Convegno Volta

Gerard Wallop, 9th Earl of Portsmouth

Gerard Vernon Wallop, 9th Earl of Portsmouth (16 May 189828 September1984) was a British landowner, writer on agricultural topics, and politician.

Early life

He was born in Chicago, and brought up near Sheridan, Wyoming in the United States, where his parents farmed. He was educated in England, at Farnborough, at Winchester College and at Balliol College, Oxford. He then farmed at Farleigh Wallop in Hampshire.

Conservative Party politics

He was Conservative Member of Parliament for the Basingstoke constituency from 1929 to 1934. He stepped down and caused a by-election in March 1934 (Henry Maxence Cavendish Drummond Wolff was elected). At this point he was in the India Defence League, an imperialist group of Conservatives around Winston Churchill, and undertook a research mission in India for them.

He attended the second Convegno Volta in 1932, with Christopher Dawson, Lord Rennell of Rodd, Charles Petrie and Paul Einzig making up the British representatives. It was on the theme L'Europa.

His exit from party politics was apparently caused by a measure of disillusion, and frustrated ambition.

Newton papers

In 1936 he sent for auction at Sotheby's the major collection of unpublished papers of Isaac Newton, known as the Portsmouth Papers. These had been in the family for around two centuries, since an earlier Viscount Lymington has married Newton's great-niece.

The sale was the occasion on which Newton's religious and alchemical interests became generally known. Broken into a large number of separate lots, running into several hundred, they became dispersed. John Maynard Keynes purchased many significant lots. Theological works were bought in large numbers by Abraham Yahuda. Another purchaser was Emmanuel Fabius, a dealer in Paris.

Right-wing groups

During the 1930s, and until 1943 when he became Earl, Wallop was generally addressed and known by the courtesy title Viscount Lymington.

He was a member of and important influence on the English Mistery, a society promoted by William Sanderson and founded in 1929 or 1930. This was a conservative group, with views in tune with his own monarchist and ruralist opinions.

A split in the Mistery left Wallop leading a successor, the English Array. It was active from 1936 to the early months of World War II, and advocated "back to the land. Its membership included A. K. Chesterton, J. F. C. Fuller, Rolf Gardiner, Richard de Grey, Hardwicke Holderness, Anthony Ludovici, John de Rutzen, and Reginald Dorman-Smith. It has been described as "more specifically pro-Nazi" than the Mistery; Famine in England (1938) by Lymington was an agricultural manifesto, but traded on racial overtones of urban immigration. Lymington's use of Parliamentary questions has been blamed for British government reluctance to admit refugees.

He edited New Pioneer magazine from 1938 to 1940, collaborating with John Warburton Beckett and A. K. Chesterton. The gathering European war saw him found the British Council Against European Commitments in 1938, with William Joyce. He joined the British People's Party in 1943. The English Array was not shut down, as other organisations of the right were in the war years, but was under official suspicion and saw little activity.

Freeman Dyson encountered as a schoolboy the new Earl of Portsmouth, while harvesting during the war:

the fat young man [Portsmouth] owned the land where we were working, and he came and lectured us about blood and soil and the mystical virtues of the open-air life. He had visited Germany, where his friend Adolf Hitler had organised the schoolkids to work on the land in a movement that he called Kraft durch Freude, in English "Strength through Joy". In Germany the kids had an accordionneuse, a woman with an accordion who played music to them all day long and kept them working in the right rhythm. The fat young man said he would find an accordionneuse for us too. Then we would have strength through joy and we would be able to work much better. Fortunately the accordionneuse never showed up, and we continued to work in our own rhythm.

The Kinship in Husbandry, which he also founded with Rolf Gardiner, was one of the precursors of the later Soil Association. It recruited Edmund Blunden, Arthur Bryant, H. J. Massingham, Walter James, 4th Baron Northbourne, Adrian Bell and Philip Mairet.

Later life

He succeeded to the title of Earl of Portsmouth in 1943, on the death of his father Oliver.

After the war he moved to Kenya, where he lived for nearly 30 years.


  • Ich Dien - the Tory Path
  • Spring Song of Iscariot (Black Sun Press, 1929) poem, as Lord Lymington
  • Famine in England (1938)
  • Alternative to Death (1943)
  • A Knot of Roots (1965) autobiography


  • Conford, P., Organic society: agriculture and radical politics in the career of Gerard Wallop, ninth Earl of Portsmouth (1898-1984), The Agricultural History Review, Volume 53, Part 1, 2005


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