Francis Oswald Lindley

Sir Francis Oswald Lindley GCMG CB CBE PC (12 June 1872 17 August 1950) was a British diplomat who was HM Consul-General in Russia in 1919, British High Commissioner in Vienna 19191920, Ambassador to Austria 19201921, Ambassador to Greece 19221923, Minister in Oslo 19231929, Ambassador to Portugal 19291931, and finally Ambassador to Japan 19311934. Lindley was described as "a rather tough old character in some respects and very outspoken in his likes and dislikes."[1]

Sir Francis Oswald Lindley

British Ambassador to Japan
In office
MonarchGeorge V
Prime MinisterRamsay MacDonald
Preceded bySir John Tilley
Succeeded bySir Robert Clive
British Ambassador to Portugal
In office
MonarchGeorge V
Prime MinisterRamsay MacDonald
Preceded bySir Colville Barclay
Succeeded bySir Claud Russell
Minister of the United Kingdom to Norway
In office
MonarchGeorge V
Prime MinisterStanley Baldwin
Ramsay MacDonald
Preceded bySir Mansfeldt Findlay
Succeeded bySir Charles Wingfield
British Ambassador to Greece
In office
MonarchGeorge V
Prime MinisterDavid Lloyd George
Preceded byGranville Leveson-Gower, 3rd Earl Granville
Succeeded bySir Milne Cheetham
British Ambassador to Austria
In office
MonarchGeorge V
Prime MinisterDavid Lloyd George
Preceded bySir Maurice de Bunsen
Succeeded byAretas Akers-Douglas, 2nd Viscount Chilston
Personal details
Born(1872-06-12)12 June 1872
East Carleton, Norwich
Died17 August 1950(1950-08-17) (aged 78)
Etheldreda Mary Fraser
(m. 1903; died 1949)
ParentsNathaniel Lindley, Baron Lindley
Sarah Katharine Teale Lindley
EducationWinchester College
Alma materMagdalen College, Oxford

Early life

Lindley was born on 12 June 1872 at The Lodge, East Carleton, Norwich in the county of Norfolk.[2] He was the fourth son of nine children born to Nathaniel Lindley, Baron Lindley, an English judge who served as Master of the Rolls and Lord of Appeal in Ordinary (and namesake of Mount Lindley in Antarctica), and Sarah Katharine Teale, daughter of Edward John Teale of Leeds.

His paternal grandparents were John Lindley, a botanist and orchidologist, and Sarah (née Freestone) Lindley, a descendant of Sir Edward Coke.[3]

He was educated at Winchester College and Magdalen College, Oxford.[4][5]


Lindley became an Attaché in 1896 and a Clerk at the Foreign Office in 1897. He was appointed Acting Third Secretary in Vienna in 1899, and served in Tehran from 1900 to 1901. Promoted Second Secretary in the Diplomatic Service in October 1902,[6] before serving the Egyptian Government from 1902 to 1904, he was next in HM Agency in Cairo for two years, then in Tokyo from 1906 to 1908, returning to London for a home posting in the Foreign Office, 1908–1909.[1]

He was promoted First Secretary in the Diplomatic Service in 1909 and served in Sofia, 1909–1911, Christiania, 1912, and as Counsellor of the British Embassy at Petrograd, 1915.[5] More senior postings came after the Great War. Lindley was appointed H.M. Commissioner in Russia in June 1918 and H.M. Consul-General there in 1919, where "he earned the respect of the Bolsheviks."[7]

Lindley served as High Commissioner in Vienna from 1919 to 1920. He succeeded Sir Maurice de Bunsen as the Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary to the Republic of Austria, serving between 1920 and 1921,[4] and then succeeded Granville Leveson-Gower, 3rd Earl Granville as the Ambassador to Greece between 1921 and 1922,[4] until a break in diplomatic relations in 1922.[8]

Beginning in 1923, he succeeded Sir Mansfeldt Findlay as the Minister to Norway in Oslo. In 1929, he succeeded Sir Colville Barclay as the Ambassador to Portugal, serving until 1931.[4] His final diplomatic post was as the Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to Japan from 1931 to 1934 during the reign of Emperor Hirohito.[5][9] While in Japan, he did not live in the Ambassador's residence, which was still being reconstructed after the 1923 Great Kantō earthquake, but at the embassy house in Chuzenji.[1]

Lindley had his final audience as Ambassador with George V on 2 June 1934.[1]

Later life

From 1935 to 1949, he was the chairman of the Council of the Japan Society of London.[1] In retirement, Lindley lived at The Weir House, Alresford, Hampshire, and in 1934 was appointed a Justice of the Peace for the county. He belonged to the Turf Club and Brooks's. He was an official Verderer of the New Forest from 1943.[5]

In 1947, he published an autobiography entitled A Diplomat Off Duty.[10]

Personal life

In 1903, Lindley married Etheldreda Mary Fraser (1872–1949), third daughter of Simon Fraser, 13th Lord Lovat. Her elder brother was Simon Fraser, 14th Lord Lovat and among her younger siblings was Alastair Thomas Joseph Fraser (who married Lady Sybil Grimston, daughter of James Grimston, 3rd Earl of Verulam) and Margaret May Fraser (who married Brig-Gen Archibald Stirling, son of Sir William Stirling-Maxwell, 9th Baronet). They had four daughters, all of whom had prominent marriages:[5]

Lindley's wife died in 1949 and he died on 17 August 1950.


Through his daughter Brigid, he was the grandfather of seven, including:[14]

Through his daughter Mary he was the grandfather of:

Both Sir Henry and Sir Chips served as chairman of Jardine Matheson Holdings.[13]

Through his daughter Sarah, he was the grandfather of:


  • A Diplomat off Duty, Ernest Benn Limited, London, 1928 (second edition 1947)
  • Lord Lovat: a biography, Hutchinson & Co. Ltd, London, 1935
  • The tragedy of Spain, Loxley Brothers Ltd, London, 1937 (reprinted from the National Review, February 1937)

Combined English Universities

1937 Combined English Universities by-election

Combined English Universities by-election, 1937 [22] Electorate 28,808
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Independent Progressive Thomas Edmund Harvey 6,596 47.4 N/A
Conservative Rt Hon. Sir Francis Lindley 4,952 35.6 N/A
Independent Sir Henry Brackenbury 2,373 17.0 N/A
Majority 1,644 11.8 N/A
Turnout 13,921 48.3 N/A
Independent Progressive gain from Conservative Swing N/A



  1. Cortazzi, Hugh (2013). Britain and Japan: Biographical Portraits. Routledge. pp. 89–100. ISBN 9781136641404.
  2. McEwen, J. H. F. (2004). "Lindley, Sir Francis Oswald (1872–1950), diplomatist". In Nish, Ian (ed.). Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/34534. Retrieved 2 May 2019. (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  3. Chisholm 1911, p. 719.
  4. Peerage: Rt. Hon. Sir Francis Oswald Lindley, ID#51182
  5. 'Lindley, Rt Hon. Sir Francis (Oswald)' in Who Was Who (A. & C. Black)
  6. "No. 27500". The London Gazette. 2 December 1902. p. 8366.
  7. Poole, DeWitt Clinton (2014). An American Diplomat in Bolshevik Russia. University of Wisconsin Press. p. 74. ISBN 9780299302245.
  8. Hoare, James. (1999). Embassies in the East: the Story of the British Embassies in Japan, China, and Korea from 1859 to the Present. Richmond, Surrey: Curzon Press. ISBN 9780700705122; OCLC 42645589
  9. Nish, Ian. (2004). British Envoys in Japan 1859-1972. Folkestone, Kent: Global Oriental. pp. 132-139; ISBN 9781901903515; Embassies in the East: the Story of the British Embassies in Japan, China, and Korea from 1859 to the Present, p. 214., p. 214, at Google Books OCLC 249167170
  10. Lindley, Sir Francis Oswald (1947). A Diplomat Off Duty. E. Benn.
  11. "Sarah Katharine (née Lindley), Countess of Hardwicke". National Portrait Gallery, London. Retrieved 2 May 2019.
  12. "Earl Weds Mrs. Enid Boulting". The New York Times. 29 April 1970.
  13. Rhodes, Michael (10 July 2009). "Death of Lady Keswick, mother of Sir Chips, aged 98". Peerage News.
  14. "Person Page - Sir John Helias Finnie McEwen of Marchmont and Bardrochat, 1st Bt". The Peerage. Retrieved 1 February 2017.
  15. Goldman, Lawrence (7 March 2013). Oxford Dictionary of National Biography 2005-2008. OUP Oxford. ISBN 9780199671540.
  16. Kidd, Charles, Williamson, David (editors). Debrett's Peerage and Baronetage (1990 edition). New York: St Martin's Press, 1990.
  17. "What does she think? | High Tory, not highbrow: Paul Routledge on the woman shaping policy for the right; profile; Tessa Keswick". The Independent. 10 September 1995.
  18. "Lady Amabel Mary Maud Lindsay (née Yorke)". National Portrait Gallery, London. Retrieved 2 May 2019.
  19. "Philip Simon Prospero Lindley Rupert Yorke, Viscount Royston". National Portrait Gallery, London. Retrieved 2 May 2019.
  20. Seigel, Max H. (19 December 1975). "4 Arrested Here on Drug Charges". The New York Times.
  21. "Metropolitan Briefs". The New York Times. 7 May 1976.
  22. F W S Craig, British Parliamentary Election Results 1918-1949; Political Reference Publications, Glasgow 1949