Jean Barker, Baroness Trumpington

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The Right Honourable
Jean, Lady Trumpington
Member of the House of Lords
Assumed office
4 February 1980
Personal details
Born Jean Alys Campbell-Harris
(1922-10-23) 23 October 1922 (age 93)
Nationality British
Political party Conservative Party[1]
Spouse(s) William Alan Barker (m. 1954)
Occupation Politician, secretary

Jean Alys Barker, Baroness Trumpington, DCVO, PC (née Campbell-Harris; born 23 October 1922), is an English politician, a Conservative member of the House of Lords.[2]

Early life[edit]

Trumpington was born to Major Arthur Campbell-Harris and his American wife, Doris (née Robson). Her father was an officer in the 7th Hariana Lancers, part of the Bengal Lancers, who became aide-de-camp to the Viceroy of India and knew David Lloyd George. Her mother had lost most of her inheritance in the Wall Street Crash of 1929 and, on the family's return to their home near Sandwich, Kent, specialised in interior decorating.[2] Educated privately, she left school aged 15 having never taken an exam. She was then sent to Paris to study art and literature.[2]


Initially during World War II she was attached to Lloyd George's Sussex arable farm, lodging with his then secretary/mistress and later wife Frances Stevenson.[2] She then worked in naval intelligence at Bletchley Park, making use of her knowledge of the German language.[2][3][4] After the end of hostilities in Europe she moved to New York to work for an advertising agency, where she met William Alan Barker.[2] She returned to Britain and married in 1954. Barker was a Master at Eton College and later the Headmaster of The Leys School in Cambridge between 1958 and 1975. The couple had one son, Adam, who qualified as a lawyer.[2] She was widowed in 1988.[2]


Elected as a city councillor for Trumpington on Cambridge City Council, after ten years she became the Mayor of Cambridge from 1971 to 1972.[2][5] She tried to become an MP, but was rejected having reached the short list for the Isle of Ely in the 1970s,[2] losing out in selection to Dr Thomas Stuttaford who lost the later election to Sir Clement Freud. She served on various public bodies, including chair of the Airline Users Committee 1979-80.[2]

On 4 February 1980 Barker was created a life peer, choosing the title Baroness Trumpington, of Sandwich in the County of Kent.[2][6] She was a Baroness-in-waiting from 1983 to 1985, and again from 1992 to 1997. She was a Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State in the Department of Health and Social Security from 1985 to 1987, during which time she was an active smoker, then from 1987 to 1989 Parliamentary Secretary and from 1989 to 1992 Minister of State at the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, when at age 69 she was the oldest female minister ever.[2][5]

Trumpington gave a V-sign to Lord King of Bridgwater in the House of Lords on 10 November 2011 when he referred to her advanced age during a Remembrance Day debate.[2][7] In December 2012 she joined in supporting a posthumous pardon for Alan Turing with Stephen Hawking, the physicist, and nine others including Lord Rees, the astronomer royal, and Sir Paul Nurse, the head of the Royal Society. In a letter to the Daily Telegraph, the signatories called on Prime Minister David Cameron to support the pardon for Turing's 1952 conviction of indecency for homosexuality.[8] Trumpington worked at Bletchley Park during the war at the same time as Turing.[9]


As a castaway on Desert Island Discs in 1990 she chose as her luxury item the Crown Jewels in order to maximise her chances of being rescued.[10] On 30 November 2012 Trumpington was a guest panellist on the BBC satirical news quiz Have I Got News for You; at the age of 90 she was the oldest-ever guest to have appeared on the programme. In December 2013 she was a guest on BBC Three chat show Backchat with Jack and Michael Whitehall. In 2014 she was a guest judge in the main course episode of the finals of the Great British Menu.


A Justice of the Peace from 1972 to 1975, she was made an Officier de l'Ordre Nationale du Mérite.[5] She was appointed a Dame Commander of the Royal Victorian Order in 2005.[2][11]

Personal life[edit]

Widowed, Trumpington lives in her flat in Battersea.[2] She enjoys contract bridge, needlepoint and horse racing,[5] and is a former steward of Folkestone Racecourse.[2]


  1. ^ "Baronness Trumpington". Parliament of the United Kingdom. Retrieved 8 June 2014. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q Grice, Elizabeth (14 August 2012). "Baroness Trumpington: 'At my age I don't give a damn what I say'". The Daily Telegraph (London). Retrieved 3 December 2012. 
  3. ^ McKay, Sinclair (2010). The Secret Life of Bletchley Park. Aurum. pp. 60,125–6. ISBN 978-1-84513-539-3. 
  4. ^ Bletchley Park Code Breakers - Baroness Trumpington on YouTube. Retrieved 14 August 2009.
  5. ^ a b c d "The Rt Hon the Baroness Trumpington, DCVO, PC". Debrett's. Retrieved 3 December 2012. 
  6. ^ The London Gazette: no. 48091. p. 1977. 7 February 1980.
  7. ^ "House of Lords' V-sign makes X-rated viewing". Media Monkey Blog. The Guardian (London). 14 November 2011.
  8. ^
  9. ^
  10. ^ "Desert island Discs". 
  11. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 57665. p. 3. 11 June 2005.