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Lady Kinloss

Published on 12 November 2012

Politician;

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Born: August 18, 1922; Died: September 30, 2012.

The 12th Lady Kinloss, who has died aged 90, was a Scottish peeress who sat in the House of Lords between 1963 and the expulsion of most hereditary members in 1999.

King James VI of Scotland had created the Kinloss title for Scotland's Master of the Rolls, Edward Bruce, a year before assuming the English crown. It was opened to female heirs in 1608 and eventually passed to the 4th Earl of Elgin, who died without a male heir.

In 1868 the House of Lords Committee of Privileges upheld the claim of Elgin's grandson, the 3rd Duke of Buckingham and Chandos, to the Kinloss title, and although the dukedom of Buckingham and Chandos became extinct when he died, the Lordship of Kinloss continued through the female line.

Beatrice Mary Grenville Freeman-Grenville was the eldest of three daughters of the Rev Hon Luis Chandos Francis Temple Morgan-Grenville, Master of Kinloss, and Katherine Beatrice MacKenzie Jackman, a blacksmith's daughter. She was educated at Ravenscroft School in Eastbourne.

When Beatrice's grandmother, Mary Morgan-Grenville, died in 1944, she became the 12th Lady Kinloss. She was also the Tudor claimant to the throne of England, being the senior surviving "heir-general" (or descendant) of Edward Seymour, Viscount Beauchamp, the only son of Lady Jane Grey's sister Lady Catherine.

When Debrett's informed her she would have been Queen but for a quirk of history, Lady Kinloss was unimpressed. "I wouldn't take the job for all the tea in China," she apparently retorted. "I have quite enough to do looking after a family of three while attending the Lords three times a week."

During the Second World War Lady Kinloss worked at the Foreign Office and in 1950 married Captain Greville Freeman (the couple later applied to Lord Lyon King of Arms to have their surname changed to Freeman-Greville). Captain Freeman became a lecturer in African, Middle Eastern and Islamic studies and Swahili and Lady Kinloss accompanied him to Tanzania and Aden.

Lady Kinloss was in Mwanza (in north-western Tanzania) when Oliver Lyttleton resigned as Colonial Secretary and was created a peer. He chose the title of Chandos and as Kinloss was a descendent of the last Duke of Buckingham and Chandos, she had to be contacted abroad in order to give her consent.

From 1961 to 1963 Lady Kinloss lived in Aden as (as she later put it) "a very ordinary housewife". She travelled widely within the then British colony and parts of the surrounding Aden Protectorate before the Colony of Aden was incorporated into the Federation of Arab Emirates of the South (later the Federation of South Arabia) in January 1963.

In 1966 Lady Kinloss "somewhat sharply" (by her own admission) attacked the Government about defence provision in the Federation, although she later welcomed financial support for its government immediately after independence. As she observed in the House of Lords, the Federation had no resources of its own and it would collapse without aid.

"Every now and then I shudder in this House when I hear reference to rich sheikhs," she added. "In Aden itself there is terrible poverty; and outside Aden, except in very rare instances, I never saw anyone who could truly be described as rich." After two years in Aden, Lady Kinloss joined her husband in Ghana.

In 1960 Lord Reading had proposed admitting peeresses in their own right to the Upper House, life peeresses having been created in 1958. They were finally introduced in 1963 under the Peerage Act, which also allowed hereditary peers to disclaim their titles following a successful campaign by the 2nd Viscount Stansgate (later Tony Benn).

Twenty peeresses were eligible, including Lady Kinloss, but she attended rarely until returning to the UK (she and her husband settled at Sheriff Hutton, near York). She made her maiden speech in July 1967 during a debate on the Aden, Perim and Kuria Muria Islands Bill. "In fact, it is my maiden speech in more senses than one," she joked, "for it is the first speech I have ever made."

Lady Kinloss sat as an independent crossbench peer for the next two decades. She voted against divorce law reform, criticised the investigation of benefit claimants on the basis of anonymous tip-offs and attacked a Bill allowing incurably ill people to end their lives as an invitation to murder. She also pressed for integrated education for disabled and non-disabled children.

From 1990-92 Lady Kinloss served on the House of Lords European Communities Committee and from 1993-95 on its social and consumer affairs sub-committee, as well as various select committees. When the House of Lords Act 1999 removed all but 92 heredity peers she hoped to be elected one of the (ostensibly) interim hereditaries but came 38th in a slate of 79 candidates for 28 crossbench positions.

Lady Kinloss's husband predeceased her in 2005 and her son Bevil, Master of Kinloss, died in January. She is survived by two daughters, of whom the elder, Teresa Mary Nugent Freeman-Greville, succeeds as the 13th Lady Kinloss.

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