Leeds MPs

PLAYFAIR, Sir Lyon (1818–1898) Liberal. Scientist.

After studying chemistry at St Andrews University he was appointed Chemist to the Museum of Practical Geology in 1844 and, in 1857, he became president of the Chemistry Society. For ten years he occupied the chair of Chemistry at the University of Edinburgh. His political career began in 1868 when he was elected as a Liberal to represent the universities of Edinburgh and St Andrews and he continued to publish academic works. In 1880 he became chairman of Ways and Means and the Deputy Speaker of the House of Commons. He was knighted in 1883. In 1885 he was invited to stand for Leeds South in the election that year. He was successful, as he was a year later when he followed Gladstone’s lead in supporting Home Rule. He retained the seat in 1892 but that year was elevated to the peerage. Although his political connections with Leeds was over, in 1894 the South Leeds Liberal Association presented him with an illuminated address. Now in the House of Lords, both Gladstone and Roseberry made him Lord in Waiting, the Government chief whip in the Lords, between 1892–1895. For further reading see Yorkshire Evening Post, 31 May 1898.