Strathard Heritage Archive

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Peter Joynson and before…

Having barely recovered from the shock of Saffrey Miller’s sudden passing in 2019, our community was then stunned by the deaths of Kate Joynson and David Miller earlier last year.  Now, the last of that distinguished quartet, Peter Joynson, has died. He became vice-chairman of the Loch Ard Local History Group when it was first founded in 1999.  History, and above all local history was Peter’s enduring passion.

His abiding legacy to us is his book ‘Local Past’. It proved so popular that a reprint was required. Should anyone be curious about how much local hare was shot during the course of the 1926 season as opposed to that of 1933, the book will reveal exact amounts and much besides.  

Peter’s writing is though far from a repository of fact. The book makes enjoyable reading, punctuated as it is with descriptions of numerous happenings, recounted with Peter’s dry wit.

Take Great Uncle Edward Joynson who visited the Trossachs for the first time with a companion in 1833. They travelled to Inversnaid by steamer and thence to Altskeith. Here they intended to eat supper and stay overnight. Whilst awaiting their meal upstairs, a fight broke out in the parlour below. They were then obliged to retreat to Aberfoyle. Nonetheless, Loch Ard enchanted them, and the prospect of good shooting meant that generations of Joynsons would become associated with the area.  

When Walter Joynson journeyed from Cheshire in the early twentieth century to stay at The Glassert for the season, he chartered a locomotive and carriages to avoid a wait for connections. The train conveyed his family, housekeeper, children’s nurse, three maids, a horse and carriage, two dogs, three cage birds, nine tame rabbits and six bicycles. Their arrival at Aberfoyle Station must have created quite a stir.

Peter occasionally mentioned a deceased relative through marriage. This was William Hicks, born in Canonbury London in 1865. William’s father was well regarded as deputy chairman of the London General Omnibus Company. At the time, the company owned some six hundred horse-drawn buses. 

William Hicks took a pledge to abstain from alcohol at the age of 14, which he observed all his life. After schooling he was articled to a London Solicitor, and in time established his own practice. 

A turning point in his life proved to be the summer of 1894. When holidaying, he met Grace Joynson, the daughter of Richard Hampson Joynson, a Manchester silk manufacturer. They married the following year at which point Hicks added his wife’s surname to his own. Thereafter he was invariably known as ‘Jix’

Perhaps because of his father’s interest in transport, William Joynson-Hicks embraced the burgeoning motor car.   In 1906 he compiled “The Law of Heavy and Light Mechanical Traction on Highways” thus establishing himself as an authority in this then uncharted field of law. He was ideally suited therefore as the first Chairman of the Motor Union, which merged with the Automobile Association in 1911. He continued in that capacity until 1922. The first AA patrols were equipped only with bicycles. Their primary duty was to source bottles of petroleum, then only available from chemists. They performed a further useful function to early motorists. A member displaying the Association badge on a car was customarily saluted by patrols. If though a patrolman merely stood to attention, it was customarily to warn that a zealous police officer checking speed was in the offing!

However, Joynson-Hicks had ambition beyond the AA’s then Head Office in London’s Leicester Square. Having joined the Conservative Party, he was adopted as a prospective parliamentary candidate. In that capacity, he unsuccessfully contested the constituency of Manchester North West at the General Elections of 1900 and 1906. In 1908, the sitting MP, no less than Winston Churchill, was obliged to submit to re-election after his appointment to the Board of Trade. Churchill would have normally been returned unopposed, but for the fact that he had crossed the floor to the  Liberal party in 1904. Joynson-Hicks defeated Churchill, a fact that made newspaper headlines. The commotion was though short-lived. Churchill was shortly after returned to Parliament as MP for Dundee.  

Joynson-Hicks soon had troubles of his own.  In 1910 there occurred two General Elections. He lost his seat in the January 1910 election and failed to win Sunderland in the second. However the Conservative party was loath to lose his undoubted talent and in the following year he was elected unopposed as MP for Brentford, a seat he then held until retirement.

During the First World War, he added aircraft design and production to his portfolio of expertise. This was not a moment too soon for by 1916, enemy Zeppelins, followed a year later by Gotha aircraft, were wreaking havoc on a fearful civilian population, largely in London. Through Joynson-Hick’s determination and support, British manufacturers were able to develop planes to defend the nation.  For his war work, he was created a Baronet. 

During the immediate post-war years, Joynson Hicks’ parliamentary career was in danger of becoming becalmed. After a short economic boom, Britain fell victim to recession. Unemployment rose sharply and consequently Prime Minister David Lloyd George became increasingly unpopular. His government fell in October 1922. At the ensuing General Election, the Conservatives won a narrow victory under Andrew Bonar Law. The refusal of many members to serve as cabinet ministers under Bonar Law proved ultimately to Joynson-Hicks’ advantage. He was appointed Secretary for Overseas Trade  and then in the course of the next fifteen months, Paymaster and then Postmaster General. When Baldwin replaced Bonar Law, Joynson-Hicks was again promoted, this time to Financial Secretary to the Treasury and a place in the Cabinet. 

The January 1924 General Election allowed the first Labour Government under Ramsey MacDonald to take office. By the end of the year, it had fallen, and the Conservatives under Baldwin resumed government. Joynson-Hicks at this point reached the high-water mark of his career by being appointed Home Secretary. In that office he proved splendidly reactionary, being implacably opposed to, amongst other matters, night clubs and the liberal pen of the author D. H. Lawrence.

At about this time, Joynson-Hicks was tipped as a future leader of the party and indeed Prime minister.  There were though two other stars in the political firmament that contrived always to eclipse him. These were Stanley Baldwin and Neville Chamberlain. The latter succeeded the former as Prime minister in 1937. Both were to face major crises in their terms of office, so perhaps fate smiled kindly upon Joynson-Hicks.  

The Conservatives unexpectedly lost power at the General Election in May 1929. A month later, Joynson-Hicks was raised to the peerage as the Viscount Brentford.  Having resigned from the Commons, he remained a senior figure within the Conservative Party, but declining health was now overtaking him. He died in 1932.

Joynson-Hicks was to make one final mark upon the annals of history. The form and content of the Anglican Book of Common Prayer had remained unaltered since 1662. For some years there had been pressure within the church for change, resulting in interminable bickering between factions. By 1928, the proposed amendments had been placed before Parliament. William Joynson Hicks was staunchly anti-revisionist and the Bill failed. This was perhaps why Peter, a devout member of St Mary’s Aberfoyle, always professed great affection for the unadulterated form and language of the 1662 Prayer Book.

May he with Kate rest in peace.

Richard Grosse

Until his retirement last year, Richard Grosse was Rector of St Mary’s Aberfoyle linked with St Andrew’s Callander.