BARONESS ELLIOT OF HARWOOD OF RULEWATER DBE

Elliot of Harwood

Prior to the outbreak of war Walter Elliot the then Minister of Health had also worked at the Rowett research institute with Boyd Orr and David Miles Lubbock and had married KATHARINE TENNANT, David’s half sister.( Marguarite Miles, David’s mother had first married Sir Charles Tennant of the Glen).  Sir Charles Tennant  1823-1906 a billionaire industrialist from St. Rollox in Glasgow  founded by John Tennant having sired thirteen children from his fist wife ( one of his daughters Margot who was a society wit was married to the Prime Minister Henry Asquith ) then married Marguerite Miles who was forty five years younger than him. Sir Charles Tennant and the Tennant family have provided press comment and international interest to this day.

The marriage took place on friday 25th November 1898. Marguerite was one of the best golfers of her day. Her father Colonel Charles William Miles was the Conservative Member of Parliament for Malmesbury in 1880.He resided at Burtonhill, Malmesbury in Wiltshire and married Emma Winsloe d. 21/1 /1885 daughter of Richard Winsloe of Mount Nebo, Taunton in Somerset.

IMG_1188
In the winter of 1885  the Miles family had moved to Pau in the South of France to enable her father to recuperate from a severe congestion of the lungs. Here she was taught and won the Gold Medal on the Ladies Links . In 1894 and 1895 she competed successfully at Westward Ho and at Gullane in East Lothian. She was also good at lawn tennis, billiards an accomplished artist and violinist.
Marguerite first met Sir Charles Tennant at one of Lord Burnham’s house parties at Hall Barn near Gerrards Cross and within twelve months and a whirlwind romance they were married.The thirty year old Marguerite then bore the seventy -five year old industrialist four more children.
The eldest daughter Margaret ( Peggy ) was born in 1899 and married John de Vere Loder in 1920 , he was a member of parliament 1924-1929 he became Governor of New South Wales in Australia and on the death of his father became Governor of Northern Ireland. He was elected to the peerage as Lord Wakehurst .They had four children Henrietta, Christopher , David and Robert.

Katharine born in 1903 married the Rt. Hon Walter Elliot, C.H., M.C., F.R.S., M.D.,  M.P., He was awarded  the M.C., and Bar in the first world war in the R.A.M.C. as surgeon to the Royal Scots Greys.

 

 

He was a Conservative Member of Parliament for almost forty years and held several cabinet posts. He became an MP initially because Boyd Orr stood down as the Scotttish Universities rmember in order to pursue his World Food Programme Proposals at the United Nations.

He was firmly of the belief that the member for the Universities should stand as an Independent and was dismayed that Elliot  should have then pursued his own agenda under the Conservative banner. Katharine or K  Elliot on the death of  her husband in 1953 ,having inherited her fathers energy and enthusiasm,she inevitably  rose to public acclaim for her work raising funds for World Refugee Year and in 1958 she was made a D.B.E. The great Aunt K as she was known having multitude of nieces and nephews from her great many half brothers and sisters had now become ” The Great Dame”. She and Peggy are the only two sisters to have been created D.B.E.’s. In 1958 she was also made a LL.D. of Glasgow University and the first woman to be made a life Peer and speak in The house of Lords. In 1954-6-7 she was also represented the UK as a delegate to the United Nations.

.In a speech given at her old school Abbot’s Hill she said that when she was a pupil ‘ in January 1915 there were fifty five girls, and my younger sister Nancy ( who became Lady Crathorne ) and we were the youngest there for the first year.Miss katrine Baird was the headmistress and Miss Mary Baird the Matron. They were both delightful and inspite of the desperate conditions caused by the first world war , they managed to feed us and look after us very well. Food during the first world war was very difficult- no rationing like the second world war and no petrol. There was a carriage and horse to drive us to and from the station. The only languages taught were english and French. The French mistress was brilliant and started me with that language and after 2 years , 1918 and 1920 , at School in Paris I attended the Lycee Victor Durvy , I became bi-lingual. This has been one of my great assets as a politician, due in large part to Madame Fontaine and Abbot’s Hill.

In 1921 having never taken a formal examination she attended classes at the London School of Economics ‘as with a close relationship with the Asquith family ( Margot Asquith her half sister was married to the Prime minister Henry Asquith , Lord Oxford ) I was closely involved with the liberal Party. At the LSE Sir William Beveridge , Harold Lasky and Arthur Henderson who later became famous were lecturers with whom I had lively debates!’.In 1924 I took part in my first election, when my brother in law who subsequently becam Lord Wakehurst was the conservative in the strong labour seat in East Leicester , I went to persuade the liberals to vote for John Loder as there was no Liberal candidate and to everyone’s amazement we won by 400 votes.

From that day to this I took part in sixteen general elections . In 1934 I married Walter Elliot , who was in Parliament from 1919 to 1958 when he died . In 1934 he was the minister of Agriculture , and Ii used to accompany him all over the country when he started the Milk Marketing Board , the Milk in Schools scheme and other Marketing Boards.’

K Elliot hated Milk and had to drink and pose in front of the nations press being photographed drinking her daily milk !

In 1937 walter became the Secretary of State for Scotland . It was the year of the Coronation of George VI and Queen Elizabeth and we met all the leaders of the Empire and Commonwealth a memory of incredible splendour and magnificence. In 1938 walter became Minister of Health , which in those days included Local Government, and as war approached he had to plan and organise the whole evacuation from the cities to country areas when the war began. I was always working in Youth Clubs or Associations , and was chairman of the National Association of Girl’s Clubs and mixed clubs from 1939 to 1949. It became the National Association of Youth Clubs. I was the first woman to be Trustee of King George V Jubilee Trust from 1936 to 1968 and a Trustee of the Carnegie Trust from 1946 to 1986, being Chairman from 1965 for five years.

During the second world war from 1939 to 1945 I organised and recruited women for the Women’s Land Army from London and the surrounding areas, and was a member of the committee set up by Ernest Bevin when he was Minister of Labour to advise on the call up of women for National Service of all kinds. I was a member of the Markham Committee which was appointed to enquire into the Women’s services -WRNS, ATS, and WAAF- when war ended and the labour Party won the 1945 election, Mtr Attlee made me a CBE . Later on , in 1958 the conservative Prime Minister made me a DBE . I sometimes wonder if I am the only woman to have recieved honours from both labour and Conservative parties.

The experience with youth organisations led me to being on the Home Office Consultative Committee on the Treatment of Offenders, ostensibly to give advice on the problems of young offenders – this was from 1946 to 1968. At the same time I became Chairman of the Women’s National Advisory Committee of the Conservative Party from 1954 to 1957, and the Chairman of the whole Association in 1957, when I had to preside at the Annual Conference in Blackpool. In1954,56,67,I was delegate to the General Assembly of the United Nations and stayed in New York for three months each year, being a member of the third committee, responsible for social problems, and refugees.

My most vivid memory was in 1956 when the Russians invaded Hungary, and as the MPs who were delegates had to fly home to vote in the Suez crisis, I was the delegate who addressed the General Assembly from the rostrum of the huge Assembly Hall, criticising the Russians for this action.

In 1957 my husband was High Commissioner to the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland and we stayed in the Palace of Holyrood House. In 1958 he died suddenly and I was asked to fight his constituency of Kelvingrove, Glasgow. I was defeated by 900 votes and hen Harold Macmillan, the Prime Minister, who had just passed the Bill which created Life Peerages,offered me a Life Peerage, which I gladly accepted.  I was the first woman ever to make a speech in the House of Lords, in the debate on the Queen’s speech in November, 1968. This was on the United Nations, as I had just returned from being a delegate to the General Assembly.

Since then I have taken an active part in legislation to do with Social Services, Agriculture and Local Government, particularly Scotland, as I was 29years on the County Council of my home county of Roxburghshire. I had another ‘first’ in 1960 when Margaret Thatcher, who had become an MP in 1959, made her maiden speech, introducing her own Bill called ‘The Access to Meetings Bill’, making it compulsory for local government committees to be open to the plublic, and she asked me to take the Bill through the House of Lords, which I did, and it became law in 1960. It is the only Act of Parliament on the Statute Book to be taken through both Houses of Parliament by a woman.

First Lady to speak in the Upper House

First Lady to speak in the Upper House

As with all these actions in public life, I have remained faithful to Farming and the partnership with my nephew, Andrew Lubbock. I farm sheep and cattle on 5000 acres of Border Hill land in Roxburghshire and was made President of the Royal Highland Agricultural Society in 1986 – only the second time a woman has held that post.

As I write in 1987, I look back to my early years at Abbot’s Hill with gratitude, although no doubt we were only amateurs in the world of Education.

Aunt K featured hugely in the Lubbock family household being childless herself she devoted her life to her many nephews and formed a business partnership with Andre Lubbock that was to last 25 years from 1976 till the day she died.nanimauntk

Nancy the third successful daughter from this remarkable union between sir Charles Tennant and Marguerite Miles was born in 1904. She was the most comely  of the three, witty charming and a talented painter. She met Thomas Dugdale of Crathorne Hall when he was Walter Elliot’s Best Man at her sisters wedding and they married two years later in 1936. Tom Dugdale was a member of Parliament for thirty years for the Richmond , Yorkshire constiuency. He was in Winston Chuchills post war cabinet and was created 1st Baron Crathorne. Crathorne Hall in Yarm being the enormous country seat of the Dugdale family. They had two sons James the present Lord Crathorne born 1939 and David born in 1942.

The Elliot of Harwood Trust after a family association of over one hundred years with the Lanarkshire auctioneering company of Lawrie & Symington decided to sell our 35 % holding.It became apparent that the majority of shareholder holders , owning only  small amounts were more interested in having a cheap service, company profit and dividends were not their  priority. The company was not a co-operative to be run for the benefit of the customers or staff and therefore the Trust objectives and those of the majority of shareholdes was not compatible.This in retrospect was the correct decision as the capital assets land and property were subsequently sold off in order to fund the loss making core auctioneering business.

 

The Elliot of Harwood Gallery