Sir Rainald Lewthwaite (1913-2003)

Sir Rainald Lewthwaite

Written by Tim Cockerill

Occupation: Soldier

Early Life and Education

Rainald Gilfid Lewthwaite was born on 21 July 1913 at Rugeley in Staffordshire and was the second son of Sir William Lewthwaite (1882-1933), second baronet of Broadgate, Thwaites,Millom, who had married at Fawsley, Northamptonshire on 26 October 1910 Beryl Mary Stopford,(1889-1970),only child of Major Stopford Cosby Hickman (1854-`1916) RHA, JP,DL of Fenloe, near Newmarket-on-Fergus, County Clare, Ireland. Miss Hickman's mother came from the ancient family of Knightley of Fawsley Park, near Daventry and the name Rainald commemorated Sir Rainald de Bailleul Knightley (1040-1086) who was alleged to have come over with William the Conqueror. The Knightleys had been seated at Fawsley since the reign of King Henry V. The other first name of Gilfrid commemorated a Lewthwaite marriage in 1700 with Catherine, sister of Sir Gilfrid Lawson, bt. MP of Isel and Brayton.

Young Rainald was the fourth generation of his family to be educated at Rugby and was there between 1927 and 1931, when he was the Head of the School and Captain of the First XV. He entered Trinity College, Cambridge in 1931 and graduated in 1934 with a BA (Hons.) in Law. In the same year he was commissioned directly from the Cambridge University OTC into the second battalion of the Scots Guards.

Military Career

Lewthwaite saw service with his regiment during the Arab Revolt in Palestine between 1936 and 1938 and at the outbreak of the Second World War he was in Egypt. He was on the operations staff of Headquarters Eighth Army until shortly before the battle of El Alamein but in 1942 he rejoined the 2nd Scots Guards. In early 1943 his regiment was deployed along a 2,000 yard front with concealed anti-tank guns to resist the anticipated attack of Field Marshal Rommel, which occurred on 5 March. Lewthwaite, whilst directing the fire of one of his anti-tank guns, was seriously wounded but his men held their positions and destroyed more than fifty enemy tanks. He was awarded the Military Cross for his gallantry and skill during the battle. By October 1943, at the age of thirty, he was an acting lieutenant colonel and had been twice mentioned in dispatches.

He later served on the staff of the Headquarters 21st Army Group prior to the Normandy invasion until December 1944, receiving the French Croix de Guerre with Palm. In March 1945 he returned to the Mediterranean to command the 1st Scots Guards in Italy and after the end of hostilities he commanded the 10th battalion of the Parachute Regiment.

In 1950 he joined the Joint Services Mission in Washington and between 1953 and 1955 he was Assistant Secretary (Military) in the Cabinet Office. He then served with SHAPE in Paris between 1955 and 1958. Having been a full colonel at NATO H.Q in Paris from 1960 he was promoted brigadier in 1964 on his last appointment as Defence and Military Attaché that city. He retired from the Army in 1968.

Rainald Lewthwaite then took on what he jokingly referred to as 'my retirement job', which was the demanding one of Director of Protocol in Hong Kong. From his office in the Government Secretariat he had to ensure that all visits to the Crown Colony by Royalty and distinguished guests took place without visible hitches. He proved outstanding in this job, taking a palpable enjoyment in arranging receptions and ceremonials for visiting international dignitaries. For this work he was appointed OBE in 1974 and CVO in 1975, following the successful visit of the Queen to Hong Kong. He finally retired in 1976.

Family Life

Lewthwaite married on 3 January 1936 Margaret Elizabeth Edmonds (1907-1990), daughter of Harry Edmonds (1884-1979) of New York, the founder of International House, the student support network. Margaret was always known as 'Peggy' and they made a striking couple. Rainald was then an exceptionally handsome young Guards Officer and Peggy was described in her obituary in The Independent as a 'woman of physical presence, standing nearly six foot tall in her prime and a person of exceptional energy and charisma'. She was an artist, therapist, author and diplomatic hostess, who was awarded the MBE in 1942 for running the occupational therapy for the Middle East Hospitals based on Cairo and for her determined efforts to rehabilitate soldiers who had been wounded, physically or mentally, at the front. She had grown up in New York and was educated at fashionable schools and the Ecole des Beaux Arts in Paris and was greatly influenced by her cousin Stanley Elroy Qua (1880-19650 of Lowell, the celebrated Chief Justice of Massachusetts. Her portrait painting was much enhanced by her artistic mentor Augustus John (1878-1961) OM, RA, who once told her that had she stuck single-mindedly to developing her artistic potential she would have become the foremost American artist of her generation. In Paris she fascinated General de Gaulle and, according to her obituary, ' was for twenty years party to political developments on the world stage'. Later, in Hong Kong, she became friendly with George and Barbara Bush when George was the US Charge d'Affaires in Peking. Somehow she obtained a visa to China and was commissioned to paint portraits of members of the ruling communist government, a sequel to her painting of the official leaving portraits of the Eisenhower cabinet in 1950.

Rainald and Peggy Lewthwaite had four children, David Rainald (1940-2004), who succeeded his father in 2003 as the 5th and last baronet, (John) Valentine (1944-1990), Mary Rose (1946-1949) and Margaret Sylvia (1937-1994), both daughters dying from cancer. Both David and Valentine (another Knightley family name married but left no male issue so that the Baronetcy , granted in 1927, became extinct in 2004.

The Later Years

In the early 1950s Rainald's elder brother, Sir William Anthony Lewthwaite (1912-1993), the third baronet, who had no male issue, together with their mother, Beryl, the dowager Lady Lewthwaite, made over the Broadgate estate to him with a view to safeguarding the succession. However, it was not until Rainald returned from Hong Kong in 1976, when he was sixty-three, that he and his family were finally able to make Broadgate their home. Here the retired Brigadier enjoyed country life but took no part in public life or field sports, in contrast to his immediate predecessors. On 20 June 1990 his wife died, on 4 December of that year his second son Valentine took his own life, aged forty-six, and on 22 October 1994 his unmarried daughter Margaret died. Rainald himself died at Broadgate on 15 April 2003 in his ninetieth year, when his son David succeeded him, but died on 28 July 2004.Despite this Broadgate remains in the family ownership after nearly three hundred and eighty years and twelve generations.

The family possess portraits of Sir Rainald Lewthwaite both by his wife Peggy and by Augustus John.


  • Burke, Sir Bernard, Burke's Peerage, Baronetage and Knightage, London, 1938, 1465/6 (for Knightley)
  • Inglis, J.(Editor), Rugby School Who’s Who, 3rd edition, Rugby, 2002, 245
  • Mosley, Charles, (Editor-in-Chief), Burke's Peerage, Baronetage and Knightage, 107th edition, Vol.11, Delaware, USA, 2322 (for Lewthwaite)
  • Obituaries of R.G.Lewthwaite in The Times for 15 May 2003, The Scotsman for 4 June 2003 and The Daily Telegraph for 17 June 2003 and of his wife Margaret in The Times for 5 July 1990 .
  • The Army Gradation to February 1960, HMSO, 903/4
  • Family information