Richard Acland

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For the Bishop of Bombay, see Richard Acland (bishop).
Sir Richard Acland
Born (1906-11-26)26 November 1906
Broadclyst, Devon
Died 24 November 1990(1990-11-24) (aged 83)
Title Acland Baronetcy of Columb John
Term 9 June 1939 – 24 November 1990
Predecessor Francis, 14th Baronet
Successor John, 16th Baronet
Spouse(s) Anne Stella Alford
Parents Francis Acland

Sir Richard Thomas Dyke Acland, 15th Baronet (26 November 1906 – 24 November 1990) was one of the founding members of the British Common Wealth Party. He had previously been a Liberal Member of Parliament (MP) and joined the Labour Party in 1945.[1] He was one of the founders of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND).


Acland was the son of Sir Francis Acland, a Liberal Member of Parliament (MP). Born in Broadclyst, Devon, he was educated at Rugby School and Balliol College, Oxford and became a barrister and architect. He served as a lieutenant in the Royal North Devon Yeomanry.

Acland stood for Parliament without success for Torquay at the 1929 general election. He was elected Liberal MP for Barnstaple at the 1935 election, having first contested the seat in the 1931 general election. He was a junior whip for the Liberals. His politics changed course subsequently, as seen in the various pamphlets he wrote, and in 1942 he broke from the Liberals to found the socialist Common Wealth Party with J. B. Priestley, opposing the coalition between the major parties. He advocated public land ownership and donated his West Country estate at Killerton, Devon to the National Trust.

The Common Wealth Party had shown signs during World War II of a breakthrough, especially in London and Merseyside, and winning three by-elections. However, the 1945 general election was a severe disappointment. Only one Member of Parliament (Ernest Millington) was elected and other figures had left or joined the Labour Party. Acland himself lost in Putney, where he came third.[2] He then joined Labour and was selected to fight the Gravesend seat following the expulsion of Labour MP Garry Allighan for making allegations of corruption. He won the Gravesend by-election in November 1947 with a majority of 1,675.[3]

Back in Parliament, Acland served as Second Church Estates Commissioner 1950–51. In 1955, he resigned from Labour in protest against the party's support for the Conservative government's nuclear defence policy, and lost Gravesend as an independent the same year, allowing the Conservatives to take the seat from the official Labour candidate, Victor Mishcon. He helped form the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) in 1957 and was senior lecturer in education at St. Luke's College of Education, Exeter. When he left parliament he was appointed to Wandsworth Grammar School in Sutherlad Grove, Southfields, London as a maths teacher. He started in September 1955. He was a successful and charismatic teacher, popular with his pupils.

Acland was married to Anne Stella Alford, an architect, with whom he had four sons. He succeeded his father as baronet in 1939. He died in Exeter aged 83.

See also[edit]

Key Publications[edit]

  • Unser Kampf (Our Struggle), Penguin Books, 1940
  • The Forward March, Allen & Unwin, 1941
  • What It Will Be Like in the New Britain, Victor Gollancz, 1942
  • How It Can Be Done, MacDonald, 1943


  1. ^ Chambers Biographical Dictionary, ISBN 0-550-18022-2, page 6
  2. ^
  3. ^ 1947 By Elections

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
J. B. Priestley
Chairman of the Common Wealth Party
Succeeded by
Kim Mackay
Preceded by
Kim Mackay
Chairman of the Common Wealth Party
Succeeded by
C. A. Smith
Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Basil Peto
Member of Parliament for Barnstaple
Succeeded by
Christopher Peto
Preceded by
Garry Allighan
Member of Parliament for Gravesend
Succeeded by
Peter Kirk
Baronetage of England
Preceded by
Francis Dyke Acland
(of Columb John, Devonshire)
Succeeded by
John Dyke Acland