William Rees-Mogg

William Rees-Mogg, Baron Rees-Mogg (14 July 1928  29 December 2012) was a British newspaper journalist who was Editor of The Times from 1967 to 1981. In the late 1970s he served as High Sheriff of Somerset, and in the 1980s was Chairman of the Arts Council of Great Britain and Vice-Chairman of the BBC's Board of Governors. He was the father of the politicians Jacob and Annunziata Rees-Mogg.

The Lord Rees-Mogg
Chairman of the Arts Council of Great Britain
In office
Preceded bySir Kenneth Robinson
Succeeded byPeter Palumbo
Editor of The Times
In office
Preceded bySir William Haley
Succeeded byHarold Evans
Member of the House of Lords
Lord Temporal
In office
8 August 1988  29 December 2012
Life peerage
Personal details
William Rees-Mogg

(1928-07-14)14 July 1928
Bristol, England
Died29 December 2012(2012-12-29) (aged 84)
London, England
Resting placeChurch of St James, Cameley
Political partyNone (crossbencher)
Other political
Spouse(s)Gillian Morris
Children5 (including Jacob and Annunziata)
Alma materBalliol College, Oxford
ProfessionNewspaper journalism
AwardsKnight Bachelor (1981)

Early life

William Rees-Mogg was born in 1928 at Bristol, England, into an upper-middle-class family, the son of Edmund Fletcher Rees-Mogg (1889–1962) of Cholwell House[1] in the parish of Cameley in Somerset, an Anglican by religion, and his Irish American Catholic wife, Beatrice Warren, a daughter of Daniel Warren of New York.[2][3]

He was educated at Clifton College Preparatory School in Bristol and Charterhouse in Godalming, where he was Head of School.[4]

Not yet eighteen, Rees-Mogg went to Balliol College, Oxford, as a Brackenbury Scholar to read history in January 1946 as a place had fallen temporarily vacant. By the end of the Trinity (summer) term he had been elected to the library committee (the junior committee) of the Oxford Union Society and was due to be an officer of the Oxford University Conservative Association under Margaret Roberts (the future Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher), President for Michaelmas (autumn) Term 1946.[5]

However, he did not return to Oxford in October as he was forced to give up his place to a disabled ex-serviceman. In 1946-8, beginning with an exceptionally bitter winter, he did his National Service in the Royal Air Force education department (his poor eyesight ruled out aircrew training) rising to the rank of sergeant. His duties included teaching illiterate recruits to read and write, and his reference from his commanding officer stated that he was competent to perform simple tasks under supervision.[5]

He returned to Oxford to complete his degree,[6] and became President of OUCA in Michaelmas Term 1950 and President of the Oxford Union in Trinity term, 1951.[5][7] He graduated that term with a second-class degree.[5]


Rees-Mogg began his career in journalism in London at the Financial Times in 1952 becoming chief leader writer in 1955 and, in addition, assistant editor in 1957.[8][9] During this period, he was Conservative candidate for the safe Labour seat of Chester-le-Street in a by-election on 27 September 1956, losing to the Labour candidate Norman Pentland by 21,287 votes,[10] as he did in the subsequent general election by a similar margin.

He moved to The Sunday Times in 1960, later becoming its Deputy Editor from 1964[9] where he wrote "A Captain's Innings",[11] which many believe convinced Alec Douglas-Home to resign as Tory leader, making way for Edward Heath, in July 1965.[10]

Rees-Mogg was editor of The Times from 1967 to 1981. In a 1967 editorial entitled "Who breaks a butterfly on a wheel?",[11] he criticised the severity of the custodial sentence for Mick Jagger on a drugs offence.[12] With colleagues he attempted a buyout of Times Group Newspapers in 1981 in order to stop its sale by the Thomson Organisation to Rupert Murdoch, but was unsuccessful.[13] Murdoch replaced him as editor with Harold Evans. Rees-Mogg wrote a comment column for The Independent from its foundation in the autumn of 1986 until near the end of 1992,[14] when he rejoined The Times[15] where he remained a columnist until shortly before his death. In his Memoirs, published in 2011, he wrote of Murdoch: "Looking back, he has been an excellent proprietor for the Times, but also for Fleet Street."[16]

Rees-Mogg was a member of the BBC's Board of Governors and chairman of the Arts Council, overseeing a major reform of the latter body which halved the number of arts organisations receiving regular funding and reduced the Council's direct activities. Having been High Sheriff of Somerset from 1978 to 1979[17] he was appointed a Knight Bachelor in the 1981 Birthday Honours[18] and knighted by Elizabeth II in an investiture ceremony at Buckingham Palace on 3 November 1981.[19] In the 1988 Birthday Honours, Rees-Mogg was made a life peer[20] on 8 August that year as Baron Rees-Mogg, of Hinton Blewett in the County of Avon,[21] and sat in the House of Lords as a cross-bencher. He was a member of the European Reform Forum. The University of Bath awarded him an Honorary Degree (Doctor of Laws) in 1977.[22]

He co-authored, with James Dale Davidson, three books on the general topic of financial investment and the future of capitalism: Blood in the Streets, The Great Reckoning, and The Sovereign Individual. The Sovereign Individual, published in 1997, argues that in an internet age the nation state will become outmoded, and an era of the individual will develop. Peter Thiel, the co-founder of PayPal, stated in 2014 that The Sovereign Individual was the most influential book he had read.[23][24][25]

Writing in The Times in 2001, Lord Rees-Mogg, who had a house in Somerset, described himself as "a country person who spends most of his time in London", and attempted to define the characteristics of a "country person". He also wrote that Tony Blair was as unpopular in rural England as Mrs Thatcher had been in Scotland. By now his liberal attitude to drugs policy had led to his being mocked as "Mogadon Man" by Private Eye.[12] The magazine later referred to him as "Mystic Mogg" (a pun on "Mystic Meg", a tabloid astrologer) because of the perception that his economic and political predictions were ultimately found to be inaccurate.[13][26]

Rees-Mogg served as the chairman of the London publishing firm Pickering & Chatto Publishers and of NewsMax Media and wrote a weekly column for The Mail on Sunday.[27]

Personal life

In 1964 Rees-Mogg purchased Ston Easton Park near Bath, Somerset, the former home of the Hippisley family. The house had been threatened with demolition and Rees-Mogg partially restored it.[28] He sold the house to the Smedley family in 1978.

Rees-Mogg and his wife Gillian Shakespeare Morris had five children. They are:

Rees-Mogg, a Catholic, argued that the image of an ultra-conservative papacy is false and that the Vatican must overhaul its PR machine (as of 2009).[34]


Afflicted by oesophageal cancer, he became seriously ill just before Christmas of 2012, and died in London on 29 December at the age of 84.[35] Rees-Mogg's funeral was held at Westminster Cathedral on 9 January 2013,[36] with his body being buried in the graveyard of the Church of St James at Cameley in the county of Somerset.

Coat of arms of William Rees-Mogg
A Coronet of a Baron
1st, between two Spearheads erect Sable a Cock proper (Mogg); 2nd, a Swan Argent wings elevated Or holding in the beak a Water-Lily slipped proper
Quarterly, 1st and 4th, Argent on a Fess Pean between three Ermine Spots each surmounted by a Crescent Gules a Cock Or (Mogg); 2nd and 3rd, Gules a Chevron engrailed Erminois between three Swans Argent wings elevated Or (Rees)
Cura Pii Diis Sunt (The pious are in the care of the Gods)[37]


  • The reigning error: The crisis of world inflation (1975)
  • Blood in the Streets: Investment Profits in a World Gone Mad (1987, with James Dale Davidson) ISBN 9780446353168[38]
  • The Great Reckoning : How the World Will Change Before the Year 2000 (1992, with James Dale Davidson) ISBN 9780330327923[39][40][41]
  • The Sovereign Individual: The Coming Economic Revolution: how to Survive and Prosper in it (1997, with James Dale Davidson) ISBN 9780333662083[24][25]

See also


  • Rees-Mogg, William (2011). Memoirs. HarperPress. ISBN 978-0-002-57183-8.


  1. Burke's Genealogical and Heraldic History of the Landed Gentry, 15th Edition, ed. Pirie-Gordon, H., London, 1937, pp.1610-1611, pedigree of "Rees-Mogg of Cholwell", p.1611
  2. Burke, 1937, p.1611
  3. Baes, Stephen (29 December 2012). "Lord Rees-Mogg obituary". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 3 September 2017.
  4. "Lord Rees-Mogg dies aged 84". This is Bath. Bath. 29 December 2012. Archived from the original on 1 January 2013. Retrieved 29 December 2012.
  5. Rees-Mogg 2011, pp75-81
  6. presumably in April 1949 to complete the nine terms of residence normally required for a BA, although his memoirs do not give the exact date
  7. Larman, Alexander (29 July 2012). "Memoirs by William Rees-Mogg – review". The Observer. London. Archived from the original on 1 January 2013. Retrieved 1 January 2013.
  8. Byrne, Ciar (12 June 2006). "The Indestructible Journos". The Independent. London. Archived from the original on 1 January 2013. Retrieved 1 January 2013.
  9. Griffiths, Edward, ed. (1992). The Encyclopedia of the British Press, 1422–1992. London: Palgrave Macmillan. p. 482. ISBN 9780312086336.
  10. Dennen, Tom (Fall 2010). ""Wealth Transfer" is Cyclic "Reckoning"". The Journal of History. London: News Source, Inc. 10 (2). Archived from the original on 1 January 2013. Retrieved 1 January 2013.
  11. Budden, Rob (29 December 2012). "Journalist Lord Rees-Mogg dies". Financial Times. London. Retrieved 29 December 2012.(registration required)
  12. Bates, Stephen (29 December 2012). "Lord Rees-Mogg obituary". The Guardian. London. Archived from the original on 1 January 2013.
  13. "Obituary: William Rees-Mogg". The Daily Telegraph. London. 30 December 2012. Archived from the original on 1 January 2013. Retrieved 1 January 2013.
  14. Rees-Mogg, William (21 December 1992). "Is this the end of life as I know it?". The Independent. London. Archived from the original on 1 January 2013. Retrieved 1 January 2013.
  15. "The Rt Hon Lord Rees-Mogg Authorised Biography". People of Today. London: Debrett's. 2012. Archived from the original on 1 January 2013. Retrieved 1 January 2013.
  16. Preston, Peter (13 July 2011). "Memoirs by William Rees-Mogg – review". The Guardian. London. Archived from the original on 2 January 2013. Retrieved 1 January 2013.
  17. "No. 47497". The London Gazette. 23 March 1978. p. 3664.
  18. "No. 48639". The London Gazette (Supplement). 12 June 1981. p. 2.
  19. "No. 48819". The London Gazette. 11 December 1981. p. 15769.
  20. "No. 51365". The London Gazette (Supplement). 10 June 1988. p. 1.
  21. "No. 51439". The London Gazette. 12 August 1988. p. 9161.
  22. "University of Bath: Honorary Graduates 1966 to 1988". Bath, Somerset: University of Bath. 2012. Archived from the original on 1 January 2013. Retrieved 29 December 2012.
  23. Davidson, James Dale. "William Rees-Mogg: A Remembrance". Newsmax. Retrieved 13 October 2015.
  24. Beckett, Andy (9 November 2018). "How to explain Jacob Rees-Mogg? Start with his father's books". The Guardian. Retrieved 9 November 2018.
  25. Conn O Midheach (12 May 1997). "Future shock". Irish Times. Retrieved 12 November 2018.
  26. Wilby, Peter (8 January 2007). "Prints of darkness". The Guardian. London. Archived from the original on 2 January 2013. Retrieved 1 January 2013.
  27. "All Articles by William Rees Mogg". The Mail on Sunday. London. Archived from the original on 2 January 2013. Retrieved 2 January 2013.
  28. Reid, Robert Douglas (1979). Some buildings of Mendip. The Mendip Society. ISBN 0-905459-16-4.
  29. Mosley, Charles, editor. Burke's Peerage, Baronetage & Knightage, 107th edition, 3 volumes. Wilmington, Delaware, U.S.A.: Burke's Peerage (Genealogical Books) Ltd, 2003.
  30. "Person Page". Thepeerage.com. Retrieved 15 March 2017.
  31. "What Was Never Said by Emma Craigie". The Guardian. 17 September 2015. Retrieved 15 March 2017.
  32. "Person Page". Thepeerage.com. Retrieved 5 July 2017.
  33. "BBC News". 5 July 2017. Retrieved 5 July 2017.
  34. Rees-Mogg, William (23 March 2009). "The Pope's message is not the problem". The Times. London.(subscription required)
  35. Booth, Jenny (29 December 2012). "Former Times editor William Rees-Mogg dies". The Times. London. Archived from the original on 2 January 2013. Retrieved 1 January 2013.(subscription required)
  36. O'Carroll, Lisa (10 January 2013). "Tributes paid to Lord Rees-Mogg at funeral". The Guardian. Retrieved 25 July 2019.
  37. "Life Peerages R". Cracroft's Peerage. Retrieved 15 December 2019.
  38. "BLOOD IN THE STREETS: Investment Profits in a World Gone Mad" (Review), Kirkus Reviews, 1 June 1987, https://www.kirkusreviews.com/book-reviews/james-dale-with-william-rees-mogg-davidson/blood-in-the-streets-investment-profits-in-a-wo/
  39. Tom Lucas, "UK: Book Review - The great reckoning - A global warning on wealth", Management Today, 1 May 1992, http://www.managementtoday.co.uk/news/409185/UK-Book-Review---great-reckoning---global-warning-wealth/?DCMP=ILC-SEARCH
  40. "The Great Reckoning" (Review), Kirkus Reviews, 1 August 1991, https://www.kirkusreviews.com/book-reviews/james-dale-davidson/the-great-reckoning/
  41. Will Hutton, "Beware the Ides of Mogg", London Review of Books, 9 April 1992, http://www.lrb.co.uk/v14/n07/will-hutton/beware-the-ides-of-mogg
Media offices
Preceded by
Deputy Editor of The Sunday Times
Succeeded by
Frank Giles
Preceded by
William Haley
Editor of The Times
Succeeded by
Harold Evans
Cultural offices
Preceded by
Kenneth Robinson
Chair of the Arts Council of Great Britain
Succeeded by
Peter Palumbo
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