COBHAM, Tenth Viscount; Sir Charles John Lyttelton
G.C.M.G., T.D., Baron Cobham; Seventh Baron Lyttelton; Baron of Frankley, Co. Worcester, in Great Britain; Baron Westcote of Ballymore in Ireland; and a Baronet
Ninth Governor-General of New Zealand.
A new biography of Cobham, Charles John Lyttelton appears in the Dictionary of New Zealand Biography on this site.
Charles John Lyttelton Cobham was born on 8 August 1909, the son of Sir John Cavendish Lyttelton, K.C.B., Ninth Viscount Cobham, and of Violet Yolande, youngest daughter of Charles Leonard, of Gloria, Cape Province, South Africa. He was educated at Eton and at Trinity College, Cambridge, where he gained B.A.(Hons.) in law in 1932. In 1933 he joined the 100th (Worcestershire Yeomanry) Field Brigade, Royal Artillery (Territorials), but, in 1940, transferred to the 53rd Anti-tank Regiment and served in France. A year later he was seconded to the 3rd Maritime Regiment, Royal Artillery, and, in 1943, was promoted to command the 5th Regiment Maritime Royal Artillery, where he remained until the end of the war.
In his earlier years, as the Hon. Charles Lyttelton, Lord Cobham was a fine cricketer. From 1936 to 1939 he captained the Worcester County team and was vice-captain of the M.C.C. Eleven which toured New Zealand in 1935–36. In 1955 he served as president of the M.C.C.
After the war Lord Cobham became interested in British politics and in 1947 was president of the Worcester Conservative Association. In 1948 he was designated as the Conservative Party's parliamentary candidate for Dudley and Stourbridge, but he was obliged to relinquish this appointment when he succeeded to his father's titles in 1949. On 5 September 1957 he succeeded Lord Norrie as Governor-General of New Zealand and held this office until 13 September 1962, when his term expired. In April 1964 he was created a Knight of the Garter.
On 30 April 1942 Lord Cobham married Elizabeth Alison, younger daughter of John Reeder Makeig-Jones, C.B.E., of Southerton House, near Ottery St. Mary, Devonshire, and they had four sons and four daughters.
The Lyttelton family possesses interesting historical connections with New Zealand. The Fourth Baron Lyttelton (1817–76) was chairman of the Canterbury Association which founded the Canterbury settlement in 1850. In this connection the port and town of Lyttelton commemorates the family name while Hagley Park in Christchurch is named after the family seat – Hagley Hall. A less well-known link is that furnished by the Third Duke of Buckingham and Chandos (1823–89) who was also Seventh Viscount Cobham. The Duke was Secretary of State for the Colonies (1867–68) in the closing years of the Maori Wars and was responsible for Sir George Grey's recall in 1868.