Robert Cecil, 1st Viscount Cecil of Chelwood

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Edgar Algernon Robert Gascoyne-Cecil, 1st Viscount Cecil of Chelwood, CH, PC, QC (14 September 1864 – 24 November 1958), known as Lord Robert Cecil from 1868 to 1923, was a British lawyer, politician and diplomat. He helped to start the League of Nations and to defend it. This got him awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1937.

His father was Robert Gascoyne-Cecil, 3rd Marquess of Salisbury. He was born in Cavendish Square, London. He was educated at home until he was thirteen and then spent four years at Eton College. Then he studied law at University College, Oxford. He married Lady Eleanor Lambton, daughter of George Lambton, 2nd Earl of Durham in 1889. In 1899, he was made a Queen's Counsel.[1]

At the 1906 general election, Cecil was elected as a Conservative Member of Parliament representing Marylebone East. He was not elected in 1910, but In 1911, he won a by-election in Hitchin, Hertfordshire as an Independent Conservative and served as its MP until 1923. In the 1915 coalition government, he was Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs. He was promoted to Assistant Secretary in 1918–19.[2]

In September 1916, he wrote and circulated a Memorandum on Proposals for Diminishing the Occasion of Future Wars in the Cabinet. He said peaceful procedures for settling disputes should be compulsory before there was any outbreak of fighting. Sanctions, including blockade, would be necessary to force countries to submit to peaceful procedures. In November 1917, Cecil asked Arthur Balfour to set up a committee to consider the proposals for a League of Nations. In November 1918 he was appointed the head of the League of Nations section of the Foreign Office.

After the Treaty of Versailles was first presented to Germany, he argued strongly that it should be made less harsh on Germany and that Germany should be allowed to join the League.

With his brother Hugh Cecil, he resigned the Conservative whip in February 1921. In May 1923, he returned to the cabinet as Lord Privy Seal.

He planned the activities of the League of Nations Union. He was its president from 1923 to 1945. He was joint founder and president, with Pierre Cot, a French jurist, of the International Peace Campaign.

In 1929, he was made president of the newly formed Pedestrians Association which campaigned for measures to benefit pedestrians

References[change | change source]

  1. "Crown offices". London Gazette. 16 June 1899. Retrieved 10 April 2023.
  2. Ceadel, Martin (2004). "Cecil, (Edgar Algernon) Robert Gascoyne- [known as Lord Robert Cecil], Viscount Cecil of Chelwood (1864–1958), politician and peace campaigner". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/32335. Retrieved 2023-04-10. (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)