Robert Spence Watson

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Robert Spence Watson (by George Reid, 1904).

Robert Spence Watson (8 June 1837–2 March 1911) was an English solicitor, reformer, politician and writer. He became famous for pioneering labour arbitrations.

On the 9th June 1863 he married Elizabeth Spence Watson.

He was one of the original convenors of the National Liberal Federation in 1877, and was its president from 1890 until 1902.

He helped to found the Durham College of Science in 1871, later to become Armstrong College and part of Newcastle University.

From 1890 till 1911 Watson was the president of the 'Society of Friends of Russian Freedom'. He contributed much to the society's printed organ "Free Russia".

He published The History of English Rule and Policy in South Africa in 1897, and joined the South Africa Conciliation Committee.[1]

In 1995 a blue commemorative plaque was erected outside his home.[2]


  1. ^ Howe, Anthony; Morgan, Simon (2006). Rethinking nineteenth-century liberalism: Richard Cobden bicentenary essays. Ashgate. p. 239. ISBN 0-7546-5572-5. Retrieved 21 July 2011. 
  2. ^ Gateshead commemoration plaques


Party political offices
Preceded by
James Kitson
President of the National Liberal Federation
Succeeded by
Augustine Birrell