Papers concerning wartime measures for the relief of distress

Archive Collection

Scope and Content

Papers concerning wartime measures for the relief of distress.

Administrative / Biographical History

Sidney Webb 1859 - 1947

Sidney Webb, the son of an accountant, was born in London on 13th July, 1859.At the age of sixteen Webb became an office clerk but he continued to attendevening classes at the University of London until he acquired thequalifications needed to enter the Civil Service. Webb also contributed tothe Christian Socialist and taught at the London Working Men's College. In1885 he joined the Fabian Society.

In 1892 Webb married Beatrice Potter (1958 - 1943), the social reformer. Inthe same year he stood as the Fabian Society candidate for Deptford in theLondon County Council elections. Webb won the seat and he retained it for thenext eighteen years. Webb was appointed as Chairman of the TechnicalInstruction Committee and as a result was known as the Minister of PublicEducation for London. In 1894 Henry Hutchinson, a wealthy solicitor fromDerby, left the Fabian Society 10,000. Sidney and Beatrice Webb suggestedthat the money should be used to develop a new university in London. TheLondon School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) was founded in1895.

When the Conservative Party won the 1900 General Election, the Webbs draftedwhat later became the 1902 Education Act. In 1915 Sidney Webb was appointedto the Labour Party National Executive. By 1922 he was Chairman of theNational Executive and the following year, in the 1923 General Election, waschosen to represent the Labour Party in the Seaham constituency. Webb won theseat and when Ramsay MacDonald (1866 - 1937) became Britain's first LabourPrime Minister in 1924, he appointed Webb as his President of the Board ofTrade. Webb left the House of Commons in 1929 when he was granted the titleBaron Passfield. Now in the House of Lords, Webb served as Secretary of Statefor the Colonies in MacDonald's second Labour Government.

His publications include:

Beatrice Webb nee Potter 1858 - 1943

Beatrice Webb was born Martha Beatrice Potter at Standish House nearGloucester, she was the eighth daughter of the railway and industrial magnateRichard Potter (1817 - 1892). Beatrice was educated privately and became abusiness associate of her father after her mother's death in 1882.

She became interested in reform and began to do social work in London. Sheinvestigated working-class conditions as part of the survey Life and Labourof the People in London (1886 - 1903), directed by her cousin Charles Booth.In 1892 she married Sidney Webb (1859 - 1947), later Baron Passfield, amember of the socialist Fabian Society. Sidney and Beatrice Webb served onmany royal commissions and wrote widely on economic problems. In 1895 theyfounded the London School of Economics and Political Science. After a tour ofthe United States and the Dominions in 1898, they embarked on their massiveten-volume work, English Local Government (1906 - 1929). Beatrice Webb alsoserved on the Poor Law Commission (1906 - 1909) and was joint author of itsminority report. During World War I Beatrice Webb was a member of the WarCabinet committee on women in industry (1918 - 1919) and served on the LordChancellor's advisory committee for women justices (1919 - 1920), being ajustice of the peace herself from 1919 to 1927.

Sidney Webb became an MP in 1922 and held ministerial office in both theearly Labour governments. In 1932, after he had left office, the Webbsvisited the Soviet Union. They recorded their views in Soviet Communism: ANew Civilisation (1935). The Webbs retired to their home in Hampshire in1928. Beatrice Webb produced two volumes of autobiography: MyApprenticeship (1926) and Our Partnership (1948), which was publishedafter her death.

Her publications include:

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Webb, Sidney, BaronPassfield

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