S. O. Davies

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Stephen Owen Davies (probably 9 November 1879 – 25 February 1972) was a Welsh Labour Party politician who served as a Member of Parliament (MP) from 1934 to his death, aged 92.

Early life

Born in Abercwmboi, he began work as a coal miner at the age of 12, combining mining work with study for a degree. During World War I he was an active trade unionist at Tumble in the Gwendraeth Valley. Davies was educated at the University of Wales and the University of London. He was active as a trade unionist, and became vice-president of the Miners' Federation of Great Britain in 1933. He was a councillor on Merthyr Tydfil Borough Council and mayor in 1945–46.

Member of Parliament

In 1934 he was elected as a Labour Party Member of Parliament (MP) for the Merthyr constituency, which was renamed Merthyr Tydfil in 1950.

Davies was often out of step with the party line. Following the Aberfan disaster, he was a vocal critic of the way in which the government compensated the families of those killed.

In the run-up the 1970 general election his Constituency Labour Party felt that as he was now in his 80s he ought to stand down, and de-selected him in favour of a younger man. There may also have been friction caused by a dispute at the local Hoover factory.[1] He fought the election as an independent Labour candidate, and won. In Parliament he maintained discreet links with the Parliamentary Labour Party and was sent a copy of the Labour whip, though he was nominally an independent. However he died in 1972 and the Labour Party won the subsequent by-election, although there was a significant swing to Plaid Cymru.

Age issues

Davies claimed an official birthday of 9 November 1886, but was suspected of being significantly older. Official records show the birth of only one Stephen Owen Davies registered in Glamorganshire during 1870–1889 (and only one other in the whole of England and Wales during that period) which was in the Pontypridd registration district in the last quarter of 1879.[2] If the earlier date of birth is accurate, he appears to have been the oldest British MP since 1918, beating David Logan by a few days.

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Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Richard Collingham Wallhead
Member of Parliament for Merthyr
Constituency abolished
New constituency Member of Parliament for Merthyr Tydfil
Succeeded by
Ted Rowlands
Honorary titles
Preceded by
Manny Shinwell
Oldest sitting member
(not Father of the House)

Succeeded by
John Rankin
Trade union offices
Preceded by
Joseph Jones
Vice-President of the National Union of Mineworkers
Succeeded by
Will Lawther