By Sean Casteel
The struggle of the UFO-believing community to wrest some sort of official disclosure of the mystery phenomenon from the iron grip of the government, the military and the intelligence community has been part of the overall flying saucer picture since the 1950s. Both Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan spoke publicly about having seen UFOs, and Hillary Clinton has joined the choir of high-profile leaders who would like to see the subject dealt with transparently and brought before the American people in a way we can all agree is trustworthy and honest. It was suggested that Hillary was courting the “UFO vote,” sneeringly intended to mean the “lunatic fringe.”
But in 1979, across the pond in the United Kingdom, a lone voice once rang out in the House of Lords, a voice seeking the support of his fellows in demanding that Her Majesty’s government come clean and confess to the reality of the UFO phenomenon as well as the cover-up that had kept the public so undeservedly in the dark about a subject that was of concern to all humankind.
That lone voice belonged to Brinsley Le Poer Trench, the Eighth Earl of Clancarty, a member of the House of Lords from 1976 until his death in 1995.
HOW BRINSLEY BECAME A LORD
At the time, members of the House of Lords were not elected officials, as was the case with the House of Commons. To be an English Lord required that one be of noble birth.
According to an online posting by a writer known as Steve on the Bear Alley Books website, in Brinsley’s case, his family tree can be traced back to Irish politician Frederick Richard Trench (1681-1752), his son Richard Trench, and grandson William Keating Trench, who became the Earl of Clancarty, taking the name from a “tenuous link” to the Munster Earls of Clancarty. Le Poer was an old Irish noble name dating back to the Norman invasion of Ireland.
Brinsley’s full name was William Francis Brinsley Le Poer Trench, and he was the fifth son of William Frederick Le Poer Trench, the Fifth Earl of Clancarty. Brinsley inherited his title following the deaths of two older brothers (Richard in 1971 and Greville in 1975), making him the Eighth Earl of Clancarty and the Seventh Marquess of Heusden.
But Brinsley felt one could more honestly trace his family origins back to around 63,000 B.C.E., when aliens landed on Earth. Other aliens, the posting continues, ascended from below the surface of the planet from civilizations that still exist.
“I haven’t been down there myself,” Brinsley said, “but from what I gather these civilizations are very advanced.”
He also believed that Adam and Eve, Noah and other Biblical characters were brought here from Mars to populate the nascent Earth.
BUILDING SOME UFO COMMUNITY CRED
Brinsley was raised in London and educated at the Pangbourne Nautical College. He worked for a while selling advertising for a gardening magazine. After the success of his first book, “The Sky People,” published in 1960, he was able to write full time.
Brinsley’s interest in UFOs began after World War II. Finding others with similar interests led to his involvement in the early years of “Flying Saucer Review,” selling advertising space for the fledgling UFO publication and eventually taking over its editing between 1956 and 1959. He also founded the International UFO Observer Corps in 1956, which had observers watching the skies until 1960. The organization closed down that year because of a dearth of reliable reports and a shift to other forms of flying saucer evidence gathering, like mediumship and the study of ancient myths and traditions.
The list of Brinsley’s UFO efforts also included serving as vice-president of the British UFO Research Organization (BUFORA), founded in 1962. He was chairman of the International Committee of the International Sky Scouts, founded in 1965. The group held a flying saucer spotting day on June 24, 1966, the 19th anniversary of the Kenneth Arnold sighting in Washington State that is often seen as marking the beginning of the modern UFO era. The name was changed to Contact International in 1967, with Brinsley as their first president. He was also an honorary lifetime member of the now defunct “Ancient Astronauts Society,” which supported ideas that had been put forth by Erich von Daniken in his 1968 book, “Chariots of the Gods?”
When he succeeded to the earldom on the death of his half-brother and was thus entitled to a seat in the British Parliament, Brinsley used his new position to found a UFO Study Group at the House of Lords, introduce the “Flying Saucer Review” to its library and push for the declassification of UFO data. One of the speakers Brinsley invited to speak to his study group was the American publisher and journalist, Timothy Green Beckley.
TIM BECKLEY GETS UP CLOSE AND PERSONAL WITH THE EARL
Beckley had a long-distance friendship with Brinsley years before the venerated Briton would request his presence in London.
“Long before Brinsley invited me to London to speak before the House Of Lords UFO Group,” Beckley fondly recalled, “I had been in regular correspondence with the hardworking Britisher. He had developed a worldwide chain of correspondence in an era long before it was possible to email someone and have them receive your message in mere seconds. It sometimes took weeks to receive a handwritten letter that was actually penned on a very lightweight blue paper and folded over into a self-mailer and then sent across the pond to an American correspondent like myself, who anxiously awaited the arrival of the latest saucer news from the land of Her Majesty.
“Brinsley was known for making some fairly bombastic statements,” Beckley continued, “such as having traced his family tree back thousands of years to the time when aliens first landed on Earth. He told me that during WW II he had read of several incidents in which our fastest military aircraft were followed by what became known as ‘the foo fighters,’ craft which could not be attributed to either the Allied or Axis forces and for which there was no rational explanation. Upon discussing the topic with others in the early 1950s, it was thought that there was a need for a good UFO publication, and thus the prestigious ‘Flying Saucer Review’ was created and distributed to those with a thirst for knowledge on a cosmic level.
“Brinsley was able to give up his regular job selling ad space for a magazine on gardening,” Beckley recounted, “when his first book, ‘The Sky People,’ started to sell at a more-than-modest level. Around 1964, Trench joined forces with a Japanese UFO contactee group that published an English language magazine called ‘Brothers.’ The newly-merged group was initially known as the International Sky Scouts. Brinsley also traveled to Japan, where he spoke before several gatherings mainly attended by members of the ‘Japanese UFO youth movement.’ Eventually, the group had to change its name after being drawn into a lawsuit by the real Boy Scouts, who saw Brinsley’s use of the organization’s name as an infringement on their trademarked name. As a ‘compromise,’ the name was changed to Contact International, which continues to issue ‘Awareness,’ a quarterly journal which Brinsley started years and years back.
“And while Brinsley had started out as a literal believer in the ETH, short for the ‘extraterrestrial hypothesis,’ he told me out in the foyer when we met at the House of Lords, where I was to deliver my talk to his unofficial UFO group, that he had changed his opinion and now believed that UFOs were part of an underground civilization which had established a tunnel system from one end of the Earth to another, thus enabling them to move around unimpeded.
“Brinsley thought this civilization was well ahead of us and had learned to live in peace since its original downfall during the time of Atlantis. He also saw its technology as being hundreds of years more advanced, leaning on various forms of fossil-free fuel to sail their ships about when they emerged from their inner Earth headquarters.”
While enjoying Brinsley’s hospitality, Beckley also sat down with the Lord for a face-to-face interview, which Beckley published in his own magazine, “UFO Review,” in 1981.
Beckley opened the interview by asking, “How did you start the ball rolling on the question of UFOs in the House of Lords?”
“I took my seat in June 1976,” Brinsley replied, “and a month after that I made my maiden speech, which wasn’t on UFOs, but had to do with the state of our nation. Then I started sounding a few of the other Lords out and found that quite a number of were interested in the topic. In our country, if you want to find out something from one of our leaders, you can put it in writing or ask a question in the chamber. My questions led me to believe that there was a cover-up here in this country.
“This set me off but good,” the Earl continued. “The next thing I did was to introduce a debate in the chamber of the House of Lords. This debate went very well. In total, 14 speakers took part. The Earl of Kimberly, who is a member of our group now, was my main supporter. True, some people were talking against UFOs and some in favor of the subject, but there was no ridicule. It was treated with respect. As the result of a suggestion that I made during the debate, we now have gotten a House of Lords UFO Study Group. It has over 30 members.”
The debate Brinsley is referring to happened on January 18, 1979, and is still considered a watershed moment in “Exo-Politics,” or the politics of the extraterrestrial question.
Veteran UFO journalist Antonio Huneeus posted an update on the event on the “Open Minds” website that marked the event by saying, “Another significant sign of how deeply the interest in ufology had penetrated the upper crust of British society was the famous UFO debate that took place in the venerable House of Lords, which made worldwide headlines at the time. Just imagine the same exercise taking place in the U.S. Senate! Decades before the term was invented, this was pure Exo-Politics – a four-hour debate on the political and national security implications of UFOs and possible extraterrestrial activities on the upper chamber of a parliament of a major power with nuclear weapons and international prestige. It doesn’t get better than that and yet it really happened.”
In that same posting on “Open Minds,” Huneeus reprises an article he wrote at the time under the pseudonym A. Hovni for a long-defunct New York City daily newspaper:
“It is with much pleasure that I introduce this debate this evening about unidentified flying objects – known more briefly as UFOs and sometimes as flying saucers. I understand that this is the first time the subject of UFOs has been debated in your Lordships’ House, so this is indeed a unique occasion.”
With these words, the article continues, his noble Lordship, the Earl of Clancarty, initiated a historic debate in Britain’s venerable House of Lords, over a “question” previously requested by him. The debate lasted almost four hours, and not less than 14 Lords stated for the record their pro and con positions concerning UFOs and, specifically, Lord Clancarty’s motion that Her Majesty’s government initiate an “intra-governmental study” of UFOs, as well as his suggestion to set up a UFO Study Group within the House of Lords to look further into the matter. It was reported that within 48 hours of this debate, every single copy of Hansard – the official Parliamentary Debates records – with the UFO transcript was sold out.
“Lord Clancarty was certainly the right man at the right place,” Huneeus writes. “Better known as Brinsley Le Poer Trench, he was described by ‘The Illustrated London Times’ as ‘the one uncontroversial personality, the “elder statesman” of the British flying saucer movement.’ Among other things, Clancarty has published seven popular books on UFOs and was one of the founders and an early editor of ‘Flying Saucer Review,’ perhaps the oldest and most prestigious publication in the field.”
“WE WOULD LIKE TO GET TWO ALIENS OR MORE TO COME AND TALK”
When Beckley did his exclusive interview with Brinsley a couple of years after the historic House of Lords debate, Brinsley had developed a new ambition regarding finding the truth behind the UFO mystery.
“We would like to get two aliens or more to come and talk to our group,” he told Beckley.
“Is that an open invitation?” Beckley asked.
“Yes,” came Brinsley’s reply, “and I’m sure that some of them speak our language and many other languages. You are bound to get some people who will say that they are just Earth people pretending. But the point is that if you get them to do their materialization and dematerialization, paranormal abilities which are normal to them, that should be proof.”
“Have you ever met anybody that you thought was an extraterrestrial?” Beckley prodded further.
“Yes, I have, on several occasions,” Brinsley answered, “but I was probably completely wrong. I had this idea in my head because of certain things. But I always thought that there was lots of life elsewhere, even when I was very young.”
The earl reflected further on his efforts to bring about disclosure, which he phrased as getting “the government to come clean.”
“I’m sure they’ve got plenty of reports,” he told Beckley. “There are reasons for a cover-up. The original one, I think, has to do with panic, but also a number of countries might be trying to get hold of an alien spacecraft in operational condition, or in good order, not a crashed, smashed one.”
“Do you think that the British government has a crashed UFO?”
“It’s possible,” the earl said, “but I wouldn’t know. I couldn’t give you a good answer to that one. But think that if one country were to get hold of one and were actually able to make more of them, that particular country would rule the world. That, of course, is the reason that a particular government would have a cover-up.
“Another possible reason for a cover-up,” he continued, “is that, if they are using a free electromagnetic method of propulsion, this would be a blow for a lot of industries: the nuclear industry, the electrical, oil, coal. It would be a good thing, because a lot of these industries are causing pollution.”
SOME IMPORTANT WRITINGS ARE GIVEN NEW LIFE
Many years before he made international headlines by introducing the debate on the UFO question in the House of Lords, Brinsley was paying his dues as a researcher and writer. Beckley has republished two of the late Lord’s titles through his Global Communications/Inner Light Books publishing house.
“Legacy of the Sky People,” which also includes updated material by Nick Redfern, Tim Swartz and, in the interest of total disclosure, myself, is a reprinting of Brinsley’s 1960 bestseller, “The Sky People.” In an interview I conducted with Brad Steiger, who has long been one of the most respected journalists specializing in the field of the paranormal, he wholeheartedly praises Brinsley’s pioneering exploration of the Ancient Astronauts theory of UFOs.
“I read Brinsley’s book when it came out in the 1960s,” Steiger told me. “I haven’t had the privilege of hanging out with him, the way Brother Tim (Beckley) has, but I certainly am familiar with his work. It’s the groundbreaker aspect that is so important.”
Steiger said that in one of his own bestselling books, “Atlantis Rising,” he quoted quite freely from Brinsley’s work, adding that it was a new field at the time and Brinsley was one of the few proponents of the idea that UFO contact had begun in ancient times. Nevertheless, it was Erich von Daniken, years later, who seemed to get the most recognition.
“Brinsley was generally neglected,” Steiger said, “because Erich von Daniken was the fair-haired boy at the time and was given a great deal of credit for coming up with the whole ancient astronauts concept. A book such as ‘The Sky People’ was read by a few individuals, but the great masses of people were not interested. Then something comes out and gets a lot of attention, like ‘Chariots of the Gods?’ As people said, von Daniken just happened to be standing in front of the cosmic slot machine when it paid off.”
Steiger feels that Trench stands out from his contemporaries because the late earl’s approach was more scholarly and careful in terms of the claims he made.
“Brinsley would present things as a hypothesis,” Steiger explained. “He would say ‘PERHAPS you find this daring; PERHAPS you find this offensive to your beliefs. But consider that Jehovah may have been a leader of people who came from the stars.’ There’s a difference between presenting things and allowing your readers to ponder them and then make up his or her own mind as opposed to coming out and saying, ‘These entities came from outer space and built the pyramids.’ There’s a difference between presenting it as a hypothesis and presenting it as fact.”
Another interesting testimonial comes from Giorgio Tsoukalos, the spokesman in the English-speaking world for none other than von Daniken himself.
“Brinsley Le Poer Trench’s books,” Tsoukalos told me, “have been quoted in many classic ancient astronauts works. An argument definitely can be made for the points he has written about, especially because he based a lot of his research on more ancient texts that are not available as readily as they were back when he was alive. I do think he is one of the founders of the modern-day ancient astronauts theory.”
THE MARRIAGE OF TWO “FRINGE” IDEAS
Beckley has also republished Brinsley’s 1974 book, “Secret of the Ages: UFOs Inside the Earth,” giving it the title “Finding Lost Atlantis Inside the Hollow Earth.” As the new title suggests, one is required to buy into two ideas that many still consider to be on the fringes of generally accepted reality: one, that Atlantis actually existed, and, two, was forced to move inside the hollow Earth when its home as a continent on the surface was destroyed.
Beckley sums up the concept nicely.
“While the Earl strongly endorsed the idea that aliens may have been coming here since the time of creation,” Beckley explains, “in his later career his ideas took a strange turn, encompassing the notion that an ancient, ‘pre-Noahan’ civilization existed in what we commonly refer to as the Lost Continent of Atlantis. Intermingled with this Atlantean culture were space beings arriving for various reasons – some beneficial, some destructive.”
“The result of which,” Brinsley writes, “is a long, panoramic narrative in the form of legends and myths, telling us of gods that came from outer space, who ruled over Atlantis and were the progenitors of our own civilization. They also fought terrible wars and made grotesque monsters and giants with reptilian legs that turned upon the gods themselves.”
Brinsley adds that the Atlanteans tried to escape the surging chaos by using thermal drills and electron ray guns to bore out a massive tunnel system that extends even to this very day from the surface to the hollow core at the center of the planet. There – at the center of the Earth – the Atlanteans still live in peace and tranquility, hidden away from the warmongering elements among the surface dwellers.
BRINSLEY’S OWN LEGACY
It is to the credit of the other members of the House of Lords present at the 1979 open debate that they treated Brinsley and his “out there” ideas with respect and made no effort to ridicule or mock his beliefs. The British press even noted at the time that Brinsley was considered to be “noncontroversial,” meaning his ancestry and public deportment were acceptably dignified. He was not labeled as just another British “eccentric,” but seen as an honorable Member of Parliament with something serious to say.
In his introduction to “Legacy of the Sky People,” Beckley warmly remembers his time spent with Brinsley.
“It was unfortunate that I only got to meet Brinsley once,” Beckley writes, “but I did spend two full days with him as he introduced me to members of Parliament and hosted a dinner for me at his flat in London. Recently the British Ministry of Defence released thousands of files on British UFO encounters. I can’t help but believe that Brinsley was partly responsible for this new ‘sharing of information’ with the public. It started with his research into the legacy of the sky people and his later pressuring of the government to ‘come clean’ about UFOs. We need more like the Eighth Earl of Clancarty in power today. Such men and woman are difficult to find in service to their country, both on and off the UFO playing field.”
Brinsley Le Poer Trench died in Bexhill-on-Sea in 1995, leaving his extensive collection of papers to Contact International, the organization he presided over beginning in 1967. Since Brinsley had been childless, he was succeeded to the earldom by his nephew, Nicholas Le Poer Trench, who, as of this writing, continues to hold that position.