William Edward Baxter

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William Edward Baxter
William Edward Baxter00.jpg
Financial Secretary to the Treasury
In office
17 March 1871 – 11 August 1873
Prime MinisterWilliam Ewart Gladstone
Preceded byJames Stansfeld
Succeeded byJohn George Dodson
Personal details
Born1825 (1825)
Dundee, Angus
Died10 August 1890 (1890-08-11) (aged 64–65)
Political partyLiberal later Liberal Unionists
Alma materUniversity of Edinburgh

William Edward Baxter (1825 – 10 August 1890) was a Scottish businessman, Liberal politician and travel writer.

Background and education[edit]

Born in Dundee, Angus, Baxter was educated at the High School of Dundee and Edinburgh University. He was the son of Edward Baxter, a benefactor and reformer who had opposed the corn laws.[1] He became a partner in his father's firm of Edward Baxter & Co. (afterwards W. E. Baxter & Co.).[2]

Political career[edit]

Baxter was Liberal Member of Parliament for Montrose Burghs from 1855 to 1885, and served under William Ewart Gladstone as Secretary to the Admiralty from 1868 to 1871 and as Financial Secretary to the Treasury from 1871 to 1873. He was appointed a Privy Councillor in 1873.[3] He was also President of the first day of the 1883 Co-operative Congress.[4]

He retired from Parliament in 1885. When the Liberal Party split over the issue of Irish Home Rule in 1886, Baxter supported the Unionist faction until his death.[5]


William Edward Baxter was the grandson of William Baxter, the founder of the Baxter Brothers textile business. His uncle, Sir David Baxter, was a noted businessman and philanthropist and his aunt, Mary Ann Baxter was the co-founder of University College, Dundee.[1]

Baxter caricatured by Spy in Vanity Fair, 1885

W. E. Baxter's eldest son was Edward Armitstead Baxter who married Isobel Scott-Elliot. His second son, Sir George Washington Baxter (1853–1926), followed his father into politics, being a leading figure in the Unionist Party in Scotland in the early twentieth century.[6][7] In 1908 he sought election in Dundee as a Liberal Unionist candidate, but was defeated by the Liberal Winston Churchill.[8] Sir George, was active in the running of the Liberal Unionist and Unionist Parties in Dundee, served as President of the Scottish Unionist Association in 1920.[9][10] Sir George also continued the family involvement with University College, serving as its president.[6]


Baxter published various works on foreign travel.

  • Impressions of Central and Southern Europe, London, 1850, 8vo.
  • The Tagus and the Tiber, or Notes of Travel in Portugal, Spain, and Italy, London, 1852, 2 vols. 8vo.
  • America and the Americans, London, 1855, 8vo.
  • Hints to Thinkers, or Lectures for the Times, London, 1860, 8vo.

Personal life[edit]

After a long period of ill health, W. E. Baxter died at his home, Kincaldrum House, near Forfar in August 1890.[5]

In November 1847, he married Janet, eldest daughter of J. Home Scott, a solicitor of Dundee. By her he had two sons and five daughters.[2]


  1. ^ a b Kenneth Baxter (2011). "Mary Ann Baxter:Philanthropist and Founder of University College Dundee". Ten Taysiders. Forgotten Figures from Dundee Angus and Perthshire. Dundee: Abertay Historical Society. p. 31. ISBN 978-0-900019-48-7.
  2. ^ a b Carlyle 1901.
  3. ^ "No. 23961". The London Gazette. 25 March 1873. p. 1645.
  4. ^ "Congress Presidents 1869–2002" (PDF). February 2002. Archived from the original (PDF) on 28 May 2008. Retrieved 10 May 2008
  5. ^ a b "Death of the Right Hon. W. E. Baxter Ex-MP". The Scotsman. 11 August 1890.
  6. ^ a b Kenneth Baxter (2011). "Mary Ann Baxter:Philanthropist and Founder of University College Dundee". Ten Taysiders. Forgotten Figures from Dundee Angus and Perthshire. Dundee: Abertay Historical Society. p. 32. ISBN 978-0-900019-48-7.
  7. ^ "MS 369 Baxter Family Wills, Legal Papers and Related Material". Archive Services Online catalogue. University of Dundee. Retrieved 12 April 2016.
  8. ^ Hazel, John W. (1977). John W Hazel's Book of Records. Dundee: D. Winter & Son Ltd. p. 48.
  9. ^ "MS 270 The Dundee Conservative and Unionist Association". Archive Services Online Catalogue. University of Dundee. Retrieved 24 May 2016.
  10. ^ Warner, Gerald (1988). The Scottish Tory Party. A History. London: George Weidenfeld & Nicolson Limited. p. 228. ISBN 0-297-79101-X.

External links[edit]

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Joseph Hume
Member of Parliament for Montrose Burghs
Succeeded by
John Shiress Will
Political offices
Preceded by
Lord Henry Lennox
First Secretary to the Admiralty
Succeeded by
George Shaw-Lefevre
(Parliamentary Secretary to the Admiralty)
Preceded by
James Stansfeld
Financial Secretary to the Treasury
Succeeded by
John George Dodson