William Wither Beach

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"West Hampshire"
Beach as caricatured by Spy (Leslie Ward) in Vanity Fair, June 1895
William Wither Beach wearing Masonic regalia

William Wither Bramston Beach PC (25 December 1826 – 3 August 1901) was an English Conservative politician, who served in the House of Commons for 44 years between 1857 and 1901, becoming Father of the House of Commons until he was run over by a cab.

Birth and education[edit]

Beach was the son of William Beach of Oakley Hall, Hampshire and his wife Jane Henrietta Browne daughter of John Browne of Salperton Park, Gloucestershire . His family was connected to the Hicks Beach baronets. Beach was educated at Eton and Christ Church, Oxford where he excelled as an athlete.


In 1857 Beach was elected Member of Parliament for North Hampshire.[1] He held the seat until the seat was reorganised under the Redistribution of Seats Act 1885. He was then elected MP for Andover and held the seat until his death in 1901.[2] In the House of Commons, he spoke little but did much hard work in committee and was appointed a Privy Councillor in January 1900.[3]

Beach was actively involved in the rapidly growing British railway industry, and became a Director of the London and South Western Railway, becoming Deputy Chairman of the railway's Board under the Chairmanship of Sir William Wyndam Portal, 2nd Baronet. When a Masonic Lodge was formed for the staff of the London and South Western Railway it was named Beach Lodge after the Deputy Chairman, who also served as the Lodge's first Worshipful Master.[4]

Private life[edit]

Beach married Caroline Chichester Clevland, daughter of Colonel Augustus Clevland of Tapeley Park, North Devon in 1857.[5] They lived at Oakley Hall, near Basingstoke.

He was a J. P. for Hampshire and Hon. Major of the Hampshire Yeomanry Cavalry.[5]

Beach was a very active Freemason, having been initiated in the Apollo University Lodge, Oxford, whilst at university. He subsequently became a member of multiple Masonic lodges and Holy Royal Arch Chapters, becoming Provincial Grand Master for Hampshire and Isle of Wight, and later Third Grand Principal (the third most senior member) of the Supreme Grand Chapter of Royal Arch Freemasons of England.[4]

He died after being run over by a cab,[6] aged 74 years.


  1. ^ Leigh Rayment's Historical List of MPs – Constituencies beginning with "H" (part 1)
  2. ^ Leigh Rayment's Historical List of MPs – Constituencies beginning with "A" (part 2)
  3. ^ "No. 27153". The London Gazette. 12 January 1900. p. 221.
  4. ^ a b Beach Lodge No 2622, history 1896 - 1996, privately published for the centenary
  5. ^ a b Debretts House of Commons and the Judicial Bench 1886
  6. ^ New York Times 4 August 1901

External links[edit]

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Charles Shaw-Lefevre
Melville Portal
Member of Parliament for North Hampshire
With: George Sclater-Booth
Constituency divided
Preceded by
Francis William Buxton
Member of Parliament for Andover
1885 – 1901
Succeeded by
Edmund Beckett Faber
Preceded by
Sir John Mowbray, 1st Baronet
Father of the House
Succeeded by
Sir Michael Hicks Beach