Sir William Bull, 1st Baronet

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Sir William Bull in 1913
Officers of the C Company of Bushmen (West London Volunteers) 1915. Sir William Bull is in the centre.

Sir William James Bull, 1st Baronet, PC (29 September 1863 – 23 January 1931) was an English solicitor and Conservative politician.


Bull was the son of Henry Bull, a solicitor, and his wife Cecilia Ann Howard, daughter of James Peter Howard.[1] He was returned to Parliament for Hammersmith in 1900, a seat he held until 1918, and then sat for Hammersmith South until 1929.

Bull was knighted in 1905.[2] That year Walter Long became Chief Secretary for Ireland, and Bull was his Parliamentary Private Secretary.[3] A few years later, the Anti-Socialist Union was set up, and Bull served on its executive committee with R. D. Blumenfeld, while Long was a vice-president.[4] He ran Hammersmith meetings for the Union, with those attending having to sign affidavits of opposition to socialism, and ejected hecklers.[5]

Around 1911 Bull became involved with Frederick H. Crawford in running guns to the Ulster Volunteer Force. He did that in partnership with Herbert Augustus Budden, who was married to his sister Charlotte Annie Howard. They used two firms in Hammersmith, one set up as a front and the other a motor parts supplier set up by Bull's former chauffeur. Police seized over four thousand rifles in a 1913 Hammersmith raid, under the Gun Barrel Proof Act 1868.[6] Their informant was Budden.[7]

Bull was a suffragist, on good terms with the Pankhursts. In 1908 he visited Vera Wentworth in prison.[8] In the discussions before the Representation of the People Act 1918, Maud Palmer, Countess of Selborne of the Conservative and Unionist Women's Franchise Association contacted Bull, at the prompting of Millicent Fawcett, to propose a franchise at the 1916 Speaker's Conference called to start a franchise bill.[9] He involved himself in the question of the minimum age at which a woman should be allowed to vote, starting the bidding with 40, which he later claimed had some support. That was certainly not from the Pankhursts, who held out for adult suffrage.[10] The conference settled by 15 votes to 6 on a minimum age of 30.[11] In 1918 Bull drafted a bill to allow for female conscription.[12] He was admitted to the Privy Council that year.[13]

A week before the Carlton Club meeting of 1922 that put an end to the post-war coalition administration, Bull called a smaller meeting of Conservatives. Walter Long, by then in the House of Lords, was invited. It tested the water for a break with Lloyd George, on a group not from the right wing, and determined that they felt the status quo would lead to a split in the party.[14] Bull was that year created a baronet, of Hammersmith in the County of London.[15]

Bull died in January 1931, aged 67. He is buried in Margravine Cemetery, Hammersmith.


In the late 1890s Bull chaired the Bridges Committee of the London County Council that oversaw the construction of the Blackwall Tunnel.[16] He made an early proposal for a green belt round London, and championed a Channel Tunnel initiative.[17] He also sat on committees that oversaw the repairs to the Palace of Westminster.


Bull published:

  • The Book of Limericks (1916), with "Orion" (sports editor William Warren) of The Daily Express, illustrations by Heath Robinson.[18][19]
  • A History of the Broadway Congregational Church, Hammersmith (1923).


Bull married Lilian Hester Brandon, daughter of Gabriel Samuel Brandon, on 5 January 1904. They had four sons. He was succeeded in the baronetcy by his eldest son Stephen. His third son, Anthony Bull, was Chairman of London Transport from 1965 to 1971. His youngest son, Peter Bull, became a well-known character actor. Lady Bull died on 3 September 1963.

Coat of arms of Sir William Bull, 1st Baronet
Bull Achievement.png
A bull’s head caboshed Sable charged on the forehead with the sign of Taurus as in the arms.
Sable three astronomical signs of Taurus Or.


  1. ^ Howard, Joseph Jackson; Crisp, Frederick Arthur (1904). Visitation of England and Wales. Vol. 12. London: Priv. printed. pp. 128–132.
  2. ^ "No. 27865". The London Gazette. 19 December 1905. p. 9084.
  3. ^ Witherell, Larry L. (1997). Rebel on the Right: Henry Page Croft and the Crisis of British Conservatism, 1903-1914. University of Delaware Press. p. 221. ISBN 978-0-87413-622-7.
  4. ^ Young, Ken (1975). Local Politics and the Rise of Party: The London Municipal Society and the Conservative Intervention in Local Elections, 1894-1963. Leicester University Press. p. 105. ISBN 978-0-7185-1140-1.
  5. ^ Coetzee, Frans (1990). For Party Or Country: Nationalism and the Dilemmas of Popular Conservatism in Edwardian England. Oxford University Press. p. 156. ISBN 978-0-19-506238-0.
  6. ^ Jones, Karen (2016). A Cultural History of Firearms in the Age of Empire. Routledge. p. 274. ISBN 978-1-317-18850-6.
  7. ^ Jackson, Alvin (2003). Home Rule: An Irish History, 1800-2000. Oxford University Press. p. 119. ISBN 978-0-19-522048-3.
  8. ^ "The Papers of William Bull – Churchill College". 19 December 2016.
  9. ^ Holton, Sandra Stanley (2002). Feminism and Democracy: Women's Suffrage and Reform Politics in Britain, 1900-1918. Cambridge University Press. p. 147. ISBN 978-0-521-52121-5.
  10. ^ Harrison, Brian (1978). Separate Spheres: The Opposition to Women's Suffrage in Britain. Routledge. p. 209. ISBN 978-0-415-62336-0.
  11. ^ Teele, Dawn Langan (2020). Forging the Franchise: The Political Origins of the Women's Vote. Princeton University Press. p. 78. ISBN 978-0-691-21176-3.
  12. ^ Noakes, Lucy (2006). Women in the British Army: War and the Gentle Sex, 1907–1948. Routledge. p. 176 note 122. ISBN 978-1-134-16783-8.
  13. ^ "No. 30764". The London Gazette. 25 June 1918. p. 7461.
  14. ^ Ball, Stuart (2013). Portrait of a Party: The Conservative Party in Britain 1918-1945. OUP Oxford. pp. 340–341. ISBN 978-0-19-164483-2.
  15. ^ "No. 32779". The London Gazette. 22 December 1922. p. 9029.
  16. ^ Haw, George (1907). From Workhouse To Westminster - The Life Story of Will Crooks, M.P. Read Books Ltd. p. 84. ISBN 978-1-4733-8488-0.
  17. ^ Shoshkes, Ellen (2013). Jaqueline Tyrwhitt: A Transnational Life in Urban Planning and Design. Routledge. p. 14. ISBN 978-1-317-11128-3.
  18. ^ Bull, Sir William (1916). The Book of Limericks: A Collection of the Most Famous Rhymes of this Type in the World from the Earliest Ages to the Present Time, Together with Many New Ones, Being the Result of a Competition Inaugurated in the Daily Express on Behalf of Its Cheery Fund for Sailors and Soldiers. London: "Daily Express" Offices.
  19. ^ Beare, Geoffrey C. (183). The Illustrations of W. Heath Robinson: A Commentary and Bibliography. London: Werner Shaw. p. 129. ISBN 978-0-907961-02-4.
  20. ^ Burke's Peerage. 1949.

External links[edit]

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by Member of Parliament for Hammersmith
Constituency abolished
New constituency Member of Parliament for Hammersmith South
Succeeded by
Baronetage of the United Kingdom
New creation Baronet
(of Hammersmith)
Succeeded by
Court offices
Preceded by
Registrar of the Imperial Society of Knights Bachelor
Succeeded by
Preceded by Knight Principal of the Imperial Society of Knights Bachelor
Succeeded by