Sir James Whitehead, 1st Baronet
Whitehead was born at Bramhall, near Sedbergh in Yorkshire. He was educated at the grammar school in Appleby-in-Westmorland (which became the current Appleby Grammar School), and was apprenticed as a draper in Kendal. He made his way to Bradford and then London, and married Mercy Mildred Hinds in 1860. He established a business on Gresham Street.
Having made his fortune, he retired from business in 1881 and concentrated on civic service. He became Alderman for Cheap ward in the City of London in 1882. He was Master of the Worshipful Company of Fanmakers in 1884, served as Sheriff that year and was then elected Lord Mayor of London for 1888. He replaced the circus-like Lord Mayor's Show with a State Procession, and was arbitrator in the London Dock Strike of 1889. He also represented England at the Exposition Universelle in Paris in 1889. He was created a baronet on 26 November 1889, as Baronet Whitehead of Highfield House, Catford, Kent. He was appointed High Sheriff of the County of London for 1890.
He also did charitable works. He erected a statue of Sir Rowland Hill in 1879, and established the Rowland Hill Benevolent Fund for aged and distressed Post Office workers. He also named his son Rowland. He was Chairman of the Visiting Justices of Holloway Prison, Visitor of the City of London Asylum at Stone, Buckinghamshire, a committee member of Christ's Hospital, a Governor of Queen Anne's Bounty, Lord Lieutenant for the City of London, and a Justice of the Peace in Westmorland and in Kent. He became an Honorary Visitor at Borstal Prison in 1898.
He stood for Parliament in the Appleby division of Westmorland in the general elections in 1885 and 1886. He was elected as Member of Parliament for Leicester in the general election in 1892. He was a Liberal and supported William Ewart Gladstone. He was in favour of Irish home rule, reform of the House of Lords, and disestablishment of the Church of England. He served only two years as MP, resigning by becoming Steward of the Manor of Northstead in 1894.
The Baronetsy has passed to Sir Philip Whitehead, 6th Baronet.
His papers are held by the archives of the Houses of Parliament.
- The London Gazette: . 25 March 1890. Retrieved 2008-02-23.
- Portraits of Sir James Whitehead at the National Portrait Gallery, London
- Hansard 1803–2005: contributions in Parliament by Sir James Whitehead
|Parliament of the United Kingdom|
and James Allanson Picton
|Member of Parliament for Leicester
Served alongside: James Allanson Picton
and Henry Broadhurst
Alfred de Rothschild
|High Sheriff of the County of London