John Redcliffe-Maud, Baron Redcliffe-Maud

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The Right Honourable
The Lord Redcliffe-Maud
John Redcliffe-Maud.jpg
Portrait of John Redcliffe-Maud.
Personal details
Born John Primatt Redcliffe Maud
(1906-02-03)3 February 1906
Bristol, England
Died 20 November 1982(1982-11-20) (aged 76)
Oxford, England
Resting place Holywell Cemetery, Oxford, England
Nationality British
Occupation civil servant

John Primatt Redcliffe-Maud, Baron Redcliffe-Maud, GCB, CBE (3 February 1906 – 20 November 1982) was a British civil servant and diplomat.[1][2]

Early life

Born in Bristol, Maud was educated at Eton College and New College, Oxford. He gained a Second in Classical Moderations in 1928 and a First in Literae Humaniores ('Greats') in 1928.[3] At Oxford he was a member of the Oxford University Dramatic Society (OUDS). In 1928, he gained the one-year Henry P. Davison scholarship to Harvard University[4] where he was awarded an A.B. in 1929.[5] From 1929 to 1932 he was a Junior Research Fellow University College, Oxford and from 1932-39 Fellow (Praelector in Politics)[6] and Dean of the college. He was awarded a Rhodes Travelling Scholarship to Africa in 1932 and held a University Lectureship in Politics at Oxford University, 1938-9.[5]

Civil service

During World War II, he was Master of Birkbeck College and was also based at Reading Gaol, working for the Ministry of Food. He became a Commander of the Order of the British Empire in 1942,[7] and after the war, he worked at the Ministry of Education (1945–1952), rising to Permanent Secretary and then the Ministry of Fuel and Power until 1958. He became a Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath in 1946,[8] and was raised to a Knight Grand Cross in 1955.[9] Inter alia, Maud appeared on the BBC programme The Brains Trust in 1958. He was High Commissioner to the Union of South Africa from 1959 to 1961, and Ambassador from 1961, when the country became a republic and left the Commonwealth. In 1963, he became Master of University College, Oxford, where he had been a Fellow before the Second World War.

The Maud Committee

In March 1964, Maud was appointed by Sir Keith Joseph, at the request of local council associations, to head a departmental committee looking into the management of local government. The Maud Committee reported three years later.[10] During the course of the inquiry, Maud was chosen to head a Royal Commission on the reform of all local government in England. He was awarded a life peerage, hyphenating his surname[11] to become Baron Redcliffe-Maud, of the City and County of Bristol in 1967.[12]

Local government in England as proposed by the 1969 Redcliffe-Maud Report.
Main entrance of the Redcliffe-Maud House at the University College Annex in North Oxford.
Redcliffe-Maud House in North Oxford, named in his honour.[13]

The Report of the Royal Commission on Local Government in England, popularly known as the Redcliffe-Maud Report, was published in 1969. It advocated the wholesale reform of local council boundaries and the institution of large unitary councils based on the principle of mixing rural and urban areas. Accepted by the Labour government of Harold Wilson with minor changes, the opposition from rural areas convinced the Conservative opposition to oppose it and no further action was taken after the Conservatives won the 1970 general election.[14]


He retired as Master of University College in 1976, to be succeeded by the leading lawyer Lord Goodman. His 1973 portrait by Ruskin Spear can be seen in the National Portrait Gallery, London.[15][16] Another portrait hangs in the Hall at University College in Oxford.


Redcliffe-Maud was married to Jean Hamilton, who was educated at Somerville College, Oxford. His son, Humphrey Maud, was one of Benjamin Britten's favourite boys while he was at Eton. Sir John intervened to curtail Humphrey's frequent visits to stay with Britten on his own. The incident is described in John Bridcut's Britten's Children.

Death and legacy

John Redcliffe-Maud is buried in Holywell Cemetery, Oxford. His archive is held by the London School of Economics Library.[17] Redcliffe-Maud House at the University College Annex known as "Stavertonia" in North Oxford is named in honour of him.[13]


  • Redcliffe-Maud, John, Experiences of an Optimist: The Memoirs of John Redcliffe-Maud. London: Hamish Hamilton, 1981. ( ISBN 0-241-10569-2.)[18]
  • Redcliffe-Maud, Lord, & Wood, Bruce, English Local Government Reformed. Oxford University Press, 1974. ISBN 0-198-88091-X.


  1. ^ "Maud, John Primatt Redcliffe Redcliffe-, 1906–1982, Baron Redcliffe-Maud of Bristol, civil servant and diplomat". AIM25. UK. Retrieved 19 January 2015.
  2. ^ "The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography". 2004. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/31427.
  3. ^ Oxford University Calendar 1932, Oxford : Oxford University Press, 1932, pp. 263, 312
  4. ^ Oxford University Calendar 1932, Oxford : Oxford University Press, 1932, p.344
  5. ^ a b Who's Who, 1965, London : A. & C. Black, 1965, p.2063
  6. ^ Oxford University Calendar 1935, Oxford : Oxford University Press, 1935, p.274
  7. ^ "No. 35586". The London Gazette (Supplement). 5 June 1942. p. 2489.
  8. ^ "No. 37598". The London Gazette (Supplement). 4 June 1946. p. 2759.
  9. ^ "No. 40366". The London Gazette (Supplement). 31 December 1954. p. 3.
  10. ^ "Management of Local Government", Committee on the Management of Local Government, HMSO, 1967.
  11. ^ "No. 44349". The London Gazette. 23 June 1967. p. 7032.
  12. ^ "No. 44362". The London Gazette. 11 July 1967. p. 7641.
  13. ^ a b "Other college buildings in Oxford: Stavertonia". University College, Oxford. Retrieved 6 December 2012.
  14. ^ Wood, Bruce (1976). The Process of Local Government Reform 1966–74. George Allen & Unwin. pp. 74–75.
  15. ^ "John Primatt Redcliffe-Maud, Baron Redcliffe-Maud". National Portrait Gallery, London. Retrieved 6 December 2012.
  16. ^ "John Primatt Redcliffe-Maud, Baron Redcliffe-Maud by Ruskin Spear". BBC. Retrieved 19 January 2015.
  17. ^ "Redcliffe-Maud". LSE Archives. London School of Economics. Retrieved 6 December 2012.
  18. ^ Sisson, C.H. (6 August 1981). "The company he keeps". London Review of Books. 3 (14). pp. 15–16. Retrieved 19 January 2015.

External links

Government offices
Preceded by
Sir Maurice Holmes
as Permanent Secretary of the
Board of Education
Permanent Secretary of the
Ministry of Education

Succeeded by
Gilbert Flemming
Preceded by
Sir Donald Fergusson
Permanent Secretary of the
Ministry of Fuel and Power
(Ministry of Power from 1957)

Succeeded by
Dennis Proctor
Diplomatic posts
Preceded by
Percivale Liesching
British High Commissioner to
South Africa

Succeeded by
Himself as British Ambassador to South Africa
Preceded by
Himself as British High Commissioner to South Africa
British Ambassador to South Africa
Succeeded by
Sir Hugh Stephenson
Academic offices
Preceded by
Arthur Goodhart
Master of University College, Oxford
Succeeded by
Arnold Goodman
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