Andrew Bonar Law – Conservative Politician, Prime Minister
Entered – 31st August 1900
Passed – 19th September 1900
Raised – 31st October 1900
Within our 200 year history, the most esteemed member of The Bridgeton and Glasgow Shamrock and Thistle Lodge is Bro Andrew Bonar Law, who became a member in August 1900.
Andrew Bonar Law’s signature in the Lodge Roll Book
Andrew Bonar Law was the Canadian-born son of a Scottish clergyman. Born on the 16th September 1858 in the British Colony of New Brunswick, he lived there until the age of 12 when he moved to Helensburgh to live with his late mother’s family.
At 14 he attended the High School of Glasgow, excelling in a number of subjects, particularly languages.
Rather than further his education at University, Bonar Law left school at 16 to work for the family business as a clerk.
At the age of 27, he borrowed money from his family and bought himself into a partnership with an iron merchant and soon became the managing partner.
Working long hours and with a good business mind, under Bonar Law, the company soon turned into one of the most profitable iron merchants in the country.
Notwithstanding his lack of formal University education, he began attending lectures at the University of Glasgow and joined the Parliamentary Debating Association.
In 1891, he married Annie Pitcairn Robley and they eventually had 6 children.
His first entry into politics was in 1897 when he was asked to stand as the Conservative Party candidate for the parliamentary seat of Bridgeton. However, before the 1900 General Election he was offered another seat in Glasgow Blackfriars and Hutchestown.
This seat was seen as one without much prospect, having been held by the Liberal Party since it was created in 1884. Bonar Law went on to take the seat, distinguishing himself with the voters with his oratory and wit. These qualities would see him promoted to Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Trade in 1902.
He lost his seat in the 1906 General Election, but returned to represent Dulwich later in the same year following a by-election.
Despite the death of his wife in 1906 at the age of 43, he continued his political career and won the Conservative Party leadership in 1911.
In 1915 he led the Conservatives during the Coalition Government with the Liberals under their leader, Asquith and was appointed Chancellor of the Exchequer.
He returned to Glasgow in 1918 and was elected MP for Glasgow Central.
Bonar Law lost his two eldest sons in the war and about this time his health began to deteriorate. To assist in his recovery, he resigned as the Leader of his party in 1921.
There was much political turmoil in 1922 and with many leading Conservative members considering leaving the party (to join with Lloyd George in a new party he was arranging). Bonar Law made a decisive and stimulating speech at the Conservative Carlton Club which changed their minds (and in so, saving the Conservative Party).
With the Conservatives removing their support from Lloyd George and his coalition Government, he was forced to resign. The King then invited Bonar Law to form a new administration in 1922.
Sadly, he only lasted 209 days, resigning office due to ill health.
Bro Andrew Bonar law died of throat cancer on the 30th October 1923.
His funeral was held at Westminster Abbey, where his ashes were later interred.
Herbert Asquith is believed to have later said “it is fitting that we should have the Unknown Prime Minister by the side of the Unknown Soldier”.
“Perpetual inspiration is as necessary to the life of goodness, holiness and happiness as perpetual respiration is necessary to animal life”
Researched and written By Alan Frame PM The Bridgeton and Glasgow Shamrock and Thistle Lodge No.275