Nat Minford

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Nathaniel Owens Minford (2 December 1912 – 5 September 1975), known as Nat Minford, was a Unionist politician in Northern Ireland.

Minford was born in Templepatrick and was the son of Hugh Minford, who became an Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) Member of the Parliament of Northern Ireland. Nat studied at the Royal Belfast Academical Institution before following his father into farming, and also going into business.[1]

Minford's father died in 1950, and Nat was selected to contest the resulting by-election in Antrim for the UUP. He was successful and held the seat at each election until the Parliament was prorogued in 1972.

At the end of an Orange Institution meeting during the 1951 general election, the chair gave the customary declaration "God Save the King!". Minford replied "and to hell with the Pope!"[2] An Irish News reporter was in the meeting and included this remark in his report.[3] The following year, the Ulster Unionist Council rebuked him for this, stating they regretted this insult to their "Roman Catholic fellow citizens" and noted their "detestation of such statements, which are entirely opposed to the principles of the Unionist Party".[4]

Minford had much to say on Catholicism. In 1959, he called for security screening of civil servants and asked for the percentage of Catholics employed to be made known.[5] During the 1960s, Minford attended a Catholic church service on the occasion of the opening of a secondary school in Andersonstown. For this, he was questioned by his Orange Lodge, but was let off with a warning. He later stated that he considered it acceptable for Catholics to be members of the UUP, but that they could never be Unionist Members of Parliament.

Minford received a threat from the Ulster Volunteer Force in 1966, and as a result, the Stormont Committee on Privilege was set up.[6]

In 1967, Minford became the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Development. The following year he became the Ministry's Senior Parliamentary Secretary, and in 1969 he became its Minister of State, also joining the Privy Council of Northern Ireland. In 1971, Minford became the Minister and Leader of the House of Commons. He was the last holder of the post.[1]

Minford was elected to the Northern Ireland Assembly in South Antrim, and became the Speaker of the Assembly.[1] In 1982, Ian Paisley described Minford as "...reckoned to be an extreme Right-wing Unionist... However, Nat Minford gained the respect of the Assembly."[7]


  1. ^ a b c Biographies of Members of the Northern Ireland House of Commons
  2. ^ Frank Gallagher, The Indivisible Island: The History of the Partition of Ireland
  3. ^ James Kelly, "Mo has rushed in where Mayhew feared to tread", Irish News, 31 May 1997
  4. ^ Graham S. Walker, A History of the Ulster Unionist Party: Protest, Pragmatism and Pessimism
  5. ^ Anthony Terence Quincey Stewart and Sabine Wichert, From the United Irishmen to Twentieth-Century Unionism
  6. ^ David Boulton, The UVF, 1966-73: An Anatomy of Loyalist Rebellion
  7. ^ Probation Board (Northern Ireland), Hansard, 10 May 1982
Parliament of Northern Ireland
Preceded by
Hugh Minford
Member of Parliament for Antrim Borough
1951 - 1973
Succeeded by
Parliament abolished
Northern Ireland Assembly (1973)
Preceded by
New creation
Assembly Member for South Antrim
1973 - 1974
Succeeded by
Assembly abolished
Political offices
Preceded by
John Dobson
Minister and Leader of the House of Commons
Succeeded by
Position abolished
Preceded by
New office
Speaker of the Northern Ireland Assembly
Succeeded by
Assembly abolished