Dictionary of Welsh Biography


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LLEWELLYN, DAVID TREHARNE (1916-1992), Conservative politician.

David Llewellyn was born at Aberdare on 17 January 1916, the son of Sir David Richard Llewellyn, 1st Bart., a coalowner and industrialist, and Magdalene Anne (she died in 1966), the daughter of the Revd Dr Henry Harries, Baptist minister of Treherbert. There were four brothers and four sisters. His brother was Sir Harry Llewellyn, the famous horseman, captain of the British Olympic Showjumping Team in 1952 and a prominent member of the Jockey Club.

David Llewellyn was educated at Eton and Trinity Hall, Cambridge. He joined the army in 1939 and was commissioned. He rose to the rank of captain in the Welsh Guards and served in the North-west Europe campaign of 1944-45. Meanwhile his wife Jo ran the War Cabinet Cypher Office. He was a master printer, a journalist and broadcaster and a member of the Institute of Journalists.

Having unsuccessfully contested Aberavon in the Conservative or ‘National’ interest in 1945 (where he polled more votes than any previous Tory in a Labour landslide election result), Llewellyn served as the Conservative MP for Cardiff North, 1950-59, when he chose to retire from the House of Commons on health grounds. His initial majority at Cardiff North was 2900 votes, but he increased it in every successive general election. He was also the first member of the Wales and Monmouthshire Young Conservatives. He was an under-secretary at the Home Office, 1952-53, with responsibility for Welsh affairs, but the onset of Ménière's Disease, which did not abate, saw Llewellyn resolve to return to the backbenches - as he had previously intimated if his health did not improve. Prior to the creation of the Welsh Office in 1964, the Home Office was responsible for the conduct of Welsh Affairs, and there was a desperate need for able, young Tory MPs to serve there. There were only three Welsh Conservative MPs in 1950. As a back-bencher he had much greater freedom to mix with the Welsh Labour MPs whose company he enjoyed.

Following his return to the back-benches, Llewellyn was considered an effective constituency MP. In many ways he was an old-fashioned Liberal or even radical politician who remained rather uneasy on the Conservative benches in the House of Commons. Yet he warmly embraced Macmillan's ‘middle way’ brand of corporatist Conservatism. He himself tended to deplore his lack of speaking skills on the floor of the House of Commons so that he seldom participated in debates. His maiden speech was, characteristically, on the needs of pensioners. Cardiff always remained central to his political outlook. He took an especial pride in putting down the question to Gwilym Lloyd-George which brought the confirmation that Cardiff was to be granted ‘Welsh capital city’ status in 1955. Harold Macmillan recommended him for a knighthood in his dissolution honours list in 1960; his acceptance vexed some of his old friends.

Following his retirement from political life Llewellyn turned to his other great love, namely the turf, and from 1965 almost until his death he published a weekly column in the Sporting Life which he wrote under the name ‘Jack Logan’. He held very firm views about racing which were given wide currency and highly respected. His personal hobby-horses included the right of women to be allowed to train, the removal of unsafe concrete posts on race courses, a minimum wage for stable lads, and the wearing of hard hats for all racing personnel when riding out.

As a young man, he had written a considerable amount of poetry. As a fervent devotee of Aneurin Bevan, he was the author of Nye: the Beloved Patrician (1961), The Adventures of Arthur Artfully (1974), and a volume of Racing Quotations (1988). He wrote a regular column for the Welsh edition of the Sunday People and he also published columns in the Western Mail and its sister evening paper the South Wales Echo.

He had married on 18 February 1950 Joan (‘Jo’) Williams, the second daughter of R. H. Williams of Bonvilston House, Bonvilston, near Cardiff, and they had two sons and a daughter. He died 9 August 1992 at his home at Yattendon, Newbury, Berkshire, following a long illness.

Sources:

  • Who was who? ;
  • Etholiadau'r Ganrif / Welsh Elections 1885-1997 , Y Lolfa, 1999;
  • Welsh Hustings - 1885-2004 , Dinefwr Publishers Ltd, 2005;
  • Dod's Parliamentary Companion ;
  • The Daily Telegraph , 11 August 1992;
  • The Guardian , 20 August 1992;
  • The Independent , 17 August 1992;
  • The Times , 12 August 1992;
  • Western Mail , 11 August 1992.

Author:

Dr John Graham Jones, Aberystwyth

Published date: 2011