Rufus Isaacs, 1st Marquess of Reading


Rufus Isaacs, 1st Marquess of Reading

Infobox_Officeholder
honorific-prefix =
name = The Marquess of Reading
honorific-suffix =
GCB, GCSI, GCIE, GCVO, PC, KC


imagesize = 200 px
order1 = Viceroy of India
term_start1 = 2 April 1921
term_end1 = 3 April 1926
monarch1 = George V
primeminister1 = David Lloyd George
Andrew Bonar Law
Stanley Baldwin
Ramsay Macdonald
predecessor1 = The Lord Chelmsford
successor1 = The Earl of Lytton
order2 = Foreign Secretary
term_start2 = 25 August 1931
term_end2 = 5 November 1931
monarch2 = George V
primeminister2 = Ramsay Macdonald
predecessor2 = Arthur Henderson
successor2 = Sir John Simon
birth_date = 10 October 1860
birth_place = London, England
death_date = 30 December 1935
death_place = London, England
nationality = British
party = Liberal
religion = Jewish
alma_mater =
profession = jurist, politician
spouse = Alice Edith Cohen (1887-1927)
Stella Charnaud ( -1935)

Rufus Daniel Isaacs (later Rufus Isaacs), 1st Marquess of Reading, GCB, GCSI, GCIE, GCVO, PC, KC, (10 October 1860–30 December 1935), was an English politician and jurist.

The son of a Jewish fruit merchant at Spitalfields, Isaacs entered the family business at the age of fifteen. In 1876-7 he served as a ships-boy and later worked as a jobber on the stock-exchange, 1880-4. He was called to the bar, the Middle Temple, in 1887. ["The Concise Dictionary of National Biography", Oxford University Press, 1992.] A prosperous lawyer, Isaacs made his name in the Bayliss v. Coleridge libel suit in 1903,Gratzer, Walter. "Eurekas and Euphorias: The Oxford Book of Scientific Anecdotes". Oxford University Press, 2004, p. 226.] and the Whitaker Wright case in 1904. In 1904, he entered the House of Commons as Liberal Party Member of Parliament (MP) for the Reading constituency, a seat he held until 1913. During this period, he served as both Solicitor General and Attorney-General in the governments of Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman and Herbert Henry Asquith, becoming the first Attorney-General to sit in the Cabinet in 1912. In 1913, he was made Lord Chief Justice, a position in which he served until 1921.

In 1918, Isaacs was appointed Ambassador to the United States, a position in which he served until 1919, while continuing at the same time as Lord Chief Justice. In 1921, he resigned the chief justiceship to become Viceroy of India. Although he preferred a conciliatory policy, he ended up using force on several occasions, and imprisoned Mahatma Gandhi in 1922. In MacDonald's National Government in August 1931, he briefly served as Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, but stood down after the first major reshuffle in November due to ill-health.

Isaacs lived at Foxhill House in Earley, adjoining Reading, and was elevated to the Peerage as Baron Reading, of Erleigh in the County of Berkshire, in 1914, and continued to rise in the Peerage: he was created Viscount Reading, of Erleigh in the County of Berkshire, in 1916; Earl of Reading along with the subsidiary title of Viscount Erleigh, of Erleigh in the County of Berkshire, in 1917; and eventually Marquess of Reading in 1926. This is the highest rank in the Peerage reached by a Jew in British history.

Isaacs married Alice Edith Cohen in 1887.Lady Reading was a chronic invalid, who eventually died of cancer a year after Reading's viceroyalty ended. He then married Stella Charnaud, the first Lady Reading's secretary.

He assumed the surname Rufus Isaacs, which is still used by his male-line descendants.

Along with Alfred Mond and Herbert Samuel, Isaacs was a founding chairman of the precursor to the Israel Electric Corporation in the British Mandate of Palestine. The Reading Power Station in Tel-Aviv, Israel, was named in his honour.

References


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