George Cave, 1st Viscount Cave

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The Viscount Cave

George Cave, 1st Viscount Cave in 1915.jpg
Lord High Chancellor of Great Britain
In office
24 October 1922 – 22 January 1924
Prime MinisterBonar Law
Stanley Baldwin
Preceded byThe Viscount Birkenhead
Succeeded byThe Viscount Haldane
In office
6 November 1924 – 28 March 1928
Prime MinisterStanley Baldwin
Preceded byThe Viscount Haldane
Succeeded byThe Lord Hailsham
Home Secretary
In office
11 December 1916 – 14 January 1919
Prime MinisterDavid Lloyd George
Preceded byHerbert Samuel
Succeeded byEdward Shortt
Personal details
Born23 February 1856 (1856-02-23)
Died29 March 1928(1928-03-29) (aged 72)
St Anne's, Burnham-on-Sea, Somerset
Political partyConservative
Anne Mathews
(m. 1885)
Alma materSt John's College, Oxford

George Cave, 1st Viscount Cave, GCMG, PC (23 February 1856 – 29 March 1928) was a British lawyer and Conservative politician. He was Home Secretary under David Lloyd George from 1916 to 1919 and served as Lord Chancellor from 1922 to 1924 and again from 1924 to 1928.

Background and education[edit]

Cave was born in London, the son of Thomas Cave, Member of Parliament for Barnstaple, and his wife Elizabeth, daughter of Jasper Shallcrass. He was educated at the Merchant Taylors' School, London and St John's College, Oxford. After being called to the bar in 1880, he practised as a barrister for a number of years, being made King's Counsel and recorder of Guildford in 1904.[citation needed]

Political career[edit]

Portrait of the Viscount Cave.

In 1906 he was elected Conservative Member of Parliament for the Kingston Division of Surrey, was appointed Vice-Lieutenant of Surrey in 1907,[1] and a member of the Royal Commission on Land Purchase in 1908. Having served as standing Counsel to the University of Oxford for two years as well as Attorney General to the Prince of Wales, in 1915 Cave was appointed Solicitor General[2] and knighted.[3] The following year, he was made Home Secretary in Lloyd George's coalition government, a post he held for three years. As Home Secretary, he introduced the Representation of the People Act 1918 and he was very prominent in the debates in the House of Commons on the police strike of August 1918.[4]

In 1918, Sir George Cave was ennobled as Viscount Cave, of Richmond in the County of Surrey.[5] The following year, he became a Lord of Appeal, and chaired a number of commissions, including the Southern Rhodesian commission and the Munitions Enquiry Tribunal. In 1922, he became Lord Chancellor in Bonar Law's government, and again served in this capacity in Baldwin's first administration. He chaired the post war report that led to cuts to the minimum wages and regulation of collective bargaining, recommended by the Cave Committee in 1922.[6]

Having been appointed Knight Grand Cross of the Order of St Michael and St George (GCMG) in 1921, he was also elected Chancellor of the University of Oxford in 1925, defeating former Liberal Prime Minister H. H. Asquith. Asquith was deeply upset by the defeat, partly because he felt that Cave, an old friend, should not have stood against him.[7]

He has been described, perhaps too harshly, as the least distinguished Lord Chancellor in the first three decades of the twentieth century.[8]


Lord Cave married Anne Estella Sarah Penfold Mathews, daughter of William Withey Mathews and sister of Sir Lloyd Mathews, in 1885. Lord and Lady Cave had three sons and one daughter, although all of them died in infancy. Their names were Ralph Wallas, Lloyd George, Honor E, and Matthew G. They are all buried at St. Mary's in Richmond. Cave died in March 1928, aged 72, at St Ann's, Burnham, Somerset, and was buried at Berrow in the same county. On the day of his death his resignation as Lord Chancellor had been accepted and it had been announced that he would be created an earl, and so his widow was created Countess Cave of Richmond, with remainder to heirs male of her body.[9] Having no children who lived to adulthood, the viscountcy became extinct on Lord Cave's death, as did the earldom when his widow died in 1938.

Coat of arms of George Cave, 1st Viscount Cave
A greyhound sejant Or pellettée, resting the dexter leg on a cross moline Gules.
Or fretty Azure a cross moline within a bordure nebuly Gules on a chief of the last two greyhounds' heads erased of the first.
Cave Deus Videt (Beware God Sees) [10]


  1. ^ "No. 27989". The London Gazette. 25 January 1907. p. 570.
  2. ^ "No. 29360". The London Gazette. 9 November 1915. p. 11043.
  3. ^ "No. 29390". The London Gazette. 3 December 1915. p. 12054.
  4. ^ Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1922). "Cave, George Cave, 1st Viscount" . Encyclopædia Britannica (12th ed.). London & New York: The Encyclopædia Britannica Company.
  5. ^ "No. 31013". The London Gazette. 15 November 1918. p. 13492.
  6. ^ Cave Committee, Report to the Ministry of Labour of the Committee Appointed to Enquire into the Working and Effects of the Trade Board Acts (1922) Cmd 1645
  7. ^ Jenkins, Roy Asquith Collins, 1964, p.511
  8. ^ Jenkins p.511
  9. ^ "No. 33383". The London Gazette. 11 May 1928. p. 3332.
  10. ^ Debrett's Peerage. 1921.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Sir Thomas Skewes-Cox
Member of Parliament for Kingston
Succeeded by
John Gordon Drummond Campbell
Legal offices
Preceded by
Sir F.E. Smith
Solicitor General
Succeeded by
Sir Gordon Hewart
Political offices
Preceded by
Herbert Samuel
Home Secretary
Succeeded by
Edward Shortt
Preceded by
The Viscount Birkenhead
Lord High Chancellor of Great Britain
Succeeded by
The Viscount Haldane
Preceded by
The Viscount Haldane
Lord High Chancellor of Great Britain
Succeeded by
The Lord Hailsham
Academic offices
Preceded by
Marquess Curzon of Kedleston
Chancellor of the University of Oxford
Succeeded by
Viscount Grey of Fallodon
Peerage of the United Kingdom
New creation Viscount Cave