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Henry Usborne: Politician and World Government Campaigner

  • 25th November 2018
How a chance find in the archives inspired research into a Worcestershire Resident and Midlands MP, with international consequences.
In May 1972 the British Library of Political and Economic Science undertook a survey of the personal papers of politicians of the Twentieth Century. One of the people contacted regarding their parliamentary career, was retired MP Henry Usborne. This led him to consider what to do with his papers on a more permanent basis. Once the survey was complete the library offered to find a record office that could take his papers. Henry Usborne and his family lived in Evesham so he saw Worcestershire Record Office as the appropriate place to hold his collection. After several years of sorting, the first part of his collection came to us in 1994; a second collection arrived after his death in 1997.

 

Henry Usborne was born in Hisar, The Punjab, India on the 16th January 1909. He was one of five children. His father Charles Usborne was a civil servant working in India. Henry’s parents died while he was still at school so he, along with his brothers and sisters went to live with his aunt in Inkpen Berkshire.

 

Unlike his father and older brothers who all studied the classics, Henry studied engineering and after graduation founded his own company in oil combustion engineering, which is still based in Droitwich. During WW2 he converted his company to make fire extinguishers.

 

Before the Second World War he was an RAF reservist, and according to his obituary, he was forced to leave when he returned from a training flight with the top of a tree stuck to his tail plane. It appears to have attached itself after a low swoop over Inkpen when he dropped off a message to his fiancée Pamela Watson, who he married in 1936.

Reference 705:731 BA 11538 parcel 1(ii) Extract from his Maiden Speech to House of Commons Dated 22nd November 1945

He served as local MP from 1945 until 1959 for Acocks Green and then Yardley . During this time he founded the Parliamentary Group for World Government, now called The All Party Group for World Governance, which is one of the oldest groups in parliament. The group founded the One World Trust in 1951. The One World Trust is now a leading educational charity and a think tank for issues of Global Governance and accountability.

The Campaign for World Government originated in the USA. It was founded in New York by Rosika Schwimmer and Lola Maverick Lloyd in 1937. Edith Wynner, a friend, activist and secretary to Rosika Schwimmer came to London in 1945 and worked with Henry on this campaign.

Reference 705:731 BA 11538 parcel 1 (iii)-(iv) An extract from ‘The Way to Permanent Peace: An Urgent Manifesto to the Members of Parliament of All Nations, to the Governments of All Nations and to the United Nations’ produced by the World Association of Parliamentarians for World Government’ Printed [mid 1950s]

The Schwimmer-Lloyd Collection, which is held in New York Public Library consists of the correspondence and papers of Rosika Schwimmer (1877 – 1948) her colleague Lola Maverick Lloyd (1875 – 1944) and the papers of their associates. Edith Wynner was heavily involved in securing material for this collection and was the Schwimmer-Lloyd consultant until the late 1990’s.

On a recent visit to New York I was lucky enough to be given access to the Manuscript Room at the New York Public Library. I spoke to the Librarian about Henry Usborne and his archive. References to his collection of papers will now be added to the Rosika Schwimmer catalogue. Research students worldwide will now be aware of his contribution to World Governance.

One response to “Henry Usborne: Politician and World Government Campaigner”

  1. Ian Hackett says:

    The One World Trust could have been fairly described as a leading educational charity up until the early 2000s, but, like the PGWG, it has lost its way since. As Director of the OWT from 1994-9, the last event I put on before retiring was THE INAUGURAL HENRY USBORNE MEMORIAL LECTURE in which Mario Soares, former President of Portugal and then President of the EU and Chair of the World Commission on the Oceans, addressed an audience in the House of Commons on 10th March, 1999. Before that, the PGWG published Henry’s manifesto, PRESCRIPTION FOR PEACE in 1985.

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