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Lloyd George and the 1918 Irish Conscription Crisis*

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  11 February 2009

Alan J. Ward
Affiliation:
The College of William and Mary in Virginia

Extract

David Lloyd George was a great war-time prime minister. There seems to be little doubt about this, but his was leadership has been so extolled by his supporters that adverse criticism sometimes smacks of heresy. Nevertheless criticism is warranted which, whilst not attacking the man, will qualify the myth. What follows is a critical examiniation of Lloyd George and his Irish policy in 1918.

Type
Articles
Copyright
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1974

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References

1 George, David Lloyd, War Memoirs (London: Ivor Nicholson and Watson, 1933), II, 1009.Google Scholar

2 Jones, Thomas, Lloyd George (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1951), p. 122.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

3 Wimborne, to George, Lloyd, 2 10. 1916, Lloyd George MSS, E3/9/1, Beaverbrook Library, London.Google Scholar

4 Maxwell, to Macready, General, 7 Oct. 1916Google Scholar, Lloyd George MSS, Ei/5/10. See also memorandum by Chief Secretary Duke, H. E., 30 Jan. 1917, Lloyd George MSS, F30/2/8.Google Scholar

5 Memorandum by Milner, Lord, 23 Jan. 1917, Lloyd George MSS, F14/4/18.Google Scholar

6 George, Lloyd to Duke, , 26 Jan. 1917Google Scholar, and Duke, memorandum, 30 Jan. 1917, Lloyd George MSS, F30/2/8 and 37/4/8.Google Scholar

7 Riddell, George A. (Riddell, Baron), Lord Riddell's War Diary, 11914–1918 (London: Ivor Nicholson and Watson, 1933), p. 239.Google Scholar

8 War Cabinet meeting 282A, 26 Nov. 1917, Cabinet records 23/13, Public Records Office, London (hereafter cited as CAB). In this paper the term ‘War Cabinet’ refers not to the small group of between five and seven members of the government who formed an inner committee, the War Cabinet proper, to conduct the war, but to all rhose attending their meetings and contributing to their decisions. The composition of this larger group varied between and even during meetings, depending on the issue discussed.

9 McDowell, R. B., The Irish Convention, 1917–18 (London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1970), pp. 80, 131Google Scholar; Parliamentary Debates, Commons, 5th series, vol. 101, 17 01. 1918, col. 579.Google Scholar

10 War Cabinet 385, 6 Apr. 1918, CAB 23/6.

11 War Cabinet 372 (13), 25 Mar. 1918, CAB 23/5; Jones, , op. cit. pp. 145–6.Google Scholar

12 Barnes, to George, Lloyd, 26 Mar. 1918, Lloyd George MSS, F4/2/26.Google Scholar

13 War Cabinet 374 (12) and 375 (2), 27 Mar. 1918, CAB 23/5; George, Lloyd, op. cir. vol. 5, pp. 2666–7.Google Scholar

14 Ibid. pp. 2657–66.

15 Memorandum by Campbell, , 30 Mar. 1918, G.T. paper 4101, CAB 24/47; War Cabinet meeting 376 (5 and 6), 28 Mar. 1918, CAB 23/5.Google Scholar

16 The great importance which the British Government attached to American opinion is described in Ward, Alan J., Ireland and Anglo-American Relations, 1899–1921 (London: London School of Economics and Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1969), ch. 7.Google Scholar

17 War Cabinet 376 (6), 28 Mar. 1918, CAB 23/5. Only Lord Milner objected to the delay. He wanted nothing to impede the supply of replacements to the army in France.

18 General Wilson, , C.I.G.S., to Secretary of the War Cabinet, 29 Mar. 1918, G.T. paper 4065, CAB 24/46.Google Scholar

19 Memorandum by O'Connor, , 2 Apr. 1918, G.T. paper 4129, CAB 24/47.Google Scholar

20 Memorandum by Duke, , 4 Apr. 1918Google Scholar, G.T. paper 4133, CAB 24/47; War Cabinet, 383 (16, 17), 5 Apr. 1918, CAB 23/6.Google Scholar

21 War Cabinet, 385, 6 Apr. 1918Google Scholar, CAB 23/6; Cecil to George, Lloyd, 7 Apr. 1918, G.T. paper 4166, CAB 24/47.Google Scholar

22 Parliamentary Debates, Commons, 5th series, 9 04. 1918, vol. 104, cols. 1357 ff.; 16 Apr. 1918, vol. 105, col. 321Google Scholar; Gwynn, Denis R., The History of Partition, 1912–1925 (Dublin: Browne and Nolan, 1950), pp. 175–8.Google Scholar

23 War Cabinet, 385, 6 Apr. 1918, CAB 23/6.Google Scholar

24 Memoranda by Duke, , 13 Apr. 1918Google Scholar, G.T. paper 4218, CAB 24/48, and 16 Apr. 1918, George, Lloyd MSS, F37/4/51; War Cabinet 391 (11), 15 Apr. 1918 and 392 (11, 12, 13), 16 Apr. 1918, CAB 23/6.Google Scholar

25 War Cabinet 389 (9), 11 Apr. 1918, and 392 (13), 16 Apr. 1918, CAB 23/6. The ‘Committee on the Government of Ireland Amendment Bill’ was composed of Long, Duke, Curzon, Barnes, Smuts, Austen Chamberlain, Addison (Minister of Reconstruction), Fisher (President of the Board of Education), Hewart (Solicitor-General), Cave (Home Secretary). All the members of the War Cabinet proper were members ex officio. It appears to have met four times. See Kendle, John, ‘Federalism and the Irish Problem in 1918’, History, LVI, 187 (06 1971), 207–30.Google Scholar

26 Long, to George, Lloyd, 18 Apr. 1918Google Scholar, Lloyd George MSS, F32/5/23; War Cabinet 397 (7), 23 Apr. 1918, CAB 23/6. See also Gwynn, , op. cit. p. 170Google Scholar; Ward, Alan J., ‘Frewen's Anglo-American campaign for federalism, 1910–1921’, Irish Historical Studies, xv, 59 (03 1967), 256–75CrossRefGoogle Scholar, and Kendle, , op. cit. pp. 220–1.Google Scholar

27 War Cabinet 433 (2), 19 June 1918, CAB 23/6; London Times, 27 June 1918. See also Carson, to George, Lloyd, 14 Feb. 1918Google Scholar, Carson, to Balfour, , 1 03. 1918Google Scholar, and Balfour, to Carson, , a Mar 1918, Balfour MSS, 49709, v. xxvii, British Museum, London.Google Scholar

28 French, to George, Lloyd, 18 and 19 Apr. 1918, Lloyd George MSS, F48/6/7, 8.Google Scholar

29 Memorandum by Duke, , 21 Apr. 1918Google Scholar, G.T. paper 4302, CAB 24/29; General Byrne report to Duke encl. in Duke, to War Cabinet, 24 Apr. 1918, G.T. paper 4326, CAB 24/49; War Cabinet 397 (6), 23 Apr. 1918, CAB 23/6.Google Scholar

30 Wimborne to George, Lloyd, 28 Apr., 9 May 1918, Lloyd George MSS, F48/1/8, 10.Google Scholar

31 French, to George, Lloyd, 5 May 1918, Lloyd George MSS, F48/6/10.Google Scholar

32 Frederick Guest, M.P., surveyed the reactions of members of parliament to Shortt's appointment and reported to George, Lloyd on 3 May 1918, Lloyd George MSS, F21/2/20. Duke had expected ro leave the Chief Secretary post earlier. He felt that Ireland was sufficiently quiet on 22 Mar. to make the change, but when the crisis developed he stayed on. By then he was at cross purposes with the prime minister and Lord French. See Lloyd George MSS, F37/4/47.Google Scholar

33 War Cabinet meetings 392, 398 (9), 16 and 24 Apr. 1918, CAB 23/6.

34 Long to Reading, encl. in Balfour to Reading (telegs.), 16 and 17 May 1918, Balfour MSS, 49741. A memorandum by Thompson, Basil of the Home Office, 22 May 1918, made it clear for the prime minister that none of the documents had been obtained from the U.S.A. and that there was virtually no new evidence. See Lloyd George MSS, F46/9/1.Google Scholar

35 Reading to Long (teleg.), 20 May 1918, Balfour MSS, 49741.

36 Shortt, to George, Lloyd, 20 May 1918, Lloyd George MSS, F45/6/3.Google Scholar

37 War Cabinet meetings 414A, 22 May 1918, CAB 23/14; 416 and 417 (1), 23 and 24 May 1918, CAB 23/6. See also Britain, Great, Documents relative to the Sinn Fein movement, Cmd. 1108, xxix, 429, 1921.Google Scholar It is strange that the ‘German conspiracy’ has gone unchallenged in so many books on Lloyd George and this period. Taylor, A. J. P. does challenge it in his English History, 1914–1945 (London: Oxford University Press, 1965), p. 104. He states that the government invented the plot, but the cabinet records indicate that members of the government, including the prime minister, did believe in the German conspiracy, notwithstanding the lack of evidence.Google Scholar

38 Macardle, Dorothy, The Irish Republic (New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1965), pp. 253–7.Google Scholar

39 French, to George, Lloyd, 30 May 1918, Lloyd George MSS, F48/6/13; War Cabinet 505 (9), 21 Nov. 1918, CAB 23/8.Google Scholar

40 War Cabinet 408A (2), 10 May 1918, CAB 23/14, and 412 (18), 15 May 1918, CAB 23/6.

41 Memorandum by Long, , 29 May 1918, G. T. paper 4689, CAB 24/52.Google Scholar

42 War Cabinet 408 (11), 10 May 1918, CAB 23/6.

43 War Cabinet 406 (4), 7 May 1918, CAB 23/6.

44 War Cabinet 421 (6), 30 May 1918, CAB 23/6.

45 Secret meetings, no numbers, 5 and 6 June 1918, CAB 23/17.

46 War Cabinet 421 (5), 30 May 1918, CAB 23/6, and 461, 20 Aug. 1918, CAB 23/7; George, Lloyd to Shortt, , 6 June 1918Google Scholar and de Fleuriau, M. A. to Davies, J. T., 16 June 1918, Lloyd George MSS, F45/6/4 and F50/3/1.Google Scholar

47 G.T. paper 4808, CAB 24/54, and War Cabinet 433 (1), 19 June 1918, CAB 23/6.

48 See Balfour MSS, 49743, for correspondence involving Derby, Balfour, Logue and Hankey and the issue of Irishmen serving in France.

49 War Cabinet 433 (2), 19 June 1918, CAB 23/6.

50 George, Lloyd, op. cit. v, 2671Google Scholar; Jones, , op. cit. p. 147Google Scholar; Owen, Frank, Tempestuous Journey: Lloyd George, His Life and Times (New York: McGraw-Hill, 1955), pp. 474–7.Google Scholar

51 War Cabinet 453 (7), 29 July 1918, CAB 23/7; Parliamentary Debates, Commons, 5th series, vol. 109, 29 07 1918, cols. 85 ff.Google Scholar

52 Shortt, to George, Lloyd, 4 July 1918Google Scholar, and French, to George, Lloyd, 7 Sept. 1918Google Scholar, George, Lloyd MSS, F45/6/6 and F48/6/19; War Cabinet 453 (7), 29 July 1918, and 456 (5), 9 Aug. 1918, CAB 23/7.Google Scholar

53 Copy of French to Long end. in B. FitzGerald to J. T. Davies, Lloyd George MSS, F48/6/15.

54 Copy of French, to George, King V, 13 July 1918, Lloyd George MSS, F48/6/17.Google Scholar

55 War Cabinet 453 (7), 29 July 1918, CAB 23/7.

56 Memorandum by Geddes, , 7 Oct. 1918, G.T. paper 5897, CAB 24/65.Google Scholar

57 Memorandum by Shortt, , 15 Oct. 1918, G.T. paper 5991, CAB 24/66.Google Scholar

58 Memorandum by Shortt, , 7 Oct. 1918, G.T. paper 5918, CAB 24/66.Google Scholar

59 Memorandum by French, , 8 Oct. 1918, G.T. paper 5919, CAB 24/66.Google Scholar

60 French, to George, Lloyd, 12 Oct 1918, Lloyd George MSS, F48/6/20.Google Scholar

61 Memorandum by Long, , 9 Oct. 1918, G.T. paper 5926, CAB 24/66.Google Scholar

62 Others similarly commented on the prime minister's skill and enthusiasm during this period, for example Owen, , op. cit. pp. 471, 474Google Scholar, and Beaverbrook, Lord, Men and Power, 1917–1918 (NewYork: Duell, Sloan and Pearce, 1956), p. 345.Google Scholar

63 Thomson, Malcolm, David Lloyd George (London: Hutchinson, 1948), p. 292.Google Scholar

64 McDowell, , op. cit. p. 68.Google Scholar

65 Ward, , Ireland and Anglo-American Relations, pp. 146–51, 157–65, 262.Google Scholar

66 War Cabinet 453 (7), 29 July 1918, CAB 23/7.

67 Davies, Joseph, The Prime Minister's Secretariat, 1916–1920 (Newport, Wales: R. H. Johns, 1951), p. 187. W. G. S. Adams was Gladstone Professor of Political Theory and Institutions at Oxford University. See Lloyd George MSS, F63.Google Scholar

68 Wilson, Trevor (ed.), The Political Diaries of C. P. Scott, 1911–1928 (Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 1970), pp. 342–3.Google Scholar

70 Plunkett sent reports to the king, President Wilson and others as well as the prime minister. He blamed the failure of the conference on the decision to conscript the Irish although it had long been doomed by Sinn Fein's rapid growth and Ulster's intransigence. See Lloyd George MSS, F64, and Plunkett's own papers at the Plunkett Foundation for Cooperative Studies, London. See also McDowell, , op. cit. passim.Google Scholar

71 Somervell, D. C., The Reign of King George V: An English Chronicle (New York: Harcourt Brace, 1935), p. 271.Google Scholar

72 Boyce, D. G., ‘British Conservative opinion, the Ulster question, and the partition of Ireland, 1912–1921’, Irish Historical Studies, XVII, 65 (03 1970), 89112.Google Scholar

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