Leo Blair

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Leo Blair
Born Charles Leonard Augustus Parsons
(1923-08-04)4 August 1923
Filey, Yorkshire, England
Died 16 November 2012(2012-11-16) (aged 89)
Shrewsbury, Shropshire, England[1]
Nationality British
Education Govan High School
Alma mater University of Edinburgh
Occupation Barrister, law lecturer
Known for Father of Tony Blair
Home town Durham, England
Children 3, including Sir William and Tony
Parent(s) Charles Parsons
Mary Augusta Ridgway Bridson

Leo Charles Lynton Blair (born Charles Leonard Augustus Parsons; 4 August 1923 – 16 November 2012) was a British barrister and law lecturer at Durham University.[2] He was the author of the book The Commonwealth Public Service. He was the father of Tony Blair, the former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, and of Sir William Blair, a High Court judge.

Early life[edit]

Born Charles Leonard Augustus Parsons in Filey, Yorkshire, England, he was the illegitimate[3] son of two middle class travelling entertainers. His father Charles Parsons (16 July 1887 – 19 January 1970) had the stage name Jimmy Lynton while his mother Mary Augusta Ridgway Bridson (1886–1969) was known as Celia Ridgway and was a daughter of Augustus William Bridson (1849–1933) and Maria Emily Montford (1864–1944).[4] The couple met on tour in England. Their hectic lifestyles prompted them to give up baby Leo, who was fostered out to (and later adopted by) a working class couple, a Glasgow shipyard worker named James Blair and his wife Mary, taking their surname. On 2 June 1927 his biological parents married and tried to reclaim him, but Mary Blair refused to return him and later prevented him from contacting his biological parents. (Leo later had a reunion with his half-sister, Pauline Harding, née Tordiffe.)

Blair grew up in a tenement in Golspie Street, Govan, Glasgow, and attended Govan High School. When he left school he worked as a copy boy on the Communist Party newspaper The Daily Worker and was Secretary of the Scottish Young Communist League from 1938 to 1941. He studied law at the University of Edinburgh,[5] becoming a barrister and later, a university law lecturer.

Marriage and children[edit]

Blair married Hazel Elizabeth Rosaleen Corscadden from a Protestant family in Donegal, Ireland. They were married by the future Moderator, Rev William Roy Sanderson at Barony Church in Glasgow.[6] They had two sons, both of whom attended Fettes College (an independent school in Edinburgh), and a daughter.[1] Their first son, Sir William Blair, a banking and finance law specialist, became a High Court judge. Their second son, Anthony Charles Lynton Blair (Tony Blair), was born in 1953 and also became a barrister before becoming a politician and (in 1997) Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. At the end of 1954 the family moved to Adelaide, Australia for 3​12 years, where Blair lectured in law at the University of Adelaide.

Blair and his family later returned to England, living in Durham, where Blair lectured in Law at Durham University Law School. He was a member of St Cuthbert's Society, one of the university's collegiate bodies. Despite having been a communist in his youth, Leo became active in the Conservative Party. He had ambitions to stand for Parliament in Durham, which were thwarted when he suffered a stroke in 1963 at the age of 40.

Later life[edit]

In 1994 he joined the Labour Party, citing pride at his son's achievements, his dissatisfaction with the Conservatives and his objection to railway privatisation.[1]

Blair's first wife, Hazel (born 12 June 1923), died on 28 June 1975 of thyroid cancer. He remarried and lived in Shrewsbury, Shropshire with his second wife, Olwen, until his death. Cherie and Tony Blair named their youngest son Leo after him.

Blair was a "militant atheist" according to his son Tony.[7]

Blair died at the age of 89 on 16 November 2012.[2]

Academic work[edit]

Blair's book The Commonwealth Public Service (1958) was described by the journal Canadian Public Administration as "an excellent primer on the Australian Federal Public Service".[8]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Childs, Martin (19 November 2012). "Leo Blair: Barrister who began as a Conservative but followed his son into the Labour Party". The Independent. Retrieved 24 February 2018. 
  2. ^ a b "Tony Blair's father Leo dies at the age of 89". BBC News. 16 November 2012. Retrieved 24 February 2018. 
  3. ^ "Blair: 'Why adoption is close to my heart'". The Guardian. 21 December 2000. Retrieved 24 February 2018. 
  4. ^ Davies, Edward J. (2008). "A Descent of Tony Blair from James V, King of Scots". The Genealogist. 22: 247–55. 
  5. ^ "Blair's birthplace is bulldozed in Edinburgh". The Scotsman. Retrieved 24 February 2018. 
  6. ^ "Very Rev W Roy Sanderson". The Scotsman. 24 June 2008. Retrieved 24 February 2018. 
  7. ^ "Blair: 'Tony Blair on finding religion via reason'". The Washington Post. December 2009. Archived from the original on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 29 October 2017. 
  8. ^ "Review of 'The Commonwealth Public Service'". Canadian Public Administration. 2 (4): 255.