Oliver Stanley

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Oliver Stanley

Oliver Stanley.png
Member of the British Parliament
for Bristol West
In office
6 July 1945 10 December 1950
Preceded by Cyril Culverwell
Succeeded by Sir Walter Monckton
Secretary of State for the Colonies
In office
22 November 1942 26 July 1945
Monarch George VI
Prime Minister Winston Churchill
Preceded by Viscount Cranborne
Succeeded by George Hall
Secretary of State for War
In office
5 January 1940 11 May 1940
Monarch George VI
Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain
Preceded by Leslie Hore-Belisha
Succeeded by Anthony Eden
President of the Board of Trade
In office
28 May 1937 5 January 1940
Monarch George VI
Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain
Preceded by Walter Runciman
Succeeded by Sir Andrew Duncan
Secretary of State for Transport
In office
22 February 1933 29 June 1934
Monarch George V
Prime Minister Ramsay MacDonald
Preceded by John Pybus
Succeeded by Leslie Hore-Belisha
Member of the British Parliament
for Westmorland
In office
30 October 1924 5 July 1945
Preceded by Sir John Weston
Succeeded by William Fletcher-Vane
Personal details
Born(1896-05-04)4 May 1896
London, England, UK
Died10 December 1950(1950-12-10) (aged 54)
Sulhamstead, Berkshire, England, UK
Nationality British
Political party Conservative
Maureen Vane-Tempest-Stewart
(m. 1920;her d. 1942)
ChildrenMichael Stanley
Kathryn Dugdale, Lady Dugdale
Education Eton College
Profession Barrister

Oliver Frederick George Stanley, MP, PC , MC (4 May 1896 – 10 December 1950), was a prominent British Conservative politician who held many ministerial posts before his relatively early death.


Background and education

Stanley was the second son of Edward Stanley, 17th Earl of Derby, by his wife Lady Alice, daughter of William Montagu, 7th Duke of Manchester. Edward Stanley, Lord Stanley was his elder brother. He was educated at Eton, but did not proceed to the University of Oxford due to the outbreak of World War I. [1]

Military career

During the First World War, Stanley was commissioned into the Lancashire Hussars, before transferring to the Royal Field Artillery in 1915. He achieved the rank of captain, and won both the Military Cross and the Croix de Guerre. [1]

Political career

After he was demobilised, Stanley was called to the bar by Gray's Inn in 1919. [1] In the 1924 general election he was elected as Member of Parliament (MP) for Westmorland. From 1945 he sat for Bristol West.

Ministerial career

He soon came to the attention of the Conservative leaders and held a number of posts in the National Government of the 1930s. As Minister of Transport he was responsible for the introduction of a 30 miles per hour speed limit and driving tests for new drivers. In May 1938 whilst President of the Board of Trade he achieved a rare distinction in British politics when his brother Lord Stanley became Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs – a rare example of two brothers sitting in the same Cabinet, more so as their father, a former Conservative minister, was still alive. Nevertheless, five months later Edward died. (Another example is that of two Labour Party brothers, David Miliband and his brother Ed Miliband, who were appointed to the British Cabinet in June 2007.)

In January 1940 Stanley was appointed Secretary of State for War after the previous incumbent, Leslie Hore-Belisha, had been sacked after falling out with the leading officers. Much was expected of Stanley's tenure in this office, as his father had held it during the First World War, but four months later the government fell and Stanley was replaced by Anthony Eden. Churchill offered Stanley the Dominions Office, which Stanley turned down. [1] Instead, Churchill made Stanley a personal link with intelligence agencies, notably as founder of the London Controlling Section. Two years later Stanley's political fortunes revived when Churchill appointed him Secretary of State for the Colonies, a post which he held until the end of the war.

Last years

After the Conservatives' massive defeat in the 1945 general election Stanley was prominent amongst those rebuilding the party and he came to be regarded as one of the most important Conservative MPs. He was a governor of The Peckham Experiment in 1949. [2] He succeeded his father as Chancellor of the University of Liverpool. By this time, however, his health was in decline; and he died on 10 December 1950 at his home in Sulhamstead. [1]

Had Stanley lived longer, he might well have been appointed Chancellor of the Exchequer when the Conservatives formed a government the following year. [3] Historian Sir Charles Petrie went further, and insisted in his 1972 memoirs (A Historian Looks At His World) that "the greatest blow the Conservative Party has sustained since the late war was the premature death of Oliver Stanley. He was one of the most gifted men of the century, and would have made a very great Prime Minister. ... He was as brilliant a conversationalist as a public speaker." [4]


Stanley married Lady Maureen Vane-Tempest-Stewart, daughter of Charles Vane-Tempest-Stewart, 7th Marquess of Londonderry, and the Hon. Edith Chaplin, in 1920. They had one son and one daughter:

Lady Maureen died in June 1942, aged 41. Stanley survived her by eight years and died in December 1950, aged 54.

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  1. 1 2 3 4 5 Whitfield, Andrew. "Stanley, Oliver Frederick George (1896–1950)". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/36249.(Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  2. "The Bulletin of the Pioneer Health Centre". Peckham. 1 (5). September 1949. Retrieved 21 October 2016.
  3. Howard 1987, p. 178-9
  4. Petrie, Sir Charles (1972). A Historian Looks at His World. London: Sidgwick & Jackson. pp.  193. ISBN   978-0283978500.

Books cited

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
John Weston
Member of Parliament for Westmorland
Succeeded by
William Fletcher-Vane
Preceded by
Cyril Culverwell
Member of Parliament for Bristol West
Succeeded by
Walter Monckton
Political offices
Preceded by
John Pybus
Minister of Transport
Succeeded by
Leslie Hore-Belisha
Preceded by
Henry Betterton
Minister of Labour
Succeeded by
Ernest Brown
Preceded by
Walter Runciman
President of the Board of Trade
Succeeded by
Andrew Duncan
Preceded by
The Viscount Halifax
President of the Board of Education
Succeeded by
The Earl Stanhope
Preceded by
Leslie Hore-Belisha
Secretary of State for War
Succeeded by
Anthony Eden
Preceded by
Viscount Cranborne
Secretary of State for the Colonies
Succeeded by
George Hall