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This webpage reproduces an item in
The North Carolina Booklet

Vol. 3 No. 8 (Dec. 1903), pp5‑24

The text is in the public domain.

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 p5  Governor Charles Eden

By Marshall DeLancey Haywood
Author of "Governor William Tryon and His Administration
in the Province of North Carolina, 1765‑1771."

To strike down the barrier by which Father Time separates the present from the past, and introduce our reader to a dignitary who was sent to rule the unruly people of North Carolina in the days of long ago, is the purpose of this sketch. We thus salute Charles Eden, who bears the imposing title of "Governor, Captain-General, and Commander-in‑Chief, in and over His Majesty's Colony of North Carolina, and Vice-Admiral of the same." This gentleman received his commission from Queen Anne, but she died a few months after his arrival in America, and he later served for a much longer time under her royal successor, George the First.

A native, probably, of England, born in 1673, Governor Eden was a little over forty years of age when he crossed the Atlantic to enter upon the duties of his office. The first record of his service which we are able to find is in the year 1713, when it appears in a communication from the British Board of Trade to the Earl of Dartmouth, Secretary of State under Queen Anne, that the Lords Proprietors of North Carolina had recommended Charles Eden, Esquire, to Her Majesty for appointment as Governor of said colony. This recommendation having met with the Queen's approval at a meeting of the Royal Council on the 18th of May, in the above year, Mr.  p6 Eden was required to give bond to the amount of one thousand pounds for the faithful discharge of the duties of his office. Several months thereafter (August 13th) the Proprietors sent an order to Francis Brooke, Surveyor-General of North Carolina, directing him to apportion a tract of land, embracing one thousand acres, for the personal use of the new Governor.

It was a year, almost to the day, after receiving his appointment, that Governor Eden appeared before the Provincial Council, "holden at ye house of Capt. Jno. Hecklefield in Little River on ffriday the 28th day of May, Ano Dom. 1714," and took the oath of office. At the time of Eden's arrival the acting Governor was Thomas Pollock, President of the Provincial Council. The latter had succeeded Governor Edward Hyde, recently deceased, who was a cousin of the reigning sovereign.

At the time of Governor Eden's accession the members of his Council, or Deputies of the Lords Proprietors, were the following gentlemen: Thomas Pollock (President), Thomas Boyd, Nathaniel Chevin, Tobias Knight, Christopher Gale and William Reed. This Board was increased by the appointment of Francis Forster on August 10, 1714, and Frederick Jones on November 15, 1716. Richard Sanderson and John Lovick also appear as members at a later date during Eden's administration.

As Mr. Knight will figure in some of the transactions presently to be recorded, a few words concerning his personal history may be of interest. On November 6, 1714, he was re-appointed Collector of Customs for the District of Currituck,  p7 a post which he had held since the 9th of May, 1712, at the beginning of the administration of Governor Hyde. Under Hyde's administration, Knight was also a member of the Council, and he became Chief Justice on August 1, 1717. He died in the summer of 1719.

News of Queen Anne's death having been communicated to Governor Eden, a meeting of the Council was held on November 6, 1714, when it was duly proclaimed that "the High and Mighty Prince, George, Elector of Brunswick Lunenburg," was lawful heir to the imperial crowns of Great Britain, France, and Ireland. After this ceremonial the oath of allegiance to the new sovereign was taken in turn by the Governor and his Councilors.

At the time of the terrible massacre by the Tuscarora Indians in 1711, the authorities of South Carolina had given generous and timely aid to North Carolina in her hour of peril by sending a force under Colonel John Barnwell to aid her against the savages. In the spring of 1715, South Carolina had troubles of her own with the hostile tribe of Yemassee Indians and Governor Eden was prompt to repay her kindness. On May 25th, in the year just mentioned, "The Honourable ye Governor's own Regiment" was drawn up, and the companies of Captains Benjamin West, John Palin and John Norton furnished volunteers to go by sea to the scene of hostilities under the command of Colonel Theophilus Hastings, of South Carolina; while Colonel Maurice Moore (who had first come to North Carolina with Barnwell's men) was sent by land to the relief of his former  p8 home with a force of colonial troops. The South Carolina Assembly was not unmindful of the assistance rendered by Governor Eden, as on the record of their proceedings, jointly thanking him and the Governor of New York, it appears:

"Governor Hunter and Governor Eden claim also our best acknowledgments as persons sincerely affected with our calamities, the one sending us very considerable assistance in gallant and expert officers and soldiers, and the other laboring with the greatest application and industry to engage the warlike Senekas in our cause, a people who by the power of their arms and the terror of their name are alone equal to the war and sufficient to subdue all our enemies, and whom we may daily expect to that purpose."

During the same session, upon motion to that effect, it was ordered:

"That Colonel Maurice Moore be desired by the messenger to attend this House; and, when come into the same, Mr. Speaker do give him the thanks of the House for his service to this Province in his coming so cheerfully with the forces brought from North Carolina to our assistance, and for what further services he and they have done since their arrival here.

"The House being informed that Colonel Maurice Moore attended, it was ordered that he should be admitted; he was admitted accordingly, and Mr. Speaker (according to order) gave him the thanks of this House for his said services.

"Having expressed his acknowledgment to the House for that favor, Colonel Moore then withdrew."

 p9  At a later period the South Carolina Assembly voted a sum of money to Colonel Moore and his command for their services, and the soldiers under Hastings were rewarded in like manner. Hastings, like Moore, was a veteran of the Barnwell expedition.

Having been greatly reduced in power by war with the whites, and also unable through smallness of numbers to cope with their Indian enemies, a large majority of the Tuscaroras, about the years 1714‑'15, left North Carolina under Chief Handcock and went to join the Iroquois confederacy in New York. This northern confederacy — composed of the Mohawks, Oneidas, Onondagas, Cayugas, and Senecas — was up to that time called the Five Nations; and after the arrival of the Tuscaroras, which added one tribe to their number, came to be known as the Six Nations, under which name it afterwards so conspicuously figured in the colonial and Revolutionary warfare of New York.

Before they made war on the colonists of North Carolina, which was just before Eden became Governor, the Tuscaroras had been the most power­ful tribe in the province. The historian Lawson (who afterwards fell a victim to their torture) tells us that they had, in the beginning of the eighteenth century, about twelve hundred fighting men, scattered along the Neuse and Tar rivers, in fifteen villages. The names of these villages were as follows: Haruta, Waqui, Conta-nah, Anna Oooka,º Conauh-kare Harooka, Una Nauhan, Kentanuska, Chunaneets, Kenta, Eno, Naur-hegh-ne, Oonossoora, Tosneoc, Nonawharitse, and Nursoorooka. After  p10 the greater part of their tribe had gone northward, as above noted, a small band of the Tuscaroras stayed for a time in North Carolina under the friendly chief, King Tom Blount. In June, 1717, at their own request, they were removed from a reservation between the Neuse and Pamlico rivers which had been awarded them by treaty, but which they considered too much exposed to Indian attacks from the southward, and received in exchange a new hunting ground in Bertie Precinct, on Morratock (now Roanoke) river. These Indians seem afterwards to have followed their kindred to New York, as the North Carolina historian Martin (whose work was published in 1829, though written at a somewhat earlier date), says: "The descendants of these Indians, at this day, though removed to the northern lakes, still retain their right to the land thus granted them, and have at various times sent agents to collect the rents accruing thereon, in which they have been assisted by the Legislature."

When the great English philosopher and publicist, John Locke, wrote the Fundamental Constitution or Grand Model for the government of Carolina, that instrument provided for the institution of an hereditary order of colonial nobility whose members were to bear the title of Landgrave. At a council of the Lords Proprietors held in London at the Palace of St. James on the 19th of February, 1718, Governor Eden was raised to this Carolina peerage as a Landgrave, and was the last person who ever received that honor.

At a meeting of the Governor's Council one 30th of October, 1718, it was ordered that a Board of Commissioners —  p11 consisting of Frederick Jones, William Reed and Richard Sanderson — should proceed in the following May to act conjunctively with a like commission from Virginia in settling the boundary between the two colonies. Owing to a disagreement between the Commissioners of the respective provinces, the duty with which they were charged was not performed, and it was not until about ten years later that the boundary was run by another joint commission, whose labors have been immortalized by Colonel William Byrd of Westover, in his History of the Dividing Line.

A vacancy having occurred in the Vestry of the parish in Chowan Precinct by the death of Thomas Peterson, Governor Eden was chosen as successor to that gentleman on the 3d of January, 1715. The parish, just alluded to, now lies in Edenton, and is known as St. Paul's, though the venerable edifice which at present serves as a house of worship was erected at a somewhat later date. The Parish of St. Paul was erected by an act of the Colonial Assembly in 1701. Governor Eden was very active in his efforts for the advancement of religion, and kept up a constant correspondence with the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel, urging that more missionaries be sent to the neglected field in North Carolina. Under the laws of England a parish is a certain amount of territory within the jurisdiction of ecclesiastical authority; and, in North Carolina, when the colony was a dependency of Great Britain, parishes were often fixed in their bounds before a house of worship, or parish church, was erected. It is probable that prior to the erection of the  p12 present building of St. Paul's Church, which was begun about 1736, no church worthy of the name existed in Edenton, though there was a rudely constructed log building begun in 1702, the year after the parish was formed. In 1711 this log structure was described as without floor or seats — loose benches on the sand serving as pews. Often, in those days, religious services were held in the court-house; and sometimes, no doubt, private houses of the colonists were used for that purpose. In the spring of 1728, Colonel Byrd of Westover, in referring to Edenton, remarks: "I believe this is the only metropolis in the Christian or Mahometan world, where there is neither Church, Chapel, Mosque, Synagogue, or any other place of Publick Worship of any Sect or Religion whatsoever." This picture is almost as alluring as the one drawn by the Commissary of the Bishop of London, at an earlier period, when, referring to Charleston, then the capital of our sister colony of South Carolina, he wrote: "I never repented so much of anything, my sins excepted, as much as my coming to this place. * * * The people here, generally speaking, are the vilest race of men upon the earth; they have neither honour, nor honesty, nor religion, enough to entitle them to any tolerable character, being a perfect medley or hotch-potch, made up of bankrupt pirates, decayed libertines, sectaries and enthusiasts of all sorts, who have transported themselves hither from Bermudas, Jamaica, Barbadoes, Monserat, Antego, Nevis, New England, Pennsylvania, etc."

 p13  When Eden was Governor the Atlantic coast was swarming with pirates, who plied their trade with great energy and success.a Foremost among these freebooters was the notorious "Blackbeard," whose real name history tells us was Edward Teach. In the original records, however, his name appears written about every other way but Teach, to‑wit: Tach, Tache, Theach, Thach, Thache, Thatch, Thack, and Tack. Piracy finally grew so formidable that the authorities were powerless to cope with those engaged in that dread calling; and King George, about the year 1717, offered a pardon to all buccaneers who should forsake their nefarious operations and surrender themselves to some officer of the Crown. "Blackbeard" at first did not take advantage of this amnesty; but eventually he did make his submission to Governor Eden, receiving the King's pardon in due form. But the old corsair soon tired of life on shore, and put to sea again; nor should we judge him too harshly therefor, as history tells us that he had thirteen wives! "None but the brave deserves the fair," yet when these deserts run up to thirteen, even the brave may tremble. Apparently the gallant navigator was more sought after by the ladies of his time than if a prophecy had come to pass as recorded in Isaiah (iv, 1), where it is written: "And in that day seven women shall take hold of one man, saying: We will eat our own bread, and wear our own apparel; only let us be called by thy name." At any rate, Captain Teach was once more on the high seas, ostensibly as a merchantman bound for the Island of St. Thomas. Soon, however, it began to be whispered  p14 that "Blackbeard" had not forgotten his old tricks; and these suspicions were strengthened when he one day made his appearance, towing into port a large French vessel laden with cocoa, sugar, and other sweet-meats. This vessel, though uninjured by storm and intact in every particular, was said by Teach to have been found abandoned at sea; and the Court of Admiralty sustained his claim. As the North Carolina authorities made no effort to apprehend Teach, Governor Spotswood of Virginia took the matter in hand, and sent Lieutenant Robert Maynard with an armed vessel (some accounts say two vessels) in search of the pirate. After a bloody battle fought at Ocracoke Inlet on the 22nd of November, 1718, Maynard was victorious. He sailed back to Virginia with a number of prisoners, and the severed head of Teach (whom he had slain in single combat) dangling at his bow-sprit. On the pirate's body was found a letter from Tobias Knight, of whom mention has already been made. This letter contained many professions of friendship, with a few dark hints about matters which the writer said he wished to tell, but did not care to pursue on paper. Knight also said in his letter that he believed Governor Eden likewise would be glad to see Teach. There can be no doubt whatever that Knight was on very friendly terms with "Blackbeard," as a large part of the goods awarded to the pirate by the Admiralty Court was stored in a barn which Knight owned. So strong, indeed, were the suspicions against the latter that the Virginia authorities formally preferred charges against him for his alleged misconduct, and  p15 demanded that he be put on trial as an accessory in the crime of piracy. When the matter, however, came before the North Carolina Council (of which, it may be mentioned, Knight himself was a member) he was acquitted of the charges made against him.

There is no evidence whatever that Governor Eden himself ever had any improper relations with Teach, though one might think, from some accounts printed in history, that they were bosom friends. Knight's note, found on the pirate's body, stated that the writer believed the Governor would be glad to see Teach before the latter left the country, and that is the only shadow of a foundation for the charge. What reason there was for this belief (if it really existed, and was not intended as a bit of flattery) does not appear. Knight was not Private Secretary to the Governor, though many histories state that he was. He was Secretary of the Colony, and did not even live in the same locality, his home being at the town of Bath, while the Governor lived in the vicinity of Queen Anne's Creek (now Edenton), nearly fifty miles away.

At the time Teach lived unmolested in North Carolina he held the royal pardon for his past offenses. The vessel and its cargo, which he later brought into the port of Bath, though piratically taken, were adjudged to be his property by a decision of the Admiralty Court, and the Governor had no right either officially or personally to set aside that decision and seize the property.

 p16  Of the disposition of Teach's skull I have read an account by Mrs. Cornelia Phillips Spencer which says that it was made into a bowl and rimmed with silver; and that in such form it is said still to be preserved in Virginia. The truth of this tradition (for Mrs. Spencer seems not to speak from positive personal knowledge) may be well worth the investigation of some antiquarian of the Old Dominion.

On December 26, 1718, quite a disturbance was raised at Sandy Point, when England Moseley, Maurice Moore, Thomas Luten, Joseph Moore, and Henry Clayton forced their way into the office of John Lovick, Deputy Secretary of the Colony, and took possession of the public records, including Council Journals, together with the Great Seal of the Colony, and held the building for twenty-four hours. What their object was in so doing does not appear, but the Governor promptly had them placed under arrest for the offense. Moore and Moseley were bound over to court in a bond of one thousand pounds each, and Moseley had to give an additional bond of one thousand pounds to answer an indictment for slandering the Governor. The slanderous words were alleged to have been uttered on the day after Moseley's arrest for forcing Lovick's office. It was charged that he had declared that Governor Eden could easily engage an armed force to arrest honest men, but could not raise a power sufficient to apprehend pirates; that the Governor acted like a German Prince, and he hoped to see him put in irons and sent home to answer for his misconduct. When placed on trial for the forcible trespass, Moore was fined 5 pounds,  p17 Luten twenty shillings, and Moseley and Clayton five shillings each. On the indictment for slander, Moseley was fined one hundred pounds and declared incapable of holding any office of honor or trust in the colony for the space of three years. It is probable that this sentence was later remitted, as Moseley afterwards apologized for his violent language, at the same time promising for the future to "behave himself with the greatest care and respect imaginable."

Governor Eden married Mrs. Penelope Golland, the widow of a Mr. Golland who lived at Mount Golland (now Mount Gould), on the Chowan river in Bertie Precinct. Eden had no children of his own; but, by her previous marriage, Mrs. Eden had at least two children, John and Penelope Golland. The last named was four times married: first, to Colonel William Maule; second, to Secretary John Lovick; third, to George Pheney; and fourth, to Governor Gabriel Johnston. It has been generally supposed, and often stated in print, that this lady, who eventually became the first wife of Governor Johnston (Johnston was twice married), was Governor Eden's own daughter. This, however, is unquestionably an error.

There is one piece of legal proof on record which in itself shows that Governor Eden died childless, and is as follows: If he had been the father of any children, they, of course, would be his next of kin and heirs at law. Yet at a meeting of the Provincial Council of North Carolina during the administration of Governor Burrington, on July 31, 1724, a petition was presented on behalf of Roderick Lloyd and  p18 Anne, his wife, together with Margaret Pugh (daughter of Mrs. Lloyd by a former marriage), averring that Mrs. Lloyd was "only sister and heir" of Governor Eden; that John Lovick, "by pretext of a pretended will made by the said Governor," had fraudulently possessed himself of the Eden estate as executor; that the will had been procured in an unlawful and indirect manner, and was not signed and witnessed, as the law required. Mr. Lovick, as executor, made due answer to this petition; and, while not denying that Mrs. Lloyd was next of kin, proceeded to show that Governor Eden had made and signed his will in due form and that it was also attested by the number of witnesses necessary; that said will had been duly proven in open court, and afterwards recorded, as the law required. It may be of interest to add that the truth of Mr. Lovick's answer is even now shown by the fact that the will in question at present stands on record in the archives of North Carolina deposited in the office of the Secretary of State at Raleigh. It is signed by the testator, and witnessed by Henry Clayton, William Badham, and Mary Badham. In it Governor Eden makes no reference to any children or other relative, except his niece, the above-mentioned Margaret Pugh, "youngest daughter of Robert Pugh, Esqre, desed." To her he bequeaths five hundred pounds sterling, and the rest of his fortune is left to friends in North Carolina and Virginia — with John Lovick as residuary legatee.

Mrs. Penelope Eden, wife of the Governor, was born in 1677, and preceded her husband to the grave by about six  p19 years. She seems to have been a woman of strong mind and will power, deserving respect for the awe in which she was held by those impelled through selfish motives to influence her husband. The Reverend John Urmstone, whose character was not the most savory, wrote in 1717 as follows: "I have gained mightily upon the Governor since the death of his wife, a strange, meddling, troublesome, proud woman, who put him often upon doing that which he had no mind to. I believe for the future we shall always have a good understanding."

In the property inherited by John Lovick as residuary legatee of Governor Eden, was the latter's seat, Eden House, in Bertie Precinct. Lovick died childless and bequeathed the estate to his widow, who was Governor Eden's step-daughter, as has been noted. She married Mr. Lovick after Eden's death. In later years, when this lady was the wife of Governor Gabriel Johnston, the latter made Eden House his home; and, in the course of time it descended, with other property, to the Dawson family, Governor Johnston's only daughter having married John Dawson.

The death of Governor Eden occurred in the fiftieth year of his age on Monday, the 26th of March, 1722, and he was succeeded by President Pollock, who was Governor pro tempore only for a few months, himself dying on the 30th of the following August. Then William Reed, President of the Council, acted as Governor until the arrival of George Burrington, who was regularly commissioned to that office by the Lords Proprietors.

 p20  Governor Eden was buried in the precinct (now county) of Bertie, near Eden House, his late dwelling. There his remains rested until July, 1889, when they were exhumed and borne across the Chowan river to Edenton. In that historic town they now repose, being deposited in the burial-ground of St. Paul's Church, of which he was at one time a Vestryman. There, too, have been gathered the remains of Governors Henderson Walker and Thomas Pollock. Together lie these ancient rulers, with other builders of the colony, who, leaving their cares and earthy honors behind, have passed to a well-earned rest.

"The breezy call of incense-breathing morn,

The swallow twittering from the straw-built shed,

The cock's shrill clarion, or the echoing horn,

No more shall rouse them from their lowly bed."

The original slab which was placed as a memorial to Governor Eden still marks his grave. It is made of slate, set in brownstone, and has shown itself more capable of withstanding the ravages of time than many marble monuments of less age. On it are the following inscriptions:​b

 p21  Here lyes ye body of Charles Eden Esqr who

governed this province eight years to ye

greatest satisfaction of ye Lords Proprietors

& ye ease & happyness of ye people. He

brought ye country into a flourishing

condition & died much lamented March ye

26 1722 ætatis 49.

and near this place lyes also ye body

of Penelope Eden his virtuous consort

who died Janry 4th 1716 ætatis 39.


post funera


quem virtus non marmor

in æternum


 p22  Over these inscriptions were originally (on a separate slab) the armorial bearings of Governor Eden, but this escutcheon has been broken out and a part of it lost. A fragment of the shield, however, is still preserved, being in custody of the Reverend Robert Brent Drane, D. D., Rector of St. Paul's Church at Edenton. By the sheaves of wheat (or garbs, to use an heraldic term) displayed on this fragment, the Governor is proclaimed a member of the Eden family of the County Palatine of Durham in the north of England. This noted family has contributed two English Governors to American colonies: Charles Eden of North Carolina, whose services are set forth in the present sketch, and Robert Eden, who came to govern Maryland in the year 1768. The Eden family claims descent from Robert de Eden, an owner of land in Preston-on‑Tees, held by knight's service under the Bishop of Durham, and who died about the year 1413. Another Robert Eden (of West Auckland, in the county of Durham) became a Baronet on the 13th of November, 1672, and a like title was conferred upon one of his great-grandsons, the above-mentioned Governor Robert Eden of Maryland, on September 10, 1776. The latter's seat was Truir, in the county of Durham. These two baronetcies became merged in 1844, when Sir Robert Johnson-Eden, of West Auckland, died unmarried and was succeeded by his cousin, Sir William Eden of Truir. Another William Eden (brother of the Governor of Maryland) was advanced to the Irish peerage on November 18, 1789, as Baron Auckland, and became Baron Auckland of West Auckland in the peerage  p23 of Great Britain on May 22, 1793. At a later date (in 1839) his son and heir received the additional titles of Baron Eden of Norwood, in the county of Surrey, and Earl of Auckland. This was George Eden, Earl of Auckland, at one time Governor-General of India.​c Among other distinguished members of the family have been Sir Ashley Eden, Lieutenant-Governor of Bengal; Admiral Henry Eden of the Royal Navy; Sir Charles Eden, Vice-Admiral in the same service and a Lord of the Admiralty; Lieutenant-General John Eden, of the Royal Army; Sir Frederick Morton Eden, a sociologist and author; the Right Reverend Robert John Eden, third Baron Auckland, who was Lord Bishop first of Sodor and Man and afterward of Bath and Wells; the Right Reverend Robert Eden, Lord Bishop of Moray and Ross, and Primus of the Church in Scotland; Morton Eden, a noted diplomatist, who was raised to the Irish peerage as Baron Henley of Chardstock, and one of whose sons (the second Baron Henley) changed his surname of Eden to Henley; Lieutenant-General Morton Eden of the Royal Army; Sir Frederick Eden, also an army officer, who was killed at New Orleans during the second war between Great Britain and America, just a fortnight before the great battle of January 8, 1815; Lady Emily Eden, a novelist, and writer on affairs in India, and others who might be mentioned.​d

Though the old slab of slate which marks the resting-place of Governor Charles Eden has well served its purpose, the historic town of Edenton — named in his honor — is a nobler  p24 and more enduring memorial. This place at first went by the Indian name of Matecomack, or "the Towne in Matecomack Creek," was sometimes called the Port of Roanoke, and later became known as Queen Anne's Creek, in compliment to England's lady sovereign. The Colonial Assembly gave it the name of Edenton about the time of Eden's death in 1722. For long years it was the capital of the colony. There it was that Governors Burrington, Everard, and the elder Johnston held sway; there, too, the patriotic ladies of a later period planned trouble for King George when they placed themselves on record against the tax on tea; there, in the dark hours of the Revolution, Samuel Johnston, Joseph Hewes, James Iredell, and their compatriots maintained a standard of statesman­ship nowhere excelled in America; and, in the same ancient borough, within the memory of a generation still living, have dwelt men who, in peace and in war, well proved that they were worthy inheritors of the fair fame won by their forefathers —

"In the good old colony days,

When we were under the King."

Thayer's Notes:

a Hugh F. Rankin's 72‑page monograph, The Pirates of Colonial North Carolina, covers the subject well; Blackbeard and Governor Eden's dealings with him are detailed in chapter 5.

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b A photograph of Governor Eden's tombstone is online at Find-a‑Grave: just enough to make out that the transcription given here is correct in its line divisions.

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c This is the man after whom the city of Auckland, New Zealand was named.

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d Among those not mentioned, British prime minister Sir Anthony Eden, who was six years old when this article was published.

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