Arthur Du Cros

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Arthur Du Cros in 1913

Sir Arthur Philip Du Cros, 1st Baronet[1] (26 January 1871 – 28 October 1955) was a British industrialist and politician.

Early life and business career[edit]

He was born in Dublin, the third of seven sons of Harvey du Cros. He grew up in modest conditions; his father, later a well-known manufacturer, was at the time only a bookkeeper with an income of £170 a year. He attended a national school in Dublin and then entered the civil service at the lowest-paid grade. In 1892 he joined the Pneumatic Tyre and Booth's Cycle Agency Ltd, of which his father was now the chairman, and was made a joint managing director in 1896 when it was first traded as a public company.[2]

In 1895 he married Maude Gooding, the daughter of a Coventry watch manufacturer; they had two sons and two daughters before a divorce in 1923.

In 1901 Du Cros founded the Dunlop Rubber Company, converting 400 acres (1.6 km2) of land in Birmingham henceforth known as Fort Dunlop for the production and manufacture of tyres. Dunlop subsequently purchased the goodwill and trading rights of Du Cros' Pneumatic Tyre Company and diversified into making other rubber products in addition to tyres. To ensure the company's supply of rubber Du Cros secured plantations in Malaya and Ceylon; by 1917 Dunlop owned about 60,000 acres (24,000 ha) of rubber-producing land.[2]

Political career[edit]

Arthur Du Cros, Vanity Fair, 1910

In 1906 Du Cros entered politics, unsuccessfully contesting the seat of Bow & Bromley as a Conservative candidate, a seat to which his brother was elected in 1910. In 1908 he was elected Member of Parliament for Hastings, immediately succeeding his father in that position.[2]

In 1909 he formed (and was the director of) the Parliamentary Aerial Defence Committee to ensure funding for military aeronautical development, of which he was a strong proponent. During the First World War he worked for the Ministry of Munitions on an honorary basis, buying two motorised ambulance convoys with his own money and helping form an infantry battalion, being a former captain of the Royal Warwickshires and for some years being the honorary colonel of the 8th battalion of the Royal Warwickshire Regiment.

After the death of Edward VII Daisy Warwick attempted to blackmail King George V by threatening to release to the press love letters that she claimed proved Edward VII's adultery. When the High Court restrained her from publishing the letters in Britain, she threatened to sell them to American media. Du Cros offered to pay £64,000 (2012: £6,190,545) worth of Daisy's debts in return for the letters, and for his generosity he was created a baronet in 1916.[3] He continued to represent Hastings until 1918, when he was elected as a Member of Parliament for Clapham, a position he resigned four years later.

House attacked by suffragettes[edit]

On 14 April 1913 Du Cros' home at St Leonards was burnt down by suffragettes angry at his opposition to votes for women.[4] Contemporary newsreels reported the estimated cost of the damage to be £10,000.[5]

Later life[edit]

His later career featured much financial impropriety. He found it difficult to distinguish between personal and company assets, using company funds to sponsor family investments and appointing family members to senior position without regard for merit. He also participated in financial manipulation as a close associate of James White, a financier who specialised in share rigging and whose actions left Dunlop close to bankruptcy in 1921. Du Cros had already lost influence within the company and was dismissed after the 1921 depression.[2]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Different members of the family spelled their surname as "Du Cros" or "du Cros", but the sources indicate that Sir Arthur spelled his name in the former manner.
  2. ^ a b c d Hamilton-Edwards, G. K. S.; rev. Jones, Geoffrey (2004), "Du Cros, Sir Arthur Philip, first baronet (1871–1955)", Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.), Oxford University Press, retrieved 10 March 2011 (subscription or UK public library membership required)
  3. ^ Ridley, Jane (2012). Bertie: A Life of Edward VII. Random House. pp. 489–490. ISBN 9781448161119. 
  4. ^ "Heritage Images-The house of Mr Arthur du Cros at St Leonards, Hastings, burnt down by suffragettes, April 1913". 
  5. ^ "British pathe- Du Clos house". 

External links[edit]

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Harvey du Cros
Member of Parliament for Hastings
1908–1918
Succeeded by
Laurance Lyon
Preceded by
Harry Greer
Member of Parliament for Clapham
1918–1922
Succeeded by
John Leigh
Baronetage of the United Kingdom
New creation Baronet
(of Canons)
1916–1955
Succeeded by
Harvey Du Cros