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He was born in Castletown, the son of Joseph Qualtrough MLC, Receiver General of the Isle of Man. He was educated at King William's College and then served in the Royal Army Ordnance Corps from 1915 to 1919 as a lieutenant. On his return from the war he was elected MHK for Castletown in 1919 in a by-election. He was returned unopposed in 1919, 1924, 1929 and 1934 and was again returned as MHK for the same constituency at the 1946, 1951 and 1956 General Elections. In 1954, he was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II. He was appointed Speaker of the House of Keys on 7 December 1937 and served in that position until his death.
- "Tynwald - Parliament of the Isle of Man - Sir Joseph Davidson Qualtrough CBE". tynwald.org.im. Retrieved 5 June 2017.