Dictionary of Welsh Biography


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UNGOED-THOMAS, (ARWYN) LYNN (1904-1972), Labour politician.

Ungoed-Thomas was born at Carmarthen on 26 June 1904, the son of the Revd. Evan Ungoed-Thomas and Katherine Howells. His father, a minister with the Welsh Baptist denomination, was a minister at Carmarthen for more than forty years. This background undoubtedly moulded Ungoed-Thomas's views and character. He was in every sense very much the son of the nonconformist manse. Throughout his life he was never to forget that he was Welsh and a nonconformist.

He was educated at Queen Elizabeth Grammar School, Carmarthen, Haileybury School and Magdalene College, Oxford. He was called to the bar at the Inner Temple in 1929, took silk in 1947, and became a full bencher in 1951. He was a Profumo prizeman and Yarborough Anderson Exhibitioner of the Inner Temple.

He served in the army throughout the duration of World War Two, rising to the rank of major. He was the Labour MP for the Llandaff and Barry constituency, 1945-50, (a division which was then abolished by the boundary commissioners), contested Carmarthenshire unsuccessfully in 1950, and sat for Leicester North-West from a by-election in 1950 until 1962.

Ungoed-Thomas became a member of the General Council of the Bar in 1946 and was later the chairman of the Chancery Bar Association. He was a member of the Uthwatt Committee on Leasehold Reform in 1948 (appointed by the Lord Chancellor) and signed the minority report recommending leasehold enfranchisement. He was also a member of the Committee on Naval Courts Martial in 1949 (appointed by the First Lord of the Admiralty and presided over by Mr Justice Pilcher), and also of the Statute Law Revision Committee (appointed by the Lord Chancellor). He was president of the Hardwicke Society. He was a British delegate to the Council of Europe in 1949. He served as Solicitor-General in 1949-51 and he was appointed a judge of the High Court in April 1962, a move which precipitated his resignation from the House of Commons.

In spite of his background, he formed close bonds of friendship with his Conservative colleagues at the Chancery Bar and the Bench. His unfailing bonhomie, good humour and clubbable disposition swiftly swept away political differences. He was, despite his Welsh, nonconformist background and upbringing, wholly at ease among the English professional classes. Early in 1972 he heard a celebrated breach of copyright action brought by Miss Nora Beloff, the political correspondent to The Observer, against Private Eye.

In his younger days he had displayed considerable prowess at rugby football and in 1924 he was a reserve international for Wales. Ungoed-Thomas married on 19 April 1933 Dorothy, the daughter of Jasper Travers Wolfe of county Cork, and there were two sons and one daughter of the marriage. He died suddenly in London on 4 December 1972.

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 Times , 6 December 1972.

Author:

Dr John Graham Jones, Aberystwyth

Published date: 2011