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Herbert Lewis c1895
Herbert Lewis c1905

Sir John Herbert Lewis GBE PC (27 December 1858 – 10 November 1933) was a Welsh Liberal politician.


Background and educationEdit

Born at Mostyn Quay, Flintshire, Lewis was the only child of Enoch Lewis and Catherine Roberts. It is possible that Lewis was related to C.S. Lewis.[1] This speculation is the result of the fact that C.S. Lewis's grandfather, Richard Lewis, was born in Flintshire in 1775.[1] He was educated at McGill University and Exeter College, Oxford.

Political careerEdit

Lewis was the first Chairman of Flintshire County Council. He was Member of Parliament MP for Flint Boroughs 1892-1906. In 1894, he resigned the Liberal Whip in the so-called 'Welsh Revolt', joining David Alfred Thomas, David Lloyd George and Frank Edwards. In a letter to T. E. Ellis, Lewis wrote to his friend, then Chief Whip: 'I will never again fight a constituency as an official Liberal.' Although he later recanted, this episode was illustrative of Herbert Lewis' moral seriousness. With Lloyd George, Lewis was an enthusiastic supporter of Cymru Fydd, a nationalist movement within Welsh Liberalism. Along with Lloyd George and David Alfred Thomas, he opposed the Boer War at the 1900 General Election. He was elected for Flintshire in 1906;

General election 1906: Flintshire[2]
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Liberal John Herbert Lewis 6,294 63.8 +10.2
Conservative A. Harold Edwards 3,572 36.2 -10.2
Majority 2,722 27.6 +20.4
Turnout 83.0 +4.6
Liberal hold Swing +10.2

Lewis was a Lord of the Treasury, 1905–1908. He was re-elected twice in 1910, the second time unopposed;

General election January 1910: Flintshire[2]
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Liberal John Herbert Lewis 6,610 59.7 -4.1
Conservative Henry Richard Lloyd Howard 4,454 40.3 +4.1
Majority 2,156 19.4 -8.2
Turnout 86.6
Liberal hold Swing -4.1

Lewis was Parliamentary Secretary to the Local Government Board, 1909–1915. He was Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Education, 1915-1922, and played a key role in drawing up the Education Act 1918, often known as the Fisher Act. At the 1918 general election he contested the new University of Wales constituency as a Coalition Liberal;

General election 1918: University of Wales
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Coalition Liberal Rt Hon. John Herbert Lewis 739 80.8 N/A
Labour Mrs H.M. Mackenzie 176 19.2 N/A
Majority 563 61.6 N/A
Turnout 915 85.8 N/A
Liberal win

He was offered a peerage on his retirement from Parliament in 1922, but declined the honour. He was appointed a Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the British Empire (GBE) in the 1922 Dissolution Honours List.[3][4]

Lewis was made a Privy Counsellor in 1912, a freeman of the towns of Flint and Aberystwyth, Constable of Flint Castle, honorary LL.D of the University of Wales in 1918. He was awarded the gold medal of the Honourable Society of Cymmrodorion in 1927.

Lewis was a keen supporter of the National Library of Wales, located in Aberystwyth. In 1909 he became a Vice President of the Library. In 1925, while walking in the hills above the town prior to a meeting of the Library's council, Lewis suffered a fall down a quarry which left him paralyzed for the rest of his life. Although elected President of the Library in 1926, this was a largely honorific appointment.

An active lay member of the Calvinistic Methodist Connexion, Lewis was elected Moderator of the denomination in 1925, although he declined the post. He was an interested correspondent in the trial for heresy of Tom Nefyn Williams. Among his other correspondents in religious matters was the Welsh Revivalist Evan Roberts.

Personal lifeEdit

Sir John Herbert Lewis was married twice, first in 1886 to Adelaide (d.1895), daughter of Charles Hughes, publisher, Wrexham and in 1897 to Ruth, daughter of W. S. Caine, MP. By his second marriage he had a son and a daughter.[citation needed] He resided at Plas Penucha, Caerwys, Flintshire. Lewis died at his home, Plas Penucha, in 1933.

Further readingEdit

  • Lloyd George's Flintshire Loyalist, The Political Achievement of John Herbert Lewis: by K O Morgan in Journal of Liberal History Issue 57, Winter 2007-08



  1. ^ a b James, E. Wyn (2004). "An 'English' Lady among Welsh Folk: Ruth Herbert Lewis and the Welsh Folk-Song Society". Cardiff University. Cardiff University. Retrieved 14 September 2015.
  2. ^ a b British parliamentary election results, 1885-1918 (Craig)
  3. ^ "Dissolution Honours. Four New Peers., Political Services Rewarded". Official Appointments and Notices. The Times (43186). London. 11 November 1922. col A, p. 15.
  4. ^ "No. 32766". The London Gazette (Supplement). 10 November 1922. p. 8017.

External linksEdit