Herbert Henry Spender Clay was born at Ford Manor on 4 June 1875, the son of Joseph Spender Clay and Elizabeth Sydney Jane Garrett. Herbert was educated at Eton and Sandhurst. In 1896 he joined the 2nd Life Guards and served in South Africa from 1899 to 1900. In 1904, he married the Hon Pauline Astor, daughter of William Waldorf Astor, 1st Viscount Astor, and Mary Dahlgren Paul. In the same year, the Ford Manor estate, purchased by his father, was passed over to Herbert and Pauline as their family home.
In 1914 Captain Herbert Spender Clay rejoined the 2nd Life Guards to serve in the Great War. He was awarded the Military Cross in 1917 and the Most Distinguished Order of Saint Michael and Saint George a year later.
In February 2017, the grandchildren of Herbert Spender Clay deposited four family albums at Surrey History Centre. One records Spender Clay’s First World War military career, including his service in France and his role in A J Balfour’s British Mission to the United States in 1917.
The album’s contents include photographs, military reports and orders, travel permits, Christmas cards, and programmes. There are also a number of cartoons and satirical or spoof articles, including a ‘folly’ about ‘The Goat’ (Lloyd George), the Prime Minister (Asquith) and K[itchener], “written privately for the amusement of two or three friends in the trenches”, 1915.
Herbert Spender Clay served as a JP and Deputy Lieutenant for Surrey and was Conservative MP for Tonbridge in Kent from 1910 to 1937. He was invested as a Privy Counsellor and was a Charity Commissioner from 1923 to 1929. He died at the age of 61 in 1937 from pneumonia following influenza at his London residence in Hyde Park Street. His widow, Pauline, died in 1972 at her home in Guernsey, aged 92. Both Herbert and Pauline are buried at St. John’s churchyard in Dormansland.
SHC ref 9725: HERBERT HENRY SPENDER CLAY (1875-1937), POLITICIAN AND SOLDIER OF FORD MANOR, LINGFIELD: ALBUMS OF CUTTINGS AND PHOTOGRAPHS RELATING TO HIS FIRST WORLD WAR ARMY SERVICE AND TO HIS POLITICAL CAREER, 1908-1923
The RH7 History Group, ‘The Clay Family of Ford Manor’ factsheet: http://www.rh7.org/factshts/clays.pdf (accessed Mar 2017)
See also SGW article, ‘American Red Cross Hospital, 101, Ford Manor, Lingfield’