Gladwyn Jebb

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The Right Honourable
The Lord Gladwyn
Sr. Gladwyn Jebb.jpg
Secretary-General of the United Nations
In office
24 October 1945 – 2 February 1946
Preceded by Position established
Succeeded by Trygve Lie
Personal details
Born Hubert Miles Gladwyn Jebb
(1900-04-25)25 April 1900
United Kingdom
Died 24 October 1996(1996-10-24) (aged 96)
Suffolk, England,
United Kingdom
Nationality British
Political party Liberal
Spouse(s) Cynthia Jebb, Lady Gladwyn

Hubert Miles Gladwyn Jebb, 1st Baron Gladwyn GCMG GCVO CB PC known as Gladwyn Jebb (25 April 1900 – 24 October 1996), was a prominent British civil servant, diplomat and politician as well as the Acting Secretary-General of the United Nations for a little over three months.

Early life and family life

The son of Sydney Jebb, of Firbeck Hall, Yorkshire, Jebb was educated at Eton College, then Magdalen College, Oxford, gaining a First in History. In 1929 he married Cynthia Noble, daughter of Sir Saxton Noble, 3rd Baronet. Noble was granddaughter of Sir Andrew Noble, 1st Baronet and the great-grand daughter of Isambard Kingdom Brunel. The couple had three children, one son and two daughters: Miles, Vanessa, married to the historian Hugh Thomas, and Stella, married to the scientist Joel de Rosnay. Jebb's granddaughter is the international best selling author Tatiana de Rosnay.

Diplomatic career

Jebb entered the British Diplomatic Service in 1924, served in Tehran, where he became known to Harold Nicolson and to Vita Sackville-West. He later served in Rome, as well as at the Foreign Office in London where, amongst other positions, he served as the Private Secretary to the Head of the Diplomatic Service.

World War II

In August 1940, Jebb was appointed to the Ministry of Economic Warfare with temporary rank of Assistant Under-Secretary. Later, he was appointed Chief Executive Officer of the Special Operations Executive. In February 1942, with a change of Minister of Economic Warfare, Jebb was relieved of this appointment and returned to the Foreign Office. He was appointed Head of the Reconstruction Department and in 1943 was made a Counsellor. In this capacity he attended numerous international conferences, including those at Tehran, Yalta, Dumbarton Oaks, and Potsdam.

Acting UN Secretary-General

After World War II, Jebb served as Executive Secretary of the Preparatory Commission of the United Nations in August 1945, being appointed Acting United Nations Secretary-General from October 1945 to February 1946, until the appointment of the first Secretary-General Trygve Lie. Jebb remains the only UN Secretary-General or Acting Secretary-General to come from a permanent member state of the United Nations Security Council.


Returning to London, Jebb served as Deputy to the Foreign Secretary Ernest Bevin at the Conference of Foreign Ministers before serving as the Foreign Office's United Nations Adviser (1946–47). He represented the United Kingdom at the Brussels Treaty Permanent Commission with personal rank of ambassador.

Jebb became the United Kingdom's Ambassador to the United Nations from 1950 to 1954 and to Paris from 1954–1960. In the latter role he was angered that secret negotiations between the British, French and Israelis in advance of the Suez invasion in 1956 took place at Sèvres without his knowledge, and, in certain respects, he was sidelined by Prime Minister Harold Macmillan at the Paris "big power" summit in 1960.[1] Jebb's rather "grand" manner caused Foreign Secretary Selwyn Lloyd to coin the epigram, "You're a deb, Sir Gladwyn Jebb".[2]

Political career

Jebb was knighted in 1949. On 12 April 1960 Jebb was created a hereditary peer and as Baron Gladwyn, of Bramfield in the County of Suffolk.[3] Becoming involved in politics as a member of the Liberal Party. He was Deputy Leader of the Liberals in the House of Lords 1965–1988 and spokesman on foreign affairs and defence. An ardent European, he served as a Member of the European Parliament from 1973 to 1976, where he was also the Vice-President of the Parliament's Political Committee. Jebb unsuccessfully contested the Suffolk seat in the European Parliament in 1979.

When asked why he had joined the Liberal Party in the early 1960s, he replied that the Liberals were a party without a general and that he was a general without a party. Like many Liberals, he passionately believed that education was the key to social reform.


Jebb died on 24 October 1996 at the age of 96, and is buried at St. Andrew's, Bramfield, in the county of Suffolk.


Publications and papers

Publications by Jebb include:

  • Is Tension Necessary?, 1959
  • Peaceful Coexistence, 1962
  • The European Idea, 1966
  • Half-way to 1984, 1967
  • De Gaulle's Europe, or, Why the General says No, 1969
  • Europe after de Gaulle, 1970
  • The Memoirs of Lord Gladwyn, 1972

The papers of 1st Lord Gladwyn were deposited at Churchill Archives Centre at the University of Cambridge by his son, 2nd Lord Gladwyn, between 1998 and 2000.


  1. ^ D. R. Thorpe (2010) Supermac: The Life of Harold Macmillan
  2. ^ Thorpe, op.cit.
  3. ^ "No. 42006". The London Gazette. 12 April 1960. p. 2651. 


  • Sean Greenwood, Titan at the Foreign Office: Gladwyn Jebb and the Shaping of the Modern World (Leiden, Brill, 2008) (History of International Relations, Diplomacy, and Intelligence, 5).
Diplomatic posts
Preceded by
Sir Oliver Harvey
British Ambassador to France
Succeeded by
Sir Pierson Dixon
Positions in intergovernmental organisations
Preceded by
Republic of Ireland Seán Lester
as Secretary General of the
League of Nations
United Nations Acting Secretary-General of the United Nations
October 1945 – February 1946
Succeeded by
Norway Trygve Lie
Peerage of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
New Creation
Baron Gladwyn
Succeeded by
Miles Gladwyn Jebb, 2nd Baron Gladwyn

External links

  • Cambridge Archives Centre – Gladwyn Papers
  • A film clip "Longines Chronoscope with Sir Gladwyn Jebb" is available at the Internet Archive
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