William Rees-Mogg

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The Right Honourable
The Lord Rees-Mogg
Personal details
Born (1928-07-14)14 July 1928
Bristol, England, UK
Died 29 December 2012(2012-12-29) (aged 84)
Political party Crossbencher
Spouse(s) Gillian Morris
Children 5
Alma mater Balliol College, Oxford
Occupation Journalist
Religion Roman Catholicism

William Rees-Mogg, Baron Rees-Mogg (14 July 1928 – 29 December 2012) was an English journalist and public servant. He served as editor of The Times (1967–81), chairman of the Arts Council of Great Britain, and vice-chairman of the BBC.

Early life and education[edit]

William Rees-Mogg was born in Bristol, England in 1928 to an English Protestant father, Edmund Fletcher Rees-Mogg, and an Irish-American Roman Catholic mother, Beatrice (née Warren). He was educated at Clifton College Preparatory School there and Charterhouse School in Godalming.[1] He was head boy at Charterhouse and won a Brackenbury Scholarship in 1948 to read history at Balliol College, Oxford.[2] He was President of the Oxford Union in 1951.[3]

Career[edit]

Rees-Mogg began his career in journalism in London at The Financial Times in 1952 becoming chief leader writer in 1955 and, in addition, assistant editor in 1957.[4][5] During this period, he was Conservative candidate for the safe Labour seat of Chester-le-Street in a by-election on 27 September 1956, losing to the Labour candidate Norman Pentland by 21,287 votes.[6] He moved to The Sunday Times in 1960, later becoming its Deputy Editor from 1964[5] where he wrote "A Captain’s Innings",[7] which many believe convinced Alec Douglas-Home to resign as Tory leader, making way for Edward Heath, in July 1965.[6]

Rees-Mogg was editor of The Times from 1967 to 1981. He criticised, in a 1967 editorial entitled "Who breaks a butterfly on a wheel?",[7] the severity of the custodial sentence for Mick Jagger on a drugs offence.[8] With colleagues he attempted a buyout of Times Group Newspapers in 1981 in order to stop its sale by the Thomson Organisation to Rupert Murdoch, but was unsuccessful.[9] Murdoch replaced him as editor with Harold Evans. Rees-Mogg wrote a comment column for The Independent from its foundation in the autumn of 1986 until near the end of 1992,[10] when he rejoined The Times[11] where he remained a columnist for The Times until shortly before his death.[12] In his Memoirs, published in 2011, he wrote of Murdoch: "Looking back, he has been an excellent proprietor for the Times, but also for Fleet Street."[13]

Rees-Mogg was a member of the BBC's Board of Governors and chairman of the Arts Council, overseeing a major reform of the latter body which halved the number of arts organisations receiving regular funding and reduced the Council's direct activities. Having been High Sheriff of Somerset from 1978 to 1979, he was made a life peer in 1988 as Baron Rees-Mogg of Hinton Blewett in the County of Avon, and sat in the House of Lords as a cross-bencher. He was a member of the European Reform Forum. The University of Bath awarded him an Honorary Degree (Doctor of Laws) in 1977.[14]

He co-authored, with James Dale Davidson, the following: The Sovereign Individual, The Great Reckoning, and Blood in the Streets.[citation needed]

He was Chairman of The Zurich Club, "a private, international network of trustworthy and knowledgeable investors and entrepreneurs", and was a regular contributor to a subscription investment advice newsletter, The Fleet Street Letter. Writing in The Times in 2001, Lord Rees-Mogg, who had a house in Somerset, described himself as "a country person who spends most of his time in London", and attempted to define the characteristics of a "country person". He also wrote that Tony Blair was as unpopular in rural England as Mrs Thatcher had been in Scotland. By now his liberal attitude to drugs policy had led to his being mocked as "Mogadon Man" by Private Eye.[8]

The magazine later referred to him as "Mystic Mogg" (a pun on "Mystic Meg", a tabloid astrologer) because of the perception that his economic and political predictions were ultimately found to be inaccurate.[9][15]

Rees-Mogg served as the Chairman of the London publishing firm Pickering & Chatto Publishers and of NewsMax Media and wrote a weekly column for The Mail on Sunday.[16]

Personal life[edit]

In 1964 Rees-Mogg purchased Ston Easton Park near Bath, Somerset, the former home of the Hippisley family. The house had been threatened with demolition and Rees-Mogg partially restored it.[17] He sold the house to the Smedley family in 1978.

His youngest daughter, Annunziata (born 25 March 1979), stood unsuccessfully as a candidate for the Conservative Party in the 2005 general election in Aberavon, and in Somerton and Frome at the 2010 election. His son Jacob stood unsuccessfully as a candidate for the Conservative Party in the 1997 and 2001 general elections (in Central Fife and The Wrekin respectively), but in 2010 was elected Conservative MP for the new constituency of North East Somerset.[7]

Rees-Mogg, a Catholic, argued that the image of an ultra-conservative papacy is false and that the Vatican must overhaul its PR machine.[18]

Death[edit]

He became ill just before Christmas 2012 and died on 29 December at the age of 84, of oesophageal cancer.[12][19]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Lord Rees-Mogg dies aged 84". This is Bath. Bath, U.K.: Northcliffe Media Limited. 29 December 2012. Archived from the original on 1 January 2013. Retrieved 29 December 2012. 
  2. ^ Independent staff (24 July 1993). "Maastricht: Only Mogg can save us: William Rees-Mogg closes his eyes and thinks of England". The Independent (London). Archived from the original on 1 January 2013. Retrieved 1 January 2013. 
  3. ^ Larman, Alexander (29 July 2012). "Memoirs by William Rees-Mogg – review". The Observer (London). Archived from the original on 1 January 2013. Retrieved 1 January 2013. 
  4. ^ "The Indestructible Journos". The Independent (London). 12 June 2006. Archived from the original on 1 January 2013. Retrieved 1 January 2013. 
  5. ^ a b Griffiths, Edward, ed. (1992). The Encyclopedia of the British Press, 1422–1992. London: Palgrave Macmillan. p. 482. ISBN 9780312086336. 
  6. ^ a b Dennen, Tom (Fall 2010). ""Wealth Transfer" is Cyclic "Reckoning"". The Journal of History (London: News Source, Inc.) 10 (2). Archived from the original on 1 January 2013. Retrieved 1 January 2013. 
  7. ^ a b c Budden, Rob (29 December 2012). "Journalist Lord Rees-Mogg dies". The Financial Times (London). Retrieved 29 December 2012. (registration required)
  8. ^ a b Bates, Stephen (29 December 2012). "Lord Rees-Mogg obituary". The Guardian (London). Archived from the original on 31 December 2012. 
  9. ^ a b Telegraph staff (30 December 2012). "Obituary: William Rees-Mogg". The Telegraph (London). Archived from the original on 1 January 2013. Retrieved 1 January 2013. 
  10. ^ Rees-Mogg, William (21 December 1992). "Is this the end of life as I know it?". The Independent (London, U.K.). Archived from the original on 1 January 2013. Retrieved 1 January 2013. 
  11. ^ "The Rt Hon Lord Rees-Mogg Authorised Biography". People of Today. Richmond, Surrey, U.K.: Debrett's. 2012. Archived from the original on 1 January 2013. Retrieved 1 January 2013. 
  12. ^ a b Miller, Daniel (30 December 2013). "William Rees-Mogg: Former Times editor dies aged 84 after a short illness". The Daily Mail (London). Archived from the original on 2 January 2013. Retrieved 2 January 2013. 
  13. ^ Preston, Peter (13 July 2011). "Memoirs by William Rees-Mogg – review". The Guardian (London). Archived from the original on 2 January 2013. Retrieved 1 January 2013. 
  14. ^ "University of Bath: Honorary Graduates 1966 to 1988". Bath, U.K.: University of Bath. 2012. Archived from the original on 1 January 2013. Retrieved 29 December 2012. 
  15. ^ Wilby, Peter (8 January 2007). "Prints of darkness". The Guardian (London, U.K.). Archived from the original on 2 January 2013. Retrieved 1 January 2013. 
  16. ^ "All Articles by William Rees Mogg". The Mail on Sunday. London, U.K. Archived from the original on 2 January 2013. Retrieved 2 January 2013. 
  17. ^ Reid, Robert Douglas (1979). Some buildings of Mendip. The Mendip Society. ISBN 0-905459-16-4. 
  18. ^ Rees-Mogg, William (23 March 2009). "The Pope's message is not the problem". The Times (London, U.K.). (subscription required)
  19. ^ Booth, Jenny (29 December 2012). "Former Times editor William Rees-Mogg dies". The Times (London, U.K.). Archived from the original on 2 January 2013. Retrieved 1 January 2013. (subscription required)

External links[edit]

Media offices
Preceded by
?
Deputy Editor of the Sunday Times
1964–1967
Succeeded by
Frank Giles
Preceded by
William Haley
Editor of The Times
1967–1981
Succeeded by
Harold Evans
Cultural offices
Preceded by
Kenneth Robinson
Chair of the Arts Council of Great Britain
1982–1989
Succeeded by
Peter Palumbo