Sir William Seeds
|Ambassador to the Soviet Union|
|Preceded by||Viscount Chilston|
|Succeeded by||Sir Stafford Cripps|
|Born||27 June 1882|
|Died||2 November 1973 (aged 91)|
|Spouse(s)||Arabella, Lady Seeds (d.1979)|
|Alma mater||Rugby School|
Background and education
Seeds was born in Dublin, Ireland, on 27 June 1882, to an Ulster Protestant family. He was the only son of Lady Kaye and Robert Seeds QC, the Queen's Advocate General. He was educated at Rugby School and was proficient in French, German, Spanish, Portuguese and Russian. In his late teens he spent two years (1899–1901) in Russia as a student living with several Russian families, studying the culture and language. He grew to love "the real old Russia like a story or play by Chekhov" On his return from Russia he studied in London to enter the diplomatic service whilst fully enjoying the many entertainments that Edwardian London nightlife had to offer. Seeds refers to his early years as the "prehistoric years" in his diaries.
Seeds entered His Majesty's Diplomatic Service in 1904 and served in Washington D.C. (1904–07), at the British Legation at Peking (1908–10) and at the British Embassy in Athens (1911–13). He was Chargé d'Affaires and British Consulate General in Lisbon (1913–1919) and Chargé d'Affaires and First Secretary in Berlin in 1919. He was appointed Consul General for Bavaria in November 1920 and transferred to Munich. He was Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary to the Republic of Colombia in Bogota from 1923 to 1925  and Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary to the United States of Venezuela from 1925 to 1926. In 1926–28 he was appointed Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary and Consul General to the Republic of Albania  under the rule of King Zog.
In 1928 Seeds became British High Commissioner for the Rhineland in Coblenz, and during his tenure of the post he was mainly occupied in the arrangements for the evacuation. Two years later he was appointed a Knight Commander of the Order of St Michael and St George (KCMG) by George V. Sir William served as Ambassador to Brazil (1930–35). Seeds' final and most controversial diplomatic post before retirement was as Ambassador to the Soviet Union (1939–40).
A tall and handsome man who charmed the ladies, Seeds was nevertheless known “not to suffer fools gladly, nor always sufficiently restrain his brilliant wit”
He married Arabella Agnes Muriel Butler (1883–1979) on 17 November 1911. They had three sons and one daughter. Their daughter Sheila, then married to Sir John Fisher Wentworth Dilke, worked at MI5 headquarters in HMP Wormwood Scrubs during the war years. Their middle son, Hugh, initially joined the Navy then became a conscientious objector and emigrated to New Zealand after the war. Their eldest son, Professor Robert Seeds (1914–1991), lost his left hand in 1941 whilst detonating a bomb for the British Secret Service. Their youngest son, James, joined the RAF and was killed in action in 1940 at the age of 20.
Death and legacy
A collector of Chinese and Russian artworks, he bequeathed a Carl Fabergé gold, enamel and diamond presentation box to the Victoria and Albert Museum where it is on display (room 91, case 56,) to whom he had also intended to bequeath his collection of 10 Fabergé hardstone figurines who he called “my little men”.
Seeds' papers, diaries and documents are kept by his granddaughter, Corinna Seeds, on the island of Hydra in Greece, and may be viewed and referenced by historians on request.
- Sidney Aster "Leadership and Responsibility in the Second World War"
- "No. 32173". The London Gazette. 24 December 1920. p. 12591.
- "No. 32852". The London Gazette. 10 August 1923. p. 5492.
- "No. 33069". The London Gazette. 24 July 1925. p. 4951.
- "No. 33222". The London Gazette. 19 November 1926. p. 7475.
- Jason Tomes, King Zog, p 83-88
- "No. 33638". The London Gazette. 26 August 1930. p. 5293.
- Sidney Aster: The Diplomat as Scapegoat? Leadership and Responsibility in the Second World War
- "No. 34607". The London Gazette. 14 March 1939. p. 1762.
- "Russia to stand by peace pact policy - May 9, 1939". The Telegraph. 9 May 2009. Retrieved 6 September 2015.
- ANN "The Times" 17 November 1973
- Obituaries "The Times" and "The Telegraph" 3 November 1973
- DERRIAGHY", A Short History of the Parish", printed by Graham and Heslip Limited
- Corinna Seeds, Theatre Director,Hydrama Theatre PO Box 9, Hydra, Greece, 18040