Frederick Coleridge Mackarness

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Frederic Mackarness

Frederic(k) Michael Coleridge Mackarness (31 August 1854 – 23 December 1920) born at Tardebigge, Saint Bartholomew, Worcestershire, England was a British barrister, judge and Liberal politician and Member of Parliament for the Newbury constituency.

Family and education[edit]

Mackarness was the son of the Right Reverend John Fielder Mackarness, who was Bishop of Oxford from 1870–1888[1] and Alethea Buchanan Coleridge. He was educated at Marlborough College and Keble College, Oxford. In 1882 he married Amy Chermside, the daughter of an Anglican vicar . They do not appear to have had children. Amy Mackarness died in 1916.[2]


Mackarness went in for the law and was called to the Bar at the Middle Temple in 1879. He practised as an advocate of the Cape Supreme Court for some years,[3] was appointed Revising Barrister for Harrow, Middlesex in 1889[4] and for London in the same year[5]Revising Barristers were Counsel of not less than three years standing[6] (and from 1873, of not less than seven years' standing)[7] appointed to revise the lists of parliamentary voters.[8] He was appointed Recorder of Newbury in 1894 and was Professor of Roman-Dutch Law at University College, London from 1905–06. In 1911, he was given a County Court judgeship in Sussex.[9]


Liberal politics were a part of Mackarness' family. His sister Mary was married to Bernard Coleridge, another barrister of the Middle Temple, who was Liberal MP for Sheffield Attercliffe from 1885–1894.[10] His father was also a Liberal and his appointment as Bishop of Oxford was on the recommendation of W E Gladstone.[11]

In 1903, Mackarness resigned from his position as Recorder of Newbury to become the prospective Liberal parliamentary candidate.[12] Newbury was a traditionally Conservative seat. Since its creation in 1885 it had been represented first by William George Mount and then by his son William Arthur Mount for the Tories. David Cameron who became Prime Minister at the 2010 general election is descended from the Mount family.[13] At the 1900 general election William Arthur Mount was returned unopposed.[14]

However. Mackarness was elected as MP for Newbury at the 1906 general election narrowly beating Mount by 402 votes.[15] He was an active member of the House of Commons. While in Parliament he took up the cause of Chinese Labour in South Africa and campaigned on behalf of native Indians and their civil rights.[16] In 1910, in his role as chairman of the executive of the India Civil Rights Committee, he published a pamphlet entitled Methods of the Indian Police in the 20th Century in which he showed, by quoting official reports, that untried prisoners were tortured to extort evidence. This document was suppressed by the Provincial Governments in India under the Press Act of 1912 and the resulting controversy caused a rift between Mackarness and his sympathetic supporters in the Liberal press and Edwin Montagu who was the Under-Secretary of State for India.[17][18] Apart from his interest in the issue of so-called coolie labour, Mackarness drew on his experience in South Africa to comment regularly on matters affecting the British colonies there over the years.[19] In 1902 he published Martial Law in the Cape Colony during 1901 and was a member of the South African Conciliation Committee, a British anti-war organisation opposed to the suffering caused by the Second Boer War and dedicated to bringing the war to an end through negotiation.[20] Mackarness was also noted as an 'indefatigable' supporter of Irish Home Rule.[21]

In 1909, Mackarness told his constituency Liberal Association that “for private reasons” he did not intend to fight the next election.[22] The seat reverted to the Conservatives by a wide margin, William Arthur Mount recording a majority of 2,358 over the new Liberal candidate, Thomas Hedderwick the former MP for Wick Burghs.[23]


Mackarness died in London on 23 December 1920 and his funeral took place in Eastbourne on 3 January 1921.[24]


  1. ^ The Times, 31 March 1909 p13
  2. ^ Who was Who; OUP, 2007
  3. ^ The Times, 28 December 1929 p11
  4. ^ The Times, 26 September 1889 p10
  5. ^ Who was Who; OUP, 2007
  6. ^ Kettilby Rickards (ed.), Sir George. "6 & 7 Vict, c.18 An Act to Amend the Law for the Registration of Persons entitled to Vote ..., s.28, in The Statutes of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland". London: Her Majesty's Printers (1843). Retrieved 15 April 2015. 
  7. ^ Revising Barristers Act, 1873: "The Public General Statutes: With a list ..., pp 290-1,". Archived from the original on 3 March 2016. 
  8. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 28 November 2011. Retrieved 27 November 2011. 
  9. ^ The Times, 28 December 1929 p11
  10. ^ The Times, 30 June 1886 p5
  11. ^ W P Courtney (revised Ellie Clewlow) John Fielder Mackarness in Oxford Dictionary of National Biography online; 2004–2011
  12. ^ The Times, 5 January 1904 p8
  13. ^ Debrett's Peerage 2011, p.B 714
  14. ^ F W S Craig, British Parliamentary Election Results 1885–1918;Macmillan, 1974 p222
  15. ^ F W S Craig, British Parliamentary Election Results 1885–1918;Macmillan, 1974 p222
  16. ^ Nicholas J Owen, The British Left and India: metropolitan anti-imperialism, 1885–1947;OUP, 2007 p58
  17. ^ Naomi Levine, Politics, Religion and Love;New York University Press, 1991 p134
  18. ^ The Times, 28 December 1920 p11
  19. ^ The Times, 17 January 1900 p10 and ff
  20. ^ The Times, 17 January 1900 p10
  21. ^ Stephen Koss, Fleet Street Radical: A G Gardiner and the Daily News;Archon Books, 1973 p129
  22. ^ The Times, 3 July 1909 p12
  23. ^ F W S Craig, British Parliamentary Election Results 1885–1918;Macmillan, 1974 p521
  24. ^ The Times, 28 December 1920 p11

External links[edit]

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
William Arthur Mount
Member of Parliament for Newbury
1906January 1910
Succeeded by
William Arthur Mount