1922 Encyclopædia Britannica/Simon, Sir John Allsebrook

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SIMON, SIR JOHN ALLSEBROOK (1873–), British politician and lawyer, the son of a Congregational minister, was educated at Fettes, and at Wadham College, Oxford, where he was a scholar and was eventually elected an hon. fellow. He became pres. of the Union in 1896, and took a first-class in Lit. Hum. in the same year, being subsequently elected fellow of All Souls. He went to the bar, became Barstow Law scholar in 1898, and was called in 1899. His manifest abilities and the persuasiveness of his advocacy soon brought him into notice; he was chosen one of the counsel for the British Government in the arbitration on the Alaska Boundary in 1903; and he rapidly attained so considerable a practice that he was able to take silk in 1908. Meanwhile he had gone into politics, and was elected as an advanced Liberal for Walthamstow at the general election of 1906. At first, probably owing to his absorption in his legal work, he did not command nearly so much attention in Parliament as his Wadham contemporary and fellow-lawyer, Mr. F. E. Smith (afterwards Lord Birkenhead). But he gradually made his way, and was appointed by Mr. Asquith solicitor-general in 1910, and Attorney-General with a seat in the Cabinet in 1913. On the outbreak of war in 1914, his resignation, along with those of Lord Morley and Mr. Burns, was confidently expected; but he finally decided to remain with his chief and the bulk of his colleagues. When the first war Coalition Government was formed in May 1915, he was offered the lord chancellorship, but he declined the greatest prize of his profession as he preferred a political career in the Commons. Accordingly he accepted the home secretaryship, and gave up his legal practice, by means of which he had acquired a comfortable fortune. Early, however, in the following year, owing to his inability to accept the Government bill for compulsory military service, he resigned his office and led a fruitless opposition to the measure in the House; and then went out to the front in France as a major in the R.A.F. He subsequently resumed practice as a barrister, and immediately regained his position in the front rank of his profession. On the break between Mr. Asquith and Mr. Lloyd George, Sir John Simon adhered to the former. He lost his seat in Parliament at the general election in Dec. 1918, subsequently taking an active part in political work outside the House in the interests of the Independent Liberals. He was twice married in 1899 to Ethel M. Venables, who died in 1902, leaving a son and two daughters, and in 1917 to Kathleen Manning.