Thomas Dewar, 1st Baron Dewar

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Lord Dewar

Thomas Robert "Tommy" Dewar, 1st Baron Dewar (6 January 1864 – 11 April 1930) was a Scottish whisky distiller who, along with his brother John Dewar, built their family label, Dewar's, into an international success. They blended their whisky to make it more appealing to the international palate and Dewar demonstrated particular skills in marketing, travelling the world to find new markets and promote his product, exploiting romantic images of Scotland and tartan in his advertising.

Early life

Dewar was born in 1864 in Perth, Scotland. The son of John Dewar, Sr., he was exposed at a very young age to the spirit industry in Scotland as his father founded the John Dewar & Sons, Ltd. He earned his education in Perth, as well as in Edinburgh and he soon realised that farming was not his calling.


After his father's death Dewar worked with his brother John A Dewar Jr to continue and grow their family's brand. Gifted with a charisma, Dewar was able to expand his father's business on a global scale.

Leaving his brother in Scotland to run the business, Dewar set out to publicise their brand to the world. Visiting 26 countries over the course of 2 years, the Dewar's brand was put on the map as one of the premier Scotch whiskies available. Dewar kept a journal of his travels which were consolidated and published in the book titled, "Ramble Round the Globe," published by Chatto and Windus in 1894. In 1923 Dewar purchased the Glen Ord Distillery and two years later the Dewar brothers took their company to join the Distillers Company Ltd, both joining the board.

Political career

Dewar was a justice of the peace for Kent and a Lieutenant of the City of London, Sheriff of London in 1897, and then entered politics as the unsuccessful Conservative candidate at the Walthamstow by-election in 1897. At the general election in October 1900 he was elected as the Member of Parliament for Tower Hamlets, St George, holding the seat until he stood down in 1906. During this period, Dewar was noted for his hostility to "pauper immigration" and played an active part in campaigning for the legislation that became the Aliens Act 1905. As the predominant emigrant group arriving in the East End in this period were Jews from Eastern Europe, Dewar's statements have been generally regarded as anti-Semitic.


Dewar was knighted in 1902,[1] created a baronet, of Homestall Manor in the Parish of East Grinstead in the County of East Sussex, in 1917,[2] and raised to the peerage as Baron Dewar, of Homestall in the County of Sussex, in 1919.[3] However, as he never married the baronetcy and barony became extinct on his death, at Homestall, in April 1930, aged sixty-six, following which he was cremated at Golders Green Crematorium.[4]

Sporting interests


Thomas Dewar became involved in Thoroughbred horse racing as an owner and breeder. He is best known for two significant horses: Challenger and Cameronian.

Challenger, foaled 1927, whom Dewar bred and raced at age two but who then was sold to American interests after his death. The stallion went on to become the Leading sire in North America in 1939. Bred by Dewar and foaled in 1928, Cameronian won the 1931 Epsom Derby and 2,000 Guineas Stakes.[5]

Sports prizes

Dewar created several Challenge Shields for various sports around the United Kingdom and abroad,[6] as well as the Sheriff of London Charity Shield and the Dewar Cup in the United States for Association football.

For cycling he donated The Dewar Challenge Shield in 1901, a heavily embossed silver plaque depicting goddesses and allusions to Scotland to include thistles and a profile of a racing cyclist centrally mounted. It is inscribed; 'Theatrical Sports Five Miles Cycling Championship Shield' – 'Presented by Sir Thomas Dewar MP – To be won Three Years in Succession'. Mounted on a shaped wooden mount, it possesses 14 silver name plaques of winners between 1901 and 1928.

The Lord Dewar Challenge Cup was also presented to the Serpentine Swimming Club in Hyde Park in 1925.


A Dewar Challenge Shield, donated by Dewar's granddaughter Alice Dewar, is competed for annually by three rowing clubs in Hammersmith, West London: Furnivall Sculling Club, Sons of the Thames and Auriol Kensington Rowing Club.

See also

The Dewarists


  1. ^ "DEWAR, Sir Thomas Robert". Who's Who. Vol. 59. 1907. p. 480.
  2. ^ "No. 30224". The London Gazette. 10 August 1917. p. 8130.
  3. ^ "No. 31348". The London Gazette. 20 May 1919. p. 6247.
  4. ^ The Complete Peerage, Volume XIII – Peerage Creations 1901–1938. St Catherine's Press. 1949. p. 306.
  5. ^ Cameronian at the National Horseracing Museum
  6. ^
  • Dewar's World of Whisky
  • Gazetteer for Scotland
  • Dewar's & Sons Scotch Whiskey Homepage

External links

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Harry Marks
Member of Parliament for St George, Tower Hamlets
Succeeded by
William Wedgwood Benn
Peerage of the United Kingdom
New creation Baron Dewar
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