Raikes, Henry Cecil (DNB00)
RAIKES, HENRY CECIL (1838–1891), politician, was born at the Deanery, Chester, on 25 Nov. 1838. His mother, Lucy Charlotte, was youngest daughter of Archdeacon Wrangham [q. v.] His grandfather was Henry Raikes [q. v.] His father was registrar of the diocese of Chester and author of ‘A Popular Sketch of the English Constitution,’ 2vols. 1851–4, 8vo. At the age of thirteen Henry Cecil had reached the sixth form in Shrewsbury school under Benjamin Hall Kennedy [q. v.]; he became head of the school and captain of the boats and football team. Proceeding to Trinity College, Cambridge, in 1857, he was elected a scholar in 1859, and graduated B.A. in 1860 with a second in classics. He became a student at the Middle Temple, and was called in 1863, but never really devoted himself to practice, which he finally dropped in 1869.
Raikes had at a very early age shown a keen interest in politics. He was president of the Cambridge Union, and while still an undergraduate, in 1859, assisted his father in his candidature at Derby. In 1865 he stood for Chester, and was defeated by William Henry Gladstone; in 1866 at Devonport he was beaten by fifty-three votes only. In 1868 he won Chester for the conservatives, and during the ensuing six years of liberal government made a sufficient mark in the House of Commons to be chosen chairman of committees in 1874, when the tories came into power. The systematisation of obstructive tactics by Charles Stewart Parnell [q. v.] and his allies, in 1877, rendered his position one of great difficulty. The debates in committee on the Prisons Bill (June 1877), on the South Africa Bill (July 1877), and the Army Discipline Bill (in 1879) were unprecedentedly long and arduous. In 1878 new rules of debate were adopted to meet the evil, and Raikes administered them with some success. In 1880 he was sworn of the privy council, and in the general election of the same year he lost his seat at Chester, but in 1882 came into parliament again as member for Preston in succession to Sir John Holker [q. v.], and immediately took an active part in the debates on Mr. Gladstone's new procedure resolutions. He strongly protested against the closure rule in its original shape, but he admitted the need of some reform. Throughout the discussion he took an independent line. Later on in the year he resigned his seat for Preston, and became member for his old university after a contest with Professor James Stuart. Raikes was not included in the brief conservative administration of June 1885–January 1886, but in August 1886, when the conservatives again came into power, Raikes became postmaster-general, and thenceforth energetically devoted himself to the work of his office. Though he introduced no great reform, he made many improvements, and he has the credit of reducing the postage to and from India and the colonies to a uniform rate of 2½d. the half-ounce; he established telephonic communication with Paris in 1891, and introduced the express messenger service. With the permanent staff at the post office his relations were not at first wholly amicable, for he gave the impression of being autocratic and austere in manner. Eventually his sense of fairness and consideration for others were recognised. He dealt with much tact and firmness with the strike of the postmen in 1890. Under his auspices the jubilee of the telegraph was celebrated in 1887, and that of the penny postage in 1890.
Raikes was an ardent churchman. From 1880 to 1886 he was president of the council of diocesan conferences, and in 1890 he became chancellor of the diocese of St. Asaph, within which he lived. One of his latest speeches in the house (14 May 1889) was in defence of the church establishment in Wales.
Raikes died rather suddenly on 24 Aug. 1891 at his residence, Llwynegrin in Flintshire. The real cause of death was over-pressure and worry of official duties. He was buried at St. Mary's, Mold, and his funeral was attended by the leading officials of the post office. In 1888 he was made honorary LL.D. of Cambridge. He was also from 1864 to his death deputy-lieutenant of Flint.
He married, in 1861, Charlotte Blanche, daughter of C. B. Trevor Roper of Plâs Têg in Flint, and left five sons and four daughters.
Without being a great speaker, Raikes was a clever and ingenious debater, especially when on the defensive. He was fond of classical studies to the end of his life, and also wrote poems of merit, some of which were published in 1896. He from time to time contributed to periodicals essays on various subjects, chiefly connected with the church in Wales.[Times, 25 Aug. 1892; Hansard, passim; Dod's Peerage, &c.; private information.]