Herbert Lewis

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For other people named Herbert Lewis, see Herbert Lewis (disambiguation).
Herbert Lewis MP

Sir John Herbert Lewis GBE, PC (27 December 1858 – 10 November 1933) was a Welsh Liberal politician.

Background and education[edit]

Born at Mostyn Quay, Flintshire, Lewis was one of five sons of Enoch Lewis and Elizabeth Roberts. He was educated at McGill University and Exeter College, Oxford.

Political career[edit]

Lewis was the first Chairman of Flintshire County Council. He was MP for Flint Boroughs 1892-1906, Flintshire 1906-1918. In 1894, he resigned the Liberal Whip in the so-called 'Welsh Revolt', joining David Alfred Thomas, David Lloyd George and Frank Edwards. In a letter to T. E. Ellis, Lewis wrote to his friend, then Chief Whip: 'I will never again fight a constituency as an official Liberal.' Although he later recanted, this episode was illustrative of Herbert Lewis' moral seriousness. With Lloyd George, Lewis was an enthusiastic supporter of Cymru Fydd, a nationalist movement within Welsh Liberalism. Along with Lloyd George and David Alfred Thomas, he opposed the Boer War at the 1900 General Election.

Lewis was a Lord of the Treasury, 1905–1908; Parliamentary Secretary to the Local Government Board, 1909–1915; and Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Education, 1915-1922. He was elected the first Member of Parliament for the University of Wales;

General Election 1918: University of Wales

Electorate 1,066

Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Coalition Liberal Rt Hon. John Herbert Lewis 739 80.8 N/A
Labour Mrs H.M. Mackenzie 176 19.2 N/A
Majority 563 61.6 N/A
Turnout 915 85.8 N/A
Coalition Liberal gain from new seat Swing N/A

He was offered a peerage on his retirement from Parliament in 1922, but declined the honour. He was appointed a Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the British Empire (GBE) in the 1922 Dissolution Honours List.[1][2]

Lewis was made a Privy Counsellor in 1912, a freeman of the towns of Flint and Aberystwyth, Constable of Flint Castle, honorary LL.D of the University of Wales in 1918. He was awarded the gold medal of the Honourable Society of Cymmrodorion in 1927.

Lewis was a keen supporter of the National Library of Wales, located in Aberystwyth. In 1909 he became a Vice President of the Library. In 1925, while walking in the hills above the town prior to a meeting of the Library's council, Lewis suffered a fall down a quarry which left him paralyzed for the rest of his life. Although elected President of the Library in 1926, this was a largely honorific appointment.

An active lay member of the Calvinistic Methodist Connexion, Lewis was elected Moderator of the denomination in 1925, although he declined the post. He was an interested correspondent in the trial for heresy of Tom Nefyn Williams. Among his other correspondents in religious matters was the Welsh Revivalist Evan Roberts.

Personal life[edit]

Sir John Herbert Lewis was married twice, first in 1886 to Adelaide (d.1895), daughter of Charles Hughes, publisher, Wrexham and in 1897 to Ruth, daughter of W. S. Caine, MP. By his second marriage he had a son and a daughter. He resided at Plas Penucha, Caerwys, Flintshire. Lewis died at his home, Plas Penucha in 1933.

Further reading[edit]

  • Lloyd George's Flintshire Loyalist, The Political Achievement of John Herbert Lewis: by K O Morgan in Journal of Liberal History Issue 57, Winter 2007-08



  1. ^ "Dissolution Honours. Four New Peers., Political Services Rewarded." (Official Appointments and Notices). The Times (London). Saturday, 11 November 1922. (43186), col A, p. 15.
  2. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 32766. p. 8017. 10 November 1922. Retrieved 14 June 2010.

External links[edit]

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
John Roberts
Member of Parliament for Flint Boroughs
Succeeded by
Thomas Howell Williams Idris
Preceded by
Samuel Smith
Member of Parliament for Flintshire
Succeeded by
Thomas Henry Parry
New constituency Member of Parliament for University of Wales
Succeeded by
Thomas Arthur Lewis
Political offices
Preceded by
Charles Masterman
Parliamentary Secretary to the Local Government Board
Succeeded by
William Hayes Fisher
Preceded by
Christopher Addison
Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Education
Succeeded by
Lord Eustace Percy