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William David Ormsby-Gore, 5th Baron Harlech & The Kennedy's

William David Ormsby-Gore, 5th Baron of Harlech, enters my family history through the Gifford side of the family through my cousin Major-General Sir Henry Trotter's marriage to Lady Eva Gifford. The relationship is a bit complicated, but the 5th Earl Harlech was the 2nd cousin of Eva's neice's husband.


In researching the 5th Earl, I discovered that he and his family were rather colourful, and were directly involved with President John F. Kennedy and First Lady, Jacqueline Kennedy.


Known as David Ormsby-Gore, he was the 2nd son of William Ormsby-Gore, 4th Earl of Harlech and Lady Beatrice Edith Mildred Gascoyne-Cecil. Lady Beatrice was the daughter of British Prime Minister Robert Gascoyne-Cecil. 


In 1939 Ormsby-Gore worked in the Phantom reconnaissance unit (reporting on Nazi movements in Europe) and worked with airborne and other special units. By the end of WWII he had attained the rank of Major.


Ormsby-Gore entered politics in 1950 when he was elected MP for Oswestry. Ormsby-Gore knew John F. Kennedy from Kennedy's father, Joseph Kennedy's time spent in London when Joseph Kennedy was the American Ambassador. When John F. Kennedy was elected US President, Ormsby-Gore was appointed British Ambassador to the United States.


Six months after the Kennedy's moved into the White House, Ormsby-Gore was in Washington as the British Ambassador. More of a family friend than an ambassador, Ormsby-Gore practically lived at the White House. The Kennedy administration referred to Ormsby-Gore as "our kind of ambassador" and he supplied JFK with a stream of advice and Cuban cigars which he brought into the US in his diplomatic bag.


David Ormsby-Gore made a significant impact on the Kennedy administration. He helped to ensure that British interests were considered during the Cuban Missle Crisis through frank discussions with JFK.  He also helped secure the first Test-Ban treaty with the Russians and helped convince Kennedy to act like a statesman to secure the treaty with the Russians while ensuring that JFK did not appear as an appeaser by his political opponents in the USA.


Ormsby-Gore was one of the pallbearers at Robert Kennedy's funeral after his assassination on June 8, 1968. Jacqueline Kennedy also attended the funeral of Ormsby-Gore's wife, Lady Harlech, after she was killed in an automobile accident on May 30, 1967.


David Ormsby-Gore and his wife, Sylvia Thomas, had 5 children: 

Julian Hugh Ormsby-Gore, born December 23, 1940 and died of an apparent suicide on November 5, 1974.

Jane Teresa Denyse Ormsby-Gore, born December 13, 1942. Lady Jane had an affair with Mick Jagger during the 1960's and many contend that the Rolling Stones song "Lady Jane" was written about her.

Victoria Mary Ormsby-Gore, born November 20, 1946.

Alice Magdalen Sarah Ormsby-Gore, born April 22, 1952 and who died of a herion overdose a day before her 43rd birthday on April 21, 1995. Alice was engaged to rock guitarist Eric Clapton in 1969 and, although she and Clapton lived together for 5 years, they never married.

Francis David Ormsby-Gore, 6th Baron of Harlech, born March 13, 1954 and who died February 1, 2016.


After David Ormsby-Gore's first wife, Sylvia, died in 1967, he married Pamela Colin on December 11, 1969. Together he and Pamela had one child, a daughter, in 1972 - Pandora Ormsby-Gore.


David Ormsby-Gore, 5th Baron Harlech, died on January 26, 1985. He had received serious injuries in an automobile accident on the evening of January 25, 1985 and died in hospital the next day. At his funeral Jacqueline Kennedy-Onasis, Senator Edward Kennedy and other Kennedy family members attended.


A colourful addition to our family story.

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