Auckland Geddes, 1st Baron Geddes

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The Lord Geddes

Lord Geddes.jpg
President of the Board of Trade
In office
26 May 1919 – 19 March 1920
MonarchGeorge V
Prime MinisterDavid Lloyd George
Preceded bySir Albert Stanley
Succeeded byRobert Horne
British Ambassador to the United States
In office
MonarchGeorge V
PresidentWoodrow Wilson
Warren G. Harding
Calvin Coolidge
Prime MinisterDavid Lloyd George
Bonar Law
Stanley Baldwin
Ramsay MacDonald
Preceded byThe Viscount Grey of Fallodon
Succeeded bySir Esme Howard
Personal details
Born21 June 1879 (1879-06-21)
London, England
Died8 June 1954 (1954-06-09) (aged 74)
London, England
Political partyConservative
Spouse(s)Isabella Ross

Auckland Campbell Geddes, 1st Baron Geddes, GCMG, KCB, PC, FRSE (21 June 1879 – 8 June 1954) was a British academic, soldier, politician and diplomat. He was a member of David Lloyd George's coalition government during the First World War and also served as Ambassador to the United States.


Geddes was born in London the son of Auckland Campbell-Geddes, a civil engineer, and his wife Christina Helen MacLeod Anderson,[1] he was the brother of Sir Eric Campbell-Geddes, First Lord of the Admiralty during World War I and principal architect of the Geddes Axe, which led to the retrenchment of British public expenditure following the War. His sister was Dr Mona Chalmers Watson, the first woman to graduate M.D. from the University of Edinburgh and the first Chief Controller of the Women's Army Auxiliary Corps.[2]

Boer War[edit]

Geddes served in the Second Boer War in South Africa between 1901 and 1902 as a second lieutenant in the Highland Light Infantry. On 2 June 1902 he was promoted a lieutenant in the 3rd (Militia) battalion of the regiment,[3] and he returned home with other men of this battalion on the SS Doune Castle in September 1902, after the war had ended two months earlier.[4]

Academic career[edit]

Geddes was educated at George Watson's College, in Edinburgh, he then studied Medicine at Edinburgh University[5] graduating MB ChB in 1903. From 1906 to 1909, Geddes was an Assistant Professor of Anatomy at Edinburgh University; the university gave him his doctorate (MD) in 1908.

In 1909 he was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh. his proposers were William Turner (anatomist), Sir Edward Albert Sharpey-Schafer, David Waterston and George Chrystal.[6] From 1913 to 1914 he was a Professor of Anatomy at the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland. From 1913 to 1914, he was a Professor of Anatomy at McGill University, his academic career was interrupted by the First World War during which he served as a Brigadier General in the War Office.[7]

First World War[edit]

During the First World War he served as a Major in the 17th Northumberland Fusiliers[8] and was on the staff of the General Headquarters in France as a Brevet Lieutenant-Colonel and Honorary Brigadier General.[9] Geddes was Director of Recruiting at the War Office from 1916[10] to 1917.[11]

Political and diplomatic career[edit]

In 1917 he was elected Unionist Member of Parliament for Basingstoke, a seat he held until 1920, he was sworn of the Privy Council in 1917[12] and served under David Lloyd George as Director of National Service from 1917 to 1918, as President of the Local Government Board from 1918 to 1919, as Minister of Reconstruction in 1919 and as President of the Board of Trade (with a seat in the cabinet) from 1919 to 1920.[9]

Geddes was appointed Principal of McGill University in 1919 but never undertook his official duties.[citation needed] He resigned in 1920 when he was appointed British Ambassador to the United States which he served until 1924;[13] as His Majesty's ambassador, Geddes investigated the treatment of British immigrants at Ellis Island, for which he wrote a report (1923). He was also heavily involved in the negotiations that led up to the Washington Naval Treaty of 1922, which limited the size and number of the world's battleships. From 1924 to 1947, he was the Chairman of the Rio Tinto Company and Rhokana Corporation,[14] he returned to public service during the Second World War when he served as Commissioner for Civil Defence for the South-East Region from 1939 to 1944 and for the North-West Region from 1941 to 1942.[9] The latter year he was raised to the peerage as Baron Geddes, of Rolvenden in the County of Kent.[15]


Lord Geddes married, in 1906, Isabella Gamble Ross (d.1962), daughter of William Adolphus Ross. They had five children:

  • Ross Campbell Geddes, 2nd Baron Geddes
  • Lieutenant-Colonel the Honourable Alexander Campbell Geddes
  • Honourable Margaret Campbell Geddes who married Prince Louis of Hesse and by Rhine, last surviving member of this family
  • Honourable John Reay Campbell Geddes
  • Honourable David Campbell Geddes.

Lord Geddes died in January 1954, aged 74, and was succeeded in the barony by his eldest son, Ross. Lady Geddes died in January 1962.



  1. ^ Biographical Index of Former Fellows of the Royal Society of Edinburgh 1783–2002 (PDF). The Royal Society of Edinburgh. July 2006. ISBN 0 902 198 84 X.
  2. ^ Spiers, Edward M., ed. (2011). A Military History of Scotland. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press. p. 23. ISBN 9780748633357. Retrieved 8 March 2015.
  3. ^ "No. 27454". The London Gazette. 15 July 1902. p. 4513.
  4. ^ "The Army in South Africa - Troops returning Home". The Times (36865). London. 5 September 1902. p. 6.
  5. ^ "In Memoriam – Lord Geddes". Journal of Anatomy. 88 (Pt 3): 426. PMC 1244689.
  6. ^ Biographical Index of Former Fellows of the Royal Society of Edinburgh 1783–2002 (PDF). The Royal Society of Edinburgh. July 2006. ISBN 0 902 198 84 X.
  7. ^ Biographical Index of Former Fellows of the Royal Society of Edinburgh 1783–2002 (PDF). The Royal Society of Edinburgh. July 2006. ISBN 0 902 198 84 X.
  8. ^ "No. 28983". The London Gazette (Supplement). 20 November 1914. p. 9666.
  9. ^ a b c Kidd, Charles, Williamson, David (editors). Debrett's Peerage and Baronetage (1990 edition). New York: St Martin's Press, 1990,[page needed]
  10. ^ "No. 29578". The London Gazette. 12 May 1916. p. 4698.
  11. ^ "No. 30262". The London Gazette (Supplement). 31 August 1917.
  12. ^ "No. 30442". The London Gazette. 21 December 1917. p. 13375.
  13. ^ Biographical Index of Former Fellows of the Royal Society of Edinburgh 1783–2002 (PDF). The Royal Society of Edinburgh. July 2006. ISBN 0 902 198 84 X.
  14. ^ The Papers of Sir Auckland Campbell Geddes, University of Cambridge
  15. ^ "No. 35440". The London Gazette. 30 January 1942. p. 505.
  16. ^ Burke's Peerage. 1949.

External links[edit]

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Arthur Salter
Member of Parliament for Basingstoke
Succeeded by
Arthur Richard Holbrook
Political offices
Preceded by
Neville Chamberlain
Director of National Service
Succeeded by
Post abolished
Preceded by
William Hayes Fisher
President of the Local Government Board
Succeeded by
Christopher Addison
Preceded by
Christopher Addison
Minister of Reconstruction
Succeeded by
Office abolished
Preceded by
Sir Albert Stanley
President of the Board of Trade
Succeeded by
Robert Horne
Diplomatic posts
Preceded by
The Viscount Grey of Fallodon
Ambassador to the United States
Succeeded by
Sir Esme Howard
Peerage of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
New Creation
Baron Geddes
Succeeded by
Ross Campbell-Geddes