He was the eldest son of Judge James Alexander Rentoul, M.P. for East Down 1890–1902, and his wife Florence Isabella Young. James Rentoul was something of an eccentric and one contemporary newspaper reported of him that "no man, woman or child wished to see him return to East Down." The family claimed to be descended from King Henry VII.
He was born in Plumstead and educated at the City of London School, the Royal University of Ireland and Christ Church, Oxford, where he obtained first class honours in Jurisprudence and was President of the Oxford Union Society. While at Oxford he was active in the Oxford University Dramatic Society (OUDS). Among the stage roles he played was Angelo in Measure for Measure (1906) and Petruchio in The Taming of the Shrew (1907), a production including the professional actresses Lily Brayton as Katherine and her sister Agnes as Bianca. After leaving Oxford he acted with the Old Stagers along with fellow barrister and OUDS alumnus C.W.Mercer, who subsequently acted as his best man.
He was elected Conservative Member of Parliament for Lowestoft in 1922. He was founding chairman of the 1922 Committee (1923–1932) and Parliamentary Private Secretary to the Attorney-General (1925–1929). He became a barrister and took silk in 1930, becoming Recorder of Sandwich. He was knighted in 1929 and retired from Parliament in 1934.
- Sometimes I Think (Hodder & Stoughton, 1940)
- This is My Case An Autobiography (Hutchinson, 1944)
- Hansard 1803–2005: contributions in Parliament by Gervais Rentoul
|Parliament of the United Kingdom|
Sir Edward Beauchamp
|Member of Parliament for Lowestoft
1922 – 1934
Pierse Creagh Loftus