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Mr Samuel Whitbread 'Parliamentary Procedure'

Spy (Sir Leslie Ward) (1851-1922)


Inscribed with title on reverse

Watercolour and bodycolour on board

14 x 7 inches

Vanity Fair, 8 August 1895, Men of the Day no 626, 'Parliamentary Procedure'

Chris Beetles & Alexander Beetles (eds.) Portraits of Vanity Fair: The Charles Sigety Collection, London: Chris Beetles Ltd, 2023, page 115

'Portraits of Vanity Fair: The Charles Sigety Collection', Chris Beetles Gallery, London, October-November 2023, no 55

Born into a family of brewers, Samuel Whitbread (1830-1915) began his political career in 1850 as private secretary to the Governor of New Zealand, Sir George Grey. In 1852 he was elected MP for Bedford and held the seat until 1895. From 1859 to 1863 he was Civil Lord of the Admiralty.

“Son of the late Samuel Charles Whitbread, M.P for Cardington, and grandson of the well-known politician, he was born to wholesome estate five-and-sixty years ago; and after doing Rugby and Trinity, Cambridge, he became Private Secretary to Sir George Grey. At the age of two-and-twenty he was chosen to sit for Bedford Borough; and for Bedford he kept sitting until just now, when he retired and his constituency was swamped, like the best part of the country, by a very welcome wave of Toryism.

Yet he sat very successfully. When a Member of three years' standing he married a daughter of the third Earl of Chichester; then he became Civil Lord of the Admiralty; and during his forty-two years of Parliament it is said on the best possible authority that he was three times asked to be Speaker. He is a very wealthy brewer who is now Chairman of Whitbread and Company; and a Deputy-Lieutenant, a Justice of the Peace, and a County Alderman of Bedfordshire. He is also a Gladstonian in whom there is no guile.

He has always been much better known in the House than outside of it; and there he has long had reputation as an authority on Parliamentary Procedure. He has also been generally recognised as a speaker of words which carried much weight with the Liberal Party; though flippant Tories have regarded him as the heavy father of light comedy. He has a paternal manner, and he brims over with virtuous sayings; which also have been flippantly called platitudes. He has always shown himself ready to play the impartial judge in any Parliamentary row; and he has justified himself in the role by always deciding in favour of his own side. For he is a good fellow as well as a good man of business.”

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