William Joynson-Hicks, 1st Viscount Brentford


William Joynson-Hicks, 1st Viscount Brentford

William Joynson-Hicks, 1st Viscount Brentford (23 June 1865 – 8 June 1932), popularly known as Jix, was a British Conservative Party politician, most known for his tenure as Home Secretary during which he gained a reputation for strict authoritarianism.

Born on the 23 June 1865 as William Hicks to Henry Hicks and Harriett Watts of Plaistow Hall, Kent and educated at Merchant Taylors' School, London. Married Grace Lynn, only daughter of Richard Hampson Joynson J.P. of Bowden Cheshire, on 12 June 1895 in St. Margaret's Church, Westminster, London and on this date his name was legally changed to William Joynson-Hicks. He practiced as a solicitor. He joined the Conservative Party and unsuccessfully contested seats in Manchester in the general elections of 1900 and 1906, but was elected in a by-election in 1908. The Ministers of the Crown Act 1908 required newly appointed Cabinet ministers to recontest their seats, and the President of the Board of Trade Winston Churchill was obliged to restand in Manchester North West. As Churchill had defected from the Conservatives to the Liberals, the Conservatives were disinclined to allow him an uncontested return. Joynson-Hicks was adopted against him and in a high profile campaign defeated Churchill. This provoked a strong reaction across the country with "The Daily Telegraph" running the front page headline "Winston Churchill is OUT! OUT! OUT!"

Joynson-Hicks lost the seat in the January 1910 general election but was elected for the seat of Twickenham in 1911, a seat that he continued to hold until 1929. He was created a baronet in 1919. By 1922, he had established a reputation as one of the "die-hards" on the right-wing of the party, and in that year he emerged as a strong critic of the party's participation in a coalition] government with the Liberal David Lloyd George.

When the coalition fell in October 1922, he entered government for the first time as Secretary for Overseas Trade. In the fifteen-month Conservative administration of first Andrew Bonar Law and then Stanley Baldwin, Joynson-Hicks was rapidly promoted, often filling positions left vacant by the promotion of Neville Chamberlain. In 1923, he became Paymaster-General then Postmaster General. When Stanley Baldwin became Prime Minister, he initially also retained his previous position of Chancellor of the Exchequer whilst searching for a permanent successor. To relieve the burden of this position, he promoted Joynson-Hicks to Financial Secretary to the Treasury and included him in the Cabinet. In this role, Joynson-Hicks was responsible for making the "Hansard" statement on 19 July 1923, that the Inland Revenue would not prosecute a defaulting taxpayer who made a full confession and paid the outstanding tax, interest and penalties. Joynson-Hicks had hopes of eventually becoming Chancellor himself, but instead Neville Chamberlain was appointed to the post in August 1923. Once more Joynson-Hicks filled the gap left by Chamberlain's promotion, serving as Minister of Health until the government fell in January 1924.

The Conservatives returned to power in November 1924 and Joynson-Hicks was appointed to arguably his most famous role, that of Home Secretary. Joynson-Hicks became popularly known as "Jix", and was seen as a reactionary for his attempts to crack down on night clubs and other aspects of the "Roaring Twenties". During the General Strike of 1926, he emerged as one of the "hawks" of the government, wishing to pursue a confrontational policy, though in the event Baldwin overruled this. Later in 1927, Joynson-Hicks turned his fire on the proposed new version of the Book of Common Prayer. The law required Parliament to approve such revisions, normally regarded as a formality, but when the Prayer Book came before the House of Commons Joynson-Hicks argued strongly against its adoption as he felt it strayed far from the Protestant principles of the Church of England. The debate on the Prayer Book is regarded as one of the most eloquent ever seen in the Commons, and resulted in the rejection of the Prayer Book. A revised version was submitted in 1928 but rejected again. However, the Church of England Convocation then declared an emergency and used this as a pretext to use the new Prayer Book for many decades afterwards. Joynson-Hicks also created a stir when, without consulting Baldwin, he pledged that the Conservatives would give the vote to all women over the age of twenty-one - a pledge which thus had to be honoured in 1928.

The Conservatives lost power in 1929, and Joynson-Hicks took a peerage as the 1st Viscount Brentford. He remained a leading figure in the Conservative Party, but due to his declining health he was not invited to join the National Government in either August or November 1931. He died the following June, aged 66.

succession box
title = Member of Parliament for Manchester North West
years = 1908–1910
before = Winston Churchill
after = George Kemp
succession box
title = Member of Parliament for Brentford
years = 1911–1918
before = Lord Alwyne Compton
after = "(constituency abolished)"
succession box
title = Member of Parliament for Twickenham
years = 1918–1929
before = "(new constituency)"
after = John Ferguson

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