Horace King, Baron Maybray-King

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The Lord Maybray-King

Horace King in Bonn, 1966.jpg
King in Bonn, 1966
Speaker of the House of Commons of the United Kingdom
In office
26 October 1965 – 12 January 1971
MonarchElizabeth II
Prime MinisterHarold Wilson
Edward Heath
Preceded byHarry Hylton-Foster
Succeeded bySelwyn Lloyd
Chairman of Ways and Means
In office
3 November 1964 – 26 October 1965
SpeakerHarry Hylton-Foster
Preceded byWilliam Anstruther-Gray
Succeeded bySamuel Storey
Member of the House of Lords
Lord Temporal
In office
2 March 1971 – 3 September 1986
Life Peerage
Member of Parliament
for Southampton Itchen
In office
26 May 1955 – 2 March 1971
Preceded byRalph Morley
Succeeded byBob Mitchell
Member of Parliament
for Southampton Test
In office
23 February 1950 – 26 May 1955
Preceded byConstituency Created
Succeeded byJohn Howard
Personal details
Born25 May 1901
Grangetown, United Kingdom
Died3 September 1986(1986-09-03) (aged 85)
Political partyLabour
Alma materKing'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.

Early life[edit]

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.[1] 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.

Political career[edit]

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.

When Harold Wilson was elected as the first Labour Prime Minister for 13 years in 1964, King was selected as the Chairman of Ways and Means and the Deputy Speaker.


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[edit]

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,[2] 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.[3] In 1977 he celebrated the opening of the Itchen Bridge by being driven across it in a horse-dawn Landau.[4]

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.


Coat of arms of Horace King, Baron Maybray-King
Coronet of a British Baron.svg
Maybray-King Escutcheon.png
A mace Or and a spade the blade upwards in saltire Proper.
Argent a cherub Proper within a chaplet of four roses, two in pale Argent and two in fess Gules, barbed seeded and leaved proper.
On either side a bittern Proper.
Sinite Parvulos [5]


  1. ^ Songs of the 2nd World War, HMV
  2. ^ "No. 45316". The London Gazette. 4 March 1971. p. 1857.
  3. ^ "Corporate Information".
  4. ^ Brian, Adams (1977). The missing link : the story of the Itchen Bridge. Southampton City Council. p. 117.
  5. ^ Debrett's Peerage & Baronetage. 1985.

External links[edit]

Parliament of the United Kingdom
New constituency Member of Parliament for Southampton Test
Succeeded by
John Howard
Preceded by
Ralph Morley
Member of Parliament for Southampton Itchen
Succeeded by
Bob Mitchell
Preceded by
Sir William Anstruther-Gray
Chairman of Ways and Means
Succeeded by
Sir Samuel Storey
Preceded by
Sir Harry Hylton-Foster
Speaker of the House of Commons of the United Kingdom
Succeeded by
Selwyn Lloyd