Jellicoe:Death and Legacy

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The Life of Admiral of the Fleet
John Rushworth Jellicoe,
First Earl Jellicoe

5 December, 1869 – 20 November, 1935
Jellicoe, 1920.JPG
Background and Early LifeService as LieutenantCommanderCommand and ChinaDirector of Naval OrdnanceFlag Rank and ControllerSea Service and Second Sea LordCommand of the Grand FleetThe War at Sea, 1914-1916The Battle of JutlandAfter JutlandFirst Sea Lord and the Submarine MenaceControversy and DismissalEmpire TourGovernor-General of New ZealandThe Jutland ControversyRetirementDeath and Legacy

Jellicoe was at a ceremony planting poppies on 9 November, 1935 and "probably" caught a chill in the cold weather. On Armistice Day (11 November) he laid a wreath at the Foch Memorial near London Victoria station and then led the marchpast of ex-service personnel at the Cenotaph.[1] The following day he gave a speech at Euston station and named a London, Midland and Scottish Railway steam engine British Legion. In what turned out to be his final public appearance he praised the work of the railway's predecessor companies (following "grouping" in 1922) in keeping the Grand Fleet supplied during the war. He also thanked it for employing 9,000 disabled ex-servicemen and held it as an example for other companies to follow: "For let me remind you that those men saved the Empire, aye, saved civilization, and no recompense should be too great for them."[2]

The chill slightly affected Jellicoe's left lung (the one with the Boxer bullet in it)[3] but had been deemed "apparently not dangerous."[1] Jellicoe's family had to go away for a brief period and it was arranged for three naval officers to dine with him: "He was happy to be experimenting with a new hearing-aid and the talk was much of help for needy ratings. At the evening's end he said, 'If you fellows don't mind I won't come down to see you off. I think I've got a chill and I'll take an aspirin and go to bed.' I looked at him and saw something that made me apprehensive. Nevertheless he came running down to give one of the others an address which he had recommended."[4] On 19 November his heart began to fail and bulletins were issued to the press on the state of his health. The following day, 20 November, Jellicoe's son George was informed by his housemaster that his father was very ill, and he took the next train from Winchester. In the evening the father and son spoke, and at one point Jellicoe told his son, "Let's have another chat tomorrow when I'm feeling better." George went for a walk down Brompton Road, and then felt an "overwhelming urge" to return home. He was greeted by the doorman with the news that his father had just died.[5] A British Pathé newsreel announcing his death ended with the words, "The British Navy has lost the man who represented its highest ideals. England is the poorer for his passing."

Surviving Family

Jellicoe's widow, the Dowager Countess Jellicoe, passed away on 12 May, 1964.[6] Lady Myrtle Balfour, Jellicoe's third daughter, died after an operation on 10 November, 1945 aged thirty-seven.[7] The eldest child, Lady Lucy Latham, died in October, 1997 at the age of ninety-four. Lady Norah Wingfield lived in Cappoquin, County Waterford, Ireland,[8] and died in 2003.[9] Lady Prudence Katherine Patton married the barrister Francis William Hope Loudon on 22 December, 1936 and died in 2001.[10] Jellicoe's son, George, died on 22 February, 2007 at the age of eighty-eight after a long and varied life. He served with distinction in special forces during the Second World War, joined the British Foreign Service and later served as a Conservative cabinet minister.[11]

The second Earl Jellicoe left two sons and two daughters by his first wife; Patrick John Bernard (b. 1950), the third Earl, the Honourable Nicholas Charles Joseph John (b. 1953), Lady Alexandra Patricia Gwendoline (b. 1944), and Lady Zara Lison Josephine (b. 1948). By his second wife the second Earl had three children, John Philip (b. 1966), Emma Rose (b. 1967), and Daisy (b. 1970).[12]


  1. 1.0 1.1 Bacon. Earl Jellicoe. p. 526.
  2. "Lord Jellicoe" (Obituaries). The Times. Friday, 22 November, 1935. Issue 47228, col B, p. 19.
  3. Winton. Jellicoe. p. 297.
  4. Troup. "Earl Jellicoe". The Naval Review. p. 461.
  5. Windmill. British Achilles. pp. 27-28.
  6. "Obituary" (Obituaries). The Times. Wednesday, 13 May, 1964. Issue 56010, col A, p. 19.
  7. "Obituary" (Obituaries). The Times. Tuesday, 13 November, 1945. Issue 50298, col F, p. 6.
  8. Burke's Peerage. II. p. 2089.
  9. Debrett's Peerage. p. 770.
  10. The Daily Telegraph. 23 August, 2001. Lady Prudence Loudon.
  11. The Times. 26 February, 2007. Earl Jellicoe.
  12. Burke's Peerage. II. p. 2088.