Tuesday, May 03, 2022

John Wycliffe Black, the last Liberal MP for Harborough

Embed from Getty Images

The Liberal Party, largely in the shape of my hero J.W. Logan, held the Harborough constituency between 1891 and 1918, when its sitting member Percy Harris did not receive the "coupon" from Lloyd George's coalition with the Conservatives.

But there was once last hurrah. In 1922 the Liberals won back Harborough with John Wycliffe Black as their candidate. Like many a Liberal who gained a seat in that year's general election, he was to lose it when another election was called the following year.

Black died in 1951. Here is part of the report the Leicester Evening Mail carried on 19 June:


If ever a man deserved the title of "Grand Old Man" it was Alderman John Wycliffe Black, whose death at his home in Holmfield-road, Leicester, was reported in later editions of the Evening Mail yesterday. 

Eighty-eight years of age, his long life was packed full of public service, and right up to the end he was a virile debater at the Leicestershire County Council meetings. 

Member of Parliament, world president of the Churches of Christ - his greatest love - alderman, magistrate, government adviser of health matters, a leader of the boot and shoe industry - these were some of the vital matters that occupied his long career. 

It was in 1892 that he began his long association with the Churches of Christ. When the Melbourne-road Church was built he became superintendent of its Sunday School and Young People's Institute, and held that position for 37 years. 

Leader of the Liberal Party In the Harborough Division for many years, he became MP for the division in 1923, until the General Election the following year. 

The oldest. member of the Leicestershire County Council, he was first elected as a representative of Oadby in 1903

The Mail went on to discuss his service on the county council and on Wigston Urban District Council and that he was "head of J.W. Black and Co. boot manufacturers, South Wigston".


Anonymous said...

Thanks for this -very interesting, I must look him up. Always interested in Free Church Liberals.
On another matter, have you noticed the typography/style guide of the Leicester Mercury? (I assume that you have cut-and-pasted the article.) They use Holmfield-road and Melbourne-road, whereas we would write Holmfield Road and Melbourne Road. The Times was using this hyphenation until about the Great War, but quickly went over to the "two capitalised words" model. I wonder when and why the style changed - and why the Mercury was still using such an old-fashioned construction in the 1950s.

Jonathan Calder said...

Thanks. I've seen that way of writing street names in newspaper reports from the early 1960s, so it did hang on for a bit longer.