Alan Anderson (British public servant)

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Sir Alan Anderson

Member of Parliament
for City of London
In office
Preceded byEdward Grenfell
Sir Vansittart Bowater, Bt.
Succeeded bySir George Broadbridge, Bt
Andrew Duncan
Personal details
Alan Garrett Anderson

9 March 1877
Died4 May 1952(1952-05-04) (aged 75)
Spouse(s)Muriel Duncan
ParentsElizabeth Garrett Anderson
James Anderson
EducationEton (1890 & 1895)
Trinity College, Oxford (1896)
OccupationCivil servant, shipowner

Sir Alan Garrett Anderson GBE DL (9 March 1877 – 4 May 1952) was a British civil servant, politician and shipowner.

Early life and career[edit]

Anderson was born in 1877 to James George Skelton Anderson and Elizabeth Garrett Anderson. Anderson's father was a shipping magnate who merged the family shipping business, Anderson, Anderson & Co., with Frederick Green & Co. on 12 February 1878 to create the Orient Steam Navigation Company.[1][2] Anderson's mother was the first British woman in England to qualify as a doctor.[3] He was one of three children born to the couple.[4] One of his sisters, Louisa Garrett Anderson, followed in her mother's footsteps and became a doctor herself, serving during World War I as the head of a military hospital,[5] while Anderson joined his father in the family's shipping enterprise in 1897.[6] Prior to joining the company, Anderson was educated at Eton College (1890 and 1895) and Trinity College, Oxford (1896). Once established in the shipping industry, Anderson expanded into the related field of rail transport, becoming director of Midland Railway in 1911, a seat he maintained through the merger of that railway in 1923 into London, Midland and Scottish Railway.

First World War[edit]

Anderson utilised his business experiences internationally in service of the government during the First World War. Appointed vice-chairman of the Royal Commission responsible for regulating the distribution of wheat supplies, he dealt generally with Great Britain's western allies. He dealt specifically with the United States first in processing enemy cargo aboard US vessels under Walter Runciman and, after the US entered the war, in marketing wheat in the United States as well as Canada along with Arthur Balfour.[6][7]

In the summer of 1917, Anderson was appointed to replace Eric Geddes as Admiralty controller, a position that made him one of the Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty.[8][9][10] During Geddes' term, the Controller had been put in charge of overseeing construction and repairs of both the Royal and Merchant navies, which were taking a toll from submarine attacks.[11] Geddes had set very high quotas for production that the Controller's office, even with delegation, was unable to meet both from shortage of materials and manpower.[12] Tensions were high on both sides, with Joseph Davies specifying his irritation with Anderson, while Anderson, in response to one notable shortage of shipbuilders in November 1917, chided the military for "a complete lack of sense of proportion", suggesting that recruitment would be more successfully accomplished by appealing to wives and union officials in towns known for shipbuilding than seeking the Home Office.[13] Anderson resigned from the position in 1918.[14]

In spite of these challenges, Anderson was widely honoured. In 1917, he was appointed a Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire (KBE), an Officer of the Légion d'honneur,[15] and an Officer of the Order of the Crown of Italy[16] in reward for his wartime services.

Post-war career[edit]

After the war, Anderson continued to broaden his career. He became known as a powerful figure in the world of finance.[17] Though inexperienced in banking, he became involved with the Bank of England, serving on its board from 1918 to 1946,[18][19] and serving as its deputy governor under Sir Montagu Norman from 1925 to 1926.[19] Prior to assuming the latter role, as deputy governor-elect, Anderson accompanied Norman in December 1924 to New York to help determine the feasibility of a resumption of the gold standard.[20] He spoke at the International Chamber of Commerce congress in 1927 as acting president, giving an "eloquent" speech on tariff reductions.[21] From 1927 until 1952, he was a board member of the Suez Canal Company.[6]

His shipping concerns, too, broadened. From its formation in 1878, the Orient Steam Navigation Company had been operated under the co-management of Anderson, Anderson & Co. and Frederick Green & Co, but in 1919 a controlling interest in the Orient Steam Navigation Company was purchased by the Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Company (P&O).[22] At that time, Anderson, Anderson and Co. was merged with F. Green and Co. into Anderson, Green & Co., and Anderson was made a board member of both P&O and the British-India Steam Navigation Company by James Mackay, 1st Earl of Inchcape.[6]

In addition, Anderson continued public service. According to his Oxford Dictionary of National Biography entry, "he chaired two government inquiries, one on the training of naval officers, the other on the pay of civil servants, and was a member of the royal commission into national debt."[6] He was involved with the hospital named in honour of his mother, being shown as one of the owners of the freehold in May 1923,[23] and remained active in the London School of Medicine for Women and the Royal Free Hospital which his mother had helped found.[6][24]

Anderson was granted an honorary commission as a captain in the Royal Naval Reserve on 28 June 1930.[25] He was promoted to Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the British Empire (GBE) in the 1934 Birthday Honours.[26]

Member of Parliament and Second World War[edit]

In 1935, Anderson ran for public office as a Conservative candidate to represent the City of London as a Member of Parliament (MP).[17][27] He was first elected at a by-election in June 1935 and was re-elected in that year's general election in November.[28][29] He resigned in 1940 and focused his efforts on helping his country through World War II.[6] The British Ministry of Food had established a Cereals Control Board following the Munich Crisis in 1938 and placed Anderson to serve as its chairman.[30] In August 1941, he became the Controller of Railways and the chairman of the Railway Executive.[31] He served as Honorary Colonel of a Territorial Army unit of the Gloucestershire Regiment for a period up to 27 September 1949, retaining the honorary rank of colonel afterwards.[32]

Personal life[edit]

On 9 June 1903, Anderson wed Muriel Ivy Duncan of Surrey.[33] The couple parented four children, including Sir Donald Forsyth Anderson who followed his father into the shipping industry.[6] He died on 4 May 1952.


  1. ^ Farnie, D.A. (1969). East and West of Suez: The Suez Canal in History, 1854–1956. Clarendon Press. p. 346. The Orient Steam Navigation Company Ltd. was formed on 12 February 1878 by Anderson, Anderson & Co. and Frederick Green & Co. of Blackwall.
  2. ^ Morris, Charles F. (1980). Origins, Orient and Oriana. McCartan & Root. p. 179. ISBN 0-935786-00-7.
  3. ^ Thompson, Francis Michael Longstreth (1990). The University of London and the World of Learning, 1836–1986. Continuum International Publishing Group. p. 135. ISBN 1-85285-032-9. The first English woman to qualify in this country was Elizabeth Garrett, known after her marriage as Elizabeth Garrett Anderson." "The first English woman to qualify as a doctor was Elizabeth Blackwell."
  4. ^ "Elizabeth Garrett Anderson (1836–1917)". BBC History. BBC. Retrieved 16 November 2008.
  5. ^ The Encyclopedia Americana: A Library of Universal Knowledge. 12. Encyclopedia Americana Corp. 1919. p. 297.
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h Harcourt.
  7. ^ "No. 29783". The London Gazette. 13 October 1916. pp. 9859–9860.
  8. ^ Turner, 36.
  9. ^ "British Admiralty gets shakeup". The New York Times. 8 August 1917. Retrieved 16 October 2008.
  10. ^ "No. 30278". The London Gazette. 11 September 1917. p. 9369.
    "No. 30369". The London Gazette. 6 November 1917. p. 11469.
    "No. 30472". The London Gazette. 11 January 1918. p. 731.
  11. ^ Turner, 35.
  12. ^ Turner, 35–37.
  13. ^ Turner, 37–38.
  14. ^ Chisholm, Hugh (1922). The Encyclopædia Britannica: The New Volumes, Constituting, in Combination with the Twenty-nine Volumes of the Eleventh Edition, the Twelfth Edition of that Work... 32. p. 454. In June 1918, as responsibility for merchant shipbuilding now rested with the Department of the Controller-General, Sir Alan Anderson resigned from the position of Navy Controller.
  15. ^ "No. 32602". The London Gazette. 7 February 1922. p. 1079.
  16. ^ "No. 30727". The London Gazette. 4 June 1918. p. 6583.
  17. ^ a b Edwards, Ruth Dudley (1995). The Pursuit of Reason: The Economist, 1843–1993. Harvard Business Press. p. 626. ISBN 0-87584-608-4.
  18. ^ "No. 30579". The London Gazette. 15 March 1918. p. 3353.
  19. ^ a b Moggridge, 277.
  20. ^ Moggridge, 58–60.
  21. ^ "International C. of C. – TIME". Time. 11 July 1927. Retrieved 16 October 2008.
  22. ^ Knight, R.J.B., National Maritime Museum (1980). Guide to the Manuscripts in the National Maritime Museum. Mansell. p. 53. ISBN 0-7201-1591-4. The Orient Steam Navigation Company was established in 1878 and jointly managed by the London shipowning firms of Anderson, Anderson and Company and F. Green and Company until 1919, when the Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Company acquired a controlling interest...
  23. ^ "No. 32823". The London Gazette. 15 May 1923. p. 3468.
  24. ^ Ogilvie, Marilyn Bailey. "Anderson, Elizabeth Garrett". In Marilyn Ogilvie; Joy Harvey (eds.). The Biographical Dictionary of Women in Science. pp. 34–35. ISBN 0-415-92039-6.
  25. ^ "No. 33621". The London Gazette. 1 July 1930. p. 4110.
  26. ^ "No. 34056". The London Gazette. 4 June 1934. p. 3564.
  27. ^ Parmar, Inderjeet (1995). Special Interests, the State and the Anglo-American Alliance, 1939–1945: 1939 – 1945. Routledge. p. 128. ISBN 0-7146-4569-9.
  28. ^ "No. 34175". The London Gazette. 28 June 1935. p. 4160.
  29. ^ "No. 34223". The London Gazette. 26 November 1935. p. 7497.
  30. ^ Hammond, Richard James (1984). Food. H.M. Stationery Office. p. 513. ISBN 0-527-35760-X. When, on the occasion of the Munich crisis, a Cereals Control Board was hastily designated, its chairman was no less a person than Sir Alan Anderson, GBE.
  31. ^ Savage, Christopher Ivor (1957). Inland Transport. H.M. Stationery Office. For on 7th August, 1941, it was announced that Sir Alan Anderson, G.B.E., was to be appointed both Controller of Railways and chairman of the Railway Executive.
  32. ^ "No. 38820". The London Gazette (Supplement). 24 January 1950. p. 408.
  33. ^ Howard, Joseph Jackson (1905). Visitation of England and Wales. 13. p. 86..


External links[edit]

Military offices
Preceded by
Sir Eric Geddes
Controller of the Navy
Succeeded by
Sir Charles de Bartolomé
Honorary titles
Preceded by
Algernon Osmond Miles
High Sheriff of the County of London
Succeeded by
Walter Kennedy Whigham
Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Edward Grenfell
Sir Vansittart Bowater, Bt.
Member of Parliament for the City of London
With: Sir Thomas Vansittart Bowater, Bt. 1935–1938
Sir George Broadbridge, Bt 1938–1945
Succeeded by
Sir George Broadbridge, Bt
Andrew Duncan