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British Politician, Environmentalist and Author
Born 1898 Died 1984

Gerald Vernon Wallop was born on the 16th May 1898 in Chicago, the eldest son of Oliver Henry Wallop, one of the sons of Isaac Newton Wallop, 5th Earl of Portsmouth. Gerald's American birth was explained by his father's marriage to Marguerite Walker of Kentucky, and his decision to ranch at Little Goose Canyon, near Sheridan, Wyoming. Although his father was only the third son of the 5th Earl of Portsmouth, neither of his older brothers seemed to be having much success in producing any offspring, and since it seemed likely that the title might well end up in his hands, Gerald was sent back to Britain at the age of eleven to be educated as an English gentleman. He therefore attended a preparatory school in Farnborough before moving on to Winchester College in 1911.

World War I came along to interrupt his education and he spent the years from 1916 to 1919 as a Lieutenant in the 2nd Life Guards and later the Guards Machine Gun Regiment. After the end of his military service he returned home to complete his education at Balliol College, Oxford and from 1923 onwards began farming on the family estate at Farleigh Wallop in Hampshire. Initially on behalf of his bachelor uncle, the 6th Earl who later died unmarried on the 7th September 1925, and then on behalf of his father.

As a farmer Gerald became one of the earliest critics of the use of chemicals in farming and emergence of an arable monoculture, ideas which he espoused during a career as an agricultural writer and occasional broadcaster. He was also the author of a number of books such as Horn, Hoof and Corn (1932), Famine in England (1938) and Alternative to Death (1943) in which he preached the cause of national self-sufficiency in food production. At the same time he pursued a political career as a county councillor and then as the Conservative Member of Parliament for Basingstoke in 1929. He was apparently an energetic opposition MP but, following the emergence of the National Government in 1931, he was apparently disappointed that the best that the government could offer him in terms of office was an appointment to the Milk Marketing Board in 1933. Having earlier visited India on behalf of the India Defence League, and written a report supporting the establishment of a princes' federation of states, he resigned in 1934 citing his lack of agreement with government policy on India.

It any well have been his trip to India that caused him to develop a romanticised view of rural society and feudal methods of agriculture, as Wallop subsequently became deeply involved in an organisation known as English Mistery, a semi-clandestine nationalist organisation which was pro-monarchist and advocated a return to the land, and held meetings where its members "built compost heaps, drank unpasteurised milk, and lamented the effects of tinned food on the British character". He effectively ran the Mistery from 1930, and its successor the English Array and from 1936 onwards also ran an agricultural think tank called Kinship in Husbandry, which also promoted traditional husbandry and self-sufficiency. This sort of right-wing ruralism which preached traditional farming methods, or what we would now call organic farming, was closely linked to the emerging fascist movement. Indeed English Mistery is generally viewed as an example of an indigenous British fascist organisation, and the 'fascist' label was consequently applied to Wallop himself. Wallop certainly lived up to expectations when he later became the editor of the New Pioneer magazine in December 1938, which followed a decidedly pro-German and anti-semitic line at least until it ceased publication in January 1940, and also founded the British Council Against European Commitments in response to the Czechoslovak crisis of 1938, an organisation devoted to keeping Britain out of any future European war.

In fact Wallop was pretty prominent in pro-German circles in the autumn of 1939 and is known to have attended a number of secret meetings with other leading supporters of what was then termed a negotiated peace. However in common with other similarly aristocratic fascists he wasn't detained under Defence Regulation 18B and retained his freedom throughout World War II, during which he was regarded as making a significant contribution to the war effort as Vice-Chairman of the Hampshire War Agricultural Executive from 1939 to 1947.

Having succeeded to the title on his father's death in 1943, after the war was over he became Chairman of the Country Landowners' Association in 1947 and was a member of both the Land Resettlement Association and of the Ministry of Agriculture's advisory committee on agricultural smallholdings. He was not however, that happy with political developments at home in Britain and in 1948 he acquired the first of his three estates in Kenya, and in 1950 decided to move there permanently. He was fairly prominent in Kenyan society for a number of years, acting as President of the Kenya Electors’ Union from 1953 to 1955, Chairman of the Forest Advisory Committee for the Kenyan government between 1955 and 1961, and was a corporate member for Agriculture of the Kenya Legislative Council between the years 1957 and 1961. Even after the Kenyans nationalised his farms following independence in 1963 he remained in Kenya and served as the Vice-Chairman of the East African Natural Resources Research Council from 1963. In later life however he suffered a stroke in 1977 and returned to Britain for treatment. He never fully recovered and moved into a nursing home where he died on the 28th September 1984 being subsequently buried in Farleigh Wallop churchyard.

The 9th Earl was twice married; firstly on the 31st July 1920 to Mary Lawrence Kintzing Post, the daughter of Waldron Kintzing Post, of Bayport, Long Island. That marriage was later dissolved in 1936, and on 14th August 1936 he married Bridget Cory Crohan who later died in 1979. There were no children from the second marriage, to add to the son and two daughters borne by his first wife. His only son Oliver Kintzing Wallop predeceased him by a matter of months dying on the 5th June 1984, and he was succeeded as the 10th Earl of Portsmouth by his grandson Quentin Gerard Carew Wallop.

Wallop was the author of Git le Coeur (1928), Ich Dien; The Tory Path (1931), Horn, Hoof and Corn (1932), Famine in England (1938), Alternative to Death (1943), British Farm Stock (1950) as well as his autobiography A Knot of Roots (1965)


SOURCES

  • Malcolm Chase, ‘Wallop, Gerald Vernon, ninth earl of Portsmouth (1898–1984)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004
  • The entry for PORTSMOUTH from Burke's Peerage and Baronetage 107th Edition
  • A review of 'Hurrah For The Blackshirts!': Fascists and Fascism in Britain between the Wars at http://entertainment.timesonline.co.uk/tol/arts_and_entertainment/books/article416895.ece
  • The Times, Thursday, Feb 15, 1934

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