10 of Britain's Eccentric Aristocrats

Lord Clancarty used his vast fortune to fund research into UFOs. History Extra.

Lord Clancarty

William Francis Brinsley Le Poer Trench, 8th Earl of Clancarty, 7th Marquess of Heusden – otherwise known as simply the Earl of Clancarty – was not afraid to put his opinions forward, even if they were widely ridiculed. He used the free time afforded to him by his wealth and social status to become one of the world’s foremost UFO ‘experts’, publishing widely and speaking publicly on the subject of extra-terrestrial life. The peer even brought his personal passion into the House of Lords, Britain’s second political chamber, though he never got official government recognition for his outrageous theories.

Born in 1911, as a boy, young William grew up in rural Ireland before moving to England to be educated at the private Pangbourne Nautical College. Despite his family wealth, he was encouraged to become independent and so he worked for several years in the advertising business in London. However, by the time he reached his 30s, he had become fascinated by the subject of UFOs and began devoting increasingly greater amount of time to his independent research. In 1956, he became the editor of the Flying Saucer Review, and then, three years later, he founded Contact International, a global organization for fellow believers.

When William inherited his title and became the 8th Earl of Clancarty in 1975, then, he saw an opportunity to bring the topic of UFOs and extra-terrestrial visitors to Earth right into the heart of the British establishment. The new life peer established the House of Lords’ very own UFO Study Group, and he even debated members of the government about the possibility alien craft had visited earth. Notably, the existence of UFOs was far from Lord Clancarty’s most extreme belief. The aristocrat was also a subscriber to the so-called ‘Hollow Earth theory’, arguing that UFOs were based inside the hollow core of Earth. What’s more, he also argued that President Eisenhower had personally met with aliens and was then hiding the truth and that Adam and Eve came from another planet to populate Earth.

In his later years, Lord Clancarty left London and lived a quiet life by the sea. When he died in 1995, he left a huge collection of personal research related to UFOs to Contact International. He is widely regarded as a true pioneer in the field, though for some, he was purely a true British eccentric.