Dictionary of Welsh Biography


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SIMON , JOHN ALLSEBROOK , 1st VISCOUNT SIMON of Stackpole Elidor ( 1873 - 1954 ), judge and politician ;

b. 28 Feb. 1873 at Manchester , son of Edwin Simon , Congl. minister from Stackpole, Pembs. , and Fanny (née Allsebrook ) his wife. He was educated at Fettes College , Edinburgh and Wadham College , Oxford . After graduating in the classics in 1896 he was elected Fellow of All Souls College , Oxford . In 1898 he won the Barstow Law Scholarship and was called to the Bar by the Inner Temple the following year. He was appointed a judge on the Western Circuit as early as 1908 . His mind was ordered, his memory extraordinary and his power of presentation seldom surpassed, but his ambition was chiefly political. In 1906 he had been elected M.P. (Lib.) for Walthamstow , Essex , and he soon became a member of the cabinet and was Secretary of State for Home Affairs ( 1915-16 ) when he resigned because he was opposed to the introduction of conscription . He returned as M.P. for Spen Valley , 1922-40 . A speech he made in the House of Commons contributed markedly to the collapse of the miners' strike in 1926 . In 1931 he entered the least satisfactory stage of his career when he became Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs , but was better placed as Secretary of State for Home Affairs , 1935-37 , his second term in that office. This was followed by a period as Chancellor of the Exchequer , 1937-40 . He served on several government commissions , and was chairman of the Indian Statutory Commission , 1927-30 , which produced an historic report on the working of the 1919 act concerning the government of India . In 1940 he was elevated to the peerage and became Lord Chancellor , in which post he was pre-eminent. Many of his ensuing judgements are models of lucid and comprehensive expositions of the law. He m. (1), 1899 , Ethel Mary Venables (d. 1902 ) and they had one son and two daughters; (2), 1917 , Kathleen Manning (née Harvey ) ; he d. 11 Jan. 1954 . His publications include his memoirs, Retrospect ( 1952 ), and Income Tax (5 vols.; 1950 ).

Sources:

  • Who was who? ;
  • Y Cymro , 13 June 1952 ;
  • The Times and Western Mail , 12 Jan. 1954 ;
  • The Biographical Index of W.W. Price, Aberdâr (at the National Library of Wales and Aberdare Public Library) .

Author:

Dr Mary Auronwy James, Aberystwyth

Published date: 2001