Alan Lennox-Boyd, 1st Viscount Boyd of Merton

The Right Honourable
The Viscount Boyd of Merton
Secretary of State for the Colonies
In office
28 July 1954  14 October 1959
Monarch Elizabeth II
Prime Minister Winston Churchill
Sir Anthony Eden
Harold Macmillan
Preceded by Oliver Lyttelton
Succeeded by Iain Macleod
Personal details
Born 18 November 1904 (1904-11-18)
Died 8 March 1983 (1983-03-09) (aged 79)
Nationality British
Political party Conservative
Spouse(s) Lady Patricia Guinness
Alma mater Christ Church, Oxford

Alan Tindal Lennox-Boyd, 1st Viscount Boyd of Merton, CH, PC, DL (18 November 1904 – 8 March 1983) was a British Conservative politician.

Background, education and military service

Lennox-Boyd was the son of Alan Lennox-Boyd by his second wife Florence, daughter of James Warburton Begbie. He had an elder half-sister and three full brothers, two of whom were killed in the Second World War and one who died in Germany in April 1939. He was educated at Sherborne School, Dorset, and graduated from Christ Church, Oxford, with a Master of Arts. He served in the Second World War as a Lieutenant in the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve with Coastal Forces.[1]

Political career

Lennox-Boyd was elected as Member of Parliament (MP) for Mid Bedfordshire in 1931 (at the age of 26), and was admitted to Inner Temple, as a barrister in 1941. He was a member of Winston Churchill's peacetime government as Minister for Transport and Civil Aviation from 1952 to 1954. In this post he once memorably opined that road accidents were the result not of the taking of large risks, but of the taking of small risks very large numbers of times.

As a Minister, he opened the third Woodhead Tunnel on the British Railways electrified railway across the Pennines on 3 June 1954.[2]

In 1954 he became Secretary of State for the Colonies, where he oversaw early stages of decolonisation, with the granting of independence to Cyprus, Ghana, Iraq, Malaya and Sudan. He was in office during the Mau Mau Rebellion in Kenya, and was persuaded to stay in office by Harold Macmillan after being censured for the Hola massacre. He talked openly about independence for the Federation of Malaya, and invited the then Chief Minister of Malaya, Tunku Abdul Rahman and his colleagues to Lancaster House to discuss the possibility of independence.

Following the Suez Crisis of 1956, Lennox-Boyd appears to have made the initial approach to writer Ian Fleming about the possibility of Prime Minister Sir Anthony Eden's using Fleming's Jamaican house, Goldeneye, for a rest cure given the precarious state of Eden's health. Because of security considerations, he initially intimated to Fleming that he wanted Goldeneye for a holiday of his own and, when he resisted Fleming's suggestion that his and Fleming's wife (a close friend of Lady Eden) liaise over the arrangements, Fleming at first assumed that he was planning an extra-marital assignation.[3]

After the 1959 general election, Lennox-Boyd was replaced as Colonial Secretary by Iain Macleod.

In September 1960 he was raised to the peerage as Viscount Boyd of Merton of Merton-in-Penninghame in the County of Wigtown. This caused a by-election for his Mid Bedfordshire constituency which was won by Stephen Hastings. He was further honoured the same year when he was appointed a Companion of Honour. Being opposed to the line taken in Harold Macmillan's Wind of Change speech, he subsequently became an early patron of the Conservative Monday Club.

Other public positions and business career

Lord Boyd of Merton held the office of Deputy Lieutenant of Bedfordshire between 1954 and 1960 and Deputy Lieutenant of Cornwall in 1965. He was managing director of Arthur Guinness & Sons between 1959 and 1967, and was a Companion of Honour and Privy Councillor.

Mau Mau rebellion

In June 1957, Lennox-Boyd, who was Secretary of State for the Colonies, received a secret memorandum written by Eric Griffiths-Jones, the attorney general of Kenya. The letter described the abuse of Mau Mau detainees. The memorandum was passed on by Sir Evelyn Baring, the Governor of Kenya, who is alleged to have added a cover letter asserting that inflicting "violent shock" is the only way to deal with Mau Mau insurgents.

In April 2011 a Guardian report[4] described a cache of government documents which may indicate that, despite clear briefings, Lennox-Boyd repeatedly denied that the abuses were happening, and publicly denounced those colonial officials who came forward to complain.

Personal life

Lord Boyd married Lady Patricia Guinness, daughter of Rupert Guinness, 2nd Earl of Iveagh, on 29 December 1938. His mother-in-law, the Countess of Iveagh, had been an MP in 1927-35 and he was brother-in-law to Sir Henry ('Chips') Channon, also an MP (1935–58), making them jointly a first mother-in-law and child-in-law set of MPs. They had three children:

Lord Boyd was knocked down and killed by a car when walking across Fulham Road in London in March 1983, aged 78, and, after cremation, was buried at St Stephen's Church, Saltash, Cornwall.[5] He was succeeded by his eldest son, Simon.

Lady Boyd died in May 2001, aged 83. She gave her name to the Viscountess of Merton cup, awarded at the Cornwall Spring Flower Show.[6]

According to many sources Lennox-Boyd was a practising homosexual.[7][8][9]


  1. Flag 4 by Dudley Pope, London 1954
  2. "The Woodhead Route". Railways of Britain. Retrieved 27 January 2008.
  3. Richard Davenport-Hines (2013) An English Affair
  4. Cobain, Ian; Walker, Peter (11 April 2011). "Secret memo gave guidelines on abuse of Mau Mau in 1950s". The Guardian. London. Archived from the original on 12 April 2011.
  5. Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Volume 7. Oxford University Press. 2004. p. 25. ISBN 0-19-861357-1.Articly by Philip Murphy.
  6. "Cornish gardens scoop four trophies". Smallholder.
  7. Double lives – a history of sex and secrecy at Westminster, The Guardian, 16 May 2015
  8. The National Trust bed-hopper who persuaded aristocrats he slept with - women AND men - to leave their homes to the nation, Daily Mail, 14 September 2009
  9. Covent Garden: The Untold Story : Dispatches from the English Culture War 1945-2000, Norman Lebrecht, UPNE, 2001, page 174

External links

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Milner Gray
Member of Parliament for Mid Bedfordshire
Succeeded by
Stephen Hastings
Political offices
Preceded by
John Dugdale
Minister of State at the Colonial Office
Succeeded by
Henry Hopkinson
Preceded by
John Maclay
Minister of Transport
Succeeded by
as Minister of Transport
and Civil Aviation
Minister of Civil Aviation
New title Minister of Transport and Civil Aviation
Succeeded by
John Boyd-Carpenter
Preceded by
Oliver Lyttelton
Secretary of State for the Colonies
Succeeded by
Iain Macleod
Peerage of the United Kingdom
New creation Viscount Boyd of Merton
Succeeded by
Simon Lennox-Boyd
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