Herbert Asquith

Henry Asquith was born in Morley in 1852. His parents died whilst he was a child and he lived with his grandmother. He was sent to the school at Wellhouse Moravian Church in Mirfield, and then in October 1861, aged 9, he was sent as a boarder to Fulneck School. However he was very unhappy at Fulneck and was removed after eighteen months in April 1863. His education continued at the City of London School and Balliol College, he was called to the Bar and became a QC in 1890. He was elected to  Parliament for the Liberal Party in 1886 and in 1892 he became Home Secretary, in 1905 Chancellor of the Exchequer and in April 1908 Prime Minster.

The Fulneck Boy’s School Magazine was started in 1888 and over the years several references were made in it to Asquith’s progress and mention of invitations to him to return to the school and speak at Fulneck which he declined. Fulneck School sent him congratulations after he became Chancellor of the Exchequer in both 1905 and in 1908 after he became Prime Minister. He was invited again to come to the school to speak which was again declined. Following this the School magazine went on to note in an editorial “We do not intend to expend much ink on Mr Asquith, partly because our readers probably know more about him than we do, and partly because we are a little tired of him.”

As Prime Minister, Asquith introduced old age pensions and the Parliament Act of 1911 which limited the power of the House of Lords. He was Prime Minister during the time of the Suffragette Movement, the threat of civil war over Home Rule in Ireland, and the build up to the First World War. In 1915 he lost the Premiership to Lloyd George and in 1918 he lost his parliamentary seat. However he returned to Parliament in 1920 and regained leadership of the Liberal Party. He was created 1st Earl of Oxford in 1925. He died in 1928.

Biographical details from 7th Edition of Chambers Biographical Dictionary 2002, Chambers Harrap Publishers. Material from Fulneck School Archives researched by Robin Hutton.