Frank Kingsley Griffith

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Frank Kingsley Griffith
1910s Kingsley Griffith, Liberal.jpg
Kingsley Griffith circa 1915
Member of the United Kingdom Parliament
for Middlesbrough West
Preceded by Trevelyan Thomson
Succeeded by Harcourt Johnstone
Personal details
Born (1889-12-23)23 December 1889
Upper Norwood, Surrey
Died 25 September 1962(1962-09-25) (aged 74)
Political party Liberal

1st, Eleanor Bruce

2nd, Margaret Louch

Frank Kingsley Griffith (23 December 1889 – 25 September 1962) was a British Liberal Party politician, barrister and County Court judge.

Early life[edit]

Griffith was born in Upper Norwood, Surrey, the son of an army officer.[1] He was educated at Marlborough and Balliol College, Oxford. In 1912 he was president of the Oxford Union.[2] Griffith served in the army throughout the Great War first in the Gloucestershire Regiment and then the Lincolnshire Regiment, attaining the rank of Captain. He was wounded twice and was awarded the Military Cross. In 1915 he was called to the bar by the Inner Temple and after the war he joined the North-Eastern Circuit.


Griffith was one time chairman of the National League of Young Liberals. He was well known as a good platform performer in politics and for being an outstanding young thinker ranked alongside the likes of Elliott Dodds.[3] He contested the Bromley division of Kent for the Liberal party in the general elections of 1922, 1923 and 1924 being unsuccessful on all three occasions.

By 1927, Griffith was so well thought of in Liberal circles that he was appointed to the Liberal Organizing Committee under the Chairmanship of future party leader Herbert Samuel along with other party luminaries such as Archie Sinclair another future leader.[4] In March 1928 he was adopted as candidate for the by-election in the Liberal seat of Middlesbrough West which he held in a three cornered contest.[5] The deceased Liberal incumbent, Trevelyan Thomson,[6] had been so entrenched in the seat that he had been unopposed at the previous general election. However Labour put up a strong challenge against Griffith at the by-election, losing by just 89 votes. Griffith got 36.3% of the poll, compared to Labour’s 36% and the Conservatives’ 27.8%.[7] Griffith fought mainly on the traditional Liberal stance of Free Trade but also called for a programme of public works together with social reform and industrial reconstruction.[8] This platform anticipated the Liberal election manifesto of 1929 based on the ‘coloured’ books of David Lloyd George and the economic models of John Maynard Keynes. In fact Lloyd George turned up to speak for Griffith in the campaign,[9] as did Herbert Samuel.[10] In 1931-32 Griffith was parliamentary private secretary to Sir Herbert Samuel, by then the Home Secretary and Liberal leader.

Once elected to the House of Commons he gained the respect of his peers in the Parliamentary Liberal Party, being an able speaker in the chamber with a good parliamentary style.[11]

The law[edit]

In the law, Griffith was Recorder of Richmond, Yorkshire,[12] from 1932–1940 and in 1940 he was appointed a County Court Judge in Hull which required him to vacate his Commons seat and create a by-election.[13] At this election the Liberal candidate Harcourt Johnstone was returned unopposed under the wartime electoral truce.[14] From 1947-1956 Griffiths was chairman of East Riding Quarter Sessions and he retired as a judge in January 1957.[15]


In 1924 he married Eleanor Bruce who was the only daughter of Sir Robert Bruce.[16] and they had one daughter. His wife died in 1954 and Griffith was remarried the following year to Margaret Louch. He died in Scarborough, North Yorkshire on 25 September 1962.[17]


  1. ^ The Times 14 February 1928
  2. ^ The Times, 21.10.2[when?]
  3. ^ Trevor Wilson, The Downfall of the Liberal Party 1914-1935, Cornell University Press, 1966 p. 319
  4. ^ The Times, 17 February 1927
  5. ^ Liberals: The History of the Liberal and Liberal Democrat Parties; Roy Douglas, Hambledon, 2005, p. 215
  6. ^ The Times, 24.2.28[when?]
  7. ^ C Cook and J Ramsden, By-elections in British Politics: UCL Press, 1997 p. 275
  8. ^ The Times, 24.2.28[when?]
  9. ^ The Times, 7 March 1928
  10. ^ The Times, 8 March 1928
  11. ^ Percy Harris, Forty Years In and Out of Parliament; Andrew Melrose, 1949, pp. 150-151
  12. ^ The Times, 25 January 1932
  13. ^ The Times, 18 July 1940
  14. ^ the Times, 8 August 1940
  15. ^ The Times, 2 January 1957
  16. ^ Liberal Year Book, 1928; p. 92
  17. ^ The Times, 27 September 1962
Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Trevelyan Thomson
Member of Parliament for Middlesbrough West
Succeeded by
Harcourt Johnstone