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Samuel Herbert

Samuel Herbert


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Samuel Herbert was born in 1918. He joined the Metropolitan Police and eventually reached the rank of Chief Inspector.

On 21st March, 1963, George Wigg, the Labour Party MP, asked the Home Secretary, Henry Brooke, in a debate on the John Vassall affair in the House of Commons, to deny rumours relating to Christine Keeler and the John Edgecombe case. Wigg also suggested that the Keeler case might have implications for national security.

Richard Crossman then commented that the Paris Match magazine intended to publish a full account of Keeler's relationship with John Profumo, the Minister of War, in the government. Barbara Castle also asked questions if Keeler's disappearance had anything to do with Profumo.

On 27th March, 1963, Henry Brooke summoned Roger Hollis, the head of MI5, and Joseph Simpson, the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, to a meeting in his office. Philip Knightley pointed out in An Affair of State (1987): "All these people are now dead and the only account of what took place is a semi-official one leaked in 1982 by MI5. According to this account, when Brooke tackled Hollis on the rumour that MI5 had been sending anonymous letters to Mrs Profumo, Hollis vigorously denied it."

Roger Hollis then told Henry Brooke that Christine Keeler had been having a sexual relationship with John Profumo. At the same time Keeler was believed to be having an affair with Eugene Ivanov, a Soviet spy. According to Keeler, Stephen Ward had asked her "to find out, through pillow talk, from Jack Profumo when nuclear warheads were being moved to Germany." Hollis added that "in any court case that might be brought against Ward over the accusation all the witnesses would be completely unreliable" and therefore he rejected the idea of using the Official Secrets Act against Ward.

Henry Brooke then asked the Police Commissioner's view on this. Joseph Simpson agreed with Roger Hollis about the unreliable witnesses but added that it might be possible to get a conviction against Ward with a charge of living off immoral earnings. However, he added, that given the evidence available, a conviction was unlikely. Despite this response, Brooke urged Simpson to carry out a full investigation into Ward's activities.

Commander Fred C. Pennington was ordered to assemble a team to investigate Ward. The team was headed by Chief Inspector Samuel Herbert and included John Burrows, Arthur Eustace and Mike Glasse. Pennington told Herbert and his colleagues: "we've received this tip-off, but there'll be nothing in it." Glasse later told Philip Knightley that he thought that this was "a hint not to try too hard."

It emerged later that Herbert installed a spy in Ward's home during the investigation. They recruited Wendy Davies, a twenty-year old barmaid at the Duke of Marlborough pub, near Ward's flat. Davies knew Ward who had sketched her several times in the past. Davies later recalled: "I went to Stephen's flat practically every night up to his arrest. Each time I tried to listen in to telephone conversations, and to what Stephen was saying to friends who called. When I got back to my flat I wrote everything down in an exercise book, and rang the police the next day. I gave them a lot of information."

Herbert interviewed Christine Keeler at her home on 1st April 1963. Four days later she was taken to Marylebone Police Station. Herbert told her that the police would need a complete list of men with whom she had sex or who had given her money during the time she knew Ward. This list included the names of John Profumo, Charles Clore and Jim Eynan.

On 23rd April Mandy Rice-Davies was arrested at Heathrow Airport on the way to Spain for a holiday, and formerly charged her with "possessing a document so closely resembling a driving licence as to be calculated to deceive." The magistrate fixed bail at £2,000. She later commented that "not only did I not have that much money, but the policeman in charge made it very clear to me that i would be wasting my energy trying to rustle it up." Rice-Davies spent the next nine days in Holloway Prison.

While she was in custody Rice-Davies was visited by Chief Inspector Herbert. His first words were: "Mandy, you don't like it in here very much, do you? Then you help us, and we'll help you." Herbert made it clear that Christine Keeler was helping them into their investigation into Stephen Ward. When she provided the information required she would be released from prison.

At first Mandy Rice-Davies refused to cooperate but as she later pointed out: "I was ready to kick the system any way I could. But ten days of being locked up alters the perspective. Anger was replaced by fear. I was ready to do anything to get out." Rice-Davies added: "Although I was certain nothing I could say about Stephen could damage him any way... I felt I was being coerced into something, being pointed in a predetermined direction." Herbert asked Rice-Davies for a list of men with whom she had sex or who had given her money during the time she knew Ward. This list included the names of Peter Rachman and Emil Savundra.

Herbert personally interviewed Christine Keeler twenty-four times during the investigation. Other senior detectives had interrogated her on fourteen other occasions. Herbert told Keeler that unless her evidence in court matched her statements "you might well find yourself standing beside Stephen Ward in the dock."

Mandy Rice-Davies appeared in court on 1st May 1963. She was found guilty and fined £42. Rice-Davies immediately took a plane to Majorca. A few days later Herbert telephoned her and said: "They would be sending out my ticket, they wanted me back in London, and if I didn't go voluntarily they would issue a warrant for extradition." Despite the fact that there was no extradition arrangement between the two countries, Rice-Davies decided to return to England. On her arrival at Heathrow Airport she was arrested and charged with stealing a television set valued at £82. This was the set that Peter Rachman had hired for her flat. According to Rice-Davies: "I had signed the hire papers, and after he'd died I had never been allowed to remove the set." Chief Inspector Herbert arranged for Rice-Davies passport to be taken from her. She was released on the understanding that she would give evidence in court against Stephen Ward.

Chief Inspector Herbert also interviewed Vasco Lazzolo, who was one of Ward's friends who agreed to testify for the defence. Herbert told Lazzolo that if he was determined to give evidence on Ward's behalf, then he might have to be discredited. Herbert warned that the police might have to "find" some pornographic material in his studio and prosecute him.

Herbert needed more evidence against Stephen Ward. He therefore arrested Ronna Ricardo was arrested by the police and agreed to give evidence against Ward. Ricardo was known as "Ronna the Lash", and specialised in flagellation. Trevor Kempson, a journalist, who was working for the News of the World claimed: "She used to carry her equipment round in a leather bag. She was well known for the use of the whip, and I heard that several of Ward's friends used to like it rough."

At the Ward committal proceedings, Ronna Ricardo provided evidence that suggested that he had been living off her immoral earnings. She quoted Ward as saying that it "would be worth my while" to attend a party at Cliveden. Ricardo claimed that she visited Ward's home in London three times. On one occasion, she had sex with a man in Ward's bedroom after being given £25."

Ricardo told Ludovic Kennedy that the police interviewed her nine times in order that she gave a statement that provided evidence that suggested that Ward was living off immoral earnings. Ricardo confessed to another researcher, Anthony Summers that: "Stephen didn't have to ponce - he was dead rich, a real gentleman; a shoulder for me to cry on for me, for a long time." Ricardo also told Summers that Chief Inspector Samuel Herbert was one of her clients.

Two days before Ward's trial, Ronna Ricardo made a new statement to the police. "I want to say that most of the evidence I gave at Marylebone Court was untrue. I want to say I never met a man in Stephen Ward's flat except my friend 'Silky' Hawkins. He is the only man I have ever had intercourse with in Ward's flat. It is true that I never paid Ward any money received from men with whom I have had intercourse. I have only been in Ward's flat once and that was with 'Silky'. Ward was there and Michelle."

It later emerged that Ricardo decided to tell the truth after being interviewed by Tom Mangold of the Daily Express. "There were two strands running through the thing, it seemed to me. There was some sort of intelligence connection, which I could not understand at the time. The other thing, the thing that was clear, was that Ward was being made a scapegoat for everyone else's sins. So that the public would excuse them. If the myth about Ward could be built up properly, the myth that he was a revolting fellow, a true pimp, then police would feel that other men, like Profumo and Astor, had been corrupted by him. But he wasn't a ponce. He was no more a pimp than hundreds of other men in London. But when the state wants to act against an individual, it can do it."

On 3rd July, 1963, Vickie Barrett was arrested for soliciting. While being interviewed, Barrett claimed she knew Stephen Ward. She told the police that she was picked up by Ward in Oxford Street in January 1963. Barrett was taken back to his flat where she had sex with a friend of his. Afterwards, she said, Ward told her that the man had paid him and he would save the money for her. Over the next two and a half months, according to Barrett some two or three times a week, the same thing would happen. Barrett claimed that during this time, Ward never paid her any money for these acts of prostitution.

The trial of Stephen Ward began at the Old Bailey on 22nd July 1963. Rebecca West was one of the journalists covering the case. She described Barrett looking like "a photograph from a famine relief fund appeal." Ludovic Kennedy, the author of The Trial of Stephen Ward (1964) commented: "She came into the witness-box, a little whey-faced blonde, wearing a sort of green raincoat with a white scarf round her neck; and when she turned to face the court and while she was giving the oath, one's impression was one of shock; shock that Ward, whom one had believed to be a man of some fastidiousness in his tastes, had sunk so low. For of all the whores the prosecution had paraded or were still to parade before us this one was the bottom of the barrel."

At the trial Vickie Barrett claimed that Ward had picked her up in Oxford Street and had taken her home to have sex with his friends. Barrett was unable to name any of these men. She added that Ward was paid by these friends and he kept some of the money for her in a little drawer. Ward admitted knowing Barrett and having sex with her. However, he denied arranging for her to have sex with other men or taking money from her. Sylvia Parker, who had been staying at Ward's flat at the time Barrett claimed she was brought there to have sex with other men. She called Barrett's statements "untrue, a complete load of rubbish".

Christine Keeler claims that she had never seen Barrett before: "She (Barrett) described Stephen handing out horsewhips, canes, contraceptives and coffee and how, having collected her weapons, she had treated the waiting clients. It sounded, and was, nonsense. I had lived with Stephen and never seen any evidence of anything like that." Mandy Rice-Davies agreed with Keeler: "Much of what she (Barrett) said was discredited. It was obvious to anyone that Stephen, with the police breathing down his neck and the press on his doorstep, would hardly have the opportunity or the inclination for this sort of thing."

Ronna Ricardo gave evidence on the second day of the trial. Ludovic Kennedy, the author of The Trial of Stephen Ward (1964) commented that unlike Christine Keeler and Mandy Rice-Davies "she made no pretensions about not being a tart." Kennedy added "She had dyed red hair and a pink jumper and a total lack of any sort of finesse".

While being cross-examined by Mervyn Griffith-Jones Ricardo claimed she had told untruths about Stephen Ward in her statement on 5th April because of threats made by the police. "The statements which I have made to the police were untrue. I made them because I did not want my young sister to go to a remand home or my baby taken away from me. Mr. Herbert told me they would take my sister away and take my baby if I didn't make the statements."

As Mandy Rice-Davies pointed out: "When Ronna Ricardo, who had provided strong evidence against him at the early hearing, came into court she swore under oath that her earlier evidence had been false. She had lied to satisfy the police, that they had threatened her, if she refused, with taking her baby and her young sister into care. Despite the most aggressive attack from Mr Griffith Jones, and barely concealed hostility from the judge, she stuck to her story, that this was the truth and the earlier story she had told was lies." As Ricardo later told Anthony Summers: "Stephen was a good friend of mine. But Inspector Herbert was a good friend as well, so it was complicated."

Stephen Ward told his defence counsel, James Burge: "One of my great perils is that at least half a dozen of the (witnesses) are lying and their motives vary from malice to cupidity and fear... In the case of both Christine Keeler and Mandy Rice-Davies there is absolutely no doubt that they are committed to stories which are already sold or could be sold to newspapers and that my conviction would free these newspapers to print stories which they would otherwise be quite unable to print (for libel reasons)."

Stephen Ward was very upset by the judge's summing-up that included the following: "If Stephen Ward was telling the truth in the witness box, there are in this city many witnesses of high estate and low who could have come and testified in support of his evidence." Several people present in the court claimed that Judge Archie Pellow Marshall was clearly biased against Ward. France Soir reported: "However impartial he tried to appear, Judge Marshall was betrayed by his voice."

That night Ward wrote to his friend, Noel Howard-Jones: "It is really more than I can stand - the horror, day after day at the court and in the streets. It is not only fear, it is a wish not to let them get me. I would rather get myself. I do hope I have not let people down too much. I tried to do my stuff but after Marshall's summing-up, I've given up all hope." Ward then took an overdose of sleeping tablets. He was in a coma when the jury reached their verdict of guilty of the charge of living on the immoral earnings of Christine Keeler and Mandy Rice-Davies on Wednesday 31st July. However, he was found not guilty of the charges relating to Ronna Ricardo and Vickie Barrett. Three days later, Ward died in St Stephen's Hospital.

In his book, The Trial of Stephen Ward (1964), Ludovic Kennedy considers the guilty verdict of Ward to be a miscarriage of justice. In An Affair of State (1987), the journalist, Philip Knightley argues: "Witnesses were pressured by the police into giving false evidence. Those who had anything favourable to say were silenced. And when it looked as though Ward might still survive, the Lord Chief Justice shocked the legal profession with an unprecedented intervention to ensure Ward would be found guilty."Ward's defence team found suicide notes addressed to Vickie Barrett, Ronna Ricardo, Melvyn Griffith-Jones, James Burge and Lord Denning: Barrett's letter said: "I don't know what it was or who it was that made you do what you did. But if you have any decency left, you should tell the truth like Ronna Ricardo. You owe this not to me, but to everyone who may be treated like you or like me in the future."

The letter was passed to Barry O'Brien, a journalist who worked for the Daily Telegraph. He later recalled: "We were alone in the room. I told her that Dr. Ward had died and that on the night he had taken the overdose he had written her a letter. I told her that I had a photograph copy of the letter with me and gave it to her. She was greatly shocked at learning Dr. Ward was dead."

O'Brien claimed that Vickie Barrett responded with the following words: "It was all lies. But I never thought he would die. I didn't want him to die. It was not all lies. I did go to the flat but it was only to do business with Stephen Ward. It was not true I went with other men." Barrett admitted that she had been coerced into giving her evidence by the police. According to O'Brien she told him that Herbert had threatened that if she did not do what he wanted she would never be able to show her face in Notting Hill again. Barrett agreed to go to see Ward's solicitor, then went to another room to get her coat. According to O'Brien, an older women who was living in the house came out, and said: "Miss Barrett was not going anywhere." Barrett later retracted her retraction.

According to Sergeant Mike Glasse, all the police officers had been told before Ward's trial that if the prosecution was successful they would receive promotions, "but not immediately, because it would not look good." Samuel Herbert was promoted to the rank of Superintendent.

Samuel Herbert died of a heart attack on 16th April 1966. In his will he left only £300, which was commensurate with the police salaries at that time. However, after his death his bank account was discovered to contain no less than £30,000 (660,000 by today's values). According to Philip Knightley: "By coincidence, in the tape recordings which Christine Keeler made with her manager, Robin Drury, Keeler says that John Lewis, Ward's bitter enemy, had offered her £30,000 for information leading to Ward's conviction and the bringing down of the Conservative Government."

Interview number twelve with Burrows and Herbert came around. Burrows sat in his pinstripes, absorbing the questions and answers in silence. I felt that he was on my side, probably the only person in the world who was, but I hated Herbert with his full face, fair hair and darting eyes. He was always dressed in tweeds. Whatever, I knew I had to keep answering the questions. Now they wanted to know what I was going to do with my money - cash they supposed I had been paid by Eugene for spying. What they called "large sums". Herbert said: "We know all about it."

It was a bluff - I had not been paid. I was confident then, confident that I could get through these interrogations without letting anything go that I didn't want to. I could see their hand. Finally, they threw it in and there were a couple of days of just sleeping and thinking. When they came back I knew that the investigation had changed from Herbert's first question: "When did you meet Bill Astor?"

I told him the truth about meeting Bill at Cliveden. He wanted to know if I had sex with Bill. Again, I told the truth and said no. Then they brought Mandy into it. I said I could not talk for her and they dropped a bombshell. They said they had been after Stephen for eleven years for using women. They wanted to know all about the men in my life since I had lived with Stephen. I did not lie but my answers were pretty much waffle. The next day these two, who by now I thought of as Laurel and Hardy, took me to see Commander Townsend of MIS.

The two policemen stayed in the room while I answered questions about having sex with Jack and Eugene. Townsend asked me about Stephen wanting me to find out about the bomb from Jack. Townsend then asked Burrows and Herbert to leave the room and said, "I have some important questions to ask you, but it is very important that you never tell anyone what I have to say next. Not even the police. Nobody. Do you understand?"

He said they believed me when I said I had taken nothing from Jack's house and that it was Stephen who had asked me to get the bomb information from Jack. But his people had a report from Michael Eddowes about me being a Russian spy and also a report from the CIA about what Stephen had told them. The CIA were flapping, realizing that Stephen had put the blame on to me. They were terrified of security leaks and a sex scandal involving America. Stephen had sketched David Bruce, the American ambassador, and Bruce's assistant, Alfred Wells. When Douglas Fairbanks junior was interviewed by the FBI he said half the House of Lords would be implicated by Stephen.

I told Townsend that Stephen had said that there was money to be made in spying. I also told him that I had not asked Jack about the bomb and that I would not have done so. He then asked if I thought Stephen was a spy and I said he was. So the security people knew the truth.

As contact with the outside world weakened, I was more susceptible. The repeated remarks, "We'll soon have you in here for sentence," began to make an impression, and though logically I could see the idea was ridiculous, I started to believe that perhaps I would be sent to prison.

A solicitor came in to see me, and to prepare my case for court. I wasn't sure who had sent him, and oddly, I suppose, I didn't ask. I was so relieved. I told him everything I could and he said he would plead mitigating circumstances, that because of my being so young when the car and licence were given to me, I behaved foolishly rather than criminally.

The following day, as I was beginning to feel some degree of hope, I was visited by the two senior policemen - Detective Chief Inspector Herbert and Detective Sergeant Burrows.

Chief Inspector Herbert's first words were: "Mandy, you don't like it in here very much, do you?" "No."

"Then you help us, and we'll help you."

All they wanted of me was a little chat. I was to answer their questions and everything would be all right. the questions were of a general nature; who I knew in London, where I went, what I did, who paid for what. Then every so often a question about Dr Ward. Although I was certain nothing I could say about Stephen could damage him in any way - he was peculiar, certainly, but that doesn't mean criminally so - I felt I was being coerced into something, being pointed in a predetermined direction. Rumours that the police were investigating a call-girl racket for VIPs had been reported, but by no stretch of the imagination could this involve Stephen. Certainly he made introductions, he enjoyed manipulating people, and possibly his motives weren't entirely pure, but financial gain never came into it.

Whenever I hesitated, Chief Inspector Herbert would say reassuringly: "Well, Christine says..." He told me they had interviewed Christine numerous times, and Christine had been most co-operative. All I had to do was confirm what Christine had said.

I have come here this evening to make a statement about the Ward case. I want to say that most of the evidence I gave at Marylebone Court was untrue. He is the only man I have ever had intercourse with in Ward's flat.

It is true that I never paid Ward any money received from men with whom I have had intercourse. Ward was there and Michelle. The statements which I have made to the police were untrue.

I made them because I did not want my young sister to go to a remand home or my baby taken away from me. Herbert told me they would take my sister away and take my baby if I didn't make the statements.

Two days before the Ward trial, Ricardo made a new statement to the police. "The evidence I gave at the Stephen Ward hearing earlier this month," she said, "was largely untrue. I visited Ward at his flat at Bryanston Mews on one occasion. No one received any money. At no time have I received any money on Stephen Ward's premises, or given money to him. The reason the earlier statement was divergent from the truth was my apprehension that my baby daughter and younger sister might be taken out of my care following certain statements made to me by Chief Inspector Samuel Herbert."

"Are you suggesting," asked Judge Marshall at the Old Bailey, "that the police had just put words into your mouth?" "Yes," Ricardo replied "... I wanted the police to leave me alone..."

"Ricardo," Ludovic Kennedy wrote, "was clearly in a state of terror at what the police might do to her for having gone back on her original evidence. After the trial she seldom stayed at one address for more than a few nights for fear the police were looking for her..."

Lord Denning did not mention Ricardo in his Report. Ludovic Kennedy did contact her, and she revealed that, before she testified, the police interviewed her no fewer than nine times. An observation car sat outside her home for days at a time. She ended up testifying against Stephen Ward.

Today, traced during research for this book, Ricardo was even more forthright. She said flatly, "Stephen didn't have to ponce - he was dead rich, a real gentleman; a shoulder to cry on for me, for a long time. Some of my clients were friends of Stephen's. But it wasn't business, like, more like friends. I was really into costumes then. These blokes would turn up with a costume inside their little briefcases, and I'd dress up as a nanny or a nurse, and smack their bottoms for them."

Ricardo confirms the police pressure, and explains the quandary she was in. "The police knew I hung around with Stephen," she says. "They said they would do me on immoral earnings, but Chief Inspector Herbert, who was running the investigation, was a punter of mine himself. I didn't know he was a policeman for ages. I used to wear a wig, and he always wanted me to take it off and shake my hair around. I was going with another copper, too, who was involved in the enquiry. I couldn't take this pressure by the coppers, and Stephen was a good friend of mine. But Inspector Herbert was a good friend as well, so it was complicated." At the time of the enquiry, Ricardo was caring for her two sisters as well as her own baby daughter - her parents had recently separated. She said she feared her daughter and sisters would be placed in a home, unless she did as she was told.

A Member of Parliament since 1938, Henry Brooke had represented Hampstead for twelve years. A large man, not easily flustered, he held very conservative political views and since he had become Home Secretary only the previous year he was fresh to the ways of M15. When he heard, therefore, a rumour that the service had been sending anonymous letters to Mrs Profumo - to what supposed end the rumour did not say - he was upset and annoyed. On 27 March, he summoned the head of M15, Roger Hollis, to see him and asked the Permanent Under-Secretary at the Home Office, Sir Charles Cunningham, and the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, Sir Joseph Simpson, to attend the meeting. All these people are now dead and the only account of what took place is a semi-official one leaked in 1982 by M15.

According to this account, when Brooke tackled Hollis on the rumour that MIS had been sending anonymous letters to Mrs Profumo, Hollis vigorously denied it. He said his service had ceased to take any interest in the affair once Ivanov had left Britain. The question of Ward's role then came up, but the M15 account fails to explain why Ward's name was mentioned at all. Hollis then explained to Brooke the allegations that had been made against Ward. The only one that might have concerned M15 was Christine Keeler's statement to the police that Ward had asked her to find out from Profumo when Germany would receive nuclear warheads. But, said Hollis, in any court case that might be brought against Ward over this accusation all the witnesses would be completely unreliable.

According to the M15 account, Brooke then asked the Police Commissioner's view on this. Simpson agreed with Hollis but then gratuitously added that it might be possible to get a conviction against Ward with a charge of living off immoral earnings. But, he said, even this seemed unlikely. The M15 account says nothing of Brooke's reaction to this but he must have shown his dissatisfaction in some way because the meeting ended with Hollis agreeing to have a second look at the possibility of prosecuting Ward under the Official Secrets Act.

What are we to make of this amazing meeting? Brooke called it with one express purpose - to discover whether M15 officers had been harassing the Profumos and to put a stop to it if they had. But the meeting quickly moved on to Ward, and the Home Secretary and his three distinguished civil servants began to hunt about for some crime with which to prosecute him. The initiative clearly came from Brooke; the two service heads, Hollis and Simpson, were pessimistic about successfully prosecuting Ward for anything. They went away reluctantly agreeing to see if they could come up with a charge that might stick.


Herbert Louis Samuel

As the first British High Commissioner for Palestine, a role in which he served from 1920 to 1925, Herbert Louis Samuel faced many challenges. The experienced British politician tried to please three very different groups in the region: the Zionists, who wanted him to support a Jewish homeland in Palestine the Arabs, who insisted that he protect their historic claims to land and political representation and the British, who asked that he rectify these conflicting demands to provide a politically stable country that the British could continue to help toward independence. In the end, Samuel satisfied no one completely, a result that has been all too common in a region deeply divided by religious differences and conflicting claims to limited resources.

"Let a Jewish centre be established in Palestine let it achieve, as I believe it would achieve, a spiritual and intellectual greatness and insensibly, but inevitably, the character of the individual Jew, wherever he might be, would be ennobled."

Though Samuel played a central role in the development of Palestine in the twentieth century, he also had a distinguished career in British politics. First elected to Parliament in 1900, he was a faithful member of the Liberal Party, a British political party that focused on the rights and privileges of the British people over the rights of the government, all of his life. Over the years he served as a cabinet member for several prime ministers, crafted key legislation relating to the juvenile court system, reorganized the postal service and the national telephone company, and led the Liberal Party for many years. Samuel also wrote several semi-influential books on politics and philosophy, including Liberalism: An Attempt to State the Principles and Proposal of Contemporary Liberalism in England (1902), Practical Ethics (1935), and Belief and Action: An Everyday Philosophy (1937).


The Home Secretaries (5): Herbert Samuel

Sir Herbert Samuel

1916 (under Asquith, in the wartime coalition), 1931-32 (as part of the National Government under MacDonald)

Despite having held the Home Office twice, most of the achievements of Samuel’s long life were not those in high office.

Samuel came from a wealthy Jewish background. His Jewishness would both inform his politics, and be used against him by his enemies, though many at the time felt the anti-Semitism he faced owed something to a somewhat unappealing personality. Having been educated at University College School, he won a first in History at Balliol College, Oxford. After getting to know London’s East End, and its large Jewish community, he became involved in politics, very much on the New Liberal wing of the Liberal Party. As such, and as a member of the so-called Rainbow Circle, he had close relations with many of the leading figures in Labour politics, such as the Webbs and Ramsay MacDonald. His Liberalism: its Principles and Proposals (1902) was perhaps the most important statement of the New Liberal position.

Having entered parliament in 1902, Campbell-Bannerman gave him office as under-secretary of state in the Home Office when the Liberals returned to power in 1905. Under Herbert Gladstone, he played the leading role in introducing a raft of New Liberal legislation, including the Children’s Charter and the creation of the probation system (see the article on Herbert Gladstone, here). The years that followed saw Samuel serve as postmaster general (he nationalised the telephone system) and president of the local government board. Samuel even devised the formula justifying Britain’s declaration of war in 1914 (over the issue of Germany’s violation of Belgian neutrality) that managed to hold most of government and Liberal Party together.

He was out of the cabinet when Asquith formed his wartime coalition in May 1915, but he returned when Churchill resigned as chancellor of the duchy of Lancaster in November. When Sir John Simon resigned over the issue of conscription in January 1916, Asquith gave Samuel the Home Office (Samuel was succeeded as chancellor of the duchy of Lancaster by his cousin, Edwin Montagu).

It was a brief and unhappy tenure. It was under Samuel’s watch that martial law was introduced into Ireland after the Easter Rising and that its leaders were executed. Samuel also sanctioned the hanging of Sir Roger Casement, who had been seeking German support for the Rising. His decision seems to have been coloured by Casement’s homosexuality, a subject about which Samuel had very strong views that do not sit well with the modern mind. Furthermore, he had once worked closely with Casement in opposition to the Belgian governance of the Congo. Conscientious objectors were treated harshly, and Bertrand Russell was imprisoned for his anti-war propaganda. The left-wing Liberal stood accused of betraying his liberal principles.

He was hardly alone in that. Nor was he alone in refusing to serve under Lloyd George (with whom he had a very uneasy relationship, of which more anon). However, like his predecessor in the Home Office Sir John Simon, that meant he would not be in government again until 1931. Like Simon, Samuel lost his seat in the Coupon Election of 1918.

He played an important role in public life still, though. In 1920, Lloyd George made Samuel high commissioner for Palestine. Although he was not a believer, Samuel was an outwardly conforming Jew and, by 1914, had become a Zionist as such, he had played a role in paving the way for the Balfour Declaration. As high commissioner, Sir Samuel (as he now was) faced the problem of keeping the balance between Jewish immigrants and their Arab neighbours. He did much to pacify the Arabs whilst allowing Jews to settle, but that was as much as he could do. For good or ill, he must be regarded as one of the founders of the modern Middle East, along with Gertrude Bell, Lawrence of Arabia and King Abdullah of Jordan (all pictured with him in 1921, below).

Interestingly, Samuel wanted to settle in Palestine, but his successor wanted him to leave. He would continue to take an interest in the idea of a Jewish homeland (though was often accused of backsliding on the issue by more trenchant Zionists). He opposed the Peel Commission’s recommendations for the partition of Palestine he opposed similar proposals after the war. He supported the new state of Israel, however, and was an honoured guest when he visited in 1949. The moderation of his Zionism was evident though: he also crossed the ceasefire line to visit an old friend, now King Abdullah of Jordan.

Upon his return to Britain, Baldwin commissioned him to write the Samuel Report, into the state of the mining industry. The report itself, co-written with William Beveridge, was bestseller, but neither the miners nor the coal owners accepted his recommendations. The General Strike followed, in which Samuel played a conciliatory role, doing much to broker its end.

The following year saw Samuel return to domestic politics as Liberal Party Chairman. He loyally supported Lloyd George, despite his misgivings about the Goat’s character and the Lloyd George Fund. Some of his old political creativity returned too: he was one of the authors of the Yellow Book, as Britain’s Industrial Future (1928) was better known. Though Samuel returned to the Commons in 1929, the Liberal revival (which saw them win 24% of the popular vote) only yielded 59 seats. Furthermore, the party split once more, this time over Lloyd George’s refusal to vote Labour out of office. Samuel took Lloyd George’s line, and was actively involved in lengthy, though fruitless, discussions with Labour about the possible introduction of proportional representation.

By the time the Labour government collapsed in the teeth of a sterling crisis in 1913, the Liberals had in effect split. When the National Government was formed, Lloyd George was ill. The Simonites were now giving birth to the Liberal Nationals, as Lloyd George’s deputy, Samuel was the de facto leader of the rest, who were now nicknamed the Samuleites. As such, Samuel returned to the Home Office.


Once more, his tenure was both short-lived and unhappy. The general election of 1931 saw the Liberal vote halved. The introduction of tariffs saw the Simonites become, in effect, Conservatives. At first, Samuel remained in office then, in September, under fierce criticism from his own supporters, he resigned. At first, the Samuleites still sat on the government benches but, the following year, they crossed the floor.

Samuel’s decision to join the National Government earned him the undying hatred of Lloyd George, who quickly resorted to anti-Semitism. This was nothing new for Samuel. Back in 1912, Samuel had been implicated (wrongly) in the Marconi scandal, primarily because he was Jewish the other Jewish member of the cabinet, Sir Rufus Isaacs (who, as Lord Reading, was the first foreign secretary in the 1931 National Government) was similarly embroiled. Back in 1914, Lloyd George had described Samuel as an ‘ambitious and grasping Jew who with all the worst characteristics of his race’. Later, Lloyd George would say of Samuel and Simon (who many, mistakenly, took to be Jewish) that at least he was ‘a bloody sight better than two Jews’. He also quipped that ‘when the circumcised Samuel they threw away the wrong bit’. After 1931, his attacks of Samuel were personal, vitriolic and bitter: he compared Samuel’s attempt to carve out a new Liberal position to the ‘vomit of a sick dog’.

Liberalism did not revive and, in 1935, Samuel lost his seat. He would never hold office again. He hoped that Churchill would call upon him in 1940, but his age and his previous support for appeasement scuppered that. He had by then taken a peerage, and settled into the role of elder statesman. He published several undistinguished works of philosophy and even a Utopian novel (right): none are read now. He became a popular radio and TV personality, thanks to the hugely popular programme The Brain’s Trust. He gave Britain’s first ever TV party political broadcast in 1951. You can see him on a campaign podium in the same election, here.

Even his biographer admits that Samuel was not a likeable man, and that the frequent hostility he faced owed more to that than anti-Semitism. Nor was he in the front rank of political life. Nonetheless, he is, one of only three men since 1900 to have been home secretary twice he is one of five home secretaries since 1900 to have gone on to be a party leader also (six if you count Asquith, seven if you include Clynes who was home secretary after being Labour leader). Her remains the only man to have been home secretary whilst also being leader of his party. Perhaps, above all else, Samuel helped keep the idea of Liberalism alive. Back in his youth, his closest friend and fellow affiliate to the Rainbow Circle had been Charles Trevelyan. In the 1920s, as many of their ilk did, Trevelyan crossed the floor to Labour. Others, like Churchill or Simon, jumped ship to the Conservatives. Samuel remained a Liberal and Liberalism almost died, but in the end clung on. Not long before his death in 1963 he saw the great Orpington by-election win that heralded a Liberal recovery of sorts. Thus, his great age allowed him to the last link between the Liberal Party of Asquith and the Liberal party of Jo Grimmond.

On a lighter note, Sir Herbert is surely the only British home secretary to have a beachfront boulevard named after him (in Tel Aviv) and a brand new hotel in Jerusalem.


After losing his father at the age of six, Herbert Samuel’s formative years were heavily influenced by his uncle, Samuel Montagu.[1] Montagu was one of the earliest English enthusiasts for Zionism, and this aspect of Samuel’s upbringing appears to have greatly influenced him.[2] Although he abandoned his Jewish beliefs during his time at Oxford University, Samuel remained intrigued by the prospect of a Jewish return to the Holy Land.[3] At the turn of the century, however, Palestine was part of the vast Ottoman Empire, having been under Muslim rule for nearly 700 years. A return of the Jews to Palestine was a distant ideal which perforce limited Samuel’s interest in the movement.[4]

Samuels Memorandum

These circumstances, however, were remarkably different once the Turks entered the First World War on 5 November 1914. If the Allies proved victorious, the Ottoman Empire would surely crumble and its former lands be divided among the victorious European powers.[5] With a Jewish return to Palestine no longer so far-fetched, Samuel’s interest in Zionism resurfaced. After obtaining the Zionist Organization’s latest publications, Samuel – who was Home Secretary in 1914 – became captivated by the idea of a Jewish state in Palestine. Just four days after the Turks entered the war, he approached Edward Grey, then Foreign Secretary. Samuel portrayed a Jewish state as a ‘foundation of enlightenment’, inspiring Jews across the world and ‘rendering them more useful to their current populations’.[6] Grey was impressed by Samuel’s spirited address and admitted that the idea of a national home for the Jews had always appealed to him.[7] Samuel approached David Lloyd George (Chancellor of the Exchequer at the time) on the topic later that day and found him similarly keen to see a Jewish state established in Palestine.[8] Samuel’s fascination with Zionism was further revealed in a meeting with George, Chaim Weizmann and C. P. Scott on 3 December 1914, in which he revealed that he was putting together a Cabinet memorandum campaigning for a British protectorate over Palestine after the war.[9]

Just four weeks later, Samuel had finished his memorandum and sent it to Prime Minister Herbert Asquith and his colleagues.[10] Entitled ‘The Fate of Palestine’, the memorandum opened with a sentimental description of how Jews across the world had waited for ‘over eighteen hundred years’ to return to Palestine, their connection to the land ‘almost as ancient as history itself’.[11] Samuel emphasised that if Britain were to annex Palestine after the war, she would once again be playing the part of ‘civiliser of a backwards country’, and that the eternal gratitude of Jews world-wide would be secured for evermore.

To Samuel’s disappointment, the Prime Minister and his Cabinet paid little attention to his largely speculative memorandum.[12] He remained determined nonetheless and in February he met with leading figures of the Anglo-Jewish community to gather support for his ideas. Samuel then re-circulated his memorandum in March, only for his proposals to be brushed aside once again.[13]

The Balfour Declaration

In fact, the British government’s decision to open negotiations with Zionist representatives in February 1917 was largely a result of factors beyond Samuel’s control. As the need to secure American support in the war increased throughout 1916, a deal with Zionist representatives became ever more likely. There existed among the British political elite at the time a belief in the ‘worldwide influence and capability of the Jews’, lent credence by the fact that Louis Brandeis, head of the American Zionist Organization, was one of President Woodrow Wilson’s closest friends.[14] The replacement of Herbert Asquith with Lloyd George at the head of a new coalition government in December 1916 also increased Zionist prospects.[15] Lloyd George had remarked that he was ‘very keen’ to see a return of the Jews to Palestine when first approached by Samuel but Asquith had dismissed Samuel’s memorandum as no more than a ‘lyrical outburst’.[16] In February 1917 Lloyd George gave his permission for negotiations between the British Government and Zionists to begin.[17]

Delighted with this development, on 17 February 1917, Samuel attended ‘the first full-dress conference leading to the Balfour Declaration’.[18] Throughout 1917 he continued to work alongside Dr Gaster, Lord Rothschild, Weizmann, Lord Milner, and a handful of others to finalise the intricacies of the Balfour Declaration. With Samuel’s approval of this ‘wise step’, Lord Balfour made the following declaration in a letter to Lord Rothschild on 2 November 1917:

His Majesty’s Government view with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, and will use their best endeavours to facilitate the achievement of this object, it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine or the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any other country.[19]

Over the next couple of years, Samuel remained closely involved with the Zionist movement. He made a number of public speeches reassuring the Jewish community that the government intended to honour its promises whilst emphasising his own determination to see a return of the Jews to Palestine.[20] He also chaired the Zionist Congress that put together a statement of official aims for presentation at the Paris Peace Conference in 1919.[21]

The mandate for Palestine was provisionally assigned to Great Britain on the 23 April. The following day, Lloyd George announced that Samuel was the ‘right man’ to govern Palestine.[22] Samuel remained unsure, however. Although personally interested in Zionism, he believed that there were inevitable ‘dangers’ associated with the appointment of a Jew as High Commissioner.[23] He explained to Lloyd George that because the British Government had made a promise to protect the rights of both the Jewish and non-Jewish communities in Palestine in November 1917, appointing a Jew as High Commissioner might give false hope to Zionist ambitions.[24] Lloyd George agreed to give Samuel some time to reconsider. However, upon reflection Samuel considered himself duty-bound to accept such a prestigious offer from the Prime Minister and accepted the position on 25 April.[25]

Huneidi, who argues that Samuel was a committed Zionist from 1914 until 1925, attributes Samuel’s hesitation to a concern that Arab hostility towards a Jewish High Commissioner would make the implementation of a Zionist program more difficult.[26] Wasserstein, who argues that Samuel feigned impartiality between the two communities whilst actually laying the foundations for a Jewish state, similarly argues that Samuel’s ‘primary motivating force’ for accepting the position of High Commissioner was ‘the realisation of the Zionist dream’.[27] Samuel did not, however, immediately accept the Prime Minister’s offer as an opportunity to further his own Zionist ambitions instead, he took a few days to consider the Prime Minister’s offer and, on accepting the position, accepted that he would be arriving in Palestine as an impartial administrator.

Samuels First Steps

On 30 June 1920, Samuel arrived at Jaffa Port. In a ceremonious white military uniform with ‘collar and cuffs embroidered with gold’, he was greeted by a 17-gun salute.[28] On arrival in Jerusalem, Samuel addressed the vast crowd that had gathered. He expressed his intention to head a ‘fair and impartial’ administration that would benefit all citizens of Palestine.[29] A week later, an inaugural Assembly was convened at Government House. To Samuel’s delight, ‘consuls, Bedouin chiefs, muftis, mukhtars, sheiks, rabbis, Arabs and Jews’ attended from across the country.[30] Samuel read aloud the statement of King George V, communicating the Government’s aim to establish a ‘liberal’ government in Palestine, with ‘every race and creed respected’.[31] He followed this with a reaffirmation of his own desire to establish an ‘impartial’ administration, announcing that an Advisory Council would be set up in the coming weeks as the first step towards self-government.[32] The Arabs were reassured by Samuel’s promises whilst the Jews remained confident that Samuel was truly a Zionist at heart, determined to transform Palestine into a Jewish state.

Huneidi has alleged that Samuel ‘only paid lip service to the notion that Arab rights could and should be respected’ and that Samuel’s early vows of impartiality were merely attempts to ‘pacify’ the Arabs during his first few months as High Commissioner.[33] Over the coming months, however, Samuel was to hold several meetings with leaders of the Jewish, Muslim and Christian communities to discuss the composition of an Advisory Council, as he had promised at the inaugural Assembly.[34] In October it was decided that the Council would contain ten unelected government representatives and ten nominated individuals: four Muslim Arabs, three Christian Arabs, and three Jews.[35]

Huneidi has also claimed that during Samuel’s initial months as High Commissioner, he established ‘a largely Zionist administration, disguised as a British one’.[36] However, as soon as possible, Samuel made it possible for both Arabs and Jews to apply for senior positions in the government.[37] He also ordered an equal number of Arabs and Jews to be employed in the police force and left in position many of the British non-Jews inherited from the previous military government, several of whom were allegedly anti-Zionist.[38] By June 1921, ‘out of a total of 2,490 government employees of all ranks, 1,633 (66 per cent) were Arabs’.[39]

Jewish Disappointment

Understandably, the announcement of Samuel’s appointment as High Commissioner had been a source of immense excitement for the Jews. Weizmann heralded the ‘realisation of the great vision’ and Menachem Ussishkin, Head of the Jewish National Fund, triumphantly declared ‘our wishes have been fulfilled!’.[40] Regrettably, Samuel made no attempt to communicate to Weizmann and the rest of the Jewish community his newfound sense of duty as High Commissioner, which obligated him to rule Palestine impartially, according to the official policy of the British Government. Therefore, trusting that Samuel’s initial declarations of impartiality were empty statements designed merely to keep the Arabs under control, the Jews in Palestine remained hopeful throughout 1920 that soon enough Samuel would begin laying the foundations for a Jewish state. By October 1920 the Jews had nominated an Elected Assembly and a meeting was convened with the High Commissioner. Samuel, however, used this meeting to emphasise the necessary limits to Jewish influence in Palestine, rather than discuss how best to increase Jewish authority.[41] He declared that it was ‘not the object of the Assembly’ to address questions ‘affecting Palestine as a whole’: their influence was to be restricted to the ‘internal affairs’ of the Jewish community only.[42]

Samuel’s attitude towards the Elected Assembly of Jews was highly unexpected, and challenges Wasserstein’s claim that the High Commissioner sought to create the ‘necessary political conditions’ for the establishment of a Jewish state in Palestine.[43] Rather than enthusiastically suggesting ways to gradually increase the Assembly’s influence in the running of the country, Samuel sought to confine Jewish power. This also undermines Huneidi’s claim that ‘in contrast to the restrictions placed on the development of Arab self-governing institutions, Samuel fostered those of the Jews’.[44] In reality, Samuel used his authority as High Commissioner to limit the Zionist movement.

Arab Hostility

In December 1920, a Palestinian Arab Congress was convened in Haifa by representatives of Christian-Muslim societies, with a memorandum expressing the views of those in attendance presented to Samuel.[45] The memorandum began by appealing for ‘a native government, representative of, and elected by, the Arabic-speaking population living in Palestine up to the beginning of the war’.[46] This was followed by a list of the Arab community’s frustrations with the current administration: the arrival of Zionist emigrants the introduction of Hebrew as an official language of Palestine and the continued existence of a Zionist flag.[47] Although Samuel had maintained impartiality by balancing these measures with restrictions on Jewish immigration, the creation of an Advisory Council and limitations on the power of the Jewish Elected Assembly, he had not denied the British Government’s commitment to the Balfour Declaration. Arab animosity was therefore set to continue.

Tension increased throughout January 1921. In an attempt to placate Arab frustration, Samuel met with Musa Kazim Pasha al Husseini and five other Arab leaders on 16 January.[48] The group reiterated their opposition to the Jewish claim to Palestine and pressed the High Commissioner to renounce the British Government’s commitment to the Jews.[49] Samuel explained that whilst it was ‘not within his competence to discuss the policy laid down by His Majesty’s Government’, the Arabs ought to feel reassured by the government’s intention to ‘carry out the Balfour Declaration as a whole, giving no less importance to the second part of the declaration than to the first’.[50] Samuel knew only too well that this was not the answer the Arab leaders desired.

The May Riots of 1921

Four months later, a clash between Jewish workers and Bolsheviks soon escalated into ‘mass violence’ between the Arabs and Jews.[51] Within days, the conflict had spread from Jaffa up the coastal plain to Tel Aviv, Nablus and Tulkarem.[52] Desperate to regain control, Samuel ordered the use of armoured cars, artillery-mounted troops and even aeroplanes to drop bombs on the largest crowds.[53] Warships were sent to Haifa and Jaffa and a squadron of Indian cavalry were brought in from Egypt to help restore order.[54] After a week of pandemonium, an estimated 95 people had been killed and at least another 200 injured.[55]

The May riots only strengthened Samuel’s resolve to remain an impartial mediator and increase self-government in Palestine. No sooner had order been restored to the country than Samuel appealed to Churchill to this effect.[56] Samuel explained to Churchill that the most appropriate step was an enlargement of the Advisory Council.[57] Although this would not wholly satisfy either the Arabs or the Jews, Samuel hoped that by increasing each party’s influence in the running of the country, tension would be reduced, as would the likelihood of further disorder.

Churchill was concerned lest it should appear, not only to the Arabs and the Jews, but to the rest of the international community, that the British Government could be manipulated by violence. He explained that although he supported measures ‘to secure …. effective representation of non-Jewish opinion’ in Palestine, he did ‘not think, however, that the best moment for making such a concession was the morrow of the Jaffa riots’.[58] Samuel was thus prohibited from using the words ‘elected’ and ‘representative’ in his next speech to the country.[59] But Samuel was still anxious to reassure the population, and emphasised in his speech that discussions were taking place in London to ensure a ‘free and authoritative expression of popular opinion’ in Palestine as soon as possible.[60] In his Interim Report of July 1921, Samuel once again stated that ‘steps are being taken to frame a constitution for the country, which will include an elective element’.[61]

The Interim Report of July 1921 also reveals Samuel’s continued commitment to impartiality so far as Jewish immigration was concerned. Samuel proposed that the number of immigrants be limited to the economic absorptive capacity of the country.[62] By neither prolonging the ban on immigration which had been imposed during the riots in May, nor replacing this ban with an unlimited influx of Jews, Samuel hoped to be fair to both communities. However, neither party was satisfied: the Arabs accused the administration of creating work simply to enable the arrival of Jews, while in a letter to the High Commissioner on 19 July, Weizmann claimed that Samuel’s immigration policy ‘gradually, systematically and relentlessly reduced’ Zionist prospects in Palestine.[63]

The White Paper of 1922

In February 1922 the British Government entered into correspondence with the Palestine Arab Delegation and the Zionist Organization, in the hope of coming to an agreement with the two communities. Unfortunately, the Palestine Arab Delegation were uncooperative from the start, plainly stating that ‘no constitution which would fall short of giving the people of Palestine full control of their own affairs could be acceptable’.[64] In contrast, the Zionist Organization now realised that it was in their best interests to work with the government. Churchill asked Weizmann to ensure that Jews across the world accepted the limits to Jewish influence in Palestine and Weizmann dutifully complied.[65]

Despite the Arab Delegations refusal to cooperate, their fate was still in the hands of the British. In late June 1922, Churchill’s White Paper was published, combining the British Government’s correspondence with both the Palestine Arab Delegation and Zionist Organization since February, with a statement by Samuel outlining future policy in Palestine.[66] Samuel made clear his intention to remain an impartial administrator, explaining that Palestine would ‘not be converted into a Jewish national home, but that such a home should be founded’ in Palestine, at the same time reassuring the Arabs that this would not lead to the ‘disappearance or subordination of the Arabic population, language or culture’.[67] Immigration would continue according to the economic absorptive capacity of the country and a Legislative Council would be established with Samuel as President. There would be ten official members and twelve members ‘elected on a wide franchise’, further measures of self-government to be introduced at a later date, if all went according to plan. Unfortunately for Samuel, the elections for a Legislative Council in 1922 did not go according to plan. On 22 August the fifth Palestinian Arab Congress declared an Arab boycott of the elections, stating that unless the British Government revoked all promises to the Jews, there would be no Arab cooperation with the administration.[68]

Samuel was not giving up that easily, however. Explaining to the Duke of Devonshire (Colonial Secretary from October 1922 to January 1924) that he felt it his ‘duty’ to encourage Arab participation in the elections, in late-1922 Samuel held several meetings with leaders of the Arab Moderate Party to explain that their participation in the elections was highly ‘desirable’.[69] Sadly, his efforts proved unsuccessful. Yet Samuel remained determined to make the elections a success, optimistically extending the deadline for voting until May.[70] The High Commissioner’s continued efforts to encourage Arab participation call into question once again Wasserstein’s claim that Samuel only feigned impartiality between the Arabs and Jews: Samuel did not seize the opportunity in February 1922 to establish a Legislative Council composed mainly of Jews. Instead, he was prepared to wait another three months in the hope of Arab cooperation. Sadly, this was to no avail, with only 225 Arabs across the entire country taking part in the elections.[71] The elections had been a total ‘failure’ for Samuel’s administration and the British Government in London began to lose interest.[72]

The Failure of the Arab Agency Scheme

With ‘parliamentary and public opposition to the Balfour Declaration policy during the previous two years coming mainly from the Conservative benches and the right-wing press’, the installation of a Conservative government in October 1922 led to a reconsideration of British policy in Palestine.[73] In the Summer of 1923, the government appointed a special Cabinet Committee in London to ‘examine and advise upon the future of His Majesty’s Government in relation to Palestine’.[74] Samuel travelled to London and addressed the Committee directly. He argued that it was absolutely crucial for Britain to remain true to her promises of November 1917 and that further attempts at cooperation with the Arabs must be made, proposing the creation of an Arab Agency ‘exactly analogous’ to that of the existing Jewish Agency in Palestine.[75] Samuel’s trip to London was a success. On 27 July the Cabinet Committee concluded that ‘no one now seriously advocates a complete reversal of policy’ in Palestine.[76]

On 4 October 1923, the Duke of Devonshire also informed Samuel that the government was willing to support the creation of an Arab Agency.[77] The Duke wished to make it ‘quite clear’, nonetheless, that this was the very last concession to be made by the British Government to the Arabs and that Arab cooperation was ‘imperative’. Regrettably, the Arabs rejected Samuel’s Arab Agency scheme in October, and the following month the British Government was forced to announce that it ‘would proceed no further upon the path of political concessions’.[78]

Not Giving Up

Undeterred, Samuel still tried to encourage Arab participation in the administration. Only one day after the rejection of the Arab Agency, he appealed to the Colonial Office for ‘the appointment as officials of a number of members of influential Muslim notable families’, emphasising that it was ‘all the more necessary for the government to establish other points of contact’ now that the Arabs had rejected his latest proposal.[79] Unfortunately, Samuel no longer had the support of the British Government in London, nor that of many British officials in Palestine, fed up as they were with the Arabs’ refusal to cooperate with the administration. Samuel also sought to establish local government bodies and elected municipal institutions in Palestine, only for this initiative to be rejected in March 1925 by Leo Amery (Colonial Secretary from November 1924).[80]

Despite Samuel’s efforts, from 1923 onwards both the British Government in London and the majority of British officials in Palestine had lost interest in establishing cooperation between the Arabs and the Jews. From 1923 until his departure in July 1925, Samuel’s administration remained ‘little more than an umpire between two parallel governments’.[81] Wasserstein has described this as ‘a form of… institutional partition… a decade before the country’s territorial partition began to be seriously discussed’.[82]

But this was not through any lack of endeavour. Samuel’s primary objective as High Commissioner of Palestine had been the creation of a unified political body representative of both the Jews and non-Jews of Palestine in equal measure. He had spent his first four months setting up an Advisory Council comprising leaders of the Jewish, Christian and Muslim communities. In 1922, he had sought to replace this with an enlarged Legislative Council, consisting of twelve representatives of the Palestinian population, in the hope that over time, the ratio of Palestinian representatives to British officials on the Council would be increased and lead to greater Palestinian self-government. Not once had Samuel suggested anything other than an equal balance of Jews and Arabs on either the Advisory or Legislative Councils. Following an announced Arab boycott of the elections for the Legislative Council in 1922, Samuel had met with Arab leaders of the Moderate Party to encourage Arab participation. When this failed, he hopefully extended the deadline for voting until May. Unfortunately, the Arabs remained uncooperative. Further undermining Wasserstein and Huneidi’s claim that Samuel’s ultimate ambition in Palestine was the creation of a Jewish state, is the fact that Samuel did not seize this opportunity to establish a Legislative Council exclusively made up of Jews. Instead, he remained determined to encourage Arab cooperation with the administration, persuading the British Government to support the creation of an Arab Agency in the Summer of 1923. Unfortunately, this was to be rejected by the Arabs once again.

Samuel had also devoted a great deal of his time in Palestine to ensuring equal employment of the Arabs and Jews in the civil administration, again refuting Huneidi’s claim that Samuel’s administration was ‘largely Zionist’, disguised as British: Samuel permitted both communities to apply for the most senior positions in government, while insisting that an equal number of Jews and non-Jews be employed in the Palestinian police force.[83] After the failure of the Arab Agency scheme in 1923, Samuel placed even greater emphasis on encouraging Arab participation in the administration.

Samuel had also sought to establish a policy of impartiality between the Arabs and the Jews with regard to Jewish immigration, settling on immigration numbers that met the ‘economic absorptive capacity’ of Palestine as a compromise between unlimited Jewish immigration and a total ban on Jewish arrivals.[84] Of crucial significance is Samuel’s insistence in his first meeting with the Elected Assembly of Jews in October 1920 that their influence be limited to the ‘internal affairs’ of the Jewish community only.[85]

Huneidi and Wasserstein have contended that Samuel remained an ardent Zionist as High Commissioner of Palestine. But this contention has been rebutted by showing that Herbert Samuel, a staunch Zionist throughout the First World War, experienced a change of heart in April 1920. Samuel arrived in Palestine with a strong sense of duty, an obligation to honour the British Government’s promises to both the Jews and non-Jews, and a determination to rule Palestine as an impartial administrator.

Samuel’s ultimate failure to create a unified political body in Palestine was a result of the following: the uncompromising attitude of the Arabs, who consistently refused to enter into discussion with Samuel’s administration the determination of the Zionists to see a Jewish return to Palestine and the British Government’s lack of interest in bringing about cooperation between the Arabs and the Jews after the rejection of the Arab Agency scheme in October 1923. It was certainly not due to a lack of effort on Samuel’s part to bring the two communities together. No man could have done more.

[1] Herbert Louis Samuel, Memoirs (London, 1945), p. 3.

[2] Bernard Wasserstein, Herbert Samuel: A Political Life (Oxford, 1992), pp. 201-2.

[5] Malcolm Yapp, The Making of the Modern Near East, 1792-1923 (London, 1987), p. 95 William Matthew, ‘War-Time Contingency and the Balfour Declaration of 1917: An Improbable Regression’, Journal of Palestine Studies 40 (January 2011), 28.

[11] ‘The Fate of Palestine’, Cabinet Memorandum, Jan 1915, The Personal and Political Papers of Viscount Samuel dealing with Israel and Jewish Affairs, Israel State Archives (ISA) SAM/H/1.

[12] John McTague, British Policy in Palestine, 1917-1922 (Lanham, 1983), p. 12.

[13] David Vital, Zionism: The Crucial Phase (Oxford, 1987), p. 95.

[14] Tom Segev, One Palestine, Complete (London, 2001), p. 38.

[15] Leonard Stein, The Balfour Declaration (New York, 1961), p. 309 Elizabeth Monroe, Britain’s Moment in the Middle East, 1914-1956 (Baltimore, 1963), p. 29.

[16] Samuel, Memoirs, p. 140 Herbert Asquith to Venetia Stanley, 28 Jan 1915, no. 281, Michael and Eleanor Brock (eds.), H. H. Asquith, Letters to Venetia Stanley (Oxford, 1985).

[17] Avner Cohen, Israel and the Arab World (London, 1970), p. 122.

[18] Chaim Weizmann, Trial and Error: The Autobiography of Chaim Weizmann (London, 1972), p. 188.

[19] Herbert Samuel (HS) to War Cabinet, Nov 1917 (ISA) SAM/H/1 Lord Balfour to Lord Rothschild, 2 Nov 1917 (ISA) SAM/H/2.

[20] ‘Great Thanksgiving Meeting’, The Jewish Chronicle, 7 Dec 1917 (ISA) SAM/H/18 ‘Declaration Day’, The Jewish Chronicle, 7 Nov 1919, The Lloyd George Papers, Parliamentary Archives, LG/F/44/8/2.

[21] Samuel, Memoirs, p. 148 Pamela Haviland, Palestine: The Origin and Establishment of a Mandate – 1914-1922, unpublished MA thesis, University of Nebraska (1971), p. 111.

[26] Sahar Huneidi, A Broken Trust: Herbert Samuel, Zionism and the Palestinians (London, 2001), p. 94.

[27] Wasserstein, The British in Palestine: The Mandatory Government and the Arab-Jewish Conflict, 1917-1929 (Oxford, 1978), p. 88.

[28] Segev, One Palestine, Complete, p. 148.

[29] Jerusalem to ZO Central Office (Telegram), 2 Jul 1920 (ISA) SAM/H/17.

[30] ‘Impressions of an Historic Assembly’, The Palestine Weekly, 16 Jul 1920 (ISA) SAM/H/18.

[31] Speech by HS, 7 Jul 1920 (ISA) SAM/H/18.

[33] Huneidi, A Broken Trust, pp. 101-3.

[34] John Bowle, Viscount Samuel: A Biography (London, 1957), p. 202 Speech by HS, 7 Jul 1920 (ISA) SAM/H/18.

[35] Bowle, Viscount Samuel, p. 202.

[36] Huneidi, A Broken Trust, p. xv.

[37] Wasserstein, ‘‘Clipping the Claws of the Colonisers’: Arab Officials in the Government of Palestine, 1917-1948’, Middle Eastern Studies 13 (May 1977), 172-3.

[38] Ibid, 173 Lionel Casper, The Rape of Palestine and the Struggle for Jerusalem (Jerusalem, 2003), p. 38.

[39] Wasserstein, ‘Clipping the Claws’, 178.

[40] Chaim Weizmann (CW) to HS, 8 Jun 1920, Meyer Weisgal (ed.), The Letters and Papers of Chaim Weizmann, 1874-1952 (London, 1968), vol. IX Menachem Ussishkin to Zioniburo London (Telegram), 11 Jun 1920, Zionism and Other Matters Relating to Jews in Palestine, The National Archives (TNA) FO 141/742/3.

[41] HS to President of Elected Assembly, 24 Oct 1920 (TNA) FO 141/742/3.

[43] Wasserstein, The British in Palestine, p. 87.

[44] Huneidi, A Broken Trust, p. 121.

[45] Memorandum of the Palestinian Arab Congress, 18 Dec 1920 (TNA) FO 141/439/1.

[48] HS to Curzon, 14 Feb 1921 (TNA) FO 141/439/1.

[51] Wasserstein, ‘Herbert Samuel and the Palestine Problem’, The English Historical Review 91 (October 1976), 765.

[52] HS to Winston Churchill (WC), 8 May 1921, Martin Gilbert and Randolph Churchill (eds.), The Churchill Documents (Hillsdale, 2009), vol. IV.

[53] High Commissioner of Egypt to Foreign Office (FO), 2 May 1921, Palestine: Civil Administration and General Situation (TNA) FO 141/439/2.

[54] HS to WC, 8 May 1921, The Churchill Documents, vol. IV High Commissioner of Egypt to FO, 2 May 1921 (TNA) FO 141/439/2.

[55] Wasserstein, ‘Herbert Samuel and the Palestine Problem’, 767.

[56] HS to WC, 8 May 1921, The Churchill Documents, vol. IV.

[58] WC to HS, 4 May 1921 (Telegram), The Churchill Documents, vol. IV.

[60] Speech by HS, 3 Jun 1921 (TNA) FO 141/439/2 Michael Cohen, Britain’s Moment in Palestine: Retrospect and Perspectives, 1917-1948 (Routledge, 2014), p. 120.

[61] Interim Report on the Civil Administration of Palestine, 30 Jul 1921 (TNA) FO 141/439/2.

[63] Neil Caplan, ‘The Yishuv, Sir Herbert Samuel, and the Arab Question in Palestine, 1921-5’ in Ellie Kedourie and Sylvia Haim (eds.), Zionism and Arabism in Palestine and Israel (London, 1982), p. 5 CW to HS, 19 Jul 1921, The Letters and Papers of Chaim Weizmann, vol. X.

[64] Palestine Arab Delegation to WC, 21 Feb 1922 (TNA) FO 141/742/3.

[65] WC to Zionist Organization (ZO), 3 Jun 1922 (TNA) FO 141/742/3 ZO to WC, 18 Jun 1922 (TNA) FO 141/742/3.

[66] The White Paper of 1922 (TNA) FO 141/742/3.

[68] Naomi Shepherd, Ploughing Sand: British Rule in Palestine, 1917-1948 (New Brunswick, 2000), p. 61.

[69] HS to Duke of Devonshire, undated (ISA) SAM/H/5.

[71] Wasserstein, ‘Herbert Samuel and the Palestine Problem’, 771.

[72] Duke of Devonshire to HS, 4 Oct 1923 (TNA) FO 141/439/2.

[73] Cohen, Britain’s Moment, p. 146.

[74] ‘The Future of Palestine’, Cabinet Memorandum, 27 Jul 1923 (TNA) CAB 24/161/51.

[75] Wasserstein, The British in Palestine, p. 125.

[76] ‘The Future of Palestine’, Cabinet Memorandum, 27 Jul 1923 (TNA) CAB 24/161/51.

[77] Duke of Devonshire to HS, 4 Oct 1923 (TNA) FO 141/439/2.

[78] Bowle, Viscount Samuel, p. 227 Evyatar Friesel, ‘British Officials on the Situation in Palestine, 1923’, Middle Eastern Studies 23 (April 1989), 198.

[79] Wasserstein, ‘Clipping the Claws’, 175.

[80] HS to Leo Amery, 4 Mar 1925 (ISA) SAM/H/7.

[81] Wasserstein, ‘Herbert Samuel and the Palestine Problem’, 773.

[82] Wasserstein, Herbert Samuel, p. 226.

[83] Huneidi, A Broken Trust, p. xv.

[84] Interim Report on the Civil Administration of Palestine, 30 Jul 1921 (TNA) FO 141/439/2.

[85] HS to President of the Elected Assembly, 24 Oct 1920 (TNA) FO 141/742/3.


Herbert Louis Samuel, 1st Viscount Samuel

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Herbert Louis Samuel, 1st Viscount Samuel, (born Nov. 6, 1870, Liverpool—died Feb. 5, 1963, London), British statesman and philosopher, one of the first Jewish members of the British cabinet (as chancellor of the duchy of Lancaster, 1909–10). He was perhaps most important as first British high commissioner for Palestine (1920–25), carrying out that delicate assignment with varying but considerable success.

Samuel was a social worker in the Whitechapel slum district of East London when elected to the House of Commons as a Liberal in 1902. As parliamentary undersecretary to the Home Office (1905–09), he was responsible for legislation (1908) that established juvenile courts and the “Borstal” system of detention and training for youthful offenders. Twice postmaster general (1910–14, 1915–16), he recognized the postal trade unions and nationalized the telephone services. In January 1916 he became home secretary in Herbert H. Asquith’s coalition ministry, but he resigned in December when David Lloyd George formed his coalition government.

Although his five-year administration in Palestine was occasionally disturbed by turmoil brought about by both Jewish and Arab nationalist dissension, Samuel greatly improved the economy of the region and strove for harmony among the religious communities. Returning to Great Britain, he presided (1925–26) over the royal commission on the coal industry and helped to settle the general strike of May 1926. Reentering the House of Commons in 1929, he joined Ramsay MacDonald’s national coalition government in 1931 as home secretary, but, as a confirmed free trader, he resigned in September 1932 in protest against import tariffs. He was leader of the Liberal Party from 1931 to 1935, but his actions widened the division within the Liberal Party, which ceased to be an important factor in national elections. Created viscount in 1937, he led the Liberals in the House of Lords (1944–55).

As president (1931–59) of the British (later Royal) Institute of Philosophy, Samuel interpreted philosophy to the public in such books as Practical Ethics (1935) and Belief and Action (1937 new ed. 1953).


--> Fisher, Samuel H. (Samuel Herbert), 1867-1957

Col. Samuel H. Fisher was born in Cincinnati, Ohio, in 1867, graduating from Yale University in 1889 and Yale Law School, 1892. He practiced law in Washington, D.C., and New Haven, Conn. In 1916 he became the personal counsel for Mrs. Stephen V. Harkness and her son Edward S. Harkness, a position he held until Fisher retired in 1931. He was a member of the Yale Corporation from 1910-1925 and a member of boards of corporate and charitable institutions. After he retired, he helped organize the Connecticut Highway Safety Commission in 1936, was Connecticut Defense Administrator from 1940-1943, and performed other public service for the state and federal government. He married Margaret Sargent Fisher of New Haven in 1895. They moved to Litchfield in 1920. He died in 1957. In the 1930s Fisher undertook a project to assemble data on every student who attended the Litchfield Law School from 1774-1833. He conducted research and corresponded with colleges and universities, state libraries, historical societies, and other institutions across the country. He also employed genealogists to track down information. The results of his investigations were published in a book by the Yale Law School Library in conjunction with Yale University Press in 1946.

From the description of Samuel Fisher collection, 1929-1961. (Litchfield Historical Society). WorldCat record id: 753726041

Samuel Herbert Fisher was born in Cincinnati, Ohio, on May 26, 1867. He received B.A. (1889) and LL.B. (1892) degrees from Yale University. Fisher practiced law in New Haven, Connecticut ,and New York City and served as junior counsel to Yale University and personal counsel to Mrs. Stephen V. Harkness and Edward S. Harkness. He was a fellow of the Yale Corporation (1920-1935) and chaired the Connecticut Tercentenary Commission (1934-1935). Fisher died in 1957.

From the description of Samuel Herbert Fisher papers, 1916-1954 (inclusive). (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 702166038

Samuel Herbert Fisher was born in Cincinnati, Ohio on May 26, 1867. He received B.A. (1889) and LL.B. (1892) degrees from Yale University. Fisher practiced law in New Haven, Connecticut and New York City and served as junior counsel to Yale University and personal counsel to Mrs. Stephen V. Harkness and Edward S. Harkness. He was a fellow of the Yale Corporation (1920-1935) and chaired the Connecticut tercentenary commission (1934-1935). Fisher died in 1957.

From the guide to the Samuel Herbert Fisher papers, 1916-1954, (Manuscripts and Archives)


Pre-State Israel: The Arrival of Sir Herbert Samuel, First British High Commissioner in Palestine

When the first high commissioner for Palestine arrived in Jerusalem, he was met with a seventeen-gun salute and endless words of welcome. Sir Herbert Samuel made the journey in June 1920, and served as high commissioner for a period of five years. His appointment was viewed by many Jews as affirmation that the British promise for a Jewish National Home in Palestine would be honored. The telegram sent to the Zionist Organisation Central Office in London reflects the atmosphere of excitement that surrounded Samuel's arrival.

Samuel himself was moved by the outpouring of emotion which greeted him in the Land of Israel. He had been raised in an Orthodox Jewish home, and although he subsequently ceased practicing, he remained intensely interested in Jewish communal problems.

Samuel's career in different British posts was unique in its scope he was the first unconverted Jew to serve in a Cabinet office.

Samuel first presented the idea of a British protectorate in 1915. In a memorandum to Prime Minister Asquith, he proposed that a British protectorate be established which would allow for increased Jewish settlement. In time, the future Jewish majority would enjoy a considerable degree of autonomy. Herbert believed that the creation of a Jewish center would flourish spiritually and intellectually, resulting in the character improvement of Jews all over the world. At that time, however, Prime Minister Asquith was not interested in pursuing such an option, and no action was taken. Yet significant groundwork had been accomplished, and it was on the basis of Samuel's work that the Balfour Declaration was later written.

It was therefore no surprise that Samuel was appointed first high commissioner of Palestine. His appointment made him the first Jew to govern in the Land of Israel in 2,000 years. Anxious to serve his country well, Samuel made it clear that his policy was to unite all dissenting groups under the British flag. Attempting to appease the Arabs in Palestine, Samuel made several significant concessions. It was he who appointed Hajj Amin al-Husseini, a noted Arab nationalist extremist, to be Mufti of Jerusalem. In addition, he slowed the pace of Jewish immigration to Palestine, much to the distress of the Zionists. In attempting to prove his impartiality, the Zionists claimed that he had gone too far, and had damaged the Zionist cause. Many Zionists were ultimately disappointed by Samuel, who they felt did not live up to the high expectations they had of him.

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Appointment as High Commissioner of Palestine

Two months after Britain's declaration of war on the Ottoman Empire in November 1914, Samuel circulated a memorandum entitled The Future of Palestine to his cabinet colleagues, suggesting that Palestine become a home for the Jewish people under the British Rule. [ 3 ] The memoradum stated that "I am assured that the solution of the problem of Palestine which would be much the most welcome to the leaders and supporters of the Zionist movement throughout the world would be the annexation of the country to the British Empire".

In 1917, Britain occupied Palestine (then part of the Ottoman Empire) during the course of the First World War. Samuel lost his seat in the election of 1918 and became a candidate to represent British interests in the territory. He was appointed to the position of High Commissioner in 1920, before the Council of the League of Nations approved a British mandate for Palestine. Nonetheless, the military government withdrew to Cairo in preparation for the expected British Mandate, which was finally granted 2 years later by the League of Nations. He served as High Commissioner until 1925 [1] . Samuel was the first Jew to govern the historic land of Israel in 2,000 years. [ 4 ] He recognised Hebrew as one of the three official languages of the Mandate territory. He was appointed Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the British Empire (GBE) on 11 June 1920.

Samuel's appointment to High Commissioner of Palestine was controversial. While the Zionists welcomed the appointment of a Zionist Jew to the post, the military government, headed by Allenby and Bols, called Samuel's appointment "highly dangerous". [ 5 ] Technically, Allenby noted, the appointment was illegal, in that a civil administration that would compel the inhabitants of an occupied country to express their allegiance to it before a formal peace treaty (with Turkey) was signed, was in violation of both military law and the Hague Convention . [ 6 ] Bols said the news was received with '(c)onsternation, despondency, and exasperation' by the Moslem [and] Christian population . They are convinced that he will be a partisan Zionist and that he represents a Jewish and not a British Government.' [ 7 ] Allenby said that the Arabs would see it as "as handing country over at once to a permanent Zionist Administration" and predicted numerous degrees of violence. Lord Curzon read this last message to Samuel and asked him to reconsider accepting the post. (Samuel took advice from a delegation representing the Zionists which was in London at the time, who told him that these 'alarmist' reports were not justified. Samuel's memoirs, p. 152.) The Muslim-Christian Association had sent a telegram to Bols:


High Commissioner of Palestine

As High Commissioner, Samuel attempted to mediate between Zionist and Arab interests, acting to slow Jewish immigration and win the confidence of the Arab population. He hoped to gain Arab participation in mandate affairs and to guard their civil and economic rights, while at the same time refusing them any authority that could be used to stop Jewish immigration and land purchase. [17] According to Wasserstein his policy was "subtly designed to reconcile Arabs to the [. ] pro-Zionist policy" of the British. [18] Islamic custom at the time was that the chief Islamic spiritual leader, the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, was to be chosen by the temporal ruler, the Ottoman Sultan in Constantinople, from a group of clerics that were nominated by the indigenous clerics. After the British conquered Palestine, Samuel chose Hajj Amin Al Husseini, who later proved a thorn in the side of the British administration in Palestine. At the same time, he enjoyed the respect of the Jewish community, and was honored by being called to the Torah at the Hurva synagogue in the Old City of Jerusalem. [19]

During Samuel’s administration the White Paper of 1922 was published, supporting Jewish immigration within the absorptive capacity of the country and defining the Jewish national homeland as “not the imposition of a Jewish nationality upon the inhabitants of Palestine as a whole, but the further development of the existing Jewish community, with the assistance of Jews in other parts of the world, in order that it may become a centre in which the Jewish people as a whole may take, on grounds of religion and race, an interest and a pride.” [20]

Samuel won the confidence of all sections of the population by his noted "impartiality." [21] He struck a particularly strong relationship with Pinhas Rutenberg, granting him exclusive concessions to produce and distribute electricity in Palestine and Trans-Jordan and often strongly backing Rutenberg in his relations with the Colonial Office in London. [22] [ page needed ]

Samuel government signed the Ghor-Mudawarra Land Agreement with the Baysan Valley bedouin tribes, that earmarked for transfer 179,545 Dunams of state land to the Bedouin. [23]

Samuel's role in Palestine is still debated. According to Wasserstein, "He is remembered kindly neither by the majority of Zionist historians, who tend to regard him as one of the originators of the process whereby the Balfour Declaration in favour of Zionism was gradually diluted and ultimately betrayed by Great Britain, nor by Arab nationalists who regard him as a personification of the alliance between Zionism and British imperialism and as one of those responsible for the displacement of the Palestinian Arabs from their homeland. In fact, both are mistaken." [24]


Return to Britain

On his return to Britain in 1925, Prime Minister Stanley Baldwin asked Samuel to look into the problems of the mining industry. The Samuel Commission published its report in March 1926 recommending that the industry be reorganised but rejecting the suggestion of nationalisation. The report also recommended that the Government subsidy should be withdrawn and the miners' wages should be reduced. The report was one of the leading factors that led to the 1926 General Strike.

Samuel returned to the House of Commons following the 1929 General Election. Two years later he became deputy leader of the Liberal Party and acted as leader in the summer of 1931 when Lloyd George was ill. Under Samuel the party served in the first National Government of Prime Minister Ramsay MacDonald formed in August 1931, with Samuel himself serving as Home Secretary. However the government's willingness to consider the introduction of protectionist tariffs and to call a general election to seek a mandate led to the Liberal Party fragmenting into three distinct groups. After the general election and with Lloyd George now detached at the head of a group of Independent Liberals, Samuel became the official leader of the Liberals but faced a party predominantly divided with over half the MPs in the Liberal National faction of Sir John Simon. The government's moves to introduce tariffs caused further friction for the Liberals and Samuel withdrew the party from the government in stages, first obtaining the suspension of cabinet collective responsibility on the matter to allow Liberal members of the government to oppose tariffs, then in October 1932 the Liberal ministers resigned their ministerial posts but continued to support the National Government in Parliament, and finally in November 1933 Samuel and the bulk of the Liberal MPs crossed the floor of the House of Commons to now oppose the government outright. He remained leader of the Liberal Party until he again lost his seat in 1935.

In 1937 he was granted the title Viscount Samuel later that year Samuel, although Jewish, aligned himself with Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain's appeasement policy towards Adolf Hitler, urging that Germany be cleared of its 1914 war guilt and recommending that Germany's former colonies be returned to her. He declined a later offer by Chamberlain to return to government. In 1938 he supported the Kindertransport movement for refugee children from Europe with an appeal for homes for them.

Samuel later became the leader of the Liberal Party in the House of Lords (1944–55). During the 1951 general election, on 15 October 1951, Samuel became the first British politician to deliver a party political broadcast on television.

His son Edwin Herbert Samuel, 2nd Viscount Samuel served in the Jewish Legion.


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