John Dodson, 2nd Baron Monk Bretton

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"The Private Secretary". Caricature by Spy published in Vanity Fair in 1909.

John William Dodson, 2nd Baron Monk Bretton, CB (22 September 1869 – 29 July 1933) was a British diplomat, sometime chairman of London County Council, and landowner.

The only son of the first Lord Monk Bretton, Dodson was educated at Eton (1883–1887), and New College, Oxford, (BA, 1891, 3rd class, Modern history). Was called to the Bar at the Inner Temple, June, 1891.

In 1894 he entered the Diplomatic Service. Appointed Honorary Attaché to the Legation at Tangier, December 28, 1896; and was for some time Honorary Attaché at Constantinople. Variously also appointed Honorary Attache to the Embassy at Paris, February 1, 1894. Transferred to Constantinople, October 1, 1895. He was an Honorary Attache in Paris (from 1 February 1894) and Constantinople (from 1 October 1895), where he made reports on the massacre of Armenian Christians at Constantinople, 1896, and returned to England after succeeding to the barony on 25 May 1897. He resigned on 1 October 1897.[1]

From March 1899 to November 1900 he was assistant Private Secretary to the Secretary for Foreign Affairs,[2] Lord Salisbury, and then 1900–1903 he was Principal Private Secretary to Secretary of State for the Colonies, Joseph Chamberlain, in South Africa.

Conyboro, the house Dodson inherited in 1897/1912. An 1898 watercolour by the younger of his two elder sisters, Ethel-Millicent.

Between 1912–1914 he was Alderman of the London County Council (LCC); after the war he represented Wandsworth, (Clapham Division) from 1922; he was chairman of the Parliamentary Committee (1925–1929); and he was chairman of the Council itself, 1929–1930. This was a suitable peak as Joe Chamberlain had once said of him: 'Monk Bretton knows more about local government than any other man of my acquaintance'.

Monk Bretton's father-in-law

The Times obituary described him:

'Throughout his life he showed an unflagging perseverance in every sphere to which he devoted himself, but he never allowed his industry to overwhelm him, as it does with some with his temperament'.
2nd Lord Monk Bretton and Ruth Brand, wedding day photo, Firle, East Sussex, 19 August 1911.

He was also a JP; Deputy Lieutenant (Sussex); in politics a Unionist; a subaltern in 1st Cinque Port Rifle Volunteers, and during the First World War he was a Major in the Sussex Yeomanry and was attached to the Naval Intelligence Department. He was a member of the Travellers' and Brooks's Clubs.

At Firle, on 19 August 1911, he married Ruth, daughter of the Hon. Charles Brand (4th son of Mr. Speaker Brand) of Little Dene, near Lewes, by Alice Emma Sturgis, daughter of Sylvain Van de Weyer.

In London he lived at 6 Seamore place, Mayfair (that whole street was demolished c. 1938), then at 16 Princes Gardens, Knightsbridge SW7, and finally at 11 Vale Avenue (The Vale), SW3. He died aged 63 in a nursing home in Brighton on 29 July and was buried in the family vault at Barcombe in East Sussex, on 1 August 1933. He was succeeded by his only son, John Charles Dodson.

Some ancestors[edit]

Some of John William Dodson's ancestors
John William Dodson (1869–1933) Father:
John George Dodson, 1st Baron Monk Bretton
Paternal Grandfather:
Sir John Dodson, Kt, PC, LLD (1780–1858), MP (Rye, East Sussex), Dean of the Arches.
Paternal Great-Grandfather:
Rev. John Dodson (1734–1807), DD. Rector of Hurstpierpoint and Yoxall, Staffordshire. Son of Rev. Christopher Dodson (1705–1784), 51 years rector of Hurstpierpoint, Sussex.
Paternal Great-grandmother:
Frances, daughter of Rev. John Dawson, of Stapenhill house, Burton-on-Trent, co. Derby (resigned as vicar of Stapenhill, Bakewell in 1738).
Paternal Grandmother:
Frances Priscilla Pearson (1788–1869)
Paternal Great-Grandfather:
George Pearson (1751–1828) of Leicester square (and then Hanover square), and Tyers Hill, Yorkshire. FRS (1791), MD. Eminent chemist and chief physician of St George's Hospital. Friend of Kemble. From a Rotherham family. Grandson of Nataniel Pearson (d.1767), 40 years vicar of Stainton (this church closed in 1835), Doncaster.
Paternal Great-Grandmother:
Frances, Mrs Pearson
Caroline Florence Campion (d.1912). They married in 1856. She died at 16 Princes gardens.
Maternal Grandfather:
William John Campion (1804–1869) of Danny. They married in 1829.
Maternal Great-Grandfather:
William John Campion (1770–1855), of Danny, near Hurstpierpoint.
Maternal Great-Grandmother:
Jane (d.1857), daughter of Mottley Austen.
Maternal Grandmother:
Harriet Kemp
Maternal Great-grandfather:
Thomas Read Kemp (1782–1844), of Kemptown, Brighthelmston (Brighton).
Maternal Great-Grandmother:
Frances (d.1825), 4th daughter of Sir Francis Baring, 1st Bt


  1. ^ FCO directory and Monk Bretton Papers, Bodleian Library, University of Oxford.
  2. ^ when Sir Eric Barrington was Principal Private Secretary to the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs.
  • The Times, 31 July 1933.
  • Gentleman's magazine, volume one, pages 129–132, February 1929, (on George Pearson).
  • Foreign Office List & Diplomatic & Consular Hand Book, 1905.
  • Dod's Parliamentary Companion for 1932, Dod, London, 1932.
Peerage of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
John George Dodson, 1st Baron Monk Bretton
Baron Monk Bretton
Succeeded by
John Charles Dodson, 3rd Baron Monk Bretton
Political offices
Preceded by
Sir Cecil Levita
Chairman of the London County Council
Succeeded by
Robert Inigo Tasker