Leo Blair (senior)


Leo Blair (senior)

Leo Charles Lynton Blair (born Charles Leonard Augustus Parsons in August 1923 in Filey, Yorkshire, England) is a retired University of Durham law lecturer. He is the author of the book The Commonwealth Public Service. He is the father of Tony Blair, former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom.

Contents

Biography

Born Charles Leonard Augustus Parsons in 1923, he was the illegitimate[1] son of two middle class travelling entertainers. His father Charles Parsons (16 July 1887 – 19 January 1970) had the stage name Jimmy Lynton. Leo's mother Mary Augusta Ridgway Bridson (1886–1969) was known as Celia Ridgway and was a daughter of Augustus William Bridson (1849–1933) and Maria Emily Montford (1864–1944).[2] The two met on tour in England. Their hectic lifestyles prompted them to give up baby Leo, who was fostered out to (and later adopted by) a working class couple, a Glasgow shipyard worker named James Blair and his wife Mary, taking their surname. On 2 June 1927 his biological parents married and tried to reclaim him, but Mary Blair refused to return him and later prevented him from contacting his biological parents. (Leo later had a reunion with his half-sister, Pauline Harding, née Tordiffe.)

Blair grew up in a tenement in Golspie Street, Govan, Glasgow, and attended Govan High School. When he left school he worked as a copy boy on the Communist Party newspaper The Daily Worker and was Secretary of the Scottish Young Communist League 1938-41. He studied law, becoming a barrister and later, a university law lecturer.

Blair married Hazel Corscadden, from a Protestant family in Donegal, Ireland. They had two sons, both of whom they sent to Fettes College, an independent school in Edinburgh. Their first son, Sir William Blair, is now a High Court Judge and domestic and international banking and finance law specialist. Their second son, Anthony Charles Lynton Blair (Tony Blair), was born in 1953 and also became a barrister before achieving fame as a politician and prime minister. Leo and Hazel lived for a time in Adelaide, Australia, where Leo lectured in law at the University of Adelaide.

Blair and his family later moved to Durham, England, where Blair lectured in Law at Durham University. He was a member of St Cuthbert's Society, one of the university's collegiate bodies. Despite having been a communist in his youth, Leo became active in the Conservative Party. He had ambitions to stand for Parliament in Durham, plans which were thwarted when he had a stroke when his son, Tony, was 11.

Blair became a widower when Hazel (born 21 April 1926) died in 1975 of thyroid cancer. He lives in Shropshire with his second wife, Olwen. Cherie and Tony Blair named their youngest son "Leo" after his grandfather.

Blair is a "militant atheist" according to his son Tony.[3]

Academic work

Blair's book The Commonwealth Public Service, published in 1958, was described by the journal Canadian Public Administration as "an excellent primer on the Australian Federal Public Service".[4]

References

  1. ^ Blair: 'Why adoption is close to my heart', 21 December 2000, The Guardian
  2. ^ Edward J. Davies, “A Descent of Tony Blair from James V, King of Scots”, The Genealogist, 22(2008):247-55
  3. ^ Blair: 'Tony Blair on finding religion via reason', December 2009, The Washington Post
  4. ^ Review of "The Commonwealth Public Service" Canadian Public Administration vol 2 issue 4 page 255

External links



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