Longest serving Home Secretary until Theresa May, his tenure covering the Ripper murders, Fenian violence and social unrest, Matthews is notable as the first Catholic member of the Cabinet during a time of continued prejudice, yet this enigmatic character has been largely ignored or written off. Roger Ward challenges hostile judgements and examines Matthews’ life and career in the context of turbulent times. A successful barrister, he entered the world of nineteenth century politics as MP for an Irish constituency, before becoming the sole Conservative MP in Chamberlain-controlled Birmingham. Championed by Lord Randolph Churchill, he found himself unexpectedly propelled into Salisbury’s government of 1886-92, but lost his protector and was left to face a hostile press and Commons. Despite being born into solid Herefordshire gentry, Matthews grew up in Ceylon and was educated in Paris, multi-lingual, cosmopolitan and ill at ease in the brute ranks of the Tory party. Lone Catholic in Cabinet, lone Conservative in Birmingham, with no political coterie, he was an outsider on the inside. Raised to the peerage in 1895, he dedicated his life to Catholic causes. On his death he left instructions to burn his private papers, leaving tantalisingly few traces of a fascinating career.
|Dimensions||156 × 234 mm|
Roger Ward graduated from London University in 1960 and completed a PGCE at Cambridge University in 1961 and a London University MA in 1971. Beginning his career as a schoolteacher, he moved to Birmingham as a lecturer in History at the Birmingham College of Education, in 1973 joining the newly created Birmingham Polytechnic, now Birmingham City University where he has been a Visiting Professor for over a decade. His many books and articles include 'City-state & Nation' (2005) and 'The Chamberlains' (2014). A frequent lecturer, in 2016 he was honoured with the Presidency of the Birmingham & Midland Institute.
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