Charles Trevelyan
1922 Charles Trevelyan.jpg
President of the Board of Education
In office
7 June 1929 – 2 March 1931
Prime MinisterRamsay MacDonald
Preceded byLord Eustace Percy
Succeeded byHastings Lees-Smith
In office
22 January 1924 – 3 November 1924
Prime MinisterRamsay MacDonald
Preceded byHon. E. F. L. Wood
Succeeded byLord Eustace Percy
Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Education
In office
19 October 1908 – 10 August 1914
Prime MinisterH. H. Asquith
Preceded byThomas McKinnon Wood
Succeeded byChristopher Addison
Member of Parliament
for Newcastle Central
In office
15 November 1922 – 27 October 1931
Preceded byGeorge Renwick
Succeeded byArthur Denville
Member of Parliament
for Elland
In office
8 March 1899 – 14 December 1918
Preceded byThomas Wayman
Succeeded byGeorge Taylor Ramsden
Personal details
Born28 October 1870 (1870-10-28)
Died24 January 1958 (1958-01-25) (aged 87)
Political partyLiberal
(m. 1904)
Children7, including George

Sir Charles Philips Trevelyan, 3rd Baronet (28 October 1870 – 24 January 1958) was a British Liberal Party, and later Labour Party, politician and landowner. He served as President of the Board of Education in 1924 and between 1929 and 1931 in the first two Labour administrations of Ramsay MacDonald, the first Labour Prime Minister.



Born into a liberal aristocratic family (see Trevelyan baronets of Nettlecombe, 1662), Charles was the eldest son of Sir George Trevelyan, 2nd Baronet, and his wife Caroline, daughter of Robert Needham Philips MP.[1] He was the grandson of Sir Charles Trevelyan, 1st Baronet, the elder brother of R. C. Trevelyan and G. M. Trevelyan and the great-nephew of Lord Macaulay. He was the great-great grandson of Sir John Trevelyan, 4th Baronet (1735–1828). Family legend traced their ancestry to Sir Trevillian, one of King Arthur's knights, who swam ashore on horseback when Lyonesse sank. The family kept three houses year round: Wallington, which the family had owned since 1777, Welcombe House, and a town house in Westminster. The family estates comprised more than 11,000 acres.

After Harrow and Trinity College, Cambridge, Charles Philips Trevelyan decided upon a political career. Beatrice Webb, his friend, described him as "a man who has every endowment - social position, wealth, intelligence, an independent outlook, good looks, good manners".[2]

Life and career

Trevelyan was first a Liberal and later a Labour MP. His eventual political achievements were uneven. As a member of the landed gentry serving in the Labour Party, he was considered by some to be a walking anachronism. Despite this, his own privileges and gentlemanly pursuits always remained intact.[2] Trevelyan was elected Liberal Member of Parliament (MP) for Elland, Yorkshire, in a by-election in 1899. He served under H. H. Asquith as Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Education between 1908 and 1914, when, as an opponent of British entry into the First World War, he resigned from the government. In 1914, also, he founded the Union of Democratic Control an all-party organisation rallying opposition to the war. In the 1918 general election he lost his Elland seat, running as an Independent Labour candidate.[3]

He won Newcastle Central for Labour in 1922 and held it until 1931.[4] He was a member of Ramsay MacDonald's Labour cabinets as President of the Board of Education between January and November 1924[5] and between 1929 and 1931,[6] resigning when his Education Bill was rejected by the House of Lords a few months before the Labour government collapsed.[7] The bill was opposed not only by Conservatives but by Catholic members of the Labour Party who feared that it would allow local governments to seize control of parochial schools, leading to a decline in Catholic support for the party in the 1930s.[8] In 1924 he was sworn of the Privy Council.[9]

In 1928 he succeeded his father as third Baronet - Sir Charles and Lady Mary Trevelyan
In 1928 he succeeded his father as third Baronet - Sir Charles and Lady Mary Trevelyan

In early 1939, following Stafford Cripps and with Aneurin Bevan among others, Trevelyan was briefly expelled from the Labour Party for persisting with support for a "popular front" (involving co-operation with the Liberal Party and Communist Party) against the National Government.[10]

Apart from his political career Trevelyan was also Lord Lieutenant of Northumberland between 1930 and 1949.

In 1942, although he had a son and heir, Trevelyan and his wife donated Wallington Hall, complete with its estate of farm land,[11] which he had inherited in 1928, to the National Trust, the first donation of this kind.[12]

He was the last surviving member of the first British Labour Cabinet.


Trevelyan married Mary Katherine Bell, a younger half-sister of Gertrude Bell and the daughter of Sir Hugh Bell, 2nd Baronet.[13] They had seven children including his eldest son, Sir George Trevelyan, whom he disinherited. He died in January 1958, aged 87.


  1. ^ Trevelyan, Sir George Otto, Bart (Encyclopædia Britannica 1911, Volume 27, p. 255, at, Retrieved 7 March 2021
  2. ^ a b A Very British Family: the Trevelyans and their world, Laura Trevelyan, London 2006, page 102
  3. ^ F. Craig, British Parliamentary Election Results 1918-1949
  4. ^ House of Commons: Na H-Eileanan An Iar to Newport[Usurped!]
  5. ^ "No. 32901". The London Gazette. 25 January 1924. p. 771.
  6. ^ "No. 33505". The London Gazette. 11 June 1929. p. 3857.
  7. ^ AJP Taylor, English History 1914-1945, p 279-280
  8. ^ Thorpe, Andrew (1997). A History of the British Labour Party. London: Macmillan Education UK. pp. 73–74. doi:10.1007/978-1-349-25305-0. ISBN 978-0-333-56081-5.
  9. ^ "No. 32901". The London Gazette. 25 January 1924. p. 769.
  10. ^ David Rubinstein The Labour Party and British Society: 1880-2005, 2005, Sussex Academic Press, p74. The reference is online here [1].
  11. ^ Historic England. "WALLINGTON, Wallington Demesne (1001054)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 5 May 2021.
  12. ^ Historic England. "Wallington Hall (1042869)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 9 September 2018.
  13. ^ "Trevelyan [née Bell], Mary Katharine [Molly], Lady Trevelyan (1881–1966), political hostess and voluntary worker". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. 2004. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/53939. ISBN 978-0-19-861412-8. Retrieved 4 May 2021. (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)

Further reading