Ivison Macadam

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Ivison Macadam
Sir Ivison Macadam.jpg
1st President National Union of Students
In office
Succeeded by A Gordon Bagnall
1st Director-General Royal Institute of International Affairs
In office
Personal details
Born Ivison Stevenson Macadam
18 July 1894
Edinburgh, Scotland, United Kingdom
Died 22 December 1974
London, England, United Kingdom
Nationality British
Spouse(s) Caroline Ladd Corbett

Sir Ivison Stevenson Macadam KCVO CBE CStJ FRSE FKC (18 July 1894 – 22 December 1974) was the first Director-General of the Royal Institute of International Affairs (Chatham House), and the founding President of the National Union of Students.

Early life[edit]

Born 18 July 1894 at Slioch, Lady Road, Edinburgh, he was the second son of Colonel William Ivison Macadam, (1856-1902), and Sarah Maconochie MacDonald (1855-1941). He was the grandson of Stevenson Macadam.

Educated privately in Scotland, he was the second King's Scout to be invested in Scotland, and the first Silver Wolf Scout in Scotland, awarded for "services of the most exceptional character by gift of the Chief Scout". In both cases he was invested by Chief Scout and founder Sir Robert Baden-Powell.

World War One[edit]

Macadam served in World War I, attached to the City of Edinburgh (Fortress) Royal Engineers. He was the youngest major in the British Army as Officer Commanding Royal Engineers, Archangel, North Russian Expeditionary Force, the ill-fated British invasion of Russia following the armistice with Germany, and the final major military action of WWI (dispatches thrice). He was awarded the OBE in 1919[1] at the age of 24 for exceptional service there.

Education, NUS[edit]

Ivison, like many of his generation who served in World War I, attended university at a later age than normal after his wartime service.[2] He was educated at Melville College, Edinburgh; King's College London and Christ's College, Cambridge.[3]

He was the founder President of the National Union of Students, being elected their first President in 1922 when the Inter-Varsity Association and the International Students Bureau merged at a joint meeting held at the University of London. He was the then President of King's College London Students' Union.

In 1927 he spearheaded a successful fundraising appeal to endow the Union and place it on a sound footing.[4] He was one of the original trustees of the National Union of Students and remained as such until the end of his life.

The main students' union building and Faculty of Engineering at King's College's Strand campus is named the Macadam Building in his honour (opened 1975).[5][6]

In 2004, KCLSU President Michael Champion instituted the Macadam Cup, a day of sporting excellence between medical and non-medical students at the College.

In 2013 the new NUS National Headquarters was named Macadam House (275 Gray’s Inn Road, London, WC1X 8QB).[7]

Sir Ivison was a member of the King's College Council 1957-74; Delegacy 1960-74; vice Chairman 1971-74 and Fellow 1974.[8]


Macadam was the first Secretary and Director-General of the Royal Institute of International Affairs between 1929 and 1955,[9] based at Chatham House.[10]

In this capacity he travelled to the then British Dominions and helped the independent establishment of the various Commonwealth Institutes of International Affairs or where such bodies had earlier been established in both Australia and Canada to generate financial support from benefactors there for them to have their own full-time secretariats (The Canadian Institute of International Affairs funding 1932; the Australian funding 1934. The formation of the Institutes in New Zealand 1934; The South African 1934: The Indian 1936: The Pakistan 1947).

He was also responsible for numerous international conferences around the world e.g. the Institute of Pacific Relations Conference, Banff Canada 1933, the Commonwealth Relations Conference, Capstone near Sydney, Australia 1938.[11]

During World War II he was Assistant Director General and Assistant Secretary to the Ministry of Information between 1939 – 41.[12]

After his work in establishing the Ministry, he returned to the Royal Institute to continue war work there.

He also became the chairman and editor of The Annual Register of World Events 1947-72,[13] the world’s oldest annual reference book founded by Edmund Burke.

Caroline Ladd Corbett Macadam (Lady Macadam) 1910-1989

He was a member of the governing body (the Moot) of The Round Table: A Quarterly Review of the Politics of the British Commonwealth 1930-1974. Britain’s oldest international journal.[14] (Now published as The Round Table: The Commonwealth Journal of International Affairs). He was the Round Table's honorary Secretary in the post war years.[15]

Other offices included:

Royal service[edit]

Macadam was a founding Member of the Council, King George’s Jubilee Trust 1935-74 (Vice-Chairman 1972-74),[16] which is a part of the Royal Trusts under the Chairmanship of HRH the Prince of Wales.

He was responsible for the official royal programs under the auspices of the King George’s Jubilee Trust for the processions and services for King George V and Queen Mary’s Jubilee, 1935; The Coronation of their Majesties King George VI and Queen Elizabeth, 1937; The wedding of the Princess Elizabeth and Lt. Philip Mountbatten, RN, 1947; The Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II, 1953; the wedding of the Princess Margaret and Anthony Armstrong-Jones,1960 and the wedding of Princess Alexandra of Kent and Angus Ogilvy, 1963. These were sold on behalf of King George’s Jubilee Trust mainly along the parade routes by the Boy Scouts but also in news agents and bookshops. The substantial additional funds thus raised helped supplement King George's Jubilee Trust’s work in support of young people, youth organizations and youth projects.

Personal life[edit]

His father was shot and killed by a mentally disturbed gunman in an Edinburgh tragedy In 1902 when Ivison was seven.[17]

Macadam married an American, Caroline Ladd Corbett,[18] who was born and raised in Portland, Oregon (Born 20 September 1910 at Portland, Dunthorpe, Multnomah Co.,Oregon USA. Died on 28 August 1989 in East Runton, Norfolk), her parents being Elliott Ruggles Corbett (1884-1963) and Alta Rittenhouse Smith (1886-1976).[19][20] She was the great-granddaughter of two of Portland's pioneers (Henry W. Corbett and William S. Ladd). Before marriage, she was Assistant to the then US Secretary of State, Henry L. Stimson, and the couple met at the international conference Macadam had arranged at Banff, Canada in 1933. After their marriage, she was of invaluable support to her husband in opening doors both through her wide contacts in the US and her American family in assisting him to raise the substantial funding required for the operations of The Royal Institute of International Affairs.[21] She was later Chairman of the Eastern Counties Women’s Conservative Associations.

The couple had four children: Helen Ivison Taylor, William Ivison Macadam, Elliott Corbett Macadam and Caroline Alta Macadam (who is married to Francesco Colacicchi and writes under name Alta Macadam). The couple lived in London and at Runton Old Hall, East Runton, Norfolk. Macadam was a keen sportsman, shot and fly fisherman.

The grave of Ivison Macadam, Portobello Cemetery, Edinburgh

He died on 22 December 1974, at his London home at 16 Upper Belgrave Street, London.

He is buried next to his father in Portobello Cemetery in Edinburgh.

Decorations and Honours[edit]



  1. ^ Who's Who, Annual Biographical Dictionary, Adam & Charles Black, London, 1975
  2. ^ Ivison Macadam:Who was he? Christine K Jones, Research Fellow, Dept. English, NUS Connect, 31 January 2012 .http://www.nusconnect.org.uk/news/article/nus/Ivison-Macadam-who-was-he/
  3. ^ Whose Who, 1975
  4. ^ "He used his impressive contacts to raise funds for NUS and provide it with a firm financial footing. The union’s fundraising appeal of 1927 was supported by many distinguished figures, including Prime Minister Stanley Baldwin; a former premier, Lord Balfour; and a future one, Ramsay MacDonald. Ivison Macadam:Who was he? Christine K Jones, Research Fellow, Dept. English, NUS Connect, 31 January 2012.http://www.nusconnect.org.uk/news/article/nus/Ivison-Macadam-who-was-he/
  5. ^ When time came to name building "two students on the Union Society, Paul Cadogan and Nigel Bamping, came forward with a suggestion...Why not call it the 'Macadam Building' and thus pay tribute to a man who had given distinguished service to King's...? The College was unanimous in accepting this,... Sir Ivison died a few months later; but his widow Lady Macadam...performed the opening ceremony: King's College London 1828-1978, A History Commemorating the 150th Anniversary of the Foundation of the College , Gordon Huellin, University of London King's College, 1978
  6. ^ NUS Connect , 31 January 2012
  7. ^ Sustainability at Macadam House, http://www.nus.org.uk/en/greener-projects/greener-nus/nus-sustainable-office/
  8. ^ King's College London 1828-1978 , Gordon Huellin
  9. ^ Whose Who, 1975
  10. ^ Chatham House: Its History and Inhabitants, C.E. Carrington and Mary Bone, Royal Institute of International Affairs, 2004
  11. ^ It was organised after "Herculean efforts by Macadam." The British delegation was under the chairmanship of Lord Lothian, (Philip Kerr, 11th Marquess of Lothian), shortly thereafter British Ambassador to the United States, and included TGWU leader Ernest Bevin (later British Foreign Minister in the post-WWII Attlee Labour government), James Walker (Labour politician), General John Burnett-Stuart, Admiral John Kelly (Royal Navy officer), Geoffrey Vickers, Harry Hodson, Lionel Curtis and Macadam. Empire to International Commonwealth: A Biography of Lionel Curtis , Deborah Lavin, Clarendon Press, Oxford, 1995
  12. ^ Whose Who, 1975
  13. ^ Whose Who, 1975
  14. ^ Whose Who, 1975
  15. ^ Obituary of Sir Ivison Macadam Round Table issue 258, 1975
  16. ^ Whose Who, 1975
  17. ^ See William Ivison Macadam Wikipedia page
  18. ^ Whose Who, 1975
  19. ^ Edwin Macadam.“Macadam History 3
  20. ^ Ivison Macadam Archives
  21. ^ Obituary of Sir Ivison Macadam, The Times , London
  22. ^ All decorations etc. Whose Who, 1975 except FKC from King's College London Fellows

External links[edit]