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John Duncan Gregory

20 of 32 portraits by Ernest Walter Histed

© National Portrait Gallery, London

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John Duncan Gregory

by Ernest Walter Histed
platinum print, 1908
5 7/8 in. x 4 1/8 in. (150 mm x 104 mm) image size
Given by H.M. Office of Works, 1939
Photographs Collection
NPG x15152

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Events of 1908back to top

Current affairs

Henry Asquith replaces Henry Campbell-Bannerman as Liberal leader and Prime Minister, with David Lloyd George taking control of the Exchequer. Asquith and Lloyd George embark on a bold programme of social reform, laying the foundations of the Welfare State, introducing government pensions this year and later a system of National Insurance.
The first aeroplane for the British army is built by the American, Samuel Cody.

Art and science

E.M. Forster's novel A Room with a View is published, following the experiences of a young woman, Lucy Honeychurch, in the repressed culture of Edwardian England.
The French art critic Louis Vauxcelles first uses the term 'cubism' to refer to a landscape painting by Georges Braque.

International

King Carlos of Portugal and his heir, Prince Luis Filipe, are killed by assassins from the Republican trying to provoke a revolution. Carlos I, unpopular because of his extravagant lifestyle and extramarital affairs, was succeeded by his younger son, Manuel, the last monarch of the Braganza dynasty.
Following the death of the Guangxu Emperor in China, his two year old nephew replaces him, becoming the the last Manchu emperor of China.

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Helen Walasek

13 December 2018, 18:30

John Duncan Gregory, was born on 26 May 1878, the only son of the barrister Sir Philip Spencer Gregory and Lady Gregory, the former Edith Annie James. He was known popularly as ‘Don’. Gregory attended Eton and entered the Foreign Office in 1902. There he became Third Secretary Diplomatic Service, 1903; Second Secretary, 1907; was employed at HM Embassy, Vienna, 1907–09; acted as Chargé d’Affaires at Bucharest, Romania 1909; First Secretary 1914; Secretary to the British Mission to the Holy See, 1915; Counsellor in HM Diplomatic Service, 1919; Assistant Secretary, Foreign Office, 1920–25; Assistant Under-Secretary of State, Foreign Office, 1925–28. He was an expert on Soviet Russia.

Gregory married Gwendolen Lind Maude, the granddaughter of the singer Jenny Lind on 31 May 1904 at Brompton Oratory in London. They had two daughters.

However, Gregory became involved in one cause célèbre in 1924 and one major scandal that resulted in his being dismissed from the Foreign Office in 1928. The cause célèbre was the Zinoviev Letter which purported to be from Grigori Zinoviev, Chairman of the Communist International. The publication in the Daily Mail of what is now known to be a fake letter had an impact on the general election that took place four days later. It was Gregory who drafted and signed the official Foreign Office response to the letter.

The scandal was what became known in the press as the ‘Francs Case’, where Gregory, with a Mrs Aminta Bradley Dyne, and a number of Gregory’s civil service associates were accused of speculating in foreign currency. However, the scandal also revived interest in the Zinoviev Letter and Gregory’s role in the affair, although he was exonerated of any unethical behaviour in that regard. In 1937 Gregory was sued by Musgrave Bradley Dyne, Aminta’s husband and an old friend of Gregory’s, for repayment of a debt. The case resulted in considerable sensational reporting in the press; Gregory, however, won and Bradley Dyne’s case was dismissed.

Gregory was the author of two well-received books: “On the Edge of Diplomacy”, 1929, and “Dollfuss and His Times”, 1935. He died on 29 January 1951.

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