most successful recruitment campaigns to Kitchener's Army in Liverpool. Over two days, 1500 Liverpudlians joined the new battalion, the first of the “pals’ battalions”.

In October 1915, as Director-General of Recruiting, he instituted the Derby Scheme, a halfway-house between voluntary enlistment and conscription (which the Government was reluctant to adopt). It was not sufficiently successful and conscription followed in 1916.

In July 1916 Derby returned to the government when he was appointed Under-Secretary of State for War by Asquith, and in December 1916 he was promoted to Secretary of State for War by David Lloyd George. In this position he was a strong supporter of the Chief of the Imperial General Staff Sir William Robertson and of the Commander-in-Chief of the BEF, Field Marshal Haig.

Lord Derby died on 4th February 1948 at Knowsley Hall, Lancashire, aged 82.

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