Owen Morshead

Sir Owen Morshead
Born 28 September 1893
Died 1 June 1977 (1977-07) (aged 83)
Allegiance United Kingdom United Kingdom
Service/branch British Army
Years of service 1915–1919
Rank Major
Unit Royal Engineers
Battles/wars First World War
Awards Knight Grand Cross of the Royal Victorian Order, Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Bath, Companion of the Distinguished Service Order, Military Cross, Croix de guerre, Mentioned in Dispatches

Major Sir Owen Frederick Morshead GCVO KCB DSO MC (28 September 1893 – 1 June 1977) was a British Army officer and librarian, who served as Royal Librarian between 1926 and 1958.[1]

Morshead was born in Tavistock, Devon, the son of Reginald Morshead and Ella Mary Moreshead. He was educated at Marlborough College and then, initially intending to pursue a career in the Royal Engineers, at the Royal Military Academy, Woolwich. In 1913 he relinquished his cadetship and entered Magdalene College, Cambridge. His studies were interrupted by the outbreak of the First World War, in which he saw active service on the Western Front and Italian Front as a commissioned officer in the Royal Engineers. During the war he was awarded the Military Cross, invested as a Companion of the Distinguished Service Order, awarded the War Merit Cross (Italy) and was Mentioned in Dispatches five times.[2][3] He subsequently returned to Cambridge where he read Modern Languages. Upon graduating he became librarian of the Pepys Library.

In 1926 he became Royal Librarian at Windsor Castle and served in the position until 1958.[4] During the Second World War he commanded the 9th battalion, Berkshire Home Guard and from 1946 to 1958 was a Deputy Lord Lieutenant of Berkshire. Morshead was appointed a Member of the Royal Victorian Order in 1933, a Commander in 1937,[5] a Knight Commander in 1944, and Knight Grand Cross upon his retirement in 1958. He was made a Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath in 1953.[6] Morshead was sent by George VI to Friedrichshof with Anthony Blunt in March 1945 to secure papers relating to the German Empress Victoria, the eldest child of Queen Victoria. It is now believed that the pair were recorvering sensitive papers relating to correspondence between Edward VIII and Adolf Hitler.[7] From 1958 to 1971 he was given the honorary title of Emeritus Librarian by Elizabeth II.[8]

He married Paquita, daughter J.G. Hagemeyer, of Florence, Italy in 1926. They had one son and two daughters. Morshead was the founder and chairman of the Dorset Historic Churches Trust. He was a close personal friend of George V and a member of the Roxburghe Club.

He was portrayed by Derek Jacobi in the 2011 film My Week with Marilyn.


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