Maurice Hankey, 1st Baron Hankey

Maurice Pascal Alers Hankey, 1st Baron Hankey, GCB, GCMG, GCVO, PC, FRS[1] (1 April 1877 – 26 January 1963) was a British civil servant who gained prominence as the first Cabinet Secretary and who later made the rare transition from the civil service to ministerial office. He is best known as the highly efficient top aide to Prime Minister David Lloyd George and the War Cabinet that directed Britain in the First World War.

In the estimation of biographer John F. Naylor, Hankey held to the "certainties of a late Victorian imperialist, whose policies sought to maintain British domination abroad and to avoid as far as possible British entanglement within Europe. His patriotism stands inviolable, but his sensitivity to processes of historical change proved limited." Naylor finds that "Hankey did not altogether grasp the virulence of fascism ... except as a military threat to Britain; nor did he ever quite comprehend the changing face of domestic politics which Labour's emergence as a party of government entailed ... In these shortcomings Hankey was typical of his generation and background; that his responsibility was greater lay in the fact that he was better informed than nearly any of his contemporaries."[2][3]

The Lord Hankey

Maurice Hankey
Cabinet Secretary
In office
1916 – August 1938
Prime Minister
Preceded byInaugural holder
Succeeded bySir Edward Bridges
Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster
In office
14 May 1940 – 20 July 1941
Prime MinisterWinston Churchill
Preceded byThe Lord Tryon
Succeeded byDuff Cooper
Personal details
Born1 April 1877
Died26 January 1963 (aged 85)[1]

Early life

The third son of R. A. Hankey, Maurice Hankey was born at Biarritz in 1877 and educated at Rugby School. He joined the Royal Marine Artillery, was promoted captain and served in successive roles including as coastal defence analyst in the War Division of the Naval Intelligence Department (1902–1906).[4] In 1908 he was appointed Naval Assistant Secretary to the Committee of Imperial Defence and became Secretary to the Committee in 1912, a position he would hold for the next twenty-six years.

In November 1914 he took on the additional duty of Secretary of the War Council. In this function he took notice of the ideas of Major Ernest Swinton to build a tracked armoured vehicle and brought them to the attention of Winston Churchill on 25 December 1914, leading to the eventual creation of the Landship Committee.

Lloyd George's War Cabinet

In December 1916 David Lloyd George became Prime Minister and shook up the way the government was run. A small War Cabinet was instigated and Hankey was appointed as its Secretary. He also served as Secretary of the Imperial War Cabinet (which also incorporated representatives of the Colonies and Dominion governments) and gained a reputation for strong competency, so much so that when the full Cabinet was restored in 1919, the secretariat was retained and Hankey served as Secretary to the Cabinet for the next nineteen years.

Clerk of the Privy Council

In 1923 he acquired the further position of Clerk of the Privy Council. During his long tenure he would also often serve as British Secretary to many international conferences and Secretary-General of many Imperial Conferences.

Retirement from the Government

In August 1938 Hankey retired from government and became a British Government Director of the Suez Canal Company, a post he would hold for only one year. In the 1939 New Year Honours, he was ennobled as Baron Hankey, of The Chart in the County of Surrey.[5][6] Lord Hankey remained a respected figure and was often consulted by ministers and civil servants for advice.

Chamberlain's War Cabinet

In August 1939 he advised Neville Chamberlain about the formation of a new War Cabinet and the following month become another of Chamberlain's many non-party political appointments when he was made Minister without Portfolio and a member of the War Cabinet. Hankey was personally reluctant to take on this task but agreed to do so. He became Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster when Chamberlain was succeeded by Winston Churchill in May 1940, but was left out of Churchill's War Cabinet. In July 1941 Lord Hankey was moved to the position of Paymaster-General, but the following year he was dropped from the Government altogether. He continued to hold other positions in both the public and private sector until his death.


After World War II, Hankey emerged as a leading critic of war crimes trials, and in his 1950 book Politics, Trials and Errors argued that the Allies had no right to convict German and Japanese leaders of war crimes. Hankey kept a series of at times startlingly detailed handwritten diaries throughout most of his years in government, including during his time as Secretary to the War Council and Imperial War Cabinet of the First World War. These diaries are currently held at the Churchill Archives Centre in Cambridge, England, and can be read by the public.


Maurice Hankey's youngest brother Donald Hankey was a soldier best known for a series of essays he wrote while serving on the western front in World War I. Donald died in action at the Somme.

Lord Hankey died in 1963, aged 85, and was succeeded in his barony by his eldest son, Robert.

Titles, Styles, Honours & Arms

  • 1877–1912: Mr Maurice Hankey
  • 1912–1916: Mr Maurice Hankey CB
  • 1916–1919: Sir Maurice Hankey KCB
  • 1919–1929: Sir Maurice Hankey GCB
  • 1929–1934: Sir Maurice Hankey GCB GCMG
  • 1934–1939: Sir Maurice Hankey GCB GCMG GCVO
  • 1939: The Right Honourable The Lord Hankey GCB GCMG GCVO
  • 1939–1942: The Right Honourable The Lord Hankey GCB GCMG GCVO PC
  • 1942–1963: The Right Honourable The Lord Hankey GCB GCMG GCVO PC FRS

In the 1912 Birthday Honours, Hankey was appointed to the Order of the Bath as a Companion.[7] He was then promoted within the same Order as a Knight Commander in 1916[8] and as a Knight Grand Cross in 1919.[9] In the 1929 Birthday Honours, Sir Maurice was appointed to the Order of St Michael and St George as a Knight Grand Cross.[10] In the 1934 New Year Honours, Sir Maurice was appointed to the Royal Victorian Order as a Knight Grand Cross.[11]

In the 1939 New Year Honours, he was raised to the peerage as Baron Hankey, of The Chart in the County of Surrey.[5][6] That year, he was also appointed to the Privy Council.[12] In 1942, he was elected to the Royal Society as a Fellow under Statute 12, for those "who have rendered conspicuous service to the cause of science, or are such that election would be of signal benefit to the Society".[13]


  1. ^ a b Schonland, B. F. J. (1964). "Maurice Pascal Alers Hankey, First Baron Hankey of the Chart 1877-1963". Biographical Memoirs of Fellows of the Royal Society. 10: 137–146. doi:10.1098/rsbm.1964.0009.
  2. ^ John F. Naylor (2004). "Hankey, Maurice Pascal Alers, first Baron Hankey (1877–1963)". The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/33683.(subscription required)
  3. ^ Lord Hankey. The Supreme Command, 1914–1918 (2 vol 1961)
  4. ^ "No. 27423". The London Gazette. 8 April 1902. p. 2335.
  5. ^ a b "No. 15559". The Edinburgh Gazette. 6 January 1939. p. 9.
  6. ^ a b "No. 34596". The London Gazette. 7 February 1939. p. 856.
  7. ^ "No. 12469". The Edinburgh Gazette. 18 June 1912. p. 628.
  8. ^ "No. 12903". The Edinburgh Gazette. 11 February 1916. p. 260.
  9. ^ "No. 13486". The Edinburgh Gazette. 12 August 1919. p. 2771.
  10. ^ "No. 14553". The Edinburgh Gazette. 4 June 1929. p. 567.
  11. ^ "No. 15032". The Edinburgh Gazette. 5 January 1934. p. 13.
  12. ^ "No. 34670". The London Gazette. 5 September 1939. p. 6067.
  13. ^ "Fellows 1660–2007" (PDF). Royal Society. Retrieved 25 September 2016.
  14. ^ Debrett's Peerage & Baronetage. 2000.

Further reading

  • Naylor, John F. A man and an institution: Sir Maurice Hankey, the cabinet secretariat and the custody of cabinet secrecy (1984)
  • Roskill, Stephen (1970). Hankey: Man Of Secrets. Volume I (1877–1918). Collins. ISBN 0-00-211327-9.
  • Roskill, Stephen (1972). Hankey: Man Of Secrets. Volume II (1919–1931). Collins. ISBN 0-00-211330-9.
  • Roskill, Stephen (1974). Hankey: Man Of Secrets. Volume III (1931–1963). Collins. ISBN 0-00-211332-5.

External links

Government offices
Preceded by
Charles Ottley
Secretary to the Committee of Imperial Defence
Succeeded by
H L Ismay
New office Cabinet Secretary
Succeeded by
Sir Edward Bridges
Preceded by
Sir Almeric Fitzroy
Clerk of the Privy Council
Succeeded by
Sir Rupert Howorth
Political offices
Preceded by
The Lord Tryon
Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster
Succeeded by
Duff Cooper
Vacant Paymaster-General
Succeeded by
Sir William Jowitt
Peerage of the United Kingdom
New creation Baron Hankey
Succeeded by
Robert Hankey
Baron Hankey

Baron Hankey, of The Chart in the County of Surrey, is a title in the Peerage of the United Kingdom. It was created in 1939 for the civil servant Sir Maurice Hankey, Cabinet Secretary from 1920 to 1938. His eldest son, the second Baron, was a diplomat and served as British Ambassador to Sweden between 1954 and 1960. As of 2016 the title is held by the latter's eldest son, the third Baron, who succeeded in 1996. He is an architect.

Donald Hankey, brother of the first Baron, was a soldier best known for two volumes of essays about the British volunteer army in the First World War. The Hon. Henry Hankey, third son of the first Baron, was British Ambassador to Panama between 1966 and 1969.


Biarritz (French pronunciation: ​[bjaʁits]; Basque: Biarritz [biarits̻] or Miarritze [miarits̻e]; Gascon Occitan: Biàrritz [ˈbjarits]) is a city on the Bay of Biscay, on the Atlantic coast in the Pyrénées-Atlantiques department in the French Basque Country in southwestern France. It is located 35 kilometres (22 mi) from the border with Spain. It is a luxurious seaside tourist destination known for the Hôtel du Palais (originally built for the Empress Eugénie circa 1855), its casinos in front of the sea and its surfing culture.

Bledisloe Commission

The Bledisloe Commission, also known as the Rhodesia-Nyasaland Royal Commission, was a Royal Commission appointed in 1937–39 to examine the possible closer union of the three British territories in Central Africa, Southern Rhodesia, Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland. These territories were to some degree economically inter-dependent, and it was suggested that an association would promote their rapid development. Its chairman was Lord Bledisloe.

In 1939, the majority of the Commission recommended a union of Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland, whose African populations would remain under British trusteeship. It also proposed that there would be strong economic integration between these united territories and Southern Rhodesia, but ruled-out any political amalgamation involving Southern Rhodesia unless its overtly racial policies were changed and there was some form of representation of African interests in the legislatures of all three territories. The Commission's minority report recommended an early amalgamation of the three territories, despite almost unanimous African objections, largely on economic grounds. The Commission's recommendations were not put in place owing to the Second World War, but closer ties in Central Africa were developed during the war. After the war, the white minority administrations of Northern and of Southern Rhodesia renewed calls for a union, and in 1953 they achieved this in the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland.

Karl-Heinz Priester

Karl-Heinz Priester (1913 – 16 April 1960) was a German far right political activist. Although he played only a minor role in Nazi Germany he became a leading figure on the extreme right in Europe after the Second World War.

List of Chancellors of the Duchy of Lancaster

The Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster is, in modern times, a sinecure office in the government of the United Kingdom. David Lidington has been Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster since 8 January 2018.

List of Old Rugbeians

This is a List of Old Rugbeians, they being notable former students – known as "Old Rugbeians" of the Church of England school, Rugby School in Rugby, Warwickshire, England.

Robert Hankey, 2nd Baron Hankey

Robert Maurice Alers Hankey, 2nd Baron Hankey, (4 July 1905 – 28 October 1996) was a British diplomat and public servant.

Vronwy Hankey

Vronwy Hankey (b. Vronwy Mary Fisher) (15 September 1916 – 11 May 1998) was an archaeologist, a specialist in Near Eastern, Minoan, and Mycenaean archaeology. A Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of London, she also had an Honorary Fellowship at University College London and an attachment to the university's Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology.In 1941 she married Henry Hankey, the son of Maurice Hankey, 1st Baron Hankey, who became a diplomat with whom she travelled for some years before he was posted to London in 1970. Hankey was the archaeologist "who identified Cyprus as the crucial link between East Mediterranean shipping in the Late Bronze Age."A scholarship, the Vronwy Hankey Memorial Fund for Aegean Studies, is available from the British School at Athens.

Coat of arms of Maurice Hankey, 1st Baron Hankey
Coronet of a British Baron
Hankey Escutcheon
A wolf's head erased at the neck Erminois, gorged with a collar wavy Azure.
Per pale Azure and Gules, a wolf salient Erminois vulned on the shoulder of the second, a bordure wavey of the third.
Dexter: A fallow deer resting the sinister hind foot Proper on a millrind Sable; Sinister: An alpine chamois resting the dexter hind foot Proper on a like millrind.
Per Sagitatem Pax Cum Justitia [14]

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