Harry Levy-Lawson, 1st Viscount Burnham

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The Viscount Burnham

Harry Levy-Lawson Vanity Fair 1893-11-16.jpg
"Cirencester". Levy-Lawson as caricatured by Spy (Leslie Ward) in Vanity Fair, November 1893
Harry Levy-Lawson

(1862-12-18)December 18, 1862
St Pancras, London, England
DiedJune 20, 1933(1933-06-20) (aged 70)
Burial placeBeaconsfield, Buckinghamshire, England
EducationEton College
Alma materBalliol College, Oxford
Political partyLiberal Party
Liberal Unionist Party
Olive de Bathe (m. 1884)
  • Edward Levy-Lawson (father)
  • Harriette Georgiana Webster (mother)

Harry Lawson Webster Levy-Lawson, 1st Viscount Burnham, GCMG, CH, TD, JP, DL (18 December 1862 – 20 July 1933) was a British newspaper proprietor. He was originally a Liberal politician before joining the Liberal Unionist Party in the late 1890s. He sat in the House of Commons between 1885-1892, 1893-1895, 1905–06 and 1910-1916 when he inherited his barony.


Levy-Lawson was born in St Pancras, London, the son of Edward Levy-Lawson, 1st Baron Burnham and his wife Harriette Georgiana Webster. His name was legally changed from Levy to Levy-Lawson on 11 December 1875. He was educated at Cheam School, Headley, Berkshire, Eton and Balliol College, Oxford. He became a lieutenant in the Royal Buckinghamshire Yeomanry, treasurer of the Free Land League, vice president of the Municipal Reform League, and a member of the Executive Committee of Municipal Federation League.[1] In 1891, he was admitted to the Inner Temple, entitling him to practice as a barrister.[2]

Levy-Lawson was elected Member of Parliament (MP) for St Pancras West in the 1885 general election at the age of 23 but lost the seat in the 1892 general election. He was also a member of the London County Council from 1889 to 1892, for St Pancras (West).

He was returned to the Commons as MP for Cirencester at a by-election in 1893 and held the seat until his defeat at the 1895 general election. In 1905 he was elected at a by-election as MP for Mile End and lost the seat in 1906, regaining it in January 1910.[3] In the interim he was Mayor of Stepney between 1907 and 1909. In 1911, he was appointed a deputy lieutenant of Buckinghamshire.[4]

Levy-Lawson was appointed a captain in the Royal Buckinghamshire Yeomanry on 1 May 1887, and later gained the honorary rank of major.[5] He was promoted to lieutenant-colonel and appointed in command of the regiment on 18 October 1902.[6] He saw active service in the First World War, where he was mentioned in despatches. In 1916 on the death of his father he succeeded to the titles of Baron Burnham and the baronetcy and took his seat in the House of Lords. He also succeeded his father in the management and ownership of the Daily Telegraph. He was decorated with the Territorial Decoration (TD) and became Honorary Colonel of the 99th (Bucks and Berks Yeomanry) Brigade, Royal Artillery. He was invested as a Companion of Honour (CH) in 1917.

Family, interests and Hall Barn[edit]

Hall Barn, around 1900

Levy-Lawson was created Viscount Burnham of Hall Barn, in the County of Buckingham, on 16 May 1919. His father, who was "one of the Prince of Wales' set", had purchased the 4,000 acre Hall Barn Estate in 1880. Viscount Burnham and his father hosted King Edward VII and his son, King George V and his son King Edward VIII on many occasions from the early 1900s to the 1930s. Burnham's Hall Barn Estate hosted many Scouts and Girl Guide events throughout the 1940s where the Princess Royal was reportedly a guest.[7][8][9][10]

Viscount Burnham was a JP for Buckinghamshire. He received a number of honorary doctorates from McGill University, Montreal in 1920, Durham University in 1921 Athens University, Greece in 1924, University of Western Australia, Perth, Australia in 1925, Ghent University, Belgium, in 1927 and Cambridge University. He was invested as a Knight Grand Cross, GCMG in 1927. In 1928 he sold the Daily Telegraph to Lord Camrose.[2]

When he died, aged 70, Levy-Lawson had no surviving male issue; he and his wife Olive, had only one child - a daughter, the Hon. Dorothy Olive Lawson (1885-1937). Thus the viscountcy became extinct. His younger brother, William Arnold Webster Levy-Lawson, 3rd Baron Burnham (1864–1943), succeeded to the baronetcy and barony. Viscount Burnham was buried at the place of his father on 24 July 1933; Beaconsfield, Buckinghamshire.

Levy-Lawson had married Olive de Bathe, daughter of Sir Henry de Bathe, 4th Baronet and Charlotte Clare, on 2 January 1884 at St. Margaret's Church, Westminster. The chief mourners at the funeral of his wife, Olive, Lady Burnham, on 29 December 1939, reportedly included her son-in-law, Major Hon. John Coke and his children, as well as Brigadier-General and Hon. Mrs. E. F. Lawson, Lord and Lady Remsley and Lady Howard Vyse.[11] Viscount Burnham had a great interest in Antiquities[12] as did his great nephew - William Edward Harley Lawson, 5th Baron Burnham (1920-1993) of Hall Barn[13] who shared ownership of continental porcelain with Stamp Godfrey Brooksbank (1922-2017), the husband of Celia, the 5th Baron's second cousin.[14]


  1. ^ Debretts Guide to the House of Commons 1886
  2. ^ a b the Peerage.com
  3. ^ Craig, F. W. S. (1989) [1974]. British parliamentary election results 1885–1918 (2nd ed.). Chichester: Parliamentary Research Services. ISBN 0-900178-27-2.
  4. ^ "No. 28504". The London Gazette. 16 June 1911. pp. 4514–4515.
  5. ^ Hart′s Army list, 1902
  6. ^ "No. 27483". The London Gazette. 17 October 1902. p. 6570.
  7. ^ "Girl Guides' Camping Cup July 16th sees the finals at Hall Barn, Beaconsfield". Buckingham Advertiser and Free Press Buckinghamshire, England - 16 July 1955. Retrieved 2 August 2015. The Cup was given by Lord Burnham for the best Girl Guide Patrol.... 22 December 1903 - Bradford Daily Telegraph Yorkshire, England - THE SHOOTING PARTY HALL BARN. Lord Burnham's shooting party Hall Barn. Beaconsfield. yesterday, included, in addition to the Prince of Wales......17 December 1926 - The Scotsman Midlothian, Scotland - The King's (George V) Visit To Hall Barn...
  8. ^ Thompson, F. "Gentrification and the Enterprise Culture : Britain 1780-1980: Britain 1780-1980". O.U.P. 2001. p. 72. Retrieved 22 July 2018.
  9. ^ ""The Princess Royal To Be Guest At Hall Barn"". 15 June 1946 - Buckingham Advertiser and Free Press Buckinghamshire, England. Retrieved 22 June 2017. Guides are to be honoured by a visit from H.R.H. The Princess Royal at their County Rally on Saturday, July 6th at Hall Barn, Beaconsfield...
  10. ^ "Program - Buckinghamshire Girl Guides Association Rally, Beaconsfield, England, 6 July 1946". © MUSEUMS VICTORIA. Retrieved 1 August 2017. (Photo of) H.R.H. The Princess Royal, President (earlier occasion at Hall Barn, Beaconsfield) ....6 July 1946
  11. ^ "Death Of Lady Burnham". Uxbridge & W. Drayton Gazette London, England - 29 December 1939. Retrieved 25 July 2018.
  12. ^ "The Connoisseur, Volume 78". Hearst Corporation - 1927 - Art. Retrieved 10 August 2015. Had any pessimists been present at the Annual Banquet of the British Antique Dealers' Association, these inspiring words of .... Viscount Burnham, who spoke with his usual felicity, then gave the " antique toast " of, "....
  13. ^ Dod, C.R.; Dod, R.P. "Dod's Peerage, Baronetage and Knightage of Great Britain and Ireland, Including All the Titled Classes".
  14. ^ (Contributor) - Universitätsbibliothek Leipzig. "Bibliographie der Antiquariats-, Auktions- und Kunstkataloge, Volumes 3-4". Karl-Marx-Universität, Universitätsbibliothek, 1978. Retrieved 19 August 2015. Catelogue of Important Continental Porcelain. The properties of Lt. Col. William Edward Harry Lawson, 5th Baron, Lord Burnham, S (Stamp) G (Godfrey) Brooksbank...

External links[edit]

Parliament of the United Kingdom
New constituency Member of Parliament for St Pancras West
Succeeded by
Harry Robert Graham
Preceded by
Thomas Chester-Master
Member of Parliament for Cirencester
Succeeded by
Benjamin Bathurst
Preceded by
Spencer Charrington
Member of Parliament for Mile End
Succeeded by
Bertram Straus
Preceded by
Bertram Straus
Member of Parliament for Mile End
Jan 19101916
Succeeded by
Warwick Brookes
Peerage of the United Kingdom
New creation Viscount Burnham
Preceded by
Edward Levy-Lawson
Baron Burnham
Succeeded by
William Levy-Lawson
Baronetage of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Edward Levy-Lawson
(of Hall Barn)
Succeeded by
William Levy-Lawson