26 – Lord Paul Methuen
Field Marshal Lord Paul Methuen
3rd Baron Methuen
1845 – 1932
Governor of Malta 1915-1919
Paul Sanford Methuen was born at Corsham Court, Wiltshire, the eldest of three sons of Frederick Henry Paul Methuen, 2nd Baron Methuen and his wife Anna Horatia Caroline Sanford. He was educated at Eton College. He served in the military in the Gold Coast (present-day Ghana) and in the Bechuanaland Protectorate (present-day Botswana). He achieved the rank of Lieutenant General in 1899, and fought in the Battle of Magersfontein in the Second Boer War. There he was defeated by the Boers on December 11, 1899.
Rise through military ranks
Methuen served two years in the Royal Wiltshire Yeomanry, joined the Scots Guards as Ensign and Lieutenant and then Captain in 1867; and Lieutenant-Colonel in 1876; and regimental Major in 1882. He also served as adjutant of the 1st battalion from 1864 until 1871, held several staff positions such as brigade major, Home District from 1871-1878, military attaché in Berlin (1878-1881), assistant adjutant and quartermaster general, Home District (1881-1884), and deputy adjutant-general, in South Africa (1888-1890). He saw active duty at Amoaful in the Ashanti campaign of 1873 – 1874 on the staff of Sir Garnet Wolseley and was the commandant of headquarters in Egypt for three months in 1882, being present at the Battle of Tel al-Kebir. He became brevet-colonel in 1881 and served in the expedition of Sir Charles Warren to Bechuanaland in 1884-1885, where he commanded Methuen’s Horse, a corps of mounted rifles. He was promoted to substantive colonial in 1888, major-general in May of 1888, and commanded the Home District from 1892-1897. He served in 1897 as press censor at headquarters on the Tirah expedition and was promoted to lieutenant-general in 1898. He was then given the command of the 1st Division on the outbreak of the South African War.
Fighting in South Africa
Paul Methuen reached South Africa in 1899 and expelled the Boers from Belmont and Graspan. He was slightly wounded at Modder River. He suffered both defeats and successes during the war. His greatest defeat was at the Battle of Magersfontein, for which he was best remembered. He was also captured, badly beaten and wounded at Tweebosch on March 7, 1902.
Despite these visible setbacks, Methuen continued to be well regarded, and was given more responsibilities. He was appointed colonel of the Scots Guards in 1904, then general, and in June was given the command of the IV Army Corps. He became instrumental in helping raise the standards of training of the British Expeditionary Force in 1914. In 1908 he was appointed general officer commanding-in-chief in South Africa, which he held until 1912. He was popular with his troops as well as his former opponents, and helped improve relations between the British and the Boers, to give the Union of South Africa a good start. He was governor and commander-in-chief of Natal in 1910 and was promoted to field-marshal in 1911. At age 70 in 1915, he was appointed governor and commander-in-chief of Malta until he retired in 1919. Returning to England he was appointed constable of the Tower late in 1919.
Lord Methuen was married twice, first to Evelyn, the eldest daughter of Sir Frederick Hutchingson Hervey-Bathurst, third baronet of Clarandon Park, Wiltshire. They were married in 1878 until her death in 1879. He then married in 1884, his cousin Mary Ethel, the second daughter of William Ayshford Sanford, of Nynehead Court. They had three sons and four daughters. Lord Methuen died at Corsham Court on October 30, 1932 and was succeeded by his son Paul Ayshford Methuen, 4th Baron Methuen.