Archibald Church

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Major Archibald George Church DSO, MC (7 September 1886 – 23 August 1954)[1] was a British soldier and Labour Party politician.[2] He served as the Member of Parliament (MP) for Leyton East from 1923 to 1924, and for Wandsworth Central from 1929 to 1931.

In January 1919, Church was awarded the Military Cross (MC) for his service with the Royal Garrison Artillery (RGA) during the First World War,[3] and in January 1920 he was awarded the Distinguished Service Order (DSO) for his service with the RGA in the Murmansk Command during the British intervention in the Russian Civil War.[4] The citation noted his "particular gallantry and zeal during the operations from Medevja-gora to Unitsa, 8 June to 26 July 1919".[4]

Political career[edit]

Church first stood for Parliament at the 1922 general election, when he was unsuccessful in the Conservative safe seat of Spelthorne.[5] At the 1923 general election he won the Leyton East seat[6] from the Conservatives, but was defeated in 1924.[7] After five years out of Parliament, he took Wandsworth Central at the 1929 general election from the Conservatives with a majority of only 300 votes (1.1% of the total).[2][8]

In July 1931, Church introduced to the House of Commons a Ten Minute Rule Bill promoted by the Eugenics Education Society.[9] Although the eugenics measure was "a Bill to enable mental defectives to undergo sterilizing operations or sterilizing treatment upon their own application, or that of their spouses or parents or guardians,"[10] its underlying purpose was the eventual introduction of compulsory sterilisation as well,[9] with Church describing it as "an experiment on a small scale so that later on we may have the benefit of the results and experience gained in order to come to conclusions before bringing in a Bill for the compulsory sterilisation of the unfit."[10] The Commons voted by 167 votes to 89 to deny the Bill a second reading.[9][10]

When the Labour Prime Minister Ramsay MacDonald left the party in 1931 to lead a Conservative-dominated National Government, Church was one of the few Labour MPs to support him. He followed MacDonald into the new National Labour Organisation, but did not stand again in Wandsworth at the 1931 general election.[2] Instead he stood as a National Independent in the London University constituency, where he came second of two candidates, with only 27% of the votes.[11]

He stood again twice, as a National Labour candidate in Bristol East at the 1935 general election[12] and in Derby at a by-election in July 1936,[13] and in Tottenham South as a National candidate at the 1945 general election but never returned to Parliament.

In March 1934 he was appointed as a member of a Royal Commission established to enquire into the organisation and work of the University of Durham.[14]


  1. ^ Leigh Rayment's Historical List of MPs – Constituencies beginning with "W" (part 1)[self-published source][better source needed]
  2. ^ a b c Craig, F. W. S. (1989) [1974]. British parliamentary election results 1885–1918 (2nd ed.). Chichester: Parliamentary Research Services. p. 56. ISBN 0-900178-27-2. 
  3. ^ "No. 31092". The London Gazette (Supplement). 31 December 1918. pp. 23–24. 
  4. ^ a b "No. 31745". The London Gazette (Supplement). 20 January 1920. p. 919. 
  5. ^ Craig, op. cit., page 427
  6. ^ "No. 32897". The London Gazette. 11 January 1924. p. 363. 
  7. ^ Craig, op. cit., page 170
  8. ^ "No. 33508". The London Gazette. 21 June 1929. p. 4115. 
  9. ^ a b c Fennell, Phil (1996). Treatment without consent: law, psychiatry and the treatment of mentally disordered people since 1845. Routledge. p. 84. ISBN 978-0-415-07787-3. 
  10. ^ a b c "House of Commons Debates 21 July 1931 vol 255 cc1249-57". Hansard. Hansard 1803–2005. Retrieved 29 July 2010. 
  11. ^ Craig, op. cit., page 669
  12. ^ Craig, op. cit., page 106
  13. ^ Craig, op. cit., page 124
  14. ^ "No. 34034". The London Gazette. 20 March 1934. pp. 1860–1861. 

External links[edit]

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Ernest Alexander
Member of Parliament for Leyton East
Succeeded by
Ernest Alexander
Preceded by
Sir Henry Jackson
Member of Parliament for Wandsworth Central
Succeeded by
Sir Henry Jackson, Bt
Trade union offices
Preceded by
Norman Campbell
General Secretary of the National Union of Scientific Workers
1920 – 1931
Succeeded by