Thomas Dugdale, 1st Baron Crathorne

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The Right Honourable
The Lord Crathorne
File:Sir Thomas Dugdale, Bt in 1953.jpg
Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries
In office
5 November 1951 – 28 July 1954
Prime Minister Winston Churchill
Preceded by Tom Williams
Succeeded by Derick Heathcoat Amory
Member of Parliament for Richmond
In office
30 May 1929 – 8 October 1959
Preceded by Sir Murrough John Wilson
Succeeded by Timothy Kitson
Personal details
Born (1897-07-20)20 July 1897
Died 26 March 1977(1977-03-26) (aged 79)
Political party Conservative

Thomas Lionel Dugdale, 1st Baron Crathorne PC (20 July 1897 – 26 March 1977), known as Sir Thomas Dugdale, 1st Baronet, from 1945 to 1959, was a British Conservative Party politician. A government minister, he resigned over the Crichel Down Affair, often quoted as a classic example of the convention of individual ministerial responsibility.

Personal life

Thomas Dugdale was the son of Captain James Lionel Dugdale of Crathorne Hall near Yarm in Yorkshire. He was educated at Eton College and the Royal Military College, Sandhurst. He joined the Army in 1916, serving with the Scots Greys in World War I and the Yorkshire Hussars in the Second World War.

Dugdale married Nancy, daughter of Sir Charles Tennant, 1st Baronet, and Marguerite (née Miles) in 1936.[1]

He died in March 1977, aged 79. By then a peer, his son James succeeded him as Baron Crathorne.

Political career

In 1929, Dugdale was elected as Member of Parliament (MP) for Richmond, North Yorkshire, where he remained until 1959. He served as Parliamentary Private Secretary to several ministers, including Stanley Baldwin, and Deputy Chief Whip. He was later Chairman of the Conservative Party and Chairman of the Party's Agricultural Committee. He was made a baronet in 1945.

The Crichel Down affair

When the Conservatives won the 1951 election, Churchill made Dugdale his Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries. Crichel Down was a piece of farmland in Dorset compulsorily bought by the government for defence use. Commander George Martin, whose wife Mary was the only child and heiress of the original owner of the land Lord Alington, wanted to buy the land back in the 1950s now that it was no longer used by the Ministry of Defence. However, the Ministry of Agriculture resisted, wanting to use the land for experimental farming in a time of rationing and agricultural development. Martin, a former equerry in the Royal Family, had very influential friends and stirred up much trouble in the local Conservative Party and government backbenches. There followed a public inquiry which criticised the department's decision and civil servants, especially their methods, seen as an example of an over-powerful state.

Finally Dugdale announced that Martin could buy the land back and told the House of Commons he was resigning.


Dugdale's resignation went down in history as an honourable, even heroic, one: a minister taking responsibility for civil servants' actions, which would lead to the perceived code of individual ministerial responsibility. However, in papers released thirty years after the affair, it was found that Dugdale had known and approved of his civil servants' actions and had to an extent passed the buck to them himself. It was also found that the inquiry was inaccurate and biased, led by a former Conservative candidate who was very against civil servants and state interference.

Dugdale's junior minister, Lord Carrington, also tendered his resignation, but it was refused. He went on to be Foreign Secretary, and finally succeeded in resigning in 1982 over the Falklands War. Commander Martin got his land, but not a Conservative seat which he had hoped for. In 1959 Dugdale himself was raised to the peerage as Baron Crathorne and had a second political career in Europe, building links with parliamentarians in NATO and the Council of Europe.


  1. "Wedding Capt. Tommy Dugdale & Mrs Nancy Gates 1936". British Pathe.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>


  • Kidd, Charles, Williamson, David (editors). Debrett's Peerage and Baronetage (1990 edition). New York: St Martin's Press, 1990,[page needed]

External links

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Sir Murrough John Wilson
Member of Parliament for Richmond
Succeeded by
Timothy Kitson
Political offices
Preceded by
Tom Williams
Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries
Succeeded by
Derick Heathcoat Amory
Peerage of the United Kingdom
New creation Baron Crathorne
Succeeded by
James Dugdale