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Oliver Baldwin, 2nd Earl Baldwin of Bewdley
(March 1, 1899 - August 10, 1958) U.K.

Oliver Baldwin



Oliver Ridsdale Baldwin, 2nd Earl Baldwin of Bewdley, known as Viscount Corvedale from 1937 to 1947, was a socialist politician who had a career at political odds with his father, the Conservative prime minister Stanley Baldwin. His mother was Lucy née Ridsdale. He was born was born at Astley Hall, Worcestershire.

Educated at Eton, which he hated, Baldwin left as soon as he could. He was keen to leave school and join the army to fight in the First World War, and was commissioned in the Irish Guards in June 1917. He did not join the fighting in France until June 1918, but then distinguished himself by his bravery. His war service strengthened his idealism and increasingly socialist views.

After serving in the army during the First World War he undertook various jobs, including a brief appointment as an officer in the Armenian army, and wrote journalism and books on a range of topics. He served two terms as a Labour Member of Parliament between 1929 and 1947. Baldwin never achieved ministerial office in Britain. His last post was as Governor of the Leeward Islands, from 1948 to 1950.

Oliver BaldwinAfter the war Baldwin served briefly as British Vice-Consul in Boulogne, and then travelled in north Africa. He refused to be supported by his father, and earned a living as a journalist and travel writer. A chance meeting in Alexandria led to an appointment as an infantry instructor in the newly-independent Armenia, but soon after he took up the post in 1920 the democratic government collapsed and Baldwin was imprisoned by Bolshevik-backed revolutionaries. He was freed two months later when democracy was restored, but en route back to Britain he was arrested by the Turkish authorities, accused of spying for Soviet Russia.[8] He was held for five months, in grim conditions, with execution a constant threat.

After his release Baldwin returned to Britain, and in 1922 was briefly engaged to Dorothea ("Doreen") Arbuthnot, the daughter of a political ally of his father. On way back from Armenia Oliver Baldwin made two major decisions. First, any talk of engagement to Dorothea Arbuthnot was a fraud; he was homosexual and needed to live the rest of his life with a male partner, whom he found in the person of John Parke Boyle (July 30, 1893 – February 24, 1969), the son of an army officer, descended from the earls of Cork.

Together they set up home in Oxfordshire, first at Shirburn and then at North Stoke, keeping geese and hens and taking in lodgers, with Oliver trying to make money by writing. He refused to accept money from his father, except for small cheques at Christmas or for his birthday. Second, Oliver decided his politics lay decisively on the left. The substance of an interview he gave to the Westminster Gazette was taken up by Fred Gorle of the Social Democratic Federation.

Baldwin was invited to become a member, which he immediately did. H. M. Hyndman, the guiding spirit of the SDF, remained his political inspiration for the rest of his life. Some members of his family thought that the adoption of socialism was deeply treacherous, but Stanley Baldwin was always warm, generous and understanding of the idealism of his elder son. His mother, coming from a background where the questioning of received ideas was not just possible but expected, was also supportive, and on a personal level too - she wrote to John Boyle to say, "Thank you for loving my Oliver."

The Daily Mail on August 5, 1931, was dominated by a story claiming that Oliver Baldwin was living with a man named John Boyle. "We do not know if Mr. Oliver Baldwin and Mr. John Boyle are indulging in unnatural vice, but if they are committing criminal acts the police should be informed and a criminal prosecution brought." That afternoon Stanley Baldwin gave a press conference with his wife Lucy and Oliver. He said that Oliver had the love and support of himself and his wife. They knew that he and John Boyle were close friends and were living together. What they did in their personal lives was no one's business and certainly not a matter for the law.

In 1948, Oliver was appointed Governor of the Leeward Islands and took John Boyle with him. They lived together for 35 years, that is until Oliver Balwin's death.


Sources: https://www.goodreads.com/ - https://en.wikipedia.org/

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