Baron Professor Max Beloff of Wolvercote

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Max Beloff, Baron Beloff

Birthplace: London, United Kingdom
Death: March 22, 1999 (85)
London, United Kingdom
Immediate Family:

Son of Semion (Simon) Beloff and Maria Beloff
Husband of Helen Beloff
Father of The Honourable Michael Jacob Beloff, QC and Private
Brother of Renee Soskin, JP; Nora Makins; Dr. John L. Beloff and Anne Ethel Beloff-Chain. Lady Chain

Occupation: British historian and Conservative peer
Managed by: Randy Schoenberg
Last Updated:

About Baron Professor Max Beloff of Wolvercote

Max Beloff, Baron Beloff, FBA, FRHistS, FRSA (2 July 1913 – 22 March 1999) was a British historian and Conservative peer. From 1974 to 1979 he was principal of the University College of Buckingham, now the University of Buckingham.

Early life

Beloff was born on 2 July 1913 at 21 York House, Fieldway Crescent, Islington, London and was the oldest child of a Jewish family who had moved to England in 1903 from Russia. He was the elder son in a family of five children of merchant Simon Beloff and his wife Marie. His sister Anne later married German-born Nobel Prize winning biochemist Ernst Boris Chain in 1948. His elder brother was the psychologist John Beloff. The young Beloff was educated at St Paul's School, and then studied Modern History at Corpus Christi College, Oxford where he graduated with first-class honours. (Scholar; MA; Honorary Fellow, 1993). The Beloff family's lineage to the House of David as descendants of Rabbi Meir Katzenellenbogen, the Maharam of Padua, is detailed in The Unbroken Chain.

Political views

In his 1992 autobiographical work An Historian in the Twentieth Century Beloff discusses his political journey. He had been at school a Conservative, and was then attracted to socialism once at university, before becoming a liberal after the Second World War. In the debate about educational standards in the 1960s he found the Labour government hostile to his idea of a university outside the state-financed framework, and felt the Liberals were 'moving increasingly to the left. This inclined him to join the Conservative Party upon his retirement in 1979.

He received a knighthood in 1980, and in 1981 he was created a life peer, taking the title Baron Beloff, of Wolvercote in the county of Oxfordshire. He spoke often on educational and constitutional matters in the House of Lords, and outside of the chamber continued to write. He was a strong Eurosceptic and argued that Britain's history made it incompatible with membership of the European Union, which led to him writing European Union: A Dialogue of the Deaf, published in 1996.

He was a strong opponent of New Labour's House of Lords Act, and gave many speeches in the chamber defending the hereditary principle, however he died before the bill was passed. He gave his final speech in the House of Lords on 22 March 1999, the day he died.


  • Junior Research Fellow, Corpus Christi College, 1937
  • Assistant Lecturer in History, Manchester University, 1939–46
    • World War II service: Royal Corps of Signals, 1940–41.
  • Nuffield Reader in Comparative Study of Institutions, Oxford University, 1946–56

In 1954, he delivered the Albert Shaw Lectures on Diplomatic History at Johns Hopkins University for that year, with the lectures later published as Foreign Policy and the Democratic Process.

  • Fellow of Nuffield College, Oxford, 1947–57
  • Gladstone Professor of Government and Public Administration, Oxford University, 1957–74, then Professor Emeritus
  • Fellow, All Souls College, Oxford, 1957–74, Emeritus Fellow, 1980–99
  • Supernumerary Fellow, St Antony's College, Oxford, 1975–84
  • Principal, University College of Buckingham, 1974–79
  • Honorary Professor, St Andrews University, 1993–98.

He became governor of the University of Haifa, and was knighted in 1980 and elevated to a life peerage with the title Baron Beloff, of Wolvercote in the County of Oxfordshire in 1981. After his death the University of Buckingham established 'The Max Beloff Centre for the Study of Liberty' in January 2005.

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Baron Professor Max Beloff of Wolvercote's Timeline

July 2, 1913
London, United Kingdom
April 18, 1942
March 22, 1999
Age 85
London, United Kingdom