Harold Tennant

Harold John Tennant PC (18 November 1865 – 9 November 1935), often known as Jack Tennant, was a Scottish Liberal politician. He served as Secretary for Scotland under his brother-in-law H. H. Asquith between July and December 1916.

Harold Tennant
Harold Tennant, from photo in Scotland Office
Secretary for Scotland
In office
9 July 1916  5 December 1916
MonarchGeorge V
Prime MinisterH. H. Asquith
Preceded byThomas McKinnon Wood
Succeeded byRobert Munro
Personal details
Born18 November 1865 (1865-11-18)
The Glen, Innerleithen, Peeblesshire, Scotland
Died9 December 1935(1935-12-09) (aged 69)
Political partyLiberal
Alma materTrinity College, Cambridge

Background and education

Born at The Glen, Innerleithen, Peeblesshire,[1] Tennant was a younger son of Sir Charles Tennant, 1st Baronet, by his first wife Emma, daughter of Richard Winsloe. He was the brother of Edward Tennant, 1st Baron Glenconner and Margot Asquith (and hence the brother-in-law of H. H. Asquith) and the half-brother of Baroness Elliot of Harwood.[2] He was educated at Eton and at Trinity College, Cambridge.[3]

Political career

Tennant was Assistant Private Secretary to his brother-in-law H. H. Asquith while the latter was Home Secretary between 1892 and 1895.[4] In 1894 he was elected Member of Parliament for Berwickshire.[5] Asquith became Prime Minister in 1908 and in January 1909 he appointed Tennant Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Trade. Tennant remained in this office until 1911, and then served under Asquith as Financial Secretary to the War Office from 1911 to 1912 and as Under-Secretary of State for War from 1912 to 1916. In 1914 he was sworn of the Privy Council.[6] He entered the cabinet as Secretary for Scotland under Asquith in July 1916,[7] a post he held until Asquith was ousted as Prime Minister in December 1916. Tennant did not serve under David Lloyd George.

At the 1918 general election, the Berwickshire constituency was abolished, and Tennant contested the new Berwickshire and Haddingtonshire constituency. He faced two opponents: R. W. Foulis of the Labour Party, and the 1911–1918 Haddingtonshire MP John Deans Hope. With two incumbent Liberal MPs contesting one seat, Hope's receipt of the coalition coupon secured his victory, with 54% of the votes. Tennant came a poor third, with only 16% of the votes.[8]

He also unsuccessfully contested Glasgow Central in 1923[9] but never returned to the House of Commons.

During his time in Parliament, Tennant supported a number of progressive measures such as worker’s compensation,[10] minimum wage provisions,[11] school medical inspections,[12] factory inspections, and unemployment insurance.

Personal life

He married factory inspector May Abraham in 1896. Tennant bought Great Maytham Hall, Rolvenden, Kent in 1910. He commissioned Edwin Lutyens to rebuild the hall at a cost of £24,000.[13] As leader of the war memorial committee, he also engaged Lutyens to design the Rolvenden War Memorial, erected in 1922.[14]

Tennant died in November 1935, aged 70.


  1. "Tennant, Harold John [Jack] (1865-1935), politician". www.oxforddnb.com. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/58263. Retrieved 27 January 2019.
  2. thepeerage.com Rt. Hon. Harold John Tennant
  3. "Tennant, Harold John (TNNT885HJ)". A Cambridge Alumni Database. University of Cambridge.
  4. Betts, Robin (1999). Doctor Macnamara, 1861-1931. Liverpool University Press. p. 385 (endnote). ISBN 0853238634. Retrieved 29 June 2015.
  5. leighrayment.com Bedford to Berwick upon Tweed
  6. leighrayment.com Privy Counsellors 1836-1914
  7. "No. 29667". The London Gazette. 14 July 1916. p. 6975.
  8. Craig, F. W. S. (1983) [1969]. British parliamentary election results 1918–1949 (3rd ed.). Chichester: Parliamentary Research Services. p. 629. ISBN 0-900178-06-X.
  9. The Times, 8 December 1923
  10. http://hansard.millbanksystems.com/commons/1906/mar/26/workmens-compensation-bill-1#S4V0154P0_19060326_HOC_300
  11. http://hansard.millbanksystems.com/commons/1909/apr/28/trade-boards-bill#S5CV0004P0_19090428_HOC_188
  12. http://hansard.millbanksystems.com/commons/1908/jul/06/medical-inspection-of-children#S4V0191P0_19080706_HOC_236
  13. Tyzack, Anna (1 July 2009). "The Secret Garden for sale". Daily Telegraph. London. Retrieved 23 November 2010.
  14. Historic England. "Rolvenden War Memorial (1381140)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 11 September 2016.
  • Torrance, David, The Scottish Secretaries (Birlinn 2006)
Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Hon. Edward Marjoribanks
Member of Parliament for Berwickshire
Constituency renamed
Berwick and Haddington
Political offices
Preceded by
Hudson Kearley
Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Trade
Succeeded by
J. M. Robertson
Preceded by
Francis Dyke Acland
Financial Secretary to the War Office
Succeeded by
Harold Baker
Preceded by
J. E. B. Seely
Under-Secretary of State for War
Succeeded by
The Earl of Derby
Preceded by
Thomas McKinnon Wood
Secretary for Scotland
July - December 1916
Succeeded by
Robert Munro
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