William Mitchell-Thomson, 1st Baron Selsdon

William Lowson Mitchell-Thomson, 1st Baron Selsdon KBE PC (15 April 1877 – 24 December 1938), known as Sir William Mitchell-Thomson, 2nd Baronet, from 1918 to 1932, was a Scottish politician who served as British Postmaster-General from 1924 till 1929.[1]

The Lord Selsdon

Postmaster General
In office
4 November 1924  4 June 1929
MonarchGeorge V
Prime MinisterStanley Baldwin
Preceded byVernon Hartshorn
Succeeded byHastings Lees-Smith
Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Trade
In office
1 April 1921  19 October 1922
MonarchGeorge V
Prime MinisterDavid Lloyd George
Preceded byPhilip Cunliffe-Lister
Succeeded byThe Viscount Wolmer
Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Food Control
In office
19 April 1920  1 April 1921
MonarchGeorge V
Prime MinisterDavid Lloyd George
Preceded byCharles McCurdy
Succeeded byPost abolished
Member of the House of Lords
Lord Temporal
In office
14 January 1932  24 December 1938
Hereditary Peerage
Preceded byPeerage created
Succeeded byThe 2nd Lord Selsdon
Member of Parliament
for Croydon South
In office
6 December 1923  14 January 1932
Preceded byAllan Macgregor Smith
Succeeded byHerbert Williams
Member of Parliament
for Glasgow Maryhill
In office
14 December 1918  15 November 1922
Preceded byConstituency created
Succeeded byJohn William Muir
Member of Parliament
for North Down
In office
28 April 1910  14 December 1918
Preceded byThomas Lorimer Corbett
Succeeded byThomas Watters Brown
Member of Parliament
for North West Lanarkshire
In office
8 February 1906  10 February 1910
Preceded byCharles Mackinnon Douglas
Succeeded byWilliam Pringle
Personal details
Born(1877-04-15)15 April 1877
Edinburgh, Scotland
Died24 December 1938(1938-12-24) (aged 61)
London, England
Political partyScottish Unionist
Irish Unionist
Spouse(s)Annie McEacharn


Mitchell-Thomson was born at number 7 Carlton Terrace, Edinburgh, the son of Mitchell Mitchell-Thomson, Lord Provost of Edinburgh, who was created a baronet in 1900.[2]

Mitchell-Thomson was educated at Winchester College and Balliol College, Oxford. He earned his LL.B with distinction from the University of Edinburgh in 1902.[1] He joined the Scottish bar that same year, but spent several years traveling before returning to Scotland.[3][1]

He was elected as a Unionist Member of Parliament for North West Lanarkshire in 1906, serving until his defeat at the January 1910 general election. He was an Irish Unionist Party MP for North Down from April 1910 until 1918.

During the First World War, he served as Director of Restriction of Enemy Supplies. He was appointed a Commander of the Order of the British Empire in the 1918 New Year Honours.[4]

Following the War, he was appointed the British representative on the Supreme Economic Council followed by appointments as Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Food and at the Board of Trade.[1]

He was then MP for Glasgow Maryhill between 1918 and 1922, then Conservative MP for Croydon South, South London from 1923 to 1932.

In 1922, Mitchell-Thomson was Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Trade and from 1924 until 1929, he served as Postmaster General. During the General Strike of 1926, he served as Chief Civil Commissioner. He was made a Privy Counsellor in 1924.

In 1932, Mitchell-Thomson resigned from the House of Commons and was raised to the peerage as Baron Selsdon, of Croydon in the County of Surrey.[5]

In May 1934 the British government appointed a committee, under the guidance of Lord Selsdon, to begin enquiries into the viability of setting up a public television service, with recommendations as to the conditions under which such a service could be offered. The results of the Selsdon Report were issued as a single Government White Paper in January of the following year. The BBC was to be entrusted with the development of television. Lord Selsdon was one of those to appear on the first day of BBC television broadcasts, 2 November 1936, now in his new capacity as Chairman of the Television Advisory Committee.[3][1]

Personal life

Mitchell-Thomson was twice married. In 1907, he firstly married Madeleine, daughter of Sir Malcolm McEacharn. They had a daughter who died in infancy, and a son, Peter. The marriage ended in divorce in 1932. The next year, he married Effie Lilian Loder Johnson, who as Effie Cook was a member of Pelissier's Follies.[1]

Lord Selsdon died at his home in 20 Grosvenor Square, London, in December 1938, aged 61, and was cremated at Golders Green Crematorium, his ashes later buried in Edinburgh.[6] He was succeeded in his titles by his eldest son Peter, who became a well-known racing driver.


  1. "Lord Selsdon". The Times. The Times Digital Archive. 27 December 1938. p. 10.
  2. Mitchell, Anne (1993), "The People of Calton Hill", Mercat Press, James Thin, Edinburgh, ISBN 1-873644-18-3.
  3. "Distinguished Scotsman: Lord Selby of Croydon". The Glasgow Herald. 27 December 1938. Retrieved 17 March 2016.
  4. "No. 30460". The London Gazette (Supplement). 7 January 1918. p. 371.
  5. "No. 33790". The London Gazette. 15 January 1932. p. 346.
  6. The Complete Peerage, Volume XIII - Peerage Creations 1901-1938. St Catherine's Press. 1949. p. 504.
Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Charles Mackinnon Douglas
Member of Parliament for North West Lanarkshire
1906January 1910
Succeeded by
William Pringle
Preceded by
Thomas Lorimer Corbett
Member of Parliament for North Down
Succeeded by
Thomas Watters Brown
New constituency Member of Parliament for Glasgow Maryhill
Succeeded by
John Muir
Preceded by
Allan Smith
Member of Parliament for Croydon South
Succeeded by
Herbert Williams
Political offices
Preceded by
Vernon Hartshorn
Postmaster General
Succeeded by
Hastings Lees-Smith
Peerage of the United Kingdom
New creation Baron Selsdon
Succeeded by
Peter Mitchell-Thomson
Baronetage of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Mitchell Mitchell-Thomson
(of Polmood)
Succeeded by
Peter Mitchell-Thomson

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