Monday, March 22, 2010
Ivor Churchill Guest, 1st Viscount Wimborne
Ivor Churchill Guest, 1st Viscount Wimborne (16 January 1873 – 14 June 1939)
Known as the Lord Ashby St Ledgers from 1910 to 1914 and as the Lord Wimborne from 1914 to 1918, was a British politician, and one of the last Lords Lieutenant of Ireland, serving in that position at the time of the Easter Rising.
In February 1915, Wimborne was appointed Lord Lieutenant of Ireland in succession to Lord Aberdeen. At this time the Lord Lieutenant was largely a ceremonial position; real power was in the hands of the Chief Secretary and the Under-Secretary. Determined to be more involved in decision-making, he was appointed Director of Recruiting in October 1915, heading up the new Department of Recruiting for Ireland. He insisted on being kept up to date on the state of the country, and had the Under-Secretary, Sir Matthew Nathan, send him police reports, details of prosecutions and recruitment figures.
On the weekend preceding the Easter Rising, following the capture of the German arms ship Aud and the arrest of Sir Roger Casement, Wimborne urged Nathan to order the arrest of a large number of rebel leaders. Nathan was unwilling to do so without the authorisation of the Chief Secretary, Augustine Birrell, who was in London.
Before the authorisation was received the Rising began on 24 April 1916. Wimborne proclaimed martial law in Dublin. Thereafter the military took control. A new Commander-in Chief, General Sir John Maxwell, arrived in Ireland on 28 April and the rebels surrendered on 29 April. Wimborne initially refused to offer his resignation after the Rising. He resigned under pressure from the government but was re-appointed. The Royal Commission on the 1916 Rebellion (the Hardinge commission) exonerated Wimborne of any blame for the Rising, saying that his position as Lord Lieutenant was "anomalous in quiet times and almost unworkable in times of crisis". He continued as Lord Lieutenant for another two years. On his retirement in 1918 he was created Viscount Wimborne, of Canford Magna in the County of Dorset.