Martin Archer-Shee

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Lieutenant-Colonel Sir Martin Archer-Shee, DSO (5 May 1873 – 6 January 1935) was a British army officer and Conservative Party politician.[1][2][2][3][3][4]


He was the son of Martin Archer-Shee and his wife Elizabeth Edith Dennistoun née Pell of New York[1] who married in 1872 at Piccadilly. His father was a bank manager. He was the great grandson of the painter Martin Archer Shee. His half-brother was George Archer-Shee, whose notable acquittal of the accusation of theft became the basis of the play The Winslow Boy by Terrence Rattigan.

Royal Navy

Archer-Shee was educated at The Oratory School before entering the Royal Navy as a cadet in 1886.[1] After two years on the training ship HMS Britannia he became a midshipman on HMS Agincourt, part of the Channel Fleet, later transferring to HMS Cleopatra.[1] He later joined The Castaways' Club to keep in touch with his former service.

Boer War

In 1890 he resigned from the navy in order to enter the Royal Military College Sandhurst and to become an officer in the British Army.[1] He obtained a commission as second lieutenant in the 19th Hussars on 15 March 1893, and was promoted to lieutenant on 7 February 1897. He served in the Second Boer War 1899-1902, where he took part in operations in Natal, including the defence of Ladysmith, then in the Transvaal from July to November 1900.[5] The award of the Distinguished Service Order (DSO) (dated 29 November 1900) for his services during the early part of the war, was announced in the September 1901 South African Honours list.[6] In February 1902 he was wounded near Kromdraal when he captured enemy soldiers (mentioned in despatches 25 April 1902[7]), and he was invalided home in May that year,[8] shortly before the official end of hostilities. Following the war he was promoted to captain on 15 August 1902,[9] and received the rank of brevet major a week later. He resigned from the army in 1905.[1]

In the same year he married Frances Pell, and the couple had seven children.[1]

Member of Parliament for Finsbury Central

At the January 1910 general election he was elected to the House of Commons as the Member of Parliament (MP) for Finsbury Central, winning the seat for the Conservatives and unseating the Liberal-Labour MP, W C Steadman.[2] In parliament he was an advocate of Tariff Reform and argued for the case for an enlargement of the navy.[1]

His half-brother was George Archer-Shee, whose expulsion from Osborne Naval College inspired the play The Winslow Boy. Archer-Shee used his political connections to secure the services of Edward Carson in George's court case.[10]

First World War

With the outbreak of war in 1914, Archer-Shee rejoined the army. He was promoted to lieutenant-colonel, and commanded three different infantry battalions during the conflict: the 12th Battalion Gloucestershire Regiment, the 2/4th Battalion York and Lancaster Regiment and the 10th Battalion King's Own Scottish Borderers. He was mentioned in dispatches four times, and was made a Companion of the Order of St Michael and St George for his services.[1] . Following an altercation in Parliament, Noel Pemberton Billing offered Archer-Shee a duel by boxing in public for charity; Archer-Shee declined[11].

Member of Parliament for Finsbury

At the 1918 general election Archer-Shee was elected MP for the new constituency of Finsbury, parliamentary boundaries having been altered by the Representation of the People Act 1918. He held the seat at the 1922 general election, and was knighted in 1923.[12] He was defeated in 1923 by his Labour Party opponent, George Masterman Gillett.[2] He attempted to re-enter parliament in the following year, but failed to be elected at Peckham.[1] This was to be his last electoral contest: although his name was proposed when a vacancy occurred at Fulham East in 1933, he chose not to stand in the ensuing by-election.[1]

Archer-Shee died at his home Ashurst Lodge, Sunninghill, Berkshire in January 1935, aged 61, after a long illness.[13] Following a requiem mass at South Ascot Friary he was buried in Sunninghill.[1]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l "Obituary: Lieut.-Colonel Sir M. Archer-Shee. The Army And Politics". The Times. 7 January 1935. p. 19.
  2. ^ a b c d Leigh Rayment's Historical List of MPs – Constituencies beginning with "F"
  3. ^ a b "ARCHER-SHEE, Lt.-Col. Sir Martin". Who Was Who. A & C Black. 1920–2008. Retrieved 28 August 2011.
  4. ^ Larry L. Witherell. Rebel on the Right: Henry Page Croft and the Crisis of British Conservatism 1903–1914. p. 221. Retrieved 28 August 2011.
  5. ^ Hart′s Army list, 1903
  6. ^ "No. 27359". The London Gazette. 27 September 1901. p. 6305.
  7. ^ "No. 27428". The London Gazette. 25 April 1902. p. 2769.
  8. ^ "The War - Return of Troops". The Times (36779). London. 28 May 1902. p. 9.
  9. ^ "No. 27476". The London Gazette. 23 September 1902. p. 6078.
  10. ^ Lewis, Geoffrey (2006). Carson: The Man Who Divided Ireland By. Continuum. pp. 61–2. ISBN 1-85285-570-3.
  11. ^ A Challenge in the Trenches The Times 25 July 1917
  12. ^ "No. 32840". The London Gazette (Supplement). 29 June 1923. p. 4609.
  13. ^ "No. 34145". The London Gazette. 26 March 1935. p. 2091.

External links

  • Hansard 1803–2005: contributions in Parliament by Martin Archer-Shee
Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
William Charles Steadman
Member of Parliament for Finsbury Central
Constituency abolished
New constituency Member of Parliament for Finsbury
Succeeded by
George Gillett
Retrieved from ""
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