Robert Cecil, 1st Viscount Cecil of Chelwood Wins the Nobel Peace Prize
Edgar Algernon Robert Gascoyne-Cecil, 1st Viscount Cecil of Chelwood CH, PC, QC (14 September 1864 – 24 November 1958), known as Lord Robert Cecil from 1868 to 1923, was a lawyer, politician and diplomat in the United Kingdom.
He was one of the architects of the League of Nations and a defender of it, whose service to the organisation saw him awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1937.
Cecil was the sixth child and third son of Robert Gascoyne-Cecil, 3rd Marquess of Salisbury (three times Prime Minister in 1885, 1886–1892, and 1895–1902). He was educated at home until he was thirteen and then spent four years at Eton College. He claimed in his autobiography to have enjoyed his home education most. He studied law at University College, Oxford, where he became a well known debater. In 1887, he was admitted to the Bar (permitted to practise as a barrister). He was fond of saying that his marriage to Lady Eleanor Lambton in 1889 was the cleverest thing he had ever done.
From 1887 to 1906, Cecil practised civil law, including work in Chancery and parliamentary practice. On 15 June 1899, he was appointed as a Queen's Counsel (QC). He also collaborated in writing a book, entitled Principles of Commercial Law.
At the 1906 general election, Cecil was elected as a Conservative Member of Parliament representing Marylebone East. He did not contest the Marylebone seat in either of the general elections in 1910 as a result of the Tariff Reform controversy. Instead he unsuccessfully contested Blackburn in the January election and Wisbech in the December election. In 1911 he won a by-election in Hitchin, Hertfordshire as an Independent Conservative and served as its MP until 1923.
Fifty years old at the outbreak of World War I and too old for military service, Cecil went to work for the Red Cross. Following the formation of the 1915 coalition government, he became Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs on 30 May 1915. He served in this post until 10 January 1919, additionally serving in the cabinet as Minister of Blockade between 23 February 1916 and 18 July 1918. He was responsible for devising procedures to bring economic and commercial pressure against the enemy.
On 25 May 1923, Cecil returned to the cabinet as Lord Privy Seal, a position held by several members of his family. He did not stand again in the general election of December 1923 and, after the Conservatives lost their majority, he was created Viscount Cecil of Chelwood, of East Grinstead in the County of Sussex on 28 December 1923. He remained Lord Privy Seal until 22 February 1924, when Ramsey MacDonald's minority Labour cabinet took office.
The Conservatives returned to power at the October 1924 general election and Cecil became Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster
Lord Robert's career brought him many honors. He was created first Viscount of Chelwood in 1923 and made a Companion of Honour in 1956, was elected chancellor of Birmingham University (1918-1944) and rector of the University of Aberdeen (1924-1927), was given the Peace Award of the Woodrow Wilson Foundation in 1924 and the Nobel Peace Prize in 1937, was presented with honorary degrees by the Universities of Edinburgh, Oxford, Cambridge, Manchester, Liverpool, St. Andrews, Aberdeen, Princeton, Columbia, and Athens.