Walter Monckton

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The Viscount Monckton of Brenchley
Sir Walter Monckton and Admiral Sir Andrew Cunningham, C in C Mediterranean, on the quarterdeck of the flagship. January 1942 IWM A 6697.jpg
Monckton (left) with Admiral Andrew Cunningham in 1942
Minister of Defence
In office
20 December 1955 – 18 October 1956
Prime MinisterAnthony Eden
Preceded bySelwyn Lloyd
Succeeded byAnthony Head
Personal details
Walter Turner Monckton

(1891-01-17)17 January 1891
Plaxtol, Kent, UK
Died9 January 1965(1965-01-09) (aged 73)
Political partyConservative

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

Early years[edit]

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).[1] He was head boy of his preparatory school, The Knoll, at Woburn Sands in Buckinghamshire, and attended Harrow School from 1904 to 1910.[1] 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.[1] 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 to 1937. 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 the Conservative Party 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 created Viscount Monckton of Brenchley, of Brenchley in the County of Kent on 11 February 1957.[2] He had wanted to become Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales and indeed had been promised the job by Churchill and the two subsequent prime ministers, but in 1957 he decided instead to join the board of Midland Bank.[3]

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.[4][5]

Personal life[edit]

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.


Coat of arms of Walter Monckton
Coronet of a British Viscount.svg
Monckton of Brenchley Escutcheon.png
A martlet Or.
1st & 4th Sable on a chevron between three martlets Or three mullets Sable (Monckton) 2nd & 3rd Or a chevron Gules a chief Vair (St Quintin).
On either side a horse Argent crined and unguled Or gorged with a chain Gold pendant therefrom an escutcheon Sable charged with a roses also Argent barbed and seeded Proper quartering St Quintin (Gules a chevron Or a chief Vair).
Famam Extendere Factis [6]


  1. ^ a b c ODNB.
  2. ^ "No. 41000". The London Gazette. 12 February 1957. p. 979.
  3. ^ Devlin, Patrick, Easing the Passing, 1985. P 93
  4. ^ R Blake, (1977). A History of Rhodesia, Knopf p. 331. ISBN 0-394-48068-6.
  5. ^ P Murray, (2005). British Documents on the End of Empire: Central Africa, Part I, Volume 9, pp.lxxiv-v, lxxx. ISBN 978-0-11290-586-8
  6. ^ Burke's Peerage. 1959.


External links[edit]

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by Member of Parliament for Bristol West
Succeeded by
Legal offices
Preceded by Solicitor General for England and Wales
May 1945–July 1945
Succeeded by
Political offices
Preceded by Minister of Labour and National Service
Succeeded by
Preceded by Minister of Defence
Succeeded by
Title last held by
The Earl of Selkirk
Succeeded by
Peerage of the United Kingdom
New creation Viscount Monckton of Brenchley
Succeeded by