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Sunday, 7 February 2016

David Lloyd George

EARLY LIFE

David Lloyd George was born in Chorlton-on-Medlock, near Manchester, to Welsh parents on January 17, 1863.

Lloyd barely knew his father, William George, who had been a teacher in both London and Liverpool. He also taught in the Hope Street Sunday Schools, which were administered by the Unitarians, When David was two months old, William George returned with his family to his native Pembrokeshire on account of his failing health,  He took up farming but died in June 1864 of pneumonia, aged 44.

David's mother, Elizabeth George (1828–96), sold the farm and moved with her children to her native Llanystumdwy in Caernarfonshire, where she lived in Tŷ Newydd with her brother Richard Lloyd (1834–1917), who was a shoemaker, a minister (in the Scotch Baptists and then the Church of Christ) and a strong Liberal.

David grew up to admire his uncle. who encouraged him to take up a career in law and go into politics. David George later took the name Lloyd in honor of his uncle Richard Lloyd.

David was educated at the local Anglican school Llanystumdwy National School and later under tutors.

EARLY LEGAL CAREER 

As a child, Lloyd would poach salmon Later as a solicitor, he gained a reputation for his defense of poachers.

Lloyd George served his articles to a solicitor at Portmadoc in 1879.

Lloyd George passed his law exams with honors in 1884 and set up his own office in in the back parlour of his uncle's house in Criccieth.

The practice flourished, and Lloyd George established branch offices in surrounding towns, taking his brother William into partnership in 1887.

Lloyd George was returned as Liberal MP for Carnarvon Boroughs  in 1890. As backbench members of the House of Commons were not paid at that time, he supported himself and his growing family by continuing to practice as a solicitor, opening an office in London under the name of Lloyd George and Co. and continuing in partnership with William George in Criccieth.

Lloyd George in 1890

In 1897 he merged his growing London practice with that of Arthur Rhys Roberts (who was to become Official Solicitor) under the name of Lloyd George, Roberts and Co.

EARLY POLITICAL CAREER 

By the mid 1880s Lloyd George was politically active, having campaigned for the Liberal Party in the 1885 election, attracted by Joseph Chamberlain's "unauthorised programme" of reforms.

On April 13, 1890 at a by-election caused by the death of the former Conservative member, Lloyd Geoge entered Parliament as MP for Caernarvon with a majority of 18 votes.

Lloyd George: "A Politician is a person with whose politics you don't agree; If you agree with him, he is a Statesman."

Before he was elected to parliament, Lloyd George was already well known for his oratory gifts, His speech in 1900 opposing a Boer War to a hostile house of Commons sealed his reputation as an orator.

David Lloyd George in 1902

His speeches opposing the war in South Africa made Lloyd George many enemies. On one occasion in 1901 he was forced to escape the fury of a mob in Birmingham by dressing up as a policeman.

Once he became an MP, Lloyd George didn't spend much time in Wales as he disliked the weather,

MEMBER OF THE CABINET 

Lloyd George was Chancellor of the Exchequer between 1908-1915. He introduced the People's Budget in 1909, which included several proposed tax increases to fund the Liberal welfare reforms. It was the first budget in British history with the expressed intent of redistributing wealth among the public. He said: "This is a war budget for raising money to wage implacable warfare against poverty and squalidness."

The House of Lords rejected the Lloyd George's budget, which led to a constitutional crisis . He said of the Upper House, "It is the right Hon Gentleman's poodle (referring to the Conservative leader, Balfour) It fetches and carries for him. It bites anything that he sets it onto."

The Lords rejection of his 1909 budget led to a 1911 act limiting their powers. Lloyd George then swept through the revolutionary 1911 budget, which introduced Health and Unemployment insurance.

Lloyd George's 1911 National Insurance Act provided sickness, maternity and unemployment benefit, contributory pensions and funeral grants. It ignited the social revolution and provided the framework for today’s welfare state.

As Chancellor, Lloyd George was caught buying American shares in Marconi on basis of inside information that they had just secured a government contract.

Portrait of Chancellor Lloyd George by Christopher Williams (1911)

Lloyd George originally favored non-intervention in the First World War but rallied when appointed Minister of Munitions.

PRIME MINISTER  

By the end of 1916, the war was going badly for Great Britain. Lloyd George gathered together a coalition of Liberal and Conservative MPs to form a new government. The day after Prime Minister H. H. Asquith resigned, Lloyd George took his place on December 6, 1916.

He was brought up as a Welsh-speaker and was to become the first (and so far only) Welsh politician to hold the office of Prime Minister.

David Lloyd George

His effective administrating during the  First World War, especially his transporting of American troops to France in 1917, supplying them with arms and unifying of command meant Lloyd George was credited as "The man who won the war."

Even Hitler believed Lloyd George was the man who won World War 1 for Britain, because of his rousing oratory in his melodious, light Welsh voice.

In 1918  Lloyd George's coalition was returned to office by a vast majority. After the war, Lloyd George represented Britain at the Versailles Peace Conference. With the French Prime Minister, Georges Clemenceau, the US President, Woodrow Wilson, and the Italian Prime Minister, Vittorio Orlando, he redrew the map of Europe and set up the League of Nations.

Georges Clemenceau, David Lloyd George and Vittorio Orlando at Versailles

In 1922 Lloyd George headed the English negotiation team that met with the Irish and produced the Anglo Irish treaty that created the Irish Free state with six counties remaining in Great Britain.

Lloyd George shamelessly sold off honors as Prime Minister, selling peerages for his personal funds.

During his ministry Lloyd George had to contend with World War 1, the economic crisis and the Sinn Fein movement amongst others, when asked how he kept his good spirits, the Welsh Wit replied "Well, I find that a change of nuisances as good as a vacation."

By 1922, Lloyd George's coalition was breaking apart. In October 1922, the Conservative Party led by Andrew Bonar Law won the election, after which he became an eccentric elder statesman.

FAMILY

Lloyd George married on January 24, 1888, Margaret, the daughter of a well-to-do Welsh farmer Richard Owen of  Mynyddednyfed, Criccieth.  The Methodist farmer initially disapproved of the radical young Baptist solicitor.

Mrs. Lloyd George circa 1914 Bain News Service,, Transferred from en.wikipedia to Commons., Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=17976754

They had five children, one of whom Lady Olwen Elizabeth Carey Evans (1892–1990) was the great-grandmother of the historian Dan Snow.

His son, Gwilym, and his daughter, Megan, both followed their father into politics, and were elected members of parliament. After 1945 each drifted away from the Liberal Party, Gwilym finishing his career as a Conservative Home Secretary and Megan becoming a Labour MP in 1957, perhaps symbolizing the fate of much of the old Liberal Party.

Lloyd George had a considerable reputation as a womanizer.  Kitchener is said to have remarked early in the First World War that he tried to avoid sharing military secrets with the Cabinet, as they would all tell their wives, apart from Lloyd George "who would tell someone else's wife".

In 1913, when he was Chancellor of the Exchequer, Lloyd George commenced a 30-year-old affair with Frances Stevenson, his youngest daughter Megan's holiday tutor. She was young enough to be his daughter and had been at school with another of his daughters. Divorce would have jeopardized Lloyd George’s chances of premiership so their relationship remained secret. Stevenson became his private secretary and in 1929 she gave birth to a girl, Jennifer, whom many believed was fathered by Lloyd George.

"A Private Secretary to Mr. Lloyd George: Miss F.L. Stevenson"

Margaret Lloyd George died at her home in Criccieth in 1941 after a period of illness following a fall when she injured her hip. Her husband then married long-term mistress, Frances Stevenson in 1943.
"Probably the greatest Don Juan in British political history." claimed his son.

BELIEFS 

As a child, young David had been bought up in Wales by his Uncle Richard Lloyd, a bootmaker and Baptist pastor.

The adult Lloyd George professed a vague pantheism, a belief in being one in nature but he retained his love of the hymns he used to sing as a child.

David Lloyd George regularly attended the Welsh Church of Central London and his daughter was married there.

Lloyd-George's own morality was poor, the press turned a blind eye to the married Prime Minister's affair with Frances Stevenson, his daughter's tutor.

HABITS, HOBBIES AND INTERESTS

Lloyd George was smaller than average with a long swept back mane of hair. When he was teased about his short stature he is said to have replied: "Where I come from we measure people from the chin up."


David Lloyd George sweated easily so he always had with him a change of shirt to put on after finishing a platform speech in places such as Manchester Free Trade. His shirts were either cream or white.

A favorite recreation of the British Prime Minister was standing around the piano at his 10 Downing Street home on a Sunday with his nearest and dearest singing Welsh hymns.

Lloyd George couldn't get his golf handicap below 18.

HOMES 

David Lloyd George was bought up in Llanystumdwy Caernarvonshire. The cottage known as Highgate where he lived as a child had an earth closet at the back, which young Lloyd used to nickname "The House of Lords."

In 1913 a suffragette bomb wrecked Lloyd George's new 14-room villa by the golf course at Walton Heath near Epsom.

After the end of the war  Lord Lee of Fareham gave his Buckingham mansion, Chequers, to the nation as a country retreat for the serving Prime Minister. The Lees left Chequers on January 8, 1921 after a final dinner at their country home. A political disagreement between the Lees and Lloyd George soured the hand-over, which went ahead nevertheless.

In the 1930s Lloyd George replaced a wall in his country home, imitating Hitler's example at Berchtesgaden with a massive sheet of plate glass.

Lloyd George retired in 1940 to his Welsh home village. His final home was at Tynewydd, Gwynedd, with a view over Cardigan Bay.

LAST YEARS AND DEATH

He said in a 1933 Observer interview: "The world is becoming like a lunatic asylum run by lunatics."

Lloyd George remained an MP until 1945.


In 1945, he was given the titles Earl Lloyd George of Dwyfor and Viscount Gwynedd. The former Prime Minister was to take a seat in the House of Lords, but he died before he could do so.

David Lloyd George died of stomach cancer on March 26, 1945, aged 82, his wife Frances and his daughter Megan at his bedside. Four days later, on Good Friday, he was buried beside the river Dwyfor in Llanystumdwy, a spot he chose himself. A huge boulder marks his grave; there is no inscription.

The Earl Lloyd-George's grave, Llanystumdwy. By Alan Fryer, CC BY-SA 2.0, Wikipedia Commons

By the 1950s members of Welsh rugby clubs were singing the lyrics "Lloyd George knew my father. Father knew Lloyd George" repeated incessantly to the tune of "Onward, Christian Soldiers".

A television series The Life and Times of David Lloyd George was made in 1981. Philip Madoc played Lloyd George. Ennio Morricone’s "Chi Mai Theme" from The Life & Times of Lloyd George rose to #2 in the UK charts that year.

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