Robert Reid, 1st Earl Loreburn

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The Right Honourable
The Earl Loreburn
Lord Chancellor
In office
10 December 1905 – 10 June 1912
Monarch Edward VII
George V
Prime Minister Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman
H. H. Asquith
Preceded by The Earl of Halsbury
Succeeded by The Viscount Haldane
Personal details
Born 3 April 1846 (1846-04-03)
Corfu Town, Corfu, United States of the Ionian Islands
Died 30 November 1923 (1923-12-01)
Walmer, Kent
Nationality British
Political party Liberal
Spouse(s) (1) Emily Fleming (d. 1904)
(2) Violet Hicks-Beach
Alma mater Balliol College, Oxford

Robert Threshie Reid, 1st Earl Loreburn GCMG PC QC (3 April 1846 – 30 November 1923) was a British lawyer, judge and radical[1] Liberal politician. He served as Lord Chancellor between 1905 and 1912.

Background and education

Born in Corfu, the largest city on the island of the same name, Loreburn was the son of Sir James John Reid, Chief Justice of the Ionian Islands, at the time a British proctectorate. His mother was Mary, daughter of Robert Threshie. Loreburn was educated at Cheltenham College and Balliol College, Oxford. While at Oxford, he represented the Oxford University Cricket Club in fifteen first-class matches as a wicket-keeper, spanning from 1865 to 1868.[2] He remained involved in cricket for many years after, with appearances for the Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) and Herefordshire at lower levels of the sport, amongst other sides.[3]

Political career

Loreburn's national political career began in 1880, when he was elected to the House of Commons as Member of Parliament for Hereford. He stayed there until 1886, when he became MP for Dumfries Burghs. He remained in the House of Commons until 1905; during this time period, he was appointed to the offices of Solicitor General and knighted (1894)[4] and Attorney General (1894–1895). He was appointed a Knight Grand Cross of the Order of St Michael and St George (GCMG) in 1899.[5] He left the House of Commons in 1905, though, and became Lord Chancellor under Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman On his appointment he was raised to the peerage as Baron Loreburn, of Dumfries in the County of Dumfries.[6]

During the 1900s and 1910s, many Liberal politicians took up the ideology of Liberal Imperialism, led by the Chancellor of the Exchequer (H. H. Asquith), the Secretary of State for War (Richard Haldane) and the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs (Sir Edward Grey). This triumvirate of politicians was strongly in favour of an entente with France, along with the creation of a British Expeditionary Force, in the event of a war between France and Germany. These three politicians made their views known, and when Campbell-Bannerman appointed his cabinet, he appointed Loreburn Lord Chancellor as a counter to the Liberal Imperialists.

In 1908, Asquith became Prime Minister, and David Lloyd George (who was promoted to Chancellor of the Exchequer) "defected" onto the Liberal Imperialists. Lord Loreburn's disagreements with Lord Haldane, Sir Edward, Asquith, and eventually Lloyd George became more prominent, and it seemed that the Imperialists would get their way and force British military action onto the Continent. However, events would not turn out that way. Asquith, Lloyd George, Grey, Churchill, and Haldane thought they could force the rest of the Cabinet into their eventual goals, but they were sorely mistaken. The five Imperialists had met secretly on 23 August 1911, and when certain Cabinet members found out, they were furious. Reginald McKenna had recently been deprived of his position as First Lord of the Admiralty for refusing to provide military aid to the French, and he led the majority (whose members included Loreburn, McKenna, Colonial Secretary Lewis Vernon Harcourt, and Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster Jack Pease) in "a strong line about Cabinet supremacy over all other bodies in the matter of sea and land defence". Lord Esher wrote, "There has been a serious crisis. Fifteen members of the Cabinet against five. The Entente is decidedly imperilled."

He was created Earl Loreburn on 4 July 1911.[7] Unfortunately, Lord Loreburn's health began declining, and in the summer of 1912, he resigned his Lord Chancellorship. In a parting, "valedictory" letter to Lord Haldane, he wrote:

My differences with you have always been this, you have been an Imperialist "au fond" and always in my opinion it is quite impossible to reconcile Imperialism with the Liberal creed which we professed, and on the force of which we received the support of the country. In this way we became hopelessly estranged on the greatest of all issues.

In January 1918, the House of Lords came to consider the Bill which went on to become the Representation of the People Act 1918, for the first time introducing a limited women's suffrage. Loreburn moved an amendment to delete from the Bill the sections which would give the vote to women, but the Lords were not persuaded and on a division the amendment was lost by 134 votes against to 71 in favour.[8]

Personal life

Lord Loreburn married firstly Emily, daughter of A. C. Fleming, in 1871. After her death in August 1904 he married secondly Violet Elizabeth, daughter of William Frederick Hicks-Beach, in 1907. There were no children from either marriage. Lord Loreburn died on 30 November 1923, aged 77, when his titles became extinct.


  2. Robert Reid – CricketArchive. Retrieved 16 July 2015.
  3. Teams Robert Reid played for – CricketArchive. Retrieved 16 July 2015.
  4. The London Gazette: no. 26536. p. 4299. 27 July 1894.
  5. The London Gazette: no. 27141. p. 8181. 5 December 1899.
  6. The London Gazette: no. 27873. p. 187. 9 January 1906.
  7. The London Gazette: no. 28514. p. 5349. 18 July 1911.
  8. Fenwick, Mrs Bedford (ed.) (19 January 1918). "Editorial: Woman Suffrage Assured" (PDF). The British Journal of Nursing. London: The Nursing Press. LX (1555): 35. Retrieved 30 November 2009.CS1 maint: extra text: authors list (link)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links

  • Hansard 1803–2005: contributions in Parliament by Robert Reid
  • Wikisource-logo.svg [ "Loreburn, Robert Threshie Reid, 1st Earl" ] Check |ws link in chapter= value (help). Encyclopædia Britannica (12th ed.). 1922.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
George Arbuthnot
Evan Pateshall
Member of Parliament for Hereford
2-seat constituency until 1885

With: Joseph Pulley
Succeeded by
Joseph Pulley
Preceded by
Ernest Noel
Member of Parliament for Dumfries Burghs
Succeeded by
John Gulland
Legal offices
Preceded by
Sir John Rigby
Solicitor General
Succeeded by
Sir Robert Finlay
Preceded by
Sir John Rigby
Attorney General
Succeeded by
Sir Richard Webster
Political offices
Preceded by
The Earl of Halsbury
Lord Chancellor
Succeeded by
The Lord Haldane
Peerage of the United Kingdom
New creation Earl Loreburn
Baron Loreburn