Hoare, Sir Reginald Hervey
Hoare, Sir Reginald Hervey (1882–1954), diplomatist, was born on 19 July 1882 at Minley Manor, Hawley, Hampshire, the fourth son in the family of four sons and three daughters of Charles Hoare (1844–1898), a senior partner of Hoare's Bank, and his wife, Katharine Patience Georgiana (d. 1915), third daughter of the Rt Revd Lord Arthur Charles Hervey, bishop of Bath and Wells. His maternal grandfather was Frederick William Hervey, first marquess and fifth earl of Bristol (1769–1859). From 1895 to 1901 he was educated at Eton College, where he was in the cricket eleven in his last term. He entered the diplomatic service as an attaché in December 1905, and passed the competitive examination in March 1906. Appointed to Constantinople in August 1906, he was promoted third secretary in March 1908 and transferred to Rome in March 1909. There he was promoted second secretary in November 1913. In June 1914 he was transferred to Peking, and in May 1917 to Petrograd, where he witnessed the Bolshevik revolution. He left Petrograd in February 1918 but returned to Russia that August as secretary to the special mission to Archangel headed by Francis Lindley. Promoted first secretary in April 1919, he acted as chargé d'affaires at Archangel from May to August that year. After a brief spell at the Foreign Office he was again posted abroad, to Warsaw in January 1921. He acted as chargé d'affaires there from May to August 1922. While on leave, on 9 November 1922 he married Lucy Joan Cavendish Bentinck (d. 1971), elder daughter of William George Frederick Cavendish Bentinck, barrister and public servant. They had one son, Joseph (b. 1925).
Hoare returned to Peking as counsellor in July 1923, but in December 1924 he was transferred to Turkey, where he remained for four years. The period was one of turmoil and crisis in Turkish interior affairs as Mustafa Kemal consolidated his authority in the opening years of the republic, but in foreign relations the years 1924–8 were ones of relative calm, with the exception of the Mosul crisis. Following the Kurdish revolt of 1925, the Turkish government asserted its claim to this former Ottoman possession. The dispute was referred to the League of Nations, which in December 1925 upheld the British contention that the Mosul province should form part of Iraq, a decision in which Mustafa Kemal acquiesced in June 1926. To Hoare, who frequently acted as chargé d'affaires, some of the credit for this was due; he was appointed CMG in the same year. After leaving Turkey in February 1928, he spent three and a half years in Cairo, where he served under Lord Lloyd and Sir Percy Loraine, and was promoted minister in October 1929.
In October 1931 Hoare was appointed envoy-extraordinary and minister-plenipotentiary at Tehran. He came to a difficult task. During the First World War and especially after the Russian Revolution British influence in Persia had increased, by force of circumstances, to an extent which was resented by the Persians and unwelcome to successive British governments. The British aim was to be in treaty relations with a self-reliant and friendly Persia which would safeguard the rapidly expanding interests of the Anglo-Persian Oil Company and guarantee the right of ships of the Royal Navy to call at the Gulf port of Bushehr. Hoare's predecessors had already abdicated the major part of the quasi-imperial British position, but in spite of the strong British support given at the time of his rise to power to Reza Shah Pahlavi, the latter and his government remained suspicious of British intentions. No treaty had been signed when Hoare arrived in Tehran and he made it quite plain that he was in no hurry. His aim was to restore calm to a situation which had grown feverish. In 1932 the Persian government attempted a final showdown with the British and cancelled the oil concession granted to William Knox D'Arcy in 1901. Hoare, influenced perhaps by his Turkish experiences, advised his government to refer the matter immediately to the League of Nations. Nevertheless he also made clear that 'our interests would be best served by helping to build a bridge' (Bamberg, 36). The result was a new contract between the company and the Persian government, signed the next year. To the chagrin of the extremists the showdown ended quietly, without a breach in relations or serious loss. The treaty, however, remained unsigned. In 1933 Hoare was promoted KCMG.
In February 1935 Hoare was transferred to Bucharest, again with the rank of minister-plenipotentiary. There his task was to encourage the ‘little entente’ interest, but after the defeat of all Romania's continental allies between 1938 and 1940, pro-German elements inevitably gained control. The German army began to move in during early 1941. In this period and often on his own initiative, Hoare maintained protest against the atrocities of the Nazi-style regime which followed King Carol's abdication in September 1940. In February 1941 the British government decided to extend economic warfare to Romania, and Hoare's mission was withdrawn on the 10th. The evacuation of the British community, consulates, and legation was supervised by Hoare with his accustomed calm, earning him much personal gratitude. In July 1942 he retired from the service, with great reluctance, but remained in government employment until 1944. He then joined the family bank in Fleet Street as a managing partner. He died on 12 August 1954 at his home, 80 Harley House, Marylebone Road, London, after a short illness, and was survived by his wife and son.
Hoare was a remarkably talented diplomat whose abilities were easily underestimated because at the height of his career they were used in holding operations and not in posts where their effects could be positive and spectacular. He was aware of misfortune in this respect but was incapable of embitterment. He was of genial temper, with a strong and somewhat fantastical sense of humour, enjoying wide private interests from sport to economics, of which he was a gifted student.
- Bodl. Oxf., corresp. with Sir Auriel Stein
- W. Stoneman, photograph, 1933, NPG
- S. Elwes, portrait, priv. coll.
Wealth at Death
£53,524 12s. 4d.: probate, 24 Sept 1954, CGPLA Eng. & Wales