John William Fortescue

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Fortescue arms

The Honourable Sir John William Fortescue, KCVO (28 December 1859 – 22 October 1933) was a British military historian. He was a historian of the British Army and served as Royal Librarian and Archivist at Windsor Castle from 1905 until 1926.

Early life[edit]

Fortescue was born on 28 December 1859 in Madeira, the 5th son of Hugh, 3rd Earl Fortescue by his wife Georgina, Countess Fortescue (née Dawson-Damer).[1] His family owned much of the area around Simonsbath on Exmoor since the twelfth century,[2] thus he joined the North Devon Yeomanry Cavalry latterly serving as a major.

Fortescue was educated at Harrow School and Trinity College, Cambridge later lecturing at Oxford (DLitt (Oxon)).[3]


Fortescue is best known for his major work on the history of the British Army, which he wrote between 1899 and 1930. Between 1905 and 1926 he worked as the Royal Librarian at Windsor Castle.

In 1911, Fortescue delivered the Ford Lectures at Oxford University. He served as President of the Royal Historical Society from 1921 to 1925[4] and was elected an Honorary Fellow of Trinity College, Cambridge.

Fortescue was appointed KCVO in 1926.

Personal life[edit]

In 1914 Fortescue married Winifred Beech, daughter of the Revd Howard Beech, Rector of Great Bealings, Suffolk; they had no children. Lady Fortescue (who died in 1951) was a writer and actress. He died in Cannes.[5]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ Bond, Brian (2004). "Fortescue, Sir John William (1859–1933)". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Oxford University Press,. Retrieved 24 May 2014. 
  2. ^ "Sir John William Fortescue". Everything Exmoor. Retrieved 27 November 2007. 
  3. ^ "Fortescue, the Hon. John William (FRTC878JW)". A Cambridge Alumni Database. University of Cambridge. 
  4. ^ "List of Presidents". Royal Historical Society. Archived from the original on 16 July 2011. Retrieved 20 December 2010. 
  5. ^ John William Fortescue and Exmoor Archived 9 January 2015 at the Wayback Machine.

External links[edit]

Academic offices
Preceded by
Charles Oman
President of the Royal Historical Society
Succeeded by
Thomas Frederick Tout