Harry Brittain

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Sir Harry Brittain: Executive of the Anti-Socialist Union; Executive Committee, Economic League; Honorary President of the Friends of Italy; member, Anglo-German Friendship Society; Tory MP (elected in the 1918 election with secret funding from the British Commonwealth Union)[1] Carlton Club; and, back to the origins of all this, founder member of the Tariff Reform League and the Pilgrims Society.

None of this is mentioned in the nevertheless interesting biography on the webpage describing the archive of his papers at Cambridge University:

Harry Ernest Brittain was born on Christmas Eve, 1873, and educated at Repton and Worcester College, Oxford. He was called to the Bar in 1897 but practised for only a week. His career was in the newspaper world - he was a director of many papers and journals - and was the Unionist M.P. for Acton from 1918 to 1929, but he is chiefly noted for his vast range of voluntary activities, his writing and his travelling. The list of bodies with which he was connected occupies some eighty lines of Who's Who; chief among them were those connected with the Empire/Commonwealth and the furtherance of friendship with the U.S.A. He founded the Imperial Press Conference in 1909 and the Empire Press Union in the same year; he also opened its Golden Jubilee Conference in 1959. A member of the Royal Colonial Institute from 1909, he was made a Vice-President in 1927 when it was about to become the Royal Empire Society and an Honorary Member in 1961, when it had become the Royal Commonwealth Society. He was first Secretary, and later Chairman, of the Pilgrims and joined in its 70th anniversary celebrations in 1972. He travelled widely, wrote eleven books and many articles, and included 'avoiding retirement' in his recreations in Who's Who. He was created KBE in 1918, CMG in 1924 and received many awards and other recognitions. He celebrated his hundredth birthday in good health and spirits, and died on 9 July 1974.[2]

Further details on the webpage of AIM25 which describes holiding on Brittain in the British Library:

Sir Henry (Harry) Ernest Brittain, 1873-1974, was educated at Repton and Worcester College, Oxford, where he obtained at BA and an MA in law. He was called to the Bar in 1897 but only practiced for a week before retiring from law in favour of business and journalism. He worked on the staff of both the Standard and the Evening Standard, was secretary to Sir C Arthur Pearson, owner of the Evening Standard, and also worked with him in the formation of the Tariff Reform League and the creation of the tariff community. Sir Harry became Director of numerous daily and weekly newspapers and other business concerns. He was president of the British International Association of Journalists 1920-1922, Patron of the Society of Women Writers and Journalists from 1925, and was the originator and organiser of the first Imperial Press Conference, 1932.
He was always keen to build links with America. During World War One, when he was the British representative on the American Citizens Emergency Committee, 1914, serving on special mission throughout the USA, 1915, on the staff of General Lloyd as captain of the London Volunteer Regiment, 1916, as Director of Intelligence National Service Department, and as the founder and Chairman of the American officers club in London, 1917-1919. After the war he was the originator and honourary life member of the Association of American Correspondents in London, 1919 and the president of the Anglo-American delegation to Holland for the celebration of the Pilgrim Fathers tercentenary, 1920. He was a member of the Anglo-American Brains Trust, 1942-1944 and was awarded the Silver Medal of Merit and Diploma by the Poor Richard Club of Philadelphia for his lifelong services to Anglo-American fellowship and understanding in 1958.
Sir Harry Brittain was also a Conservative MP for Acton 1918-1929. As an MP he was a members of the executive of the Empire Parliamentary Association, 1919-1929 and a member of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association, from 1929. He was also committed to the protection of British birds, and steered the Brittain Act for the protection of British birds through Parliament in 1925. Amongst his other honours, he was created KBE for public services in 1918, and CMG in 1924.[3]
Sir Harry was perhaps the most active British Empire activist in the history of The Pilgrim Society. He was sent on a mission to the Brazilian government in 1912-1913 and was a member of the Canadian and Australian War Contingent Committees in 1914. He served on the staff of General Lloyd in 1916; he founded and chaired the American Officers Club in London, 1917-1919; founded the Association of American Correspondents in London, 1919; served as president of the British International Association of Journalists, 1920-1922, and took delegates with him on excursions to Czechoslovakia; Holland; Belgium and Romania as guests of those governments; organized the first Conference of Students of the Universities of the Empire in 1924; became Patron to the Society of Women Writers and Journalists in 1925; vice president, Royal Commonwealth Society, 1927; on executive committee, Empire Parliamentary Association, 1919-1929; founder, British Travel Association, 1929; member of the council, London Chamber of Commerce, 1930-1951; British delegate to the Congress of the International Chambers of Commerce at Washington, 1931 and again at Vienna Austria in 1933; founder, Oxford Society, 1932; Co-founder, McGill Society of Great Britain, 1936 (after McGill University in Canada); Gold Staff Officer at Royal Coronation, 1937; honorary president, Friends of Italy, 1936-1939...; president, Incorporated Sales Managers Association, 1938-1944; vice president, Institute of Export, 1938-1947; chairman, St. George’s School at Harpenden, 1938-1947; member, Inter Parliamentary Union, beginning in 1942; trustee, Westminster Fund; member, Anglo-American Brains Trust, 1942-1944; member Council, Economic League until after WWII; president, Reptonian Society, 1950-1951; president, Yorkshire Society, 1956-1957; recipient Astor Award, Commonwealth Press Union, 1973.[4]


  1. Richard Davenport-Hines, (1984) Dudley Docker, The Life and times of a Trade Warrior, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, p. 123.
  2. Janus Sir Harry Brittain Collection, accessed February 2007.
  3. AIM25 BRITTAIN, Sir Harry Ernest, 1873-1974, Knight, MP and journalist, accessed February 2007
  4. http://www.silver-investor.com/charlessavoie/cs_may05_pilgrims.htm Pilgrims]