Walter Long, 1st Viscount Long

Walter Long, 1st Viscount Long

Walter Hume Long, 1st Viscount Long (13 July 1854 - 26 September 1924), the son of Richard Penruddocke Long, was a British Unionist politician.


Long on his father's side was descended from an old family of Wiltshire gentry, and on his mother's side from Irish gentry in County Wicklow. Long was educated at Harrow School and Christ Church, Oxford. Upon his father's death in 1875, he took over management of the family properties. In 1878 he married Lady Dorothy (Doreen) Blanche Boyle, daughter of the 9th Earl of Cork. They had two sons, including Brigadier General Walter Long, and three daughters.

Member of Parliament

At the 1880 general election, Long was elected to parliament as a Conservative, serving in the House of Commons with a few breaks until he was raised to the peerage as Viscount Long in 1921.

In that time he represented no less than seven constituencies:

North Wiltshire 1880-1885, Devizes 1885-1892, Liverpool West Derby 1893-1900, Bristol South 1900-1906, South Dublin 1906-1910, Strand 1910-1918, and St George's 1918-1921.


Long entered government for the first time in the second Salisbury administration as Parliamentary Secretary to the Local Government Board, serving under Charles Thomson Ritchie, and became one of the architects of the Local Government Act 1888, which established elected county councils. After the Conservative defeat in 1892, Ritchie's defeat made Long the chief opposition spokesman on local government, and when the Tories returned to power in 1895, he entered the cabinet as President of the Board of Agriculture. In this role he was notable for his efforts to prevent the spread of rabies.

With the ministerial shuffle in 1900, Long became President of the Local Government Board. In this role, Long was criticized as too radical for his support of the Unemployed Workmen's Act 1905, which created an unemployment board to give work and training to the unemployed.

Links with Irish Unionism

Long was best known, however, for his involvement with Irish Unionism. In March 1905, Long became Chief Secretary for Ireland. Due to his Irish connections (both his wife and his mother were Irish), it was hoped that Long might be more acceptable to Irish Unionists than his predecessor, George Wyndham, who had become increasingly unpopular.

Following the Unionist fall from power in December 1905, Long became one of the leading opposition voices against the Liberals' plans for home rule in Ireland, helping to found the Ulster Defence League in 1907. He also served as leader of the Irish Unionist Parliamentary Party before being succeeded by his archrival Edward Carson. [Alvin Jackson, "Home Rule: An Irish History 1800 — 2000" (Phoenix, 2004) p.193.]

Possible links with Larne gunrunning

Although he never "openly" supported the most militant Unionists, who were prepared to fight the Southern nationalists (and perhaps the British Army) to prevent home rule for Ireland, contemporary accounts indicate that he probably had prior knowledge of the Larne gunrunning. [Captain F.E. Crawford, a leading figure in the gunrunning, recorded contemporaneously being called to meet Long and Bonar Law before he left to set up the event, and that they "wished me God's speed and a successful issue." Crawford's recollections, however, are often inaccurate. Long's Parliamentary Secretary, William Bull, was actively involved in the plot. Jackson p.154.] At the same time, Long was less attached to the constitution of the UK than other Unionists, and opposed last ditch resistance to the Parliament Act 1911. He sat as an MP for a Dublin constituency between 1906 and 1910.

Beaten for Tory leadership

When Balfour resigned as party leader in November 1911, Long was the leading candidate to succeed him. However, he was opposed by Austen Chamberlain, who was supported by the protectionists and Liberal Unionists. A divisive contest was avoided by the withdrawal of both candidates in favor of Andrew Bonar Law, a relatively unknown figure.

Plotted against Carson

With the formation of the wartime coalition government in May 1915, Long returned to office at the Local Government Board, and there dealt with the plight of thousands of Belgian refugees. He was actively involved in undermining attempts by Lloyd George to negotiate a deal between Irish Nationalists and Unionists in July 1916 over introducing the suspended Home Rule Act 1914, publicly clashing with his archrival Edward Carson. He was accused of plotting to bring down Carson by jeopardising his agreement that partition would be temporary, with the nationalist leader John Redmond , Long altering the clause to permanent, Redmond then abandoning further negotiations. Carson, in a bitter reposte, said of Long "The worst of Walter Long is that he never knows what he wants, but is always intriguing to get it. [Jackson p.193.] Austin Chamberlain, in 1911, was similarly critical of Long, saying he was "at the centre of every coterie of grumblers." [Jackson p.193.]

First Lord of the Admiralty

With the fall of Asquith and the accession of the Lloyd George government in December 1916, Long was promoted to the Colonial Office, serving until January 1919, when he became First Lord of the Admiralty, a position in which he served until his retirement in 1921.

Key role in Government of Ireland Act, 1920

However, from October 1919 on, he was, once again, largely concerned with Irish affairs, serving as the chair of the cabinet's Long Committee on Ireland. In this capacity, he was largely responsible for the Government of Ireland Act, which created separate home rule governments for Southern Ireland and Northern Ireland, the latter he endowed with wider powers than its southern counterpart. Although in southern and western Ireland, this was soon superseded by the Anglo-Irish Treaty, which gave the new Irish Free State a much greater share of independence, the measure survived as the basis for the government of Northern Ireland until 1972.

Created a viscount

Long retired in 1921 and was created Viscount Long of Wraxall, dying at his home, Rood Ashton House in Wiltshire three years later. His eldest son Brigadier General Walter Long CMG, DSO was killed in action in 1917, and so was succeeded by his 13 year-old grandson Walter Francis David Long, 2nd Viscount Long.

ee also

*Viscount Long



* Alvin Jackson, "Home Rule: An Irish History 1800 — 2000" (Phoenix, 2004)
* Sir Charles Petrie, "Walter Long and his Times" (London, 1936)

External links

* [ Photograph in the National Portrait Gallery]

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