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Sir Basil Hamilton Hebden Neven-Spence (12 June 1888 – 13 September 1974)[2] was a Scottish Unionist Party politician and military physician.

Sir Basil Neven-Spence
Basil Neven-Spence.jpg
Neven-Spence in November 1969
Member of Parliament for Orkney and Shetland
In office
Preceded bySir Robert Hamilton
Succeeded byJo Grimond
Personal details
Born12 June 1888
Leith, Scotland, United Kingdom
Died13 September 1974 (aged 86)
Edinburgh, Scotland, United Kingdom[1]
Resting placeUyea Chapel Cemetery, Uyea, Unst
Political partyUnionist Party
Alma materUniversity of Edinburgh
Military service
Allegiance United Kingdom
Branch/service British Army
Years of service1911 - 1927
UnitRoyal Army Medical Corps
Battles/warsWorld War I

Neven-Spence came from a prominent landowning family in the Shetland Islands.[3] Neven-Spence graduated from Edinburgh University in 1911. He served with the Royal Army Medical Corps, seconded to help the Egyptian Army and government of Sudan, and in the First World War, mainly in the Middle East. He received the Order of the Nile for his role in the Darfur Expedition.[3] Following the war he organised a campaign to treat sleeping sickness in Darfur.[3] He returned to the University of Edinburgh to study for an M.D.,[3] before moving to Aldershot in 1924 to work as a specialist physician to the British Army. He retired from the Army in 1927 with the rank of Major.

Neven-Spence's family had owned property in Shetland for several generations and he became Vice-Convenor of Zetland County Council.

Neven-Spence first contested the Orkney and Shetland constituency in 1929, stepping down prior to the 1931 general election. He was re-elected in 1935 and served as the Member of Parliament until he lost his seat at the 1950 general election to Jo Grimond of the Liberal Party. He was knighted in 1945 and served as Lord Lieutenant of Shetland from 1952-1963. To the present day, Neven-Spence is the most recent MP for the Orkney and Shetland constituency to not be from either the Liberal Party or their successor party, the Liberal Democrats; as they have retained the seat ever since Grimond gained it at the 1950 general election.[4] He once lived on the island of Uyea.


Basil St. Clair Neven-Spence, Sir Basil's son, served in the Colonial Office following serving in World War II. Basil St. Clair committed suicide at the age of 22, after having been assigned to the island of Tanna in the New Hebrides.[5]


  1. ^
  2. ^ Leigh Rayment's Historical List of MPs – Constituencies beginning with "O"
  3. ^ a b c d Rodman, Margaret (2001). Houses Far from Home: British Colonial Space in the New Hebrides. University of Hawaii Press. p. 151.
  4. ^
  5. ^ Rodman, Margaret (2001). Houses Far from Home: British Colonial Space in the New Hebrides. University of Hawaii Press. p. 152.

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Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Sir Robert Hamilton
Member of Parliament for Orkney and Shetland
Succeeded by
Jo Grimond
Honorary titles
Preceded by
Sir Arthur Nicolson
Lord Lieutenant of Shetland
Succeeded by
Robert Bruce