Leeds MPs

BALFOUR, Gerald William (1853–1945) Conservative. University lecturer.

He lectured first at Trinity College, Cambridge but becoming more interested in philosophy moved to Florence where he concentrated on metaphysics. Politics were in his blood; his brother Arthur Balfour would go on to become Prime Minister in 1902 and his uncle, Lord Salisbury would become Prime Minister after the 1885 general election. He joined the Conservative Party and in 1885 was asked to stand for Leeds Central in the first election where the town was divided into constituencies. Balfour’s victory was a shock in that he unseated John Barran one of the sitting MPs for Leeds and the local ready-made clothing magnate and ex-mayor. He successfully contested Leeds Central in 1886, 1892, 1895 and 1900. He was appointed Chief Secretary for Ireland in 1895, President of the Board of Trade in 1902 and President of the Local Government Board in 1905. He is remembered in Leeds for having formally opened Kirkgate Market. He resigned from the Government in 1905 and lost his seat in 1906 when the Liberal landslide swept away every Conservative candidate in Leeds. He became 2nd Earl Balfour in 1930 on the death of his brother. For further reading see The Times, 15 January 1945.