Hudson Kearley, 1st Viscount Devonport

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The Right Honourable
The Viscount Devonport
Hudson E Kearley 1901.jpg
Personal details
Born Hudson Ewbanke Kearley
(1856-09-01)1 September 1856
Uxbridge, Middlesex, England
Died 5 September 1934(1934-09-05) (aged 78)
Dunkeld, Perthshire, Scotland
Resting place Hambleden, Buckinghamshire, England
Nationality British
Political party Liberals
Occupation Grocer, politician

Hudson Ewbanke Kearley, 1st Viscount Devonport, PC, DL (1 September 1856 – 5 September 1934), styled Lord Devonport between 1910 and 1917, was a British grocer and politician. He founded the International Tea Company's Stores, became the first chairman of the Port of London Authority, and served as Minister of Food Control during World War I.

Early life and business career[edit]

Devonport was the tenth and youngest child of George Ewbanke Kearley (1814–1876) and his wife, Mary Ann Hudson. He studied at Surrey County School (now Cranleigh School) and joined Tetley & Sons in 1872. In 1876, Devonport founded a tea importing company, known as Kearley and Tonge from 1887, and began retailing his own goods in 1878. In 1890, he had over 200 branches trading as International Stores and in 1895, both companies were combined to form International Tea Company's Stores and shares were offered to the public.

Marriage and family[edit]

Hudson Kearley married Selina Chester in 1888. They had three children: daughter Beryl,[1] and sons Gerald, 2nd Viscount Devonport, and Mark.

Public service[edit]

Hudson Kearley c1895

Devonport was elected as a Liberal Member of Parliament for Devonport in the 1892 general election. He was appointed a deputy lieutenant of Buckinghamshire in 1901.[2] In 1903, he was appointed Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Trade, assisting the President of the Board of Trade, David Lloyd George. He was created a baronet, of Wittingham in the County of Buckingham, in 1908 and became a member of the Privy Council in 1909. He retired from the lower house after the January 1910 general election.

He played an important part in the passage of the Port of London Bill in 1908 and served as unpaid chairman of the Port of London Authority from 1909 until 1925.

He was elevated to the peerage as Baron Devonport, of Wittington in the County of Buckingham, in July 1910. It was reported in The New York Times that he declined to contribute to party funds in turn for the peerage, feeling that his party contribution and unpaid services in relation to the Port of London were great enough to warrant the distinction without payment. After proposing to submit the related correspondence to the press, no money was exchanged.[3]

This did not save him from being the subject of a savage epigram by Hilaire Belloc:

The grocer Hudson Kearley, he

When purchasing his barony

Considered first, we understand,

The title of Lord Sugarsand,

Or then again he might have been

Lord Underweight of Margarine:

But being of the nobler sort

He took the title Devonport.

He was appointed as Minister of Food Control in December 1916 by Lloyd George and he submitted a proposal for compulsory rationing in May 1917, seemingly delayed as to protect the interests of retailers. He resigned on 30 May, and became Viscount Devonport, of Wittington in the County of Buckingham, in July.


  1. ^ "Sitter: Miss Beryl Kearley". Lafayette Negative Archive. 
  2. ^ "No. 27353". The London Gazette. 10 September 1901. p. 5983. 
  3. ^ Cunliffe-Owen, F (17 December 1916). "Britain's Food Dictator Made Fortune as Grocer" (PDF). The New York Times. Retrieved 2009-08-09. 

External links[edit]

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Sir John Henry Puleston
George Edward Price
Member of Parliament for Devonport
1892January 1910
With: E. J. C. Morton 1892–1902
John Lockie 1902–1906
John Williams Benn 1906–1910
Succeeded by
Sir John Jackson
Sir Clement Kinloch-Cooke
Political offices
New office Minister of Food Control
Succeeded by
David Alfred Thomas
Peerage of the United Kingdom
New creation Viscount Devonport
Succeeded by
Gerald Kearley
New creation Baron Devonport
Baronetage of the United Kingdom
New creation Baronet
(of Wittingham) 
Succeeded by
Gerald Kearley