Baron Dudley Leigh Aman of Marley

Dudley Leigh Aman, first Baron Marley was born at Helsby, in Cheshire, on May 16th 1884. The son of Edward Godfrey Aman, of Farnham and Annie Florence Pitcairn from Ireland, he had one sister Gladwyn Lesley Mary Aman born 1887, who married Naval Surgeon, Captain Desmond Manus McManus.

He was educated at Marlborough and at the Royal Naval College at Greenwich. He entered the Royal Marine Artillery, aged 18 in 1902, and saw service with the Home and Mediterranean Fleets. He made a special study of wireless telegraphy at a time when it was in its infancy and was then attached to the staff of the late Sir Henry Jackson. (Admiral of the Fleet Sir Henry Bradwardine Jackson, GCB, KCVO, FRS was a Royal Navy officer. After serving in the Anglo-Zulu War he established an early reputation as a pioneer of ship-to-ship wireless technology).

In 1912 he passed into the Army Staff College at Camberley. When war broke out in 1914, he was attached to the third fleet, having just recovered from appendicitis he was immediately transferred to France where he served two years in the Artillery in command of a trench mortar and anti- aircraft section.

He was mentioned in dispatches on 27th January 1916 and awarded the D.S.C. “For his services with the Royal Marine Artillery Anti – Aircraft guns in the salient of Ypres continuously since 3rd May 1915, with marked success, and has shown great ability and zeal, and a fine example of coolness and courage under fire.” (London Gazette 24th February 1916). He was also wounded on 25th May 1916 when he received a gunshot wound to the head. On his recovery he joined the Tiger, in the Battle Cruiser Squadron, and was later attached to the Royal Signal School at Portsmouth for experimental research. After the end of the war and having reached the rank of Major, he began to suffer from Neurasthenia, more commonly known as shell shock, and received treatment at Haslar Hospital. He continued his role in communications for two more years then took retirement to go into politics.

Dudley Leigh Aman was married in 1910 at Hendon to Lady Octable Turquet Gilzean Reid 1881 – 1969 the daughter of Sir Hugh Gilzean Reid (Politician and Newspaper Publisher). They had one son The Hon. Godfrey Pelham Leigh Aman, 2nd Baron of Marley 1913 – 1990, who was educated at Dunhurst and Bedales boarding schools in Steep, Petersfield.

During the War Lady Octable Aman took advantage of Dunhurst, a private preparatory boarding school attached to Bedales in Steep Petersfield as soon as Godfrey was 4 years old, so that she could join the British Committee French Red Cross and served in France at Paris Plage as a nurse in 1917 and thereby be awarded the victory medal when the war ended in 1918.

So, with both Lady Octable back from serving in the French Red Cross in Paris and Major Dudley working at Portsmouth and suffering from shell shock, they looked to move away from Southsea and all the constant reminders of war and the Navy to a more peaceful place with good transport links to both Portsmouth and London.

It was in 1918 that they moved into the White Cottage at 33 Castle Road, Rowlands Castle, where they were to spend the next 10 years.  It was also during this time that Major Dudley was increasingly concerning himself with politics. He had joined the Fabian Society in 1917 but their policies did not long satisfy him. As the years went on, he became more and more advanced in his views. This involved him in difficulties more than once. In 1933, for example, when on a tour of the Far East as a member of the anti-war society, he was refused permission to land in Japan.

He was the unsuccessful Labour candidate for the Petersfield Division of Hampshire in the 1922 and 1923, at Thanet in 1924 and in the Faversham division of Kent in the 1928 by election and 1929 general election. However, in January 1930 he was raised to the peerage and became a Baron, taking the title of Lord Marley from his home at Marley Lodge in Haslemere by the Labour Government of Ramsey Macdonald as Under Secretary State for War and Vice-President of the Army Council from June 1930 until the government fell in August 1931.

In the House of Lords he became Deputy Speaker and Chief Whip of the Labour Party, as well as serving as Lord-In-Waiting to George V. He was appointed chairman of the Rent Restriction Acts Committee and later became chairman of the Parliamentary Advisory Committee for the aid of Jews in Europe. In this capacity he became involved with Birobidzhan – an area of Siberia designated by Stalin as an autonomous region for the Jewish people. Lord Marley was a great advocate of the scheme seeing it as a resettlement opportunity for the repressed Jews of Europe although the project was in direct conflict with the Zionist ideal of a Palestinian homeland. His visits to Birobidzhan and his fund-raising efforts for the scheme in the USA caused unease among his Labour Party colleagues who saw him being branded as a communist. This did not deter him, and he involved himself more deeply by writing the introduction to a publication entitled ‘The Brown Book of the Hitler Terror and the Burning of the Reichstag’, which was the first public exposé of what was happening to the Jews in Hitler’s Germany. This publication fuelled the fears of the American Jews for their European counterparts and Lord Marley used it to good effect to raise substantial amounts for Birobidzhan on his American coast to coast fund-raising tours. He resigned as Chief Whip in 1937.

Baron Marley was also a member of the council of the Magistrates Association and Deputy Lieutenant for Hampshire from 1930 -1950. He wrote many articles for reviews and magazines on political and international questions particularly on Siberia, the Far East, Fascism and Jewish refugees. During WWII he worked for the Ministry of Aircraft Production from 1941 to 1945. He was governor of the Council of the Bedford College for Women.

Baron Dudley Leigh Aman of Marley died 28 February 1952

The photo shows Baron Dudley with his wife Lady Octable in the centre, most likely around the time he was in the House of Commons. Below are copies of the 1921 census showing the entry for White cottage, it also shows a general domestic servant Rhona Mavis Ethel King 18 Jan 1905 – March 2005. After working for the Aman’s Rhona married Edward Messam a postman in Rowlands Castle and continued to live her whole life in the village, reaching the grand age of 100.

1921 Census Instructions

Entry for Baron Marley


Portrait Photo – Dudley Leigh Aman, 1st Baron Marley a print by Bassana Ltd taken in 1930, National Portraits Gallery- reference 83987

Google Maps, Image of White Cottage.

Cheshire Diocese of Chester Parish Baptisms 1538 – 1911

Birth, Marriage and Death registers for England Scotland and Wales 1837 – 2007

England, Wales and Scotland Census 1921, 1911, 1901, 1891, 1881, 1871.

Electoral registers 1910 -1932 England and Wales

Military Records 1899 -1919 ADM 196/63, Regimental Service records

Royal Navy Officers 1899-1919

British Army Service Records, Chelsea Pensioner Discharge Documents 1760 -1887. WO 121 Box 0227

British Irish Roots Collection 1912 – New York Passenger List

The London Gazette – 01 Feb 1916 – No 29454 – Edward Godfrey Aman

The London Gazette – 28 Jan 1902 – No 27401 – Dudley Leigh Aman

The London Gazette – 04 Nov 1904 – No 27730 – Dudley Leigh Aman

The London Gazette – 31 Dec 1929 – No 33566 – Dudley Leigh Aman

The London Gazette – 17 Jan 1930 – No 33571 – Dudley Leigh Aman

The Edinburgh Gazette – 21 Jan 1930 – No 14619 – Dudley Leigh Aman

The Newcastle Evening Chronicle – 29 Jul 1952 – Dudley Leigh Aman

Jewish Quarterly – Fri Jul 20th, 2007 – 5th Ave 5767 – The Mystery of Lord Marley

Wikipedia – Baron Marley

Parliament UK – Lord Marley – Lord Ponsonby.

Ancestry, Find My Past.

This article was entered onto the website in April 2022 courtesy of Ann Page

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