George Patrick John Rushworth Jellicoe, 2nd Earl Jellicoe, KBE DSO MC PC FRS (1918 – 2007)

George Patrick John Rushworth Jellicoe was born on 4th April, 1918 the son of the then Viscount Jellicoe and his wife, Gwendoline, daughter of Sir Charles Cayzer 1st Bart.   He was educated at Winchester and Trinity College, Cambridge succeeding his father as 2nd Earl Jellicoe in 1935, at the age of 17.   He chose not to follow his celebrated father into the navy, but instead had a very distinguished military career during the Second World War.  After a short time in the new Commando Brigade, seeing action near Tobruk, he joined the Special Air Service under Colonel David Stirling.   This marked the beginning of his extraordinary and courageous war service.   He was promoted Major in 1943 and was the first Commander of the Special Boat Squadron, operating alongside Churchill’s Special Operations Executive.   He took part in raids on enemy-occupied Greek Islands before liberating Athens on a bicycle.   He was awarded the Distinguished Service Order and Military Cross, together with the French Légion d’Honneur, the Croix de Guerre and the Greek Military Cross.

Black and white photograph of George Jellicoe, 2nd Earl Jellicoe
George Jellicoe, 2nd Earl Jellicoe

Following the war he was for a time the director of operations for the United Nations Refugee Agency.   In 1947 he joined the Foreign Office, visiting Moscow and later working in the embassy in Washington.   He eventually found himself in charge of the Foreign Office Soviet Desk in London.   When, in 1957, complications in his private life began to cause him problems with the Foreign Office he approached his cousin Sir Nicholas Cayzer seeking an alternative career in the family business.   This was not to be.   He left the Foreign Office in 1958, and, disappointed at not getting the chance to head the South African operations of the new British & Commonwealth Shipping Company, he turned to politics.   He made his maiden speech in the House of Lords in 1958 and served from 1963-64 as First Lord of the Admiralty in Harold Macmillan’s government.   Following the return of the Conservative party to government in 1970 under Edward Heath he made rapid progress, entering the Cabinet and becoming Leader of the House of Lords, before resigning from office in 1973.

He then turned to the world of business, becoming chairman of Tate & Lyle, of the Davy Corporation and of the British Overseas Trade Board.   He was also a member of the Council of King’s College, London and of the Medical Research Council.   Apart from his many business interests he became Chancellor of Southampton University, President of the Royal Geographical Society and a Fellow of the Royal Society.  On the removal of hereditary peers from Parliament in 1999 he was created a life peer and remained an assiduous member of the House of Lords for the rest of his life.   He died on 22nd February, 2007 being by then the longest serving member of the House.