Frank John Powell

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Frank John Powell (15 March 1891 – 31 October 1971), was a British Liberal Party politician and magistrate.

Personal life[edit]

He was the son of Francis Cox Powell and was educated at Rutlish School and Inns of Court. He married Irene Hesse Wyatt in 1915 and they had two sons and one daughter. His wife died in 1955. He married Joan Selley, who died in 1965. He married Betty Edelson who died in 1971.[1]


He was with the Queen's Westminsters from 1910–14 and then a Captain in the King's Own Yorkshire Light Infantry from 1914–18 and was gassed at the Battle of Loos in 1915. He was Called to the Bar, Middle Temple, in 1921. He practised in London and on the South East circuit.[2] He was then a Metropolitan Police Magistrate from 1936–63; Greenwich and Woolwich 1936–40, Tower Bridge 1940–42 and Clerkenwell 1942–63. He was appointed a Justice of the Peace for Surrey in 1937. He was Hon. Legal adviser to the New Malden Citizens Advice Bureau from 1939–46 and was a Member of Council of the Magistrates Association from 1942–60. He was a Member of the Chairmen’s Panel, of the Metropolitan Juvenile Courts, 1946–52.[3]

Political career[edit]

He was on the executive committee of the National Young Life Campaign.[4] He was Liberal candidate for the Kingston-upon-Thames Division of Surrey at the 1929 General Election. Kingston was a safe Conservative seat that they had won at every election since it was created in 1885. Along with the national trend, Powell was able to increase the Liberal vote share;

General Election 1929: Kingston upon Thames[5] Electorate 56,004
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Conservative Sir Frederick Penny 20,911 54.1 -16.1
Labour J.W. Fawcett 8,903 23.1 +3.3
Liberal Frank John Powell 8,796 22.8 +12.8
Majority 12,008 31.0
Turnout 68.9 -2.4
Conservative hold Swing -9.7

It was expected that Powell would run again as Liberal candidate for Kingston, however he fell out with the local Liberal association in July 1931. He had openly criticised the leadership of Lloyd George in supporting the minority Labour government. The association's officers supported their leader's position and repudiated Powell.[6] When the general election was called the local Liberals had not found a replacement candidate and the division went uncontested. During the October general election campaign, the split between Powell and the Kingston Liberals widened. He appeared on the platform of his Conservative opponent from 1929 to second his formal adoption as the candidate of the National Government. Powell claimed to be a supporter of Sir John Simon's Liberal National breakaway group.[7] Meanwhile, Kingston Liberal Association was urging its activists to go and help in nearby seats while giving no advice to Liberal voters in Kingston on how to vote.[8] Powell was Chairman of the Malden branch of the League of Nations Union.[9] At some point after the 1931 election, Powell distanced himself from Simon's Liberal Nationals and repaired his relationship with Kingston Liberals. In March 1935 he was adopted as prospective Liberal candidate for Kingston.[10] He was Liberal candidate again for the Kingston-upon-Thames Division of Surrey at the 1935 General Election. By then, the electoral fortunes of the party were in decline and he came a poor third;

General Election 1935: Kingston upon Thames [11] Electorate 74,476
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Conservative Sir Frederick Penny 32,953 67.5
Labour George H Loman 10,014 20.5
Liberal Frank John Powell 5,832 12.0
Majority 22,939 47.0
Turnout 65.5
Conservative hold Swing

An opportunity came to contest the seat again at the 1937 Kingston-upon-Thames by-election, but the local Liberal association decided not to field a candidate.[12] He was Chairman of the National Association of Homes and Hostels, 1955–60. He was President of the Probation Officers Christian Fellowship, 1954–66.[13]

External links[edit]

Photographs of Powell at the National Portrait Gallery:


  1. ^ "Home".
  2. ^ The Times House of Commons, 1929
  3. ^ "Home".
  4. ^ The Times House of Commons, 1929
  5. ^ British parliamentary election results 1885-1918, Craig, F. W. S.
  6. ^ Surrey Advertiser 11 July 1931
  7. ^ Surrey Advertiser 17 October 1931
  8. ^ Thurso papers, THRS 1 20/2
  9. ^ The Times House of Commons, 1935
  10. ^ Surrey Mirror 8 March 1935
  11. ^ British parliamentary election results 1885-1918, Craig, F. W. S.
  12. ^ British parliamentary election results 1885-1918, Craig, F. W. S.
  13. ^ "Home".