HEADLAM-MORLEY, Sir James Wycliffe
Kt 1929; CBE 1920.
Born 24 December 1863; 2nd son of late Rev. Canon Headlam, of Whorlton Hall,
Barnard Castle; married 1893, Else, youngest daughter of late Dr A. Sonntag of Lüneburg;
one son one daughter; received royal licence to assume name and arms of Morley,
Eton; King's College, Cambridge; Univ. of Berlin.
Fellow of King's Coll., Camb., 1890-1896; Lecturer for Cambridge Univ.
Extension; Professor of Greek and Ancient History at Queen's College, London,
1894-1900; hon. assistant commissioner to Royal Commission on Secondary
Education; Staff Inspector of Secondary Schools for the Board of Education,
1902-1920; Member of the Prime Minister's Committee on Modern Languages,
1917-1918; worked in Propaganda Department, 1914-1917; Assistant Director of
Political Intelligence Bureau in Department of Information, 1917-1918; Assistant
Director of Political Intelligence Department of the Foreign Office, 1918-1920;
Member of Political Section of the British Delegation to the Peace Conference at
Paris, 1919; Historical Adviser to the Foreign Office, 1920.
On Election by Lot at Athens; Life of Bismarck; Studies in Diplomatic History,
1930; on Classical Studies in Germany (Special Reports issued by the Board of
Education); articles on Austria-Hungary, Germany, etc., in 10th ed. Encyclopædia
Britannica; The History of Twelve Days; The German Chancellor and the Outbreak
of War; The Issue; and numerous other pamphlets; British Documents on the
Origins of the War: Vol. xi., The Outbreak of War (editor), etc.
Athenæum, Oxford and Cambridge.
Died 6 September 1929.
Headlam-Morley, Sir James Wycliffe 1863-1929, political historian, was born at
Whorlton, near Barnard Castle, Durham, 24 December 1863. He was the second son
of the Rev. Arthur William Headlam, successively vicar of Whorlton, vicar of St.
Oswald's, Durham, and rector of Gainford, honorary canon of Durham Cathedral, by
his wife, Agnes Sarah, daughter of James Favell, of Normanton, Yorkshire. He was
nephew of Thomas Emerson Headlam, judge advocate-general [q.v.], and cousin of
Walter George Headlam, scholar and poet [q.v.]. His elder brother, Arthur Cayley
Headlam, became bishop of Gloucester in 1923. In 1918 James Headlam assumed by
royal licence the additional surname (and arms) of Morley, on inheriting the
property of the last member of the West Riding family from which he was
descended through the wife of his paternal grandfather.
Headlam was educated at Eton, where he was a King's scholar, and at King's
College, Cambridge. He was placed in the first class of both parts of the
classical tripos (1885 and 1887), and elected a fellow of his college in 1890, a
position which he held until 1896. The dissertation on which he obtained his
fellowship was 'Election by Lot at Athens', which had gained the Prince Consort
prize at Cambridge in 1890 and was published in 1891 (reissued in 1933).
Headlam had meanwhile visited Germany, first staying in families in order to
learn German, and then studying at the university of Berlin under Treitschke and
Hans Delbrück. During this period he first met (about Christmas 1887) the lady
whom he married in 1893, Elisabeth (Else), youngest child of August Sonntag,
doctor of medicine, of Lüneburg, then resident at Dresden. They had a son and a
Both before and after gaining his fellowship, Headlam was engaged in writing,
teaching, and lecturing, gradually turning from classical to historical studies.
From 1894 to 1900 he was professor of Greek and ancient history at Queen's
College, London. He served as an honorary assistant commissioner on the royal
commission on secondary education which sat from March 1894 to August 1895 under
the presidency of (Viscount) Bryce [q.v.]. The commission had as result the
Board of Education Act of 1899 and the Education Act of 1902. From 1902 until
the European War Headlam was a staff inspector of secondary schools for the
Board of Education.
Before the European War Headlam had become known as an expert on German history.
He had published in 1899 Bismarck and the German Empire in the 'Heroes of the
Nations' series, and collaborated in 1914 with W. Alison Phillips and A. W.
Holland in A Short History of Germany and her Colonies. A few days after the
outbreak of the War in August 1914, the
prime minister, Mr. Asquith, sent for Charles F. G. Masterman [q.v.] and
instructed him to get together the nucleus of a propaganda organization, as it
was already clear that the enemy was going to make full use of this weapon. As a
result, the propaganda department at Wellington House came into existence. The
secretary of Masterman's committee, Sir Claud Schuster, at once sent for Headlam
and asked for his help; and on the first day he entered the new office Headlam
began to write his book The History of Twelve Days (1915), which may be
considered as the foundation of his future work and reputation. This is a close
and detailed study, based on the diplomatic correspondence, of the political
situation in Europe at the outbreak of the War, and remained by far the most
valuable contribution to the history of that short and agitated period until the
fuller publication of the records which became possible after the War was over.
For the next three years Headlam remained as the adviser on all historical
matters to Wellington House, publishing several controversial books and
pamphlets on subjects connected with the origins of the War.
He served as assistant director, under Lord Edward Gleichen, of the political
intelligence bureau in the Department of Information 1917-1918, and when British
governmental propaganda was transferred to a separate ministry under Lord
Beaverbrook in the latter year, Headlam went to the Foreign Office, becoming
assistant director of a newly formed political intelligence department of the
Office, where his services were found of the highest value.
In 1919 Headlam-Morley (as he had now become) went to the Peace Conference at
Paris as a member of the political section of the British delegation, where he
served on several of the more important committees, dealing with Belgian and
Danish problems, Danzig, the Saar Valley, Alsace-Lorraine, 'Minorities', and the
Eastern frontiers of Germany.
On his return to England in 1920, Headlam-Morley was appointed historical
adviser to the Foreign Office (a post which was specially created for him and
which did not survive his retirement in 1928) and settled down to write a
history of the peace settlement for official use. This was mostly - but not
entirely - completed at the time of his death. He also composed many other
memoranda on various historical subjects on which he was consulted, and a
selection of these was published in 1930 under the title Studies in Diplomatic
When, in 1924, Mr. Ramsay MacDonald (whose decision was confirmed by his
successor at the Foreign Office, Sir Austen Chamberlain) entrusted to Dr. G. P.
Gooch and Mr. H. W. V. Temperley the publication of the complete series of
British documents dealing with the origins of the War, from 1898 to 1914, the
editors found that Headlam-Morley had already made a very complete collection of
documents for the period immediately preceding the outbreak of war, with a view
to publishing a third edition of the History of Twelve Days. They accordingly
arranged with him to issue first what was chronologically the last (vol. xi) of
the volumes of British Documents on the Origins of the War, and this appeared in
1926 with the title The Outbreak of War: Foreign Office Documents, June
28th-August 4th, 1914.
This was Headlam-Morley's last published work of importance. He retired from the
public service in December 1928, received a knighthood in June 1929, and died in
a nursing home at Wimbledon 6 September of the same year. He had not yet
received the accolade, but his widow was allowed by royal licence to assume the
style of a knight's widow.
Headlam-Morley was tall, clean-shaven, with a keen and pale intellectual face.
There is a portrait of him - a photogravure by Sir Emery Walker from a
photograph - at the Royal Institute of International Affairs, St. James's
Headlam, John Lt RAF, 60 Sqdn killed in action 30.5.1918 at Boffles. Buried
St. Hilaire Cemetery Extension, Frévent, France, Grave ref. No. F.10.
HEADLAM, Maj.-Gen. Sir John Emerson Wharton
KBE, 1919; CB 1913; DSO 1900.
Born 16 April 1864; eldest son of late Morley Headlam of Gilmonby Hall,
Yorkshire, and Whorlton Grange, Durham; married 1890, Mary, eldest daughter of
late Percival Wilkinson of Mount Oswald, Durham; two daughters.
Entered army, 1883; Captain, 1892; Major, 1900; Lt-Col, 1902; Col, 1905;
Maj.-Gen., 1915; Instructor, School of Gunnery, 1892-1897; Headquarters,
1903-1906; Headquarters, India, 1908-1913; Headquarters Staff, South Africa,
1900-1902 (despatches twice, brevet Lt-Col, Queen's medal four clasps, King's
medal two clasps, DSO); European War, 1914-1918, (wounded, despatches four
times, promoted Major-General for distinguished service in the field; Order of
St Anne of Russia, 1st class with swords; Commander of the Legion of Honour;
American Distinguished Service Medal); retired pay, 1921; Col-Comdt RA,
1928-1934; JP, DL, Shropshire; DL Co. Durham.
History of the RA from the Indian Mutiny to the Great War, Vol. I, 1931, (with
Sir Charles Callwell), Vol. II, 1937, Vol. III, 1940.
Shropshire County, Shrewsbury.
Died 14 October 1946