Herbert Albert Laurens Fisher, FRS

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Herbert Albert Laurens Fisher, FRS

Birthplace: Onslow Square, London, UK
Death: April 18, 1940 (75)
St. Thomas`s Hospital, London (injuries sustained when a lorry knocked him down)
Immediate Family:

Son of Herbert William Fisher and Mary Louisa Jackson
Husband of Lettice Fisher
Father of Mary Bennett
Brother of Florence Henrietta Fisher; Arthur Alexander Fisher; Emmeline Mary Morris; Adeline Maria Vaughan Williams; Edmund Montagu Princep Fisher and 5 others

Occupation: historian and Minister of Education
Managed by: Private User
Last Updated:

About Herbert Albert Laurens Fisher, FRS

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Right Honourable Herbert Fisher OM, PC

President of the Board of Education In office 10 December 1916 – 19 October 1922

Born 21 March 1865 London Died 18 April 1940 Nationality British Political party Liberal Spouse(s) Lettice Ilbert (1875–1956) Alma mater New College, Oxford

Herbert Albert Laurens Fisher OM, FRS,[1] PC (21 March 1865 – 18 April 1940) was an English historian, educator, and Liberal politician. He served as President of the Board of Education in David Lloyd George's 1916 to 1922 coalition government.

Background and education

Fisher was born in London,[2] the eldest son of Herbert William Fisher (1826–1903), author of Considerations on the Origin of the American War and his wife Mary Louisa Jackson (1841–1916). His sister Adeline Maria Fisher was the first wife of the composer Ralph Vaughan Williams, another sister Florence Henrietta Fisher married both Frederic William Maitland and Francis Darwin. Fisher was a first cousin of Virginia Woolf and her sister Vanessa Bell.[citation needed] He was educated at Winchester and New College, Oxford, where he graduated with a first class degree in 1888 and was awarded a fellowship.[2]


Fisher was a tutor in modern history at the University of Oxford. His publications include Bonapartism (1908), The Republican Tradition in Europe (1911) and Napoleon (1913).[2] In September 1912, he was appointed (with Lord Islington, Lord Ronaldshay, Justice Abdur Rahim, and others) as a member of the Royal Commission on the Public Services in India of 1912–1915.[3] Between 1913 and 1917 he was Vice-Chancellor of the University of Sheffield.[4]

In December 1916 Fisher was elected Member of Parliament for Sheffield Hallam[2][5] and joined the government of David Lloyd George as President of the Board of Education.[6] He was sworn of the Privy Council the same month.[7] In this post he was instrumental in the formulation of the 1918 Education Act, which made school attendance compulsory for children up to the age of 14.[2] In 1918 he became MP for the Combined English Universities.[8]

Fisher resigned his seat in parliament through appointment as Steward of the Chiltern Hundreds on 15 February 1926, retiring from politics to take up the post of warden of New College, Oxford, which he held until his death.[citation needed]. There he published a three volume History of Europe (ISBN 0-00-636506-X) in 1935.[2] He was awarded the 1927 James Tait Black Memorial Prize for his biography James Bryce, Viscount Bryce of Dechmont, O.M.[citation needed] and received the Order of Merit in 1937.[9]

In 1939 he was appointed first Chairman of the Appellate Tribunal for Conscientious Objectors in England and Wales.[10]

Fisher was killed by a bus in 1940, aged 75.[11] Some of his possessions, including his library and some of his clothing, remained at New College. In 1943 Operation Mincemeat, a British Intelligence operation to deceive enemy forces, undertook the invention of a false Royal Marine officer, whose body was to be dropped at sea in the hope the false intelligence it carried would be believed. As the fictious Major Martin was to be a man of some means, he required quality underwear, but with rationing this was difficult to obtain, and the intelligence officers were unwilling to donate their own. Fisher's was obtained, and the corpse used in the deception, dressed in Fisher's quality wollen underpants, succeded in misleading German Intelligence.[12][13]


Fisher married the economist and historian Lettice Ilbert (1875–1956) in 1899. Their only child was the British academic, Mary Bennett.


  1. ^ H.A.L. Fisher: A History of Europe, Volume II: From the Beginning of the Eighteenth Century to 1935, Glasgow: Fontana/Collins, 1984, p. i.
  2. ^ a b c d e f spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk Herbert Fisher
  3. ^ London Gazette: no. 28642, p. 6631, 6 September 1912.
  4. ^ Helen Mathers: Steel City Scholars: The Centenary History of the University of Sheffield, London: James & James, 2005
  5. ^ leighrayment.com House of Commons: Hackney to Harwich
  6. ^ London Gazette: no. 29865, p. 12227, 15 December 1916.
  7. ^ London Gazette: no. 29875, p. 12471, 22 December 1916.
  8. ^ leighrayment.com House of Commons: Clonmel to Cork County West
  9. ^ leighrayment.com Order of Merit
 10. ^ Rachel Barker: Conscience, Government and War, Routledge, 1982
 11. ^ "Obituary: James Kirkup: poet and translator". May 13, 2009. http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/comment/obituaries/article6275318.ece. 
 12. ^ Macintyre, Ben (January 14, 2010). "Operation Mincemeat: full story of how corpse tricked the Nazis". The Times. http://entertainment.timesonline.co.uk/tol/arts_and_entertainment/books/book_extracts/article6986802.ece. 
 13. ^ Operation Mincemeat, BBC 4, 22 February 2011
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Herbert Albert Laurens Fisher, FRS's Timeline

March 21, 1865
Onslow Square, London, UK
January 9, 1913
April 18, 1940
Age 75
St. Thomas`s Hospital, London