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Walter Stowe Bright McLaren

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Walter Stowe Bright McLaren (c1853-1912), Director of Bolckow, Vaughan and Co

1912 Obituary [1]

WALTER STOWE BRIGHT McLAREN, M.A., M.P., died at his residence, Great Comp, Borough Green, Kent, where he had been staying preparatory to journeying to Switzerland for the sake of his health, on Saturday, June 29, 1911, aged fifty-nine.

He was the youngest son of the late Mr. Duncan M‘Laren, of Edinburgh, who was Lord Provost, and for many years member for the City of Edinburgh, by his third wife, Priscilla, daughter of the late Jacob Bright and sister of John Bright. He was a half-brother of the late Lord M‘Laren, and brother of Lord Aberconway.

He was educated at Craigmount School, Edinburgh, and at the University of that city, where he graduated as a Master of Arts in 1873. In association with Sir Swire Smith he commenced business in Keighley as a worsted spinner, in the firm of Smith & M'Laren, but retired from the partnership in 1890. During his association with Keighley he displayed considerable interest in educational matters, and his firm took an active part in affording special facilities to the younger hands employed for attending evening classes in the town.

His father's association with politics and his mother's interest in political matters, and, in particular, her active advocacy of the cause of Woman's Suffrage, early directed his mind into the same channels.

He joined the Men's League for Woman's Suffrage, of which he eventually became a vice-president. He was an advanced Liberal and a strong Free Trader. His first attempt to enter Parliament was in 1885, when, at the age of thirty-two, he unsuccessfully contested Inverness Burghs. The following year he was elected for Crewe, which he represented until 1895, when the Hon. R. A. Ward captured the seat for the Unionists. Mr. James Tomkinson regained it for the Liberal Party in 1900, and on his death in April 1910, Mr. M‘Laren was elected by a large majority. In December of the same year he was re-elected by an increased majority.

As an employer Mr. M'Laren was a firm believer in conciliation in industrial disputes, and took rather a prominent part in the Miners' Conciliation Board when it was set up, and he was one of the coal-owners who took part in the recent negotiations with the Government and the miners which resulted in the Minimum Wage Act.

His health suffered indeed somewhat severely owing to his exertions• as a representative of the employers during the recent coal strike, while his defence of the South Wales coal-owners caused trouble among his supporters at Crewe, and he was much distressed by the attacks which were made upon him. Standing, as he did, for a great industrial constituency, containing a large number of exceptionally intelligent voters, Mr. M‘Laren's policy on such matters as employers' liability was often hotly discussed. He was opposed from the outset to the general principle of contracting-out. His personal popularity in Crewe was, however, unquestionable. He was a brilliant and impressive speaker, and possessed an engaging personality.

He had a peculiarly wide connection with the iron, steel, and coal trades of Great Britain, and was on the board of a considerable number of companies engaged in the manufacture of iron and steel, and was also on the board of the Madras Electric Railways (1904), Limited.

He was a director of Bolckow, Vaughan & Company, Limited, and was also a director of the Dinnington Main Coal Company, Limited; the Sheepbridge Coal and Iron Company, Limited; the Tredegar Iron and Coal Company, Limited; the Maltby Main Colliery Company, Limited; the Oakdale Navigation Collieries, Limited; the Dunderland Iron Ore Company, Limited; the Brecon and Merthyr-Tydfil Junction Railway Company; the Cleveland Salt Company, Limited; the Soria Mining Company, Limited; the Electric Construction Company, Limited; James Dunlop & Company, Limited; the Madras Electric Railways (1904), Limited; the North American Land and Timber Company, Limited; and the National General Insurance Company, Limited.

He was a member of the Society of Friends. He was elected a member of the Iron and Steel Institute in 1898.

Mr. M'Laren married, in April 1883, Eva, the youngest daughter of Mr. William Muller, of Hillside, Shenley, Herts, and Valparaiso, Chile. His wife was well known for her work for the Liberal Party.

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