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Sir William Reynell Anson, 3rd Baronet, PC, FBA (14 November 1843 – 4 June 1914) was a British jurist and Liberal Unionist politician[1] from the Anson family.

Sir William Anson

William Reynell Anson, Vanity Fair, 1901-06-13.jpg
"All Souls". Caricature by Spy published in Vanity Fair in 1901.
Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Education
In office
11 August 1902 – 4 December 1905
MonarchEdward VII
Prime MinisterArthur Balfour
Preceded byNew office
Succeeded byThomas Lough
Personal details
Born14 November 1843
Walberton, Sussex
Died4 June 1914 (1914-06-05) (aged 70)
Political partyLiberal Unionist
Alma materBalliol College, Oxford


Background and educationEdit

Anson was born at Walberton, Sussex, the eldest son of Sir John William Hamilton Anson, 2nd Baronet, and his wife Elizabeth Catherine (née Pack). Educated at Eton, 1857–62,[2] and Balliol College, Oxford, 1862–66, he took a first class in both Classical Moderations, 1863, and Literae Humaniores ('Greats', a combination of philosophy and ancient history), 1866.[3] He was elected to a fellowship of All Souls in the following year.

Legal and political careerEdit

In 1869, he was called to the Bar, and went on the home circuit until 1873, when he succeeded to the baronetcy. In 1874, he became Vinerian reader in English law at Oxford, a post attached to a Fellowship of All Souls College, which he held until he became, in 1881, Warden of All Souls.[4]

Anson identified himself both with local and university interests; he became an alderman of the city of Oxford in 1892, chairman of quarter sessions for the county in 1894, was Vice-Chancellor of Oxford University in 1898–1899, and Chancellor of the Diocese of Oxford in 1899. In that year he was returned, without opposition, as Member of Parliament (MP) for Oxford University in the Liberal Unionist interest, and consequently resigned the vice-chancellorship.

In Parliament, Anson preserved an active interest in education, being a member of the newly created consultative committee of the Board of Education in 1900, and in August 1902 he became the first Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Education,[5] a post he held until 1905. He was made a Privy Counsellor in 1911.

Anson took an active part in the foundation of a school of law at Oxford, and taught law to undergraduates of Trinity College, Oxford, from 1886 to 1898.[6] His volumes on The Principles of the English Law of Contract (1884, 11th ed. 1906), and on The Law and Custom of the Constitution in two parts, "The Parliament" and "The Crown" (1886–1892, 3rd ed. 1907, pt. 1 .vol. ii.), are standard works.[7]

He received the honorary degree Doctor of Laws (LL.D.) from the Victoria University of Manchester in February 1902, in connection with the 50th jubilee celebrations of the establishment of the university.[8]

He was on the governing body of Abingdon School from 1900 until his death in 1914.[9]

Personal lifeEdit

Sir William Reynell Anson, 3rd Bt. (1843-1914), photographed 5 March 1906.

Anson died in June 1914, aged 70.[citation needed] He never married and was succeeded in the baronetcy by his nephew, Denis.[citation needed]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Lundy, Darryl. "Rt. Hon. Sir William Reynell Anson, 3rd Bt". The Peerage.[unreliable source].
  2. ^ National Dictionary of Biography, 1912-1921, London : Oxford University Press, 1927, p. 8.
  3. ^ Oxford University Calendar 1895, Oxford : Clarendon Press, pp.177, 304.
  4. ^ Salter, H. E.; Lobel, Mary D., eds. (1954). "All Souls College". A History of the County of Oxford: Volume 3: The University of Oxford. Victoria County History. pp. 173–193. Retrieved 15 July 2011.
  5. ^ "Mr Balfour´s Ministry - full list of appointments". The Times (36842). London. 9 August 1902. p. 5.
  6. ^ National Dictionary of Biography, 1912-1921, London : Oxford University Press, 1927, p.9.
  7. ^ Books by Sir William Reynell Anson, Alibris.
  8. ^ "University intelligence". The Times (36704). London. 1 March 1902. p. 12.
  9. ^ "The Liberator" (PDF). The Abingdonian.

Further readingEdit

  • Anson's Law of Contract (29th edn, OUP, 2010) now edited by J Beatson, A Burrows and J Cartwright.

External linksEdit

Academic offices
Preceded by
Francis Knyvett Leighton
Warden of All Souls College, Oxford
Succeeded by
Francis William Pember
Preceded by
John Richard Magrath
Vice-Chancellor of Oxford University
Succeeded by
Thomas Fowler
Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
John Gilbert Talbot
Sir John Mowbray, Bt
Member of Parliament for Oxford University
John Gilbert Talbot, 1899–January 1910;
Lord Hugh Cecil January 1910–1914

Succeeded by
Rowland Prothero
Lord Hugh Cecil
Political offices
New office Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Education
Succeeded by
Thomas Lough
Baronetage of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
John William Hamilton Anson
(of Hatch Beauchamp)
Succeeded by
Denis George William Anson