Austen Chamberlain

Sir Joseph Austen Chamberlain KG (16 October 1863 – 16 March 1937) was a British statesman, son of Joseph Chamberlain and older half-brother of Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain. He served as Chancellor of the Exchequer (twice) and was briefly Conservative Party leader before serving as Foreign Secretary.


Sir Austen Chamberlain

Chamberlain in 1931
First Lord of the Admiralty
In office
24 August  5 November 1931
Prime MinisterRamsay MacDonald
Preceded byA. V. Alexander
Succeeded bySir Bolton Eyres-Monsell
Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs
In office
3 November 1924  4 June 1929
Prime MinisterStanley Baldwin
Preceded byRamsay MacDonald
Succeeded byArthur Henderson
Lord Privy Seal
Leader of the House of Commons
In office
1 April 1921  23 October 1922
Prime MinisterDavid Lloyd George
Preceded byBonar Law
Succeeded byLord Robert Cecil
Chancellor of the Exchequer
In office
9 October 1903  4 December 1905
Prime MinisterArthur Balfour
Preceded byCharles Thomson Ritchie
Succeeded byH. H. Asquith
In office
10 January 1919  1 April 1921
Prime MinisterDavid Lloyd George
Preceded byBonar Law
Succeeded bySir Robert Horne
Secretary of State for India
In office
25 May 1915  17 July 1917
Prime Minister
Preceded byThe Marquess of Crewe
Succeeded byEdwin Montagu
Postmaster-General
In office
11 August 1902  9 October 1903
Prime MinisterArthur Balfour
Preceded byThe Marquess of Londonderry
Succeeded byLord Stanley
Personal details
Born
Joseph Austen Chamberlain

(1863-10-16)16 October 1863
Birmingham, Warwickshire, England
Died16 March 1937(1937-03-16) (aged 73)
London, England
NationalityBritish
Political partyLiberal Unionist
Conservative[1]
Spouse(s)
Ivy Muriel Dundas
(m. 1906; his death 1937)
Children3
ParentsJoseph Chamberlain
Harriet Kenrick
EducationRugby School
Alma materTrinity College, Cambridge
Sciences Po
University of Berlin
Signature

Brought up to be the political heir of his father, whom he physically resembled, he was elected to Parliament as a Liberal Unionist at a by-election in 1892, and held office in the Unionist coalition governments of 1895–1905, remaining in the Cabinet as Chancellor of the Exchequer (1903–05) after his father resigned in 1903 to campaign for Tariff Reform. After his father's disabling stroke in 1906 Austen became the leading tariff reformer in the House of Commons. Late in 1911 he and Walter Long were due to fight one another for the leadership of the Conservative Party (in succession to Arthur Balfour), but both withdrew in favour of Bonar Law rather than risk a party split on a close result.

Chamberlain returned to office in H. H. Asquith's wartime coalition government in May 1915, as Secretary of State for India, but resigned to take responsibility for the disastrous Kut Campaign. He again returned to office in David Lloyd George's coalition government, once again serving as Chancellor of the Exchequer. He then served as Conservative Party leader in the Commons (1921–2), before resigning after the Carlton Club meeting voted to end the Lloyd George Coalition.

Like many leading coalitionists, he did not hold office in the Conservative governments of 1922–4. By now regarded as an elder statesman, he served an important term as Foreign Secretary in Stanley Baldwin's Second Government (1924–9), during which he negotiated the Locarno Pact (1925), aimed at preventing war between France and Germany, for which he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. He last held office as First Lord of the Admiralty in 1931. He was one of the few MPs supporting Winston Churchill's appeals for rearmament against the German threat in the 1930s, and remained an active backbench MP until his death in 1937.