New volumes reveal the diaries of Devon’s 4th Earl Fortescue

Posted on: 11 January 2019

A new volume of historic documents has been published by the Devon & Cornwall Record Society (DCRS), containing the diary entries of Hugh Fortescue, the 4th Earl Fortescue, English politician and sportsman.

He was also the Lord-Lieutenant of Devon between 1903 and 1928, and Chairman of Devon County Council from 1904 to 1916.

Now, for the first time, the documents are available as a published volume by the DCRS.

A copy of the volume, entitled ‘A Lord Lieutenant in Wartime’, was presented to Earl Fortescue’s Great Granddaughter, Lady Arran, who is now the Vice Lord-Lieutenant of Devon, as well as to the Lord-Lieutenant of Devon, David Fursdon.

The books’ author is historian Dr Richard Batten of the DCRS, and the Society’s Chairman is Professor Andrew Thorpe.

Professor Thorpe said:

“The Devon and Cornwall Record Society, supported solely by the subscriptions and donations of its membership, has produced volumes of original records for more than a century. Those books have ranged very widely in their subject matter and historical focus.

“But it is particularly appropriate that the volume for 2018 should reflect the events of the Great War that concluded a hundred years ago. The diaries and reminiscences of the Earl Fortescue, Lord-Lieutenant of Devon at the time, offer a different slant on the war from anything that we have had before, and show in numerous ways how the county faced the conflict.

“In Dr Richard Batten, whose own PhD was an outstanding analysis of Devon in the war, we could not have had a better editor for this volume. We are excited to have published something of such historical richness and value, and look forward to the positive reactions of our subscribers and the wider public.”

Dr Richard Batten, editor of the volume, said:

“As we reflect upon the First World War with the centenary of the Armistice, I am thrilled to see A Lord Lieutenant in Wartime in print to coincide with this momentous year.

“This book imparts an unmatched perspective on the Great War from a pre-eminent and prodigious figure in Devon, the fourth Earl Fortescue.

“From the vantage point of the Lord Lieutenant of Devon, Earl Fortescue was an unparalleled observer of the war years and he recorded a wealth of important observations on a wide range of topics that include recruitment, charitable efforts, political developments and food production.

“Accordingly, the contents of this book have significant historical value due to the sheer variety of subjects that Earl Fortescue documented upon from 1914 to 1918.

“Earl Fortescue wished what he had endured and accomplished during the First World War to be remembered and I hope that this book of his wartime experiences reaches a wide audience.”

Lord-Lieutenant, David Fursdon said:

“I am delighted that Lord Fortescue’s important work in the Great War has been documented in this interesting publication which explains the challenges that he faced with recruitment, morale, charities and food production. It is even better that this appears at a time when his Great Grand-daughter is my Vice Lord-Lieutenant.”

Lady Arran said:

“My Great Grandfather’s diaries contain many interesting insights into the life he was leading during the Great War, and the  busy active roles he was involved with in Devon and London as well as at Castle Hill with his family.”

The volume will be available at the Devon Heritage Centre in Exeter, and on sale online.

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