John Wodehouse, 4th Earl of Kimberley

John Wodehouse, 4th Earl of Kimberley (12 May 1924 – 26 May 2002), styled Lord Wodehouse between 1932 and 1941, was an active British peer, and also a bobsled racer and Cresta member.


Wodehouse was the son of John Wodehouse, 3rd Earl of Kimberley and Frances Margaret Irby, and succeeded in the earldom in 1941 after his father was killed in an air raid. He was educated at Eton and Magdalene College, Cambridge, and served in the Grenadier Guards Armoured Division in 1943–45.[1] He was a distant kinsman of author P.G. Wodehouse (they were third cousins thrice removed). He had the reputation of being Britain's most married peer, having married Diana Legh, daughter of Sir Piers Legh, in 1945 as the first of six wives. They divorced in 1948, and he married Australian Carmel Dunnett (née Maguire) in 1949. They had a son, John Wodehouse, 5th Earl of Kimberley, but divorced in 1952. He tried again in 1953 with Cynthia Abdy Westendarp, but they too were divorced in 1961; together they had a son, Henry, who served in the Special Branch of the Metropolitan Police. Then he married model Margaret Simons in 1961 but they were also divorced in 1965. Wodehouse then wed Gillian Ireland-Smith in 1970, but they split up so he could marry Jane, the daughter of Lieutenant-Colonel A. P. Consett, DSO, MC, Grenadier Guards, on 20 August 1982.[2] This marriage lasted for the remainder of his life and gave him much happiness.

Wodehouse was the godson of the writer P. G. Wodehouse, a distant cousin, both being descended from Sir Armine Wodehouse, 5th Baronet.[3]


Lord Kimberley was the Vice-President of the World Council on Alcoholism, an Associate of the Royal Aeronautical Society, and sometime Liberal Spokesman on Aerospace, Defence and Voluntary Community Services in the House of Lords. However, in 1979 he joined the Conservative Party. He was a long-standing member of the House of Lords All-Party Defence Group (Hon.Secretary from 1978) and became U.K. delegate to the North Atlantic Assembly from 1981. From that year he was a member of the Air League Council. He was a member of the Association of Conservative Peers, of the British Maritime League Council, the Royal United Services Institute, the Institute for Strategic Studies and the British Atlantic Committee.[4]

For some years he was an active member of the Conservative Monday Club, joining in 1982 and was the next year appointed chairman of the Club's Foreign Affairs Committee[5] as well as joining their Executive Council.[6] Under his committee chairmanship a Club Policy Paper was published in August that year on The Future of Hong Kong by barrister David Sparrow. In his capacity as Chairman of the Club's Foreign Affairs Committee he also addressed the NATO Plenary Session in June that year supporting the deployment of Cruise missiles, and on 8 October 1983 addressed the Club's South-western Region day-conference at Taunton on the subject of "Defence and C.N.D."[7]

He wrote a memoir entitled The Whim of the Wheel, after he suffered a stroke in 1998. He also contributed to the debate in the House of Lords on Unidentified Flying Objects:

"UFOs defy worldly logic... The human mind cannot begin to comprehend UFO characteristics: their propulsion, their sudden appearance, their disappearance, their great speeds, their silence, their manoeuvre, their apparent anti-gravity, their changing shapes." EARL OF KIMBERLEY House of Lords.


  1. Dod's Parliamentary Companion 1991, 172nd edition, Hurst Green, Sussex,p.172.
  2. Dod's Parliamentary Companion 1991, 172nd edition, Hurst Green, Sussex,p.172.
  3. The Earl of Kimberley (obituary) in The Daily Telegraph dated 29 May 2002, accessed 23 February 2018
  4. Dod's Parliamentary Companion 1991, 172nd edition, Hurst Green, Sussex,p.172.
  5. Dod's Parliamentary Companion 1991, 172nd edition, Hurst Green, Sussex,p.172.
  6. Monday News, October 1983, p.3.
  7. Monday News, October 1983, pps: 1 - 4.
Peerage of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
John Wodehouse
Earl of Kimberley
Succeeded by
John Armine Wodehouse
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