Horace King, Baron Maybray-King
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The Lord Maybray-King
King in Bonn, 1966
|Speaker of the House of Commons of the United Kingdom|
26 October 1965 – 12 January 1971
|Prime Minister||Harold Wilson|
|Preceded by||Harry Hylton-Foster|
|Succeeded by||Selwyn Lloyd|
|Chairman of Ways and Means|
3 November 1964 – 26 October 1965
|Preceded by||William Anstruther-Gray|
|Succeeded by||Samuel Storey|
|Member of the House of Lords|
2 March 1971 – 3 September 1986
|Member of Parliament |
for Southampton Itchen
26 May 1955 – 2 March 1971
|Preceded by||Ralph Morley|
|Succeeded by||Bob Mitchell|
|Member of Parliament |
for Southampton Test
23 February 1950 – 26 May 1955
|Preceded by||Constituency Created|
|Succeeded by||John Howard|
|Born||25 May 1901|
Grangetown, United Kingdom
|Died||3 September 1986(aged 85)|
|Alma mater||King's College London|
Horace Maybray King, Baron Maybray-King, PC (25 May 1901 – 3 September 1986) was a British politician who served as a Labour Member of Parliament (MP) from 1950 until 1971 before becoming a life peer. Following the death of Harry Hylton-Foster in September 1965, King, who had served as deputy speaker for ten months, became the Speaker of the House of Commons. He was the first person from the Labour Party to hold the post.
Horace King was born in Grangetown near Middlesbrough. His father John William King was an insurance salesman and Methodist local preacher. He was educated at Stockton Secondary School, Stockton-on-Tees, from 1912 to 1917 and never lost touch with these local roots. Horace attended King's College London and graduated with a first-class bachelor's degree in English.
Upon graduating in 1922 King worked as a teacher in Taunton's School in Southampton. He became head of the English department in 1927. While working as a teacher, King studied part-time for his Ph.D. His thesis was on the Folios of Shakespeare. He received his doctorate from King's College London in 1940. He had been excused from military service during World War II due to a duodenal ulcer. He and his family—first wife Victoria Florence (née Harris) and daughter Margaret—and Taunton's school were evacuated to Bournemouth from Southampton in 1940. Among the many pupils was 15-year-old Benny Hill. King was always a keen musician, playing the piano, piano-accordion and organ. During the Second World War he formed various concert parties—"The V Concert Party" was one—which toured the smaller outlying military bases and entertained troops not often reached by ENSA.
He also raised funds by organising concerts to "buy" Spitfires and send aid to Russia. He is believed to have instigated fund raising in Hampshire by letters he wrote to the Hampshire Chronicle in July and August 1940. His "Spitfire Song" was recorded by Joe Loss and his Orchestra. He and a teacher colleague also were the first to translate "Lili Marlene" but were too slow to get their version to the song-publishing market. He left Taunton's in 1947 to become headteacher of Regent's Park Secondary School.
King first stood as a Labour party candidate in the 1945 general election. Labour won with a massive landslide, but King was unsuccessful in his attempt to take the ultra-safe Conservative seat of New Forest and Christchurch. The following year he was elected to Hampshire County Council, on which he served until 1965 with only a single three-year break. His wife, Victoria Florence King, was also politically active - a town councillor and Mayor of Southampton in coronation year, 1953. She received a posthumous OBE.
In the 1950 general election, King successfully fought the newly created Southampton Test seat, albeit with a very small majority. He successfully defended the seat in the 1951 election, which had been called after Labour's 1950 majority had proved unworkable. However, at the 1955 election, King switched his candidacy to the far safer neighbouring seat of Southampton Itchen, where he was re-elected until he left Parliament in 1971. During his time in Parliament he established links with the USA and Canada and lectured there on the British Constitution and Parliament. During one lecture trip in Georgia he and Martin Luther King appeared on a local TV station together under the billing of "The Two Dr Kings". He was instrumental in gaining UK support for the UNESCO project of the raising of the temples at Abu Simbel after the flooding of the Nile by the Aswan dam. He promoted bills on corneal grafts and attempted to raise awareness in the 1960s of autism. A keen European, he served in the Council of Europe.
On 9 September 1965 he was elected Speaker of the House of Commons, a position he held until his retirement on 12 January 1971. While serving as speaker, King was responsible for the speeding up of question time and for changing the dress code to allow women MPs to wear trousers in the House of Commons chamber.
After the Commons
After leaving the Commons, he entered the House of Lords and was created a life peer as Baron Maybray-King of the City of Southampton on 2 March 1971, and went on to serve as a Deputy Speaker. He took the "Maybray" from his own middle name which was his mother Margaret's maiden name. He was awarded an Honorary Degree (Doctor of Laws) by the University of Bath in 1969. In 1977 he celebrated the opening of the Itchen Bridge by being driven across it in a horse-dawn Landau.
He is commemorated by his name having been given to an arched passageway leading to the site of the former primary school, off the High Street in the village of Norton-on-Tees County Durham, in which he lived as a child and in the naming of the A3024 Maybray King Way in Southampton.
He was an active fraternalist with the Loyal Order of Moose in Great Britain. He was created an honorary Grand Governor in 1972 and served as Grand Governor in 1976-1977.
He was married four times:
- 1) Victoria Florence Harris (one daughter, Margaret)
- 2) Una Porter, who predeceased him
- 3) Ivy (divorced)
- 4) Sheila Maybray-King, who survived him, returning to her home town of Stockton
An unpublished biography/autobiography (A Boy Called Horace) is in the Parliamentary Archives.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Horace King.|
- Hansard 1803–2005: contributions in Parliament by Horace King
|Parliament of the United Kingdom|
|New constituency|| Member of Parliament for Southampton Test
| Member of Parliament for Southampton Itchen
Sir William Anstruther-Gray
| Chairman of Ways and Means
Sir Samuel Storey
Sir Harry Hylton-Foster
| Speaker of the House of Commons of the United Kingdom