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Richard Law, 1st Baron Coleraine

Richard Kidston Law, 1st Baron Coleraine, PC (27 February 1901 – 15 November 1980) was a British Conservative politician.

The Lord Coleraine

Lord Coleraine.jpg
Minister of Education
In office
24 May 1945 – 26 July 1945
Preceded byRab Butler
Succeeded byEllen Wilkinson
Member of Parliament
for Haltemprice
In office
24 February 1950 – 12 February 1954
Preceded byNew constituency
Succeeded byPatrick Wall
Member of Parliament
for Kingston upon Hull South West
In office
28 October 1931 – 26 July 1945
Preceded byJohn Arnott
Succeeded bySydney Smith
Personal details
Richard Kidston Law

(1901-02-27)27 February 1901
Died15 November 1980(1980-11-15) (aged 79)
Political partyConservative
Spouse(s)Mary Virginia Nellis
EducationShrewsbury School
Alma materSt John's College, Oxford

Background and early lifeEdit

He was the youngest son of the former Conservative Prime Minister Bonar Law and his wife Annie. He was educated at Shrewsbury School and St John's College, Oxford.[1]

Political careerEdit

Law was elected as Member of Parliament (MP) for Kingston upon Hull South West in the general election of 1931 and held the seat until 1945. In 1940 he was appointed Financial Secretary to the War Office. He was then transferred to the post of Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs until 1943. While in the latter post he took part in the Bermuda Conference on the fate of European Jewry[2] and was sworn of the Privy Council in the 1943 New Year Honours.[3]

He was then Minister of State, also at the Foreign Office, until 1945, when he served briefly as Minister of Education in Churchill's caretaker government. In a by-election in November 1945 he became MP for Kensington South, which he held until February 1950.

Law was again elected as an MP in the election of 1951, this time for Haltemprice, but he resigned this seat in January 1954 and in February was elevated to the House of Lords as Baron Coleraine of Haltemprice in the East Riding of the County of York.[4]


Lord Coleraine (when still Richard Law) had married Mary Virginia, daughter of Abraham Fox Nellis, of Rochester, New York, in 1929. He died on 15 November 1980, age 79, and was succeeded in the barony by his son James Martin Bonar Law.

Styles of addressEdit

  • 1901–1931: Mr Richard Law
  • 1931–1943: Mr Richard Law MP
  • 1943–1945: The Rt Hon. Richard Law MP
  • 1945: The Rt Hon. Richard Law
  • 1945–1950: The Rt Hon. Richard Law MP
  • 1950–1951: The Rt Hon. Richard Law
  • 1951–1954: The Rt Hon. Richard Law MP
  • 1954–1980: The Rt Hon. The Lord Coleraine PC


Return from UtopiaEdit

In 1950 Law published Return from Utopia, a book in which he stated his belief that trying to use the power of the state to create any sort of Utopia is not just unattainable but positively evil, because one of the first principles to be sacrificed is the principle of freedom and individual choice. Law argued:

To turn our backs on Utopia, to see it for the sham and the delusion that it is, is the beginning of hope. It is to hold out once again the prospect of a society in which man is free to be good because he is free to choose. Freedom is the first condition of human virtue and Utopia is incompatible with freedom. Come back from Utopia and hope is born again.[5]

For Conservatives OnlyEdit

In 1970 Lord Coleraine published another book, For Conservatives Only, in which he criticised the Conservative leadership of the time for, in his view, sacrificing Tory principles for electoral expediency and the pursuit of the "middle ground". At this time he was Patron of the Selsdon Group of Conservative MPs.


  1. ^ "Richard Kidston Law, 1st Baron Coleraine". The Peerage. Retrieved 8 January 2017.
  2. ^ David Blair, "The Bermuda Conference that Failed to Save the Jews," The Daily Telegraph (London), Saturday 31 January 2015.
  3. ^ "No. 35841". The London Gazette. 29 December 1942. p. 1.
  4. ^ "No. 40103". The London Gazette. 16 February 1954. p. 1008.
  5. ^ Richard Law, Return from Utopia (London: Faber & Faber, 1950), p. 9.

External linksEdit