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Josiah Wedgwood, 1st Baron Wedgwood

Josiah Wedgwood, 1st Baron Wedgwood

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Colonel , abbreviated Col or COL, is a military rank of a senior commissioned officer. It or a corresponding rank exists in most armies and in many air forces; the naval equivalent rank is generally "Captain". It is also used in some police forces and other paramilitary rank structures...

 Josiah Clement Wedgwood, 1st Baron Wedgwood, DSO
Distinguished Service Order
The Distinguished Service Order is a military decoration of the United Kingdom, and formerly of other parts of the British Commonwealth and Empire, awarded for meritorious or distinguished service by officers of the armed forces during wartime, typically in actual combat.Instituted on 6 September...

, PC
Privy Council of the United Kingdom
Her Majesty's Most Honourable Privy Council, usually known simply as the Privy Council, is a formal body of advisers to the Sovereign in the United Kingdom...

, DL
Deputy Lieutenant
In the United Kingdom, a Deputy Lieutenant is one of several deputies to the Lord Lieutenant of a lieutenancy area; an English ceremonial county, Welsh preserved county, Scottish lieutenancy area, or Northern Irish county borough or county....

 sometimes referred to as Josiah Wedgwood IV (16 March 1872 – 26 July 1943) was a British
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

Liberal Party (UK)
The Liberal Party was one of the two major political parties of the United Kingdom during the 19th and early 20th centuries. It was a third party of negligible importance throughout the latter half of the 20th Century, before merging with the Social Democratic Party in 1988 to form the present day...

 and Labour
Labour Party (UK)
The Labour Party is a centre-left democratic socialist party in the United Kingdom. It surpassed the Liberal Party in general elections during the early 1920s, forming minority governments under Ramsay MacDonald in 1924 and 1929-1931. The party was in a wartime coalition from 1940 to 1945, after...

A politician, political leader, or political figure is an individual who is involved in influencing public policy and decision making...

 who served in government under Ramsay MacDonald
Ramsay MacDonald
James Ramsay MacDonald, PC, FRS was a British politician who was the first ever Labour Prime Minister, leading a minority government for two terms....

. He was the great-great-grandson of the famous potter Josiah Wedgwood
Josiah Wedgwood
Josiah Wedgwood was an English potter, founder of the Wedgwood company, credited with the industrialization of the manufacture of pottery. A prominent abolitionist, Wedgwood is remembered for his "Am I Not A Man And A Brother?" anti-slavery medallion. He was a member of the Darwin–Wedgwood family...



Josiah Wedgwood was born at Barlaston
Barlaston is a village and civil parish in the borough of Stafford in the county of Staffordshire, England. It is roughly halfway between the city of Stoke-on-Trent and the small town of Stone. According to the 2001 census the population of the parish was 2,659.-History:The old parish church of...

 in Staffordshire
Staffordshire is a landlocked county in the West Midlands region of England. For Eurostat purposes, the county is a NUTS 3 region and is one of four counties or unitary districts that comprise the "Shropshire and Staffordshire" NUTS 2 region. Part of the National Forest lies within its borders...

, the son of Clement Wedgwood
Clement Wedgwood
Clement Francis Wedgwood partner in the Wedgwood pottery firm.The son of Francis Wedgwood and his wife Frances Mosley. He was a great-grandson of the potter Josiah Wedgwood...

. He was the great-great-grandson of the potter Josiah Wedgwood
Josiah Wedgwood
Josiah Wedgwood was an English potter, founder of the Wedgwood company, credited with the industrialization of the manufacture of pottery. A prominent abolitionist, Wedgwood is remembered for his "Am I Not A Man And A Brother?" anti-slavery medallion. He was a member of the Darwin–Wedgwood family...

. His mother Emily Catherine was the daughter of the engineer James Meadows Rendel. He was educated at Clifton College
Clifton College
Clifton College is a co-educational independent school in Clifton, Bristol, England, founded in 1862. In its early years it was notable for emphasising science in the curriculum, and for being less concerned with social elitism, e.g. by admitting day-boys on equal terms and providing a dedicated...

 and then studied at the Royal Naval College
Old Royal Naval College
The Old Royal Naval College is the architectural centrepiece of Maritime Greenwich, a World Heritage Site in Greenwich, London, described by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation as being of “outstanding universal value” and reckoned to be the “finest and most...

, Greenwich
Greenwich is a district of south London, England, located in the London Borough of Greenwich.Greenwich is best known for its maritime history and for giving its name to the Greenwich Meridian and Greenwich Mean Time...


He married his first cousin
Cousin marriage
Cousin marriage is marriage between two cousins. In various jurisdictions and cultures, such marriages range from being considered ideal and actively encouraged, to being uncommon but still legal, to being seen as incest and legally prohibited....

 Ethel Kate Bowen (1869–1952), daughter of Sir Charles Bowen, 1st Baron Bowen in 1894 but she left him in 1913 and divorced him in 1919. Since divorce at that time required a guilty party, he agreed to take the blame and was found guilty of adultery and desertion of his wife and children. This led to criticism from the press and pulpit. More criticism was levelled after the divorce was final and he revealed that the desertion was a formality and the adultery staged. They had seven children:
  • Helen Bowen Wedgwood (1895–1981), married the geneticist Michael Pease
    Michael Pease
    Michael Stewart Pease OBE was a British classical geneticist at Cambridge University.Pease was the son of Edward Reynolds Pease, writer and a founding member of the Fabian Society, of the Pease family of Quakers...

    , son of Edward Reynolds Pease. One of their sons was the physicist Bas Pease
    Bas Pease
    Rendel Sebastian "Bas" Pease FRS was a British physicist.Pease's father was the geneticist Michael Pease, son of Edward Reynolds Pease. His mother was Helen Bowen Wedgwood, daughter of Josiah Wedgwood IV...

     and one of their daughters, Jocelyn Richenda Gammell Pease (1925–2003), married Andrew Huxley
    Andrew Huxley
    Sir Andrew Fielding Huxley, OM, FRS is an English physiologist and biophysicist, who won the 1963 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for his experimental and mathematical work with Sir Alan Lloyd Hodgkin on the basis of nerve action potentials, the electrical impulses that enable the activity...

    , the biologist.
  • Rosamund Wedgwood (1896–1960)
  • Francis Wedgwood (1898–1959), 2nd Baron Wedgwood. He was father of the 3rd Baron.
  • Josiah Wedgwood V
    Josiah Wedgwood V
    Josiah Wedgwood V was the Managing Director of the Wedgwood pottery firm from 1930 until 1968 and credited with turning the company's fortunes around....

     (1899–1968), managing director of Wedgwood. He was father of Dr John Wedgwood
    John Wedgwood (doctor)
    John Wedgwood CBE , was until his death the heir presumptive to the barony Wedgwood, as elder son of the second son of the 1st Baron Wedgwood. He was a noted British physician, whose death was commemorated with a long obituary in The Daily Telegraph...

     (1919–2007), former heir presumptive to the barony.
  • Camilla Wedgwood
    Camilla Wedgwood
    The Hon. Camilla Hildegarde Wedgwood was a British anthropologist best known for research in the Pacific and her pioneering role as one of the British Commonwealth's first female anthropologists.- Biography :...

     (1901–1955), anthropologist
  • Elizabeth Julia Wedgwood (1907–1993)
  • Gloria Wedgwood (1909-1974)

In 1919 he remarried; his second wife was Florence Ethel Willett (1878–1969).

Military and Parliament

Proficient in mathematics
Mathematics is the study of quantity, space, structure, and change. Mathematicians seek out patterns and formulate new conjectures. Mathematicians resolve the truth or falsity of conjectures by mathematical proofs, which are arguments sufficient to convince other mathematicians of their validity...

, he joined the workshops of an arms manufacturer, Elswick. He worked for a year from 1895 as an Assistant Naval Constructor in Portsmouth
Portsmouth is the second largest city in the ceremonial county of Hampshire on the south coast of England. Portsmouth is notable for being the United Kingdom's only island city; it is located mainly on Portsea Island...

 before returning to Newcastle upon Tyne
Newcastle upon Tyne
Newcastle upon Tyne is a city and metropolitan borough of Tyne and Wear, in North East England. Historically a part of Northumberland, it is situated on the north bank of the River Tyne...

 to head the drawing office of another arms manufacturer, Armstrong
William George Armstrong, 1st Baron Armstrong
William George Armstrong, 1st Baron Armstrong CB, FRS was an effective Tyneside industrialist who founded the Armstrong Whitworth manufacturing empire.-Early life:...

. Following the outbreak of the Second Boer War
Second Boer War
The Second Boer War was fought from 11 October 1899 until 31 May 1902 between the British Empire and the Afrikaans-speaking Dutch settlers of two independent Boer republics, the South African Republic and the Orange Free State...

 in 1899 he was given the army rank of captain and for three years commanded a battery of the Royal Field Artillery
Royal Field Artillery
The Royal Field Artillery of the British Army provided artillery support for the British Army. It came into being when the Royal Artillery was divided on 1 July 1899, it was reamalgamated back into the Royal Artillery in 1924....

 equipped by Elswick. He remained in South Africa
South Africa
The Republic of South Africa is a country in southern Africa. Located at the southern tip of Africa, it is divided into nine provinces, with of coastline on the Atlantic and Indian oceans...

 after the war, spending two years as a Resident Magistrate
A magistrate is an officer of the state; in modern usage the term usually refers to a judge or prosecutor. This was not always the case; in ancient Rome, a magistratus was one of the highest government officers and possessed both judicial and executive powers. Today, in common law systems, a...

 in the district of Ermelo
Ermelo, Mpumalanga
Ermelo is the educational, industrial and commercial centre of the 7,750 km² Gert Sibande District Municipality in Mpumalanga province, Republic of South Africa. Mixed farming and anthracite, coal and torbanite mining take place here...

 in the Transvaal. His studies of native land laws gave him an interest in Land Reform
Land reform
[Image:Jakarta farmers protest23.jpg|300px|thumb|right|Farmers protesting for Land Reform in Indonesia]Land reform involves the changing of laws, regulations or customs regarding land ownership. Land reform may consist of a government-initiated or government-backed property redistribution,...

. Influenced by the writings of Henry George
Georgism is an economic philosophy and ideology that holds that people own what they create, but that things found in nature, most importantly land, belong equally to all...

, he developed a life-long belief in the Single Tax
Land value tax
A land value tax is a levy on the unimproved value of land. It is an ad valorem tax on land that disregards the value of buildings, personal property and other improvements...

, advocating a tax on property to replace taxes on income and goods as a way of securing for workers the full reward for their work. He became president of the League for the Taxation of Land Values in 1908.

Having returned to England
England is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Scotland to the north and Wales to the west; the Irish Sea is to the north west, the Celtic Sea to the south west, with the North Sea to the east and the English Channel to the south separating it from continental...

, Wedgwood was elected as Member of Parliament
Member of Parliament
A Member of Parliament is a representative of the voters to a :parliament. In many countries with bicameral parliaments, the term applies specifically to members of the lower house, as upper houses often have a different title, such as senate, and thus also have different titles for its members,...

 (MP) for Newcastle-under-Lyme
Newcastle-under-Lyme (UK Parliament constituency)
Newcastle-under-Lyme is a borough constituency represented in the House of Commons of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. It elects one Member of Parliament by the first past the post system of election.- History :...

 at the 1906 general election
United Kingdom general election, 1906
-Seats summary:-See also:*MPs elected in the United Kingdom general election, 1906*The Parliamentary Franchise in the United Kingdom 1885-1918-External links:***-References:*F. W. S. Craig, British Electoral Facts: 1832-1987**...

. Though he stood for the Liberal Party
Liberal Party (UK)
The Liberal Party was one of the two major political parties of the United Kingdom during the 19th and early 20th centuries. It was a third party of negligible importance throughout the latter half of the 20th Century, before merging with the Social Democratic Party in 1988 to form the present day...

, he made it clear that he would take an independent line in Parliament
Parliament of the United Kingdom
The Parliament of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland is the supreme legislative body in the United Kingdom, British Crown dependencies and British overseas territories, located in London...

 if necessary, in accordance with his conscience. He was re-elected at both elections in 1910
United Kingdom general election, 1910
There were two general elections held in the United Kingdom in 1910:*United Kingdom general election, January 1910 was held from 15 January – 10 February 1910....

, and that year was also elected to Staffordshire County Council
County council
A county council is the elected administrative body governing an area known as a county. This term has slightly different meanings in different countries.-United Kingdom:...

, remaining a Councillor until 1918. He became disillusioned with the Liberals after 1910, when it became clear that the government would not honour campaign commitments to land reform and opposing vested interests. His disillusionment was increased by the government's reaction against the Suffragette
"Suffragette" is a term coined by the Daily Mail newspaper as a derogatory label for members of the late 19th and early 20th century movement for women's suffrage in the United Kingdom, in particular members of the Women's Social and Political Union...

s, whom he also supported. In 1913 he staged a filibuster
A filibuster is a type of parliamentary procedure. Specifically, it is the right of an individual to extend debate, allowing a lone member to delay or entirely prevent a vote on a given proposal...

 against the government's Mental Deficiency Bill, which he saw as authoritarian and unjust. Over the course of two days in Parliament, he tabled 120 amendments and made 150 speeches in Parliament, sustaining himself with only barley-water and chocolate
Chocolate is a raw or processed food produced from the seed of the tropical Theobroma cacao tree. Cacao has been cultivated for at least three millennia in Mexico, Central and South America. Its earliest documented use is around 1100 BC...

 according to press reports, until his voice gave out. This campaign brought him to public attention outside of his own constituency and the Land Reform movement, and he became known as a leading backbencher.

World War I

Following the outbreak of the First World War
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

, he volunteered for service with the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve, holding the rank of Lieutenant-Commander. He returned to mechanical work and was posted with the Royal Naval Air Service
Royal Naval Air Service
The Royal Naval Air Service or RNAS was the air arm of the Royal Navy until near the end of the First World War, when it merged with the British Army's Royal Flying Corps to form a new service , the Royal Air Force...

 and Armoured Cars. He served in France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

 in 1914 and was wounded in the Dardanelles Campaign in 1915, receiving the Distinguished Service Order
Distinguished Service Order
The Distinguished Service Order is a military decoration of the United Kingdom, and formerly of other parts of the British Commonwealth and Empire, awarded for meritorious or distinguished service by officers of the armed forces during wartime, typically in actual combat.Instituted on 6 September...

 for his service during the landing at Cape Helles
Landing at Cape Helles
The landing at Cape Helles was part of the amphibious invasion of the Gallipoli peninsula by British and French forces on April 25, 1915 during the First World War. Helles, at the foot of the peninsula, was the main landing area. With the support of the guns of the Royal Navy, a British division...

 on the SS River Clyde
SS River Clyde
The SS River Clyde was a 4,000 ton collier built in Glasgow in 1905 and named after the River Clyde in Scotland. On April 25, 1915, the River Clyde was used as a Trojan horse for the landing at Cape Helles during the Battle of Gallipoli...

. It was while serving there that he met volunteers of the Zion Mule Corps commanded by Joseph Trumpeldor
Joseph Trumpeldor
Joseph Trumpeldor , was an early Zionist activist. He helped organize the Zion Mule Corps and bring Jewish immigrants to the Land of Israel. Trumpeldor died defending the settlement of Tel Hai in 1920 and subsequently became a Zionist national hero...

 that would affect his views about British policy on Palestine
Palestine is a conventional name, among others, used to describe the geographic region between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River, and various adjoining lands....

. Back in Parliament he expressed concern at under-staffing and support for national service
National service
National service is a common name for mandatory government service programmes . The term became common British usage during and for some years following the Second World War. Many young people spent one or more years in such programmes...

, though he also defended the rights of conscientious objector
Conscientious objector
A conscientious objector is an "individual who has claimed the right to refuse to perform military service" on the grounds of freedom of thought, conscience, and/or religion....

s. Later that year he was posted as an army captain to the staff of General Jan Smuts
Jan Smuts
Jan Christiaan Smuts, OM, CH, ED, KC, FRS, PC was a prominent South African and British Commonwealth statesman, military leader and philosopher. In addition to holding various cabinet posts, he served as Prime Minister of the Union of South Africa from 1919 until 1924 and from 1939 until 1948...

 in East Africa
East Africa
East Africa or Eastern Africa is the easterly region of the African continent, variably defined by geography or geopolitics. In the UN scheme of geographic regions, 19 territories constitute Eastern Africa:...

.In 1916 he was part of the Mesopotamia Commission of Inquiry
Special Commissions (Dardanelles and Mesopotamia) Act 1916
The Special Commissions Act 1916 was set up to investigate the World War I operations in the Dardanelles Campaign and the Mesopotamian campaign....


Promoted to Major he commanded a Machine Gun company in the 2nd South African Infantry Brigade in 1916. In 1917 he became Assistant Director of Trench Warfare with the rank of Colonel. At the start of 1918 he was sent to Siberia
Siberia is an extensive region constituting almost all of Northern Asia. Comprising the central and eastern portion of the Russian Federation, it was part of the Soviet Union from its beginning, as its predecessor states, the Tsardom of Russia and the Russian Empire, conquered it during the 16th...

 where his mission was to encourage continued Russian participation in the war and to gathering intelligence on Bolshevik
The Bolsheviks, originally also Bolshevists , derived from bol'shinstvo, "majority") were a faction of the Marxist Russian Social Democratic Labour Party which split apart from the Menshevik faction at the Second Party Congress in 1903....

 control in Siberia. In the 1918 General Election
United Kingdom general election, 1918
The United Kingdom general election of 1918 was the first to be held after the Representation of the People Act 1918, which meant it was the first United Kingdom general election in which nearly all adult men and some women could vote. Polling was held on 14 December 1918, although the count did...

 he ran as an independent Radical, and was returned unopposed.

Joining Labour

In 1919, Wedgwood took the Labour
Labour Party (UK)
The Labour Party is a centre-left democratic socialist party in the United Kingdom. It surpassed the Liberal Party in general elections during the early 1920s, forming minority governments under Ramsay MacDonald in 1924 and 1929-1931. The party was in a wartime coalition from 1940 to 1945, after...

Whip (politics)
A whip is an official in a political party whose primary purpose is to ensure party discipline in a legislature. Whips are a party's "enforcers", who typically offer inducements and threaten punishments for party members to ensure that they vote according to the official party policy...

 in the House of Commons
British House of Commons
The House of Commons is the lower house of the Parliament of the United Kingdom, which also comprises the Sovereign and the House of Lords . Both Commons and Lords meet in the Palace of Westminster. The Commons is a democratically elected body, consisting of 650 members , who are known as Members...

 and joined the Independent Labour Party
Independent Labour Party
The Independent Labour Party was a socialist political party in Britain established in 1893. The ILP was affiliated to the Labour Party from 1906 to 1932, when it voted to leave...

. He enjoyed the freer atmosphere of Labour and the party warmly welcomed him, electing him joint Vice-Chairman of the Parliamentary Labour Party
Parliamentary Labour Party
In UK politics, the Parliamentary Labour Party is the parliamentary party of the Labour Party in Parliament: Labour MPs as a collective body....

 in 1921. Wedgwood maintained his reputation for championing new ideas and the interests of outsiders and underdogs. He supported a number of unpopular causes, including opposition to the reparations from Germany contained in the Treaty of Versailles
Treaty of Versailles
The Treaty of Versailles was one of the peace treaties at the end of World War I. It ended the state of war between Germany and the Allied Powers. It was signed on 28 June 1919, exactly five years after the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand. The other Central Powers on the German side of...

. In 1920 he criticised the government's partition of British territories into Palestine and Transjordan, and continued to attack what he saw as its bias against Zionism
Zionism is a Jewish political movement that, in its broadest sense, has supported the self-determination of the Jewish people in a sovereign Jewish national homeland. Since the establishment of the State of Israel, the Zionist movement continues primarily to advocate on behalf of the Jewish state...

 for the next two decades. That year he also lead a commission from the Labour Party and the TUC to Hungary
Hungary , officially the Republic of Hungary , is a landlocked country in Central Europe. It is situated in the Carpathian Basin and is bordered by Slovakia to the north, Ukraine and Romania to the east, Serbia and Croatia to the south, Slovenia to the southwest and Austria to the west. The...

, which reported on the extremely brutal treatment of suspected communists under the new authoritarian regime. He supported refugee causes in Britain, particularly that of anarchists from the Soviet Union
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

, such as Emma Goldman
Emma Goldman
Emma Goldman was an anarchist known for her political activism, writing and speeches. She played a pivotal role in the development of anarchist political philosophy in North America and Europe in the first half of the twentieth century....

. Most of all he became known for his support of the Indian independence movement
Indian independence movement
The term Indian independence movement encompasses a wide area of political organisations, philosophies, and movements which had the common aim of ending first British East India Company rule, and then British imperial authority, in parts of South Asia...


Cabinet and the Lords

There was tacit co-operation between Labour and the opposition Liberals in some seats at the 1923 general election
United Kingdom general election, 1923
-Seats summary:-References:*F. W. S. Craig, British Electoral Facts: 1832-1987*-External links:***...

, and Wedgwood ran unopposed in Newcastle-under-Lyme. Having been re-elected Vice-Chairman of the party in 1922 and 1923, Wedgwood expected a seat in the Cabinet when Labour formed its first government at the start of 1924. There was speculation in the press that he would be made First Lord of the Admiralty and some expectation that he would become Secretary of State for the Colonies
Secretary of State for the Colonies
The Secretary of State for the Colonies or Colonial Secretary was the British Cabinet minister in charge of managing the United Kingdom's various colonial dependencies....

 or for India
Secretary of State for India
The Secretary of State for India, or India Secretary, was the British Cabinet minister responsible for the government of India and the political head of the India Office...

. Sidney Webb believed Wedgwood would prefer to become President of the Board of Trade, and was willing to step aside in his favour. However, Ramsay MacDonald
Ramsay MacDonald
James Ramsay MacDonald, PC, FRS was a British politician who was the first ever Labour Prime Minister, leading a minority government for two terms....

 initially offered him only the junior position of Financial Secretary to the Treasury
Secretary to the Treasury
In the United Kingdom, there are several Secretaries to the Treasury, who are junior Treasury ministers nominally acting as secretaries to HM Treasury. The origins of the office are unclear, although it probably originated during Lord Burghley's tenure as Lord Treasurer in the 16th century. The...

. After some pressing, MacDonald gave him a seat in the Cabinet, but with the sinecure title of Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster
Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster
The Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster is, in modern times, a ministerial office in the government of the United Kingdom that includes as part of its duties, the administration of the estates and rents of the Duchy of Lancaster...

 rather than a departmental portfolio. In this capacity, he performed various de facto tasks in government. Later in the year ,he was appointed Chief Industrial Commissioner, succeeding Arthur Henderson
Arthur Henderson
Arthur Henderson was a British iron moulder and Labour politician. He was the 1934 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate and he served three short terms as the Leader of the Labour Party from 1908–1910, 1914–1917 and 1931-1932....

 in a difficult position as the government's decision to maintain some of its predecessor's policies on industrial action caused much friction within the Labour movement. He was sworn into the Privy Council
Privy Council of the United Kingdom
Her Majesty's Most Honourable Privy Council, usually known simply as the Privy Council, is a formal body of advisers to the Sovereign in the United Kingdom...

 in 1924.

He chaired a Cabinet Committee to contemplate the use of the Emergency Powers Act against strikes in the transport industry. He took a strong line on a number of issues, opposing disarmament and the promise of a loan to the Soviet Union. He was also wary of the state undertaking public works
Public works
Public works are a broad category of projects, financed and constructed by the government, for recreational, employment, and health and safety uses in the greater community...

 purely for the sake of doing so, without any utilitarian benefit.

After the fall of the government, Wedgwood publicly criticised MacDonald's leadership and Labour's reliance on civil servants. He sat on Labour's front bench in opposition, speaking on, amongst other policy areas, local government, where he encouraged Clement Attlee
Clement Attlee
Clement Richard Attlee, 1st Earl Attlee, KG, OM, CH, PC, FRS was a British Labour politician who served as the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1945 to 1951, and as the Leader of the Labour Party from 1935 to 1955...

. He was not offered a position in the second Labour government. In March 1929, he became chairman of the House of Commons Records Committee. He began compiling a history of the Commons, a subject that consumed his interest. He wrote a history of Staffordshire's parliamentary representatives from the thirteenth century to the First World War, and two volumes of biographies of MPs of the 15th century. Wedgwood's work in this area led eventually to the establishment of the History of Parliament
History of Parliament
The History of Parliament is a project to write a complete history of the United Kingdom Parliament and its predecessors, the Parliament of Great Britain and the Parliament of England. The history will principally consist of a prosopography, in which the history of an institution is told through...

 Trust. Throughout the 1930s, he continued to speak in the Commons on issues of importance to him, particularly the Single Tax and native resistance to colonialism.

From the mid-1930s he was critical of appeasement
The term appeasement is commonly understood to refer to a diplomatic policy aimed at avoiding war by making concessions to another power. Historian Paul Kennedy defines it as "the policy of settling international quarrels by admitting and satisfying grievances through rational negotiation and...

 and of limitations on the migration of Jews to Palestine (1939 White Paper) and of German refugees to Britain and worked tirelessly to help European Jews. The actor Heinz Bernard
Heinz Bernard
Heinz Bernard was a British actor and director and theatre manager. Of Jewish origin, he also lived and worked in Israel from 1971 - 1981...

's life was saved as a result of a parliamentary question asked by Wedgwood which resulted in his being given a visa to Britain.

At the outbreak of the Second World War, he joined the Home Guard
British Home Guard
The Home Guard was a defence organisation of the British Army during the Second World War...

. In 1941 he toured the United States of America, putting Britain's case against Germany
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

 at public meetings. Whilst Wedgwood was in America, Winston Churchill
Winston Churchill
Sir Winston Leonard Spencer-Churchill, was a predominantly Conservative British politician and statesman known for his leadership of the United Kingdom during the Second World War. He is widely regarded as one of the greatest wartime leaders of the century and served as Prime Minister twice...

 offered him a peerage
The Peerage is a legal system of largely hereditary titles in the United Kingdom, which constitute the ranks of British nobility and is part of the British honours system...

, inviting him to sit for Labour in the House of Lords
House of Lords
The House of Lords is the upper house of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. Like the House of Commons, it meets in the Palace of Westminster....

. Wedgwood accepted, resigning as MP
Resignation from the British House of Commons
Members of Parliament sitting in the House of Commons in the United Kingdom are technically forbidden to resign. To circumvent this prohibition, a legal fiction is used...

 for Newcastle-under-Lyme after 36 years and becoming Baron Wedgwood
Baron Wedgwood
Baron Wedgwood, of Barlaston in the County of Stafford, is a title in the Peerage of the United Kingdom. It was created in 1942 for the soldier and politician Josiah Wedgwood. He was the great-great-grandson of Josiah Wedgwood, the founder of the Wedgwood pottery dynasty...

 of Barlaston in 1942. The following year he died in London
London is the capital city of :England and the :United Kingdom, the largest metropolitan area in the United Kingdom, and the largest urban zone in the European Union by most measures. Located on the River Thames, London has been a major settlement for two millennia, its history going back to its...

 at age of 71.


  • Wedgwood Memorial College, a residential college founded in Stoke-on-Trent
    Stoke-on-Trent , also called The Potteries is a city in Staffordshire, England, which forms a linear conurbation almost 12 miles long, with an area of . Together with the Borough of Newcastle-under-Lyme Stoke forms The Potteries Urban Area...

     in 1945 was named after him.
  • Nachal Reuven, a moshav
    Moshav is a type of Israeli town or settlement, in particular a type of cooperative agricultural community of individual farms pioneered by the Labour Zionists during the second aliyah...

     in central Israel
    The State of Israel is a parliamentary republic located in the Middle East, along the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea...

    , was renamed Gan Yoshiya
    Gan Yoshiya
    Gan Yoshiya is a moshav in central Israel. Located near the Green Line in the Tulkarm area, it falls under the jurisdiction of Hefer Valley Regional Council...

      in his honour.
  • The "Josiah Wedgwood", a 1946 Aliyah Bet ship originally the Royal Canadian Navy
    Royal Canadian Navy
    The history of the Royal Canadian Navy goes back to 1910, when the naval force was created as the Naval Service of Canada and renamed a year later by King George V. The Royal Canadian Navy is one of the three environmental commands of the Canadian Forces...

     corvette Beauharnois, was named after him. The ship was later part of the Israeli Navy and renamed Hashomer.
  • The Israeli Navy destroyer
    In naval terminology, a destroyer is a fast and maneuverable yet long-endurance warship intended to escort larger vessels in a fleet, convoy or battle group and defend them against smaller, powerful, short-range attackers. Destroyers, originally called torpedo-boat destroyers in 1892, evolved from...

     INS Wedgwood (K-18) was named for him.
  • A street in Jerusalem's German Colony bears his name.

Further reading

  • Paul Mulvey (2010) The Political Life of Josiah C. Wedgwood: Land, Liberty and Empire, 1872-1943
  • J. C. Wedgwood (1940) Memoirs of a Fighting Life (autobiography)
  • C.V. Wedgwood (1951) Last of the Radicals
  • Joshua B. Stein (1992) Our Great Solicitor: Josiah C. Wedgwood and the Jews
  • Gabriella Auspitz (2004) My Righteous Gentile: Lord Wedgwood and Other Memories Labson

External links