Frederick Archibald Vaughan Campbell, Third Earl Cawdor

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THE RIGHT HONOURABLE Frederick Archibald Vaughan Campbell, Third Earl Cawdor, J.P., D.L. (13 February, 1847 – 8 February, 1911) was a Conservative Unionist politician and First Lord of the Admiralty in 1905, responsible for the notable "Cawdor Memorandum".

Life & Career

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Frederick Archibald Vaughan Campbell, the eldest son of John Frederick Vaughan, second earl, by his first wife, Sarah Mary, second daughter of Henry Compton-Cavendish, was born on 13 Feb. 1847 at St. Leonard's Hill, Windsor. Known before his accession to the earldom as Viscount Emlyn, he was educated at Eton and Christ Church, Oxford. From 1874 to 1885 he sat as a conservative for Carnarvonshire, and was active in promoting Welsh interests.

In 1892 he unsuccessfully contested South Manchester against Sir Henry Roscoe, and in 1898 he was defeated in the Cricklade division of Wilts by Lord Edmond (afterwards Lord) Fitzmaurice. He succeeded to the peerage on the death of his father on 29 March 1898.

Lord Emlyn was a man of various employments. In 1880 he became an ecclesiastical commissioner and he was an unpaid commissioner in lunacy from 1886 to 1893. In 1896 he was appointed lord-lieutenant of Pembrokeshire, becoming twelve years later president of the Territorial Force Association. He had earlier shown his interest in local defence by commanding the Carmarthen artillery militia for ten years. He was also deputy-lieutenant of the counties of Nairn and Inverness, a county councillor for Carmarthenshire after 1888, and a justice of the peace for Carmarthenshire and Pembrokeshire. Becoming early an energetic member of the Royal Agricultural Society, he was chosen a member of the council in 1882, chairman of the chemical committee in 1889, a trustee in 1892, and (as Lord Cawdor) a vice-president in 1900. He was president of the society in 1901, when the show was held at Cardiff.

Railway work brought Emlyn more prominently before the public. He became a director of the Great Western railway in 1890, and deputy-chairman in the following year. In July 1895 he accepted the chairmanship of the company in succession to Mr. F. G. Saunders, and held that post until he became a member of Mr. Balfour's cabinet in 1905. Under his guidance a bold policy was adopted. The ten minutes' stop at Swindon was abolished on the payment of 100,000£. in compensation to the refreshment contractor, and routes were shortened by the creation of the Stert and Westbury, Langport and Castle Cary, and the South Wales and Bristol direct lines; while by the Acton and High Wycombe line quicker access was gained to Birmingham. After his resignation, Fishguard harbour was opened at much expense as the starting-point of a new route for south Ireland and a port of call for Atlantic steamers. Long-distance runs, the reduction of second-class fares, and the institution of motor-trains and road-motors were other features of Lord Cawdor's chairmanship. Under him the gross annual receipts of the line rose from just over 9,000,000£. to 12,342,000£.

The announcement on 6 March 1905 of Lord Cawdor's appointment as first lord of the admiralty, in succession to Lord Selborne, who went to South Africa as high commissioner, came as a general surprise, but the desire for business men was understood to be the cause. Carrying on his predecessor's policy, he authorised the redistribution of the fleet recommended by the first sea lord, Sir John Fisher (afterwards Lord Fisher of Kelverstone), and the Dreadnought and Invincible, the first ships of a new class, were laid down. On 30 Nov. 1905, just before the resignation of the ministry, the admiralty issued a memorandum surveying the reforms of three years, and stating that ‘at the present time strategic requirements necessitate the output of four large armoured ships annually’ (Naval Annual, 1906).

The abandonment of the Cawdor programme by the government of Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman called forth vigorous protests from its author on 30 July 1906 (Hansard, clxii. cols. 291–9) and 24 Nov. 1908 (ibid. clxxxxvii. cols. 25–31). He had become one of the most effective debaters on the front opposition bench, and powerful in unionist councils. It was on his motion that the select committee to consider suggestions for increasing the efficiency of the House of Lords was appointed in 1907; he was a member of the committee and concurred in the paragraph of the report stating that ‘it was undesirable that the possession of a peerage should of itself give the right to sit and vote in the House of Lords.’ He was strenuous in recommending the upper house to refuse to accept the budget of 1909 until it had been referred to the country. On 30 Nov. 1909 he concluded the debate on Lord Lansdowne's amendment to that effect, vigorously accusing the government of ‘denying socialism in words, but putting socialism into their budget’ (Lords Debates, vol. iv. cols. 1310–24). The amendment was carried. Cawdor was one of the four unionist statesmen who took part in the conference with four members of the liberal government which, sitting from 17 June to 10 Nov. 1910, made an ineffectual attempt to settle the constitutional question, and he was consulted in the drafting of Lord Lansdowne's resolutions for the reform of the House of Lords produced in November of that year.

Soon after leaving office in 1905 Cawdor accepted the presidency of the Institution of Naval Architects, and in 1908 he was chosen a member of the council of the Prince of Wales. He died at Stackpole Court, Pembrokeshire, after an illness of some months on 8 Feb. 1911, and was buried at Cheriton, Pembrokeshire. On the day after his death conspicuous tributes were paid to his memory by Lords Crewe and Lansdowne in the House of Lords. Lord Crewe declared that his case was almost unique, since after a long absence from political life he had been accepted as one of the best ministers that had ever been at the admiralty, and subsequently had obtained a position in the public esteem ‘only very little short of the highest.’

He was a most formidable antagonist, but ‘though his weapons were sharp, they were never barbed.’ Lord Lansdowne, after dwelling on Lord Cawdor's merits as a debater and administrator, said that ever since his school days he had been surrounded by troops of friends. He managed his great estates in Scotland and Wales with businesslike ability. He married on 16 Sept. 1868 Edith Georgiana, eldest daughter of Sir Christopher Turnor, by whom he had eight sons and five daughters, and was succeeded by his eldest son, Hugh Frederick Vaughan, Viscount Emlyn, who was born on 21 June 1870.

Two portraits in oils are at Stackpole Court, one by Sir Hubert von Herkomer, R.A., painted in 1883, and the second by Mr. W. W. Ouless, R.A., in 1903.

See Also


  • "Memoir" (Obituaries). The Times. Thursday, 9 February, 1911. Issue 39504, col B, p. 11.

Political Offices
Preceded by
The Rt. Hon. The Earl of Selborne
First Lord of the Admiralty
Succeeded by
The Rt. Hon. The Lord Tweedmouth