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Lord Irwin at Port Hope

Here’s a photograph from the April 25 1932 edition of the Toronto Daily Star of a British peer who was visiting Toronto and Port Hope, Ontario.

Edward Wood (1881-1959) was the fourth son of the 2nd Viscount Halifax, but became his father’s heir when his three older brothers died between 1886 and 1890. He was born without a left hand, but employed a spring-loaded artificial hand that could hold reins or open gates, making it possible for him to ride a horse. He also could not pronounce the letter “r” and was 6’5″ tall.

Wood, as he was then known, became a member of the British Parliament in 1910, holding office until 1925. At this time, he became Lord Irwin. He was Viceroy of India between 1926 and 1931.

In 1934, he inherited his father’s title, becoming Viscount Halifax. In 1938, he became Foreign Minister in Neville Chamberlain’s government, becoming one of the principal architects of the policy of appeasement of Hitler, and then advocating that Britain go to war to defend Poland.

In 1940, Halifax advocated making peace with Germany, who were in the process of overrunning Western Europe and encircling British troops at Dunkirk. After a long debate, Winston Churchill’s preference to fight on won out. Halifax was then appointed Ambassador to the United States, a post that he held between late 1940 and 1946.

In 1944, he was ennobled further, becoming the first Earl of Halifax. His grandson, the third Earl of Halifax, was considered a suitable husband for Princess Anne at one point. The third Earl wound up marrying a woman who was formerly known as Camilla Parker Bowles, but not the woman who was formerly known as Camilla Parker Bowles who is now married to Prince Charles. This Camilla was married to a different Parker Bowles brother; the two Camillas were sisters-in-law once upon a time.

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