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The Right Honourable
Sir Hugh Beadle
[1]CMG [2]OBE [3]PC
Beadle, photographed in 1948
6th Chief Justice of Rhodesia
In office
1961–77
Preceded by Sir John Murray
Succeeded by Hector Macdonald
Personal details
Full Name Thomas Hugh William Beadle
Date of birth (1905-02-06)6 February 1905
Place of birth Salisbury, Southern Rhodesia
Date of death 14 December 1980(1980-12-14) (aged 75)
Place of death Johannesburg, South Africa
Spouse(s) 3 (twice widowed)
Children 2
Alma mater Template:Plainlist
Military service
Allegiance Template:Plainlist
Service/branch British Army
Years of service 1939–40
Rank Temporary Сaptain
Battles/wars World War II

Sir Thomas Hugh William Beadle [4]CMG [5]OBE [6]PC (6 February 1905 – 14 December 1980) was a Rhodesian lawyer, politician and judge who served as his country's Сhief Justice from 1961 to 1977. He came to international prominence against the backdrop of Rhodesia's Unilateral Declaration of Independence (UDI) from Britain in 1965, upon which he initially stood by the British Governor Sir Humphrey Gibbs as an adviser; he then provoked acrimony in British government circles by declaring Ian Smith's post-UDI administration legal in 1968.

Born and raised in the Rhodesian capital Salisbury, Beadle read law in South Africa and England before commencing practice in Bulawayo in 1931. He became a member of the Southern Rhodesian Legislative Assembly for Godfrey Huggins's ruling United Party in 1939. Appointed Huggins's Parliamentary Private Secretary in 1940, he retained that role until 1946, when he became Minister of Internal Affairs and Justice; the Education and Health portfolios were added two years later. He retired from politics in 1950 to become a judge of the Southern Rhodesian High Court. In 1961, he was knighted and appointed Chief Justice; three years later he became president of the High Court's new Appellate Division and a member of the British Privy Council.

Beadle held the Rhodesian Front, the governing party from 1962, in low regard, dismissing its Justice Minister Desmond Lardner-Burke as a "small time country solicitor". As independence talks between Britain and Rhodesia gravitated towards stalemate, Beadle repeatedly attempted to arrange a compromise. He continued these efforts after UDI, and brought Harold Wilson and Smith together for talks aboard HMS Tiger. The summit failed; Wilson afterwards castigated Beadle for not persuading Smith to settle.

Beadle's de jure recognition of the post-UDI government in 1968 outraged the Wilson administration and drew accusations from the British Prime Minister and others that he had furtively supported UDI all along. His true motives remain the subject of speculation. After Smith declared a republic in 1970, Beadle continued as Chief Justice; he was almost removed from the Privy Council, but kept his place following Wilson's electoral defeat soon after. Beadle retired in 1977 and thereafter sat as an acting judge in special trials for terrorist offences. He died in Johannesburg on 14 December 1980, aged 75.

Early life and education

Thomas Hugh William Beadle (generally known as Hugh) was born in Salisbury, Southern Rhodesia on 6 February 1905, the only son and eldest child of Arthur William Beadle and his wife Christiana Maria (née Fischer).


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