YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections

Lord Sherfield; Former British Envoy to U.S.

November 12, 1996| From Times Staff and Wire Reports

LONDON — Lord Sherfield, a career diplomat who served as Britain's ambassador to Washington from 1953 to 1956 during President Dwight D. Eisenhower's first term, has died. He was 92.

Sherfield was known as Sir Roger Makins until he was made a hereditary peer in 1964. He was knighted in 1949. Sherfield lived at Basingstoke, 45 miles southwest of London, and died there on Saturday, his family reported.

Educated at Oxford University, he joined the Foreign Office in 1928. In a long career, he held a variety of posts, including chairman of the United Kingdom Atomic Energy Commission from 1960 to 1964.

Sherfield first met Gen. Eisenhower during World War II while working at the Allied Mediterranean Command headquarters, and the two got on well when Prime Minister Winston Churchill sent Sherfield to Washington.

The Englishman enjoyed recounting that after Eisenhower's inauguration, the new president encountered him in a line of diplomats he was greeting and exclaimed, "Roger, what are you doing here?"

Sherfield also enjoyed good relations with John Foster Dulles, the formidable U.S. secretary of state at a time of policy differences between Washington and London. Differences persisted over trade, policy in the Middle East and Far East and Churchill's calls for a summit with the Soviet Union.

Americans liked the ambassador's unstuffy public speaking style. "The long-range development of foreign policy has been accurately compared to a game of chess," he said in one speech. "The actual negotiations necessary for its day-to-day conduct more often resemble stud poker."

He referred to himself as "a very ordinary person" and said he liked Americans because they were "friendly."

On his retirement in 1964, Sherfield became chairman of the Industrial and Commercial Finance Corp. and in 1966 he became chairman of the investment bank Hill Samuel.

He was chancellor of the University of Reading near London from 1970 to 1992.

He married Alice Davis in 1934. Her father was Dwight Davis, donor of the Davis Cup in tennis and U.S. secretary of war under President Calvin Coolidge. She died in 1985; Sherfield is survived by their two sons and five daughters.

Los Angeles Times Articles