Sir Archibald Southby

Sir Archibald Southby
Sir Archibald Southby
Image courtesy of Bourne Hall Museum

Sir Archibald Richard James Southby was MP for Epsom from 1928 until his resignation for health reasons in 1947: he was preceded by Sir George Rowland Blades and succeeded by Malcolm McCorquodale.

Archibald was born on 8 July 1886 in Portrush, County Antrim, the youngest child of Richard Southby (born 1838 Chieveley, Berkshire) and the Hon Isabella Hewitt (born 1850 County Donegal), daughter of the 4th Viscount Lifford. Richard was in tea and became a director of the Lankapara Tea Company, an enterprise in which his brother-in-law, the Hon Edward Hewitt, was also involved: the company had estates in the Darjeeling area of West Bengal. Richard and Isabella died in 1921 and 1924 respectively. Their other children were as shown below.

Richard Edward James Born and died 1880 Darjeeling.
Olivia Mary Anne Born 1881 Darjeeling, died 1925 Sydney NSW; unmarried.
Evelyn John James Born 1882 Darjeeling, died 1937 Sussex.
Married Vera St John Kneller 1913.
Lt-Cdr Royal Navy (awarded War Cross of the Crown of Italy).

Archibald was educated at Brandon House School, Cheltenham and became a career naval officer, starting in 1901; he subsequently rose to the rank of Commander. One of his first appointments was as a Midshipman in HMS Magnificent.

HMS Magnificent 1899.
HMS Magnificent 1899.
Image source: Imperial War Museum via Wikimedia Commons

By 1912 he was Flag Lieutenant to a Rear-Admiral in the cruiser HMS Highflyer and then in the battleship HMS Hibernia. Hibernia was assigned to the Grand Fleet at the beginning of World War 1 and served on the Northern Patrol around Scotland and the North Sea, preventing German warships from passing into the Atlantic. In 1915 the ship supported the Dardanelles Campaign. After the War Archibald took part in the demilitarisation of the German island of Heligoland. He was made a Chevalier of the Legion of Honour by the French Government and resigned his commission in 1920.

HMS Hibernia.
HMS Hibernia.
Image source: Wikimedia Commons

Insignia of a Chevalier of the Legion of Honour.
Insignia of a Chevalier of the Legion of Honour.
Image source: Wikimedia Commons

Archibald stood as a Conservative in the 1928 Epsom by-election, caused by the elevation of George Rowland Blades to the peerage, and romped home with a large majority over the Liberal candidate. He lived in Banstead for several years (whether or not this was his main home I do not know) and in the mid-1930s resided at Burford Priory, Oxfordshire; later he moved to Parkstone, Dorset. He was made a baronet in King George VI's Coronation Honours of 1937; his Parliamentary appointments were Assistant Government Whip (1931-5) and Junior Lord of the Treasury (1935-7).

Burford Priory.
Burford Priory.
Image source: Wikimedia Commons

On 20 July 1909 Archibald married Phyllis Mary Garton, who was born in 1886 at Worcester Park, Surrey (died 1974 Kensington district). Her parents were sugar refiner Charles Henry Garton (1859-1934) of Garton Sons & Co (later absorbed into Tate & Lyle) and Juliet Westlake (1857-1934): they lived at Banstead Wood for many years until their deaths.

Christmas card from the Southbys
Christmas card from the Southbys
to the Mayor and Mayoress of Epsom and Ewell 1940s.
Image source Bourne Hall Museum

During his time in Parliament Archibald spoke on many subjects, especially war issues, but nothing was perhaps more heartfelt than this speech he made at Bournemouth in September 1942, at a point when World War II was going badly for the Allies. It was reported in The Times and entitled 'A Forgotten Lesson in History'. Having said that we had allowed ourselves to forget something that our history had taught us, something which the last war brought home to us with terrible distinctness, he went on, 'It is this - that neither nations nor individuals can enjoy either prosperity or security unless they are prepared to make every sacrifice that lies in their power and submit themselves to righteous discipline. Until we have learnt that lesson we shall not win this war. Ever since the Cease Fire sounded in 1918 discipline and sacrifice have been derided by those who should have known better. It seems to me ironical that those who in the past shouted loudest against armaments and confused the military virtues with militarism are now loudest in their demands for conscription, for service and the dragooning of the individual. Had they not been listened to in the days of peace it may well be that we should not now stand in our present jeopardy.' He added that it was just the military virtues that were needed now - toughness, courage, discipline, endurance and, above everything else, that faith in God which enabled the individual to surmount any disaster and gave him that faith in himself which was alone the guarantee of final victory.

Archibald also had a keen wit, as the following examples show.
  • 'The best way to salute the soldier is to improve the quality of his beer.'
  • (On the proliferation of legislation) 'The Government is turning Bills out like sausages from a machine every week.'
  • (On variation of diet for Navy personnel who had been given beef for 21 days in succession) 'Is he aware bluejackets much prefer beef to mutton?'
  • (On the high prices of women's hats) 'Do you think that there exists any power on earth which will prevent women paying money for hats?'
  • (On psychology) 'There is no more dangerous kind of expert than the mental expert.'
  • 'There was one occasion when the member for Ayr Burghs delighted the House by affirming that he was democratic from his top to his bottom. With great loss to the reading of posterity that was taken out of Hansard.'

Letter from Sir Archibald to James Wall
Letter from Sir Archibald to James Wall,
Editor of the Epsom Herald, May 1945.
Image courtesy of Bourne Hall Museum

The reference to Buchenwald concerns a Parliamentary delegation which was sent to Germany by Winston Churchill to secure first-hand proof of atrocities. Sir Archibald was ordered to rest for two to three months following this letter, although he contested a General Election in the meantime. He was able to return to the House of Commons early in 1946, but almost immediately announced his decision to stand down at the next Election.

Archibald and Phyllis, who were divorced in 1962, had two sons, who were Archibald Richard Charles (born 1910 Devonport) and Patrick Henry James (born 1913 Epsom district). On 28 March 1962 Archibald married Noreen Vera Simm (born 1911 Ashbourne, Derbyshire; died 1 May 2004 Dorset). Sir Archibald Southby died on 30 October 1969 and was apparently buried at sea.

Sir Archibald Richard Charles Southby

Archibald Junior, usually known as Richard, inherited the baronetcy on his father's death. He was educated at Eton and Oxford (MA) and became a career army officer, serving in the Rifle Brigade (which was later absorbed into the Royal Greenjackets); he was ADC to the Governor of Madras in 1937 and rose to the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel, being awarded the OBE in 1945 for his part in operations against Italy. Subsequently he spent some time in Zimbabwe and/or South Africa.

Richard was married four times, as shown below.

Joan Alice Balston (1903-88) Married 1935 Kensington district. Divorced.
Olive Marion Moore (1908-91) Nee Robinson, previously married to James N R Moore. Married 1947 Witney district. Divorced.
Ethel Peggy Fock, Baroness de Robeck (1910-78) Nee Cunliffe, widow of Brigadier Bernard Lorenzo Fock MC, Baron de Robeck. Married 1964.
Iris McKay Robertson (1906-2003) Nee Heriot, widow of Brigadier Ian Charles Alexander Robertson. Married 1979 Chelsea district.

Richard had one son by his second marriage - John Richard Bilbe Southby, who is the present baronet.

Patrick Henry James Southby

Patrick followed his father into the Royal Navy. In the late 1930s, as a Lieutenant, he was ADC to the Viceroy of India, the Marquess of Linlithgow, and married the Marquess's daughter, Lady Anne Adeline Hope (born 1914) on 6 November 1939 at the Church of the Redemption, New Delhi. Patrick rose to the rank of Lieutenant-Commander and latterly lived at Overbury, Gloucestershire; he died in 2003. There were two children.

The Marquess of Linlithgow
Victor Hope, The Marquess of Linlithgow, Viceroy of India 1936-43.
Image source: Wikimedia Commons

Lady Anne Hope
Lady Anne Hope

Newspaper wedding photographs
Newspaper wedding photographs
Newspaper wedding photographs



Linda Jackson
February 2013




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