Godfrey Lushington

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Sir Godfrey Lushington KCB, GCMG, (8 March 1832 – 5 February 1907), British civil servant and promoter of prison reform, was Permanent Under-Secretary of State of the Home Office of the United Kingdom from 1886 to 1895.

Lushington was born in Westminster, London, in 1832 to Stephen and Sarah Grace (née Carr) Lushington; his twin brother was Vernon Lushington, Q.C., a county court judge. Educated at Rugby School and Balliol College, Oxford, he later became a fellow of All Souls and the President of the Oxford Union. He married Beatrice Anne Shore Smith (b. 3 June 1865), daughter of barrister Samuel Smith.

With his brother Vernon, he advocated positivist philosophy, motivated by the ideas of Auguste Comte. A supporter of labour movements, he, and fellow positivist intellectuals A.J. Mundella, Edward Spencer Beesly, Henry Crompton, and Frederic Harrison, played a leading role in the acceptance of trades’ union legitimacy.[1]

Influenced by Frederick Denison Maurice, Lushington joined his brother, and Frederic Harrison, as a teacher at the Working Men's College, and became a benefactor and member of the College governing corporation.[2]

He rose to Permanent Under-Secretary at the Home Office in 1885, and was knighted in 1892. During his Home Office tenure the Whitechapel Murders gripped attention and imagination; a Jewish and Anarchist connection was seriously considered. The chalked Goulston Street message was seen by Commissioner Charles Warren to have potential for increased religious tension; Warren explained to Lushington that reason for the immediate removal of the message.[3][4]

He retired from the civil service in 1895 and became an alderman of London County Council, a position held until 1898 when he became one of the British Government delegates to the Rome Anti-Anarchist Congress, (24 November to 21 December 1898) with Sir Philip Currie and Sir C. Howard Vincent.

After retirement, Lushington gave evidence to the Gladstone Committee on prison reform:[5] “I regard as unfavourable to reformation the status of a prisoner throughout his whole career; the crushing of self-respect, the starving of all moral instinct he may possess, the absence of all opportunity to do or receive a kindness, the continual association of none but criminals, the forced labour, and the denial of all liberty. I believe the true method of reforming a man, of restoring him to society, is exactly in the opposite direction to all these.”[6]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Henry Compton: an overview
  2. ^ J. F. C. Harrison ,A History of the Working Men's College (1854-1954), Routledge Kegan Paul, 1954
  3. ^ Letter from Charles Warren to Godfrey Lushington, 6 November 1888, HO 144/221/A49301C.
  4. ^ Letter from Charles Warren to Godfrey Lushington, 10 October 1888, Metropolitan Police Archive MEPO 1/48, quoted in Cook, p. 78; Evans and Rumbelow, p. 140 and Evans and Skinner, Jack the Ripper: Letters from Hell, p. 43
  5. ^ Cambridge Journals
  6. ^ Prison Reform from a Social-Democratic Point of View