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The Right Honourable
 Herbert Fisher 

In office
10 December 1916 – 19 October 1922
Monarch George V
Prime Minister David Lloyd George
Preceded by The Marquess of Crewe
Succeeded by Hon. E. F. L. Wood

Born 21 March 1865 (1865-03-21)
Died 18 April 1940 (1940-04-19)
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. 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.. 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. and received the Order of Merit in 1937.[9]

He died by being hit by a bus [1]


Fisher married the economist and historian Lettice Ilbert (1875-1956) in 1899. Their only child was the British academic, Mary Bennett. Fisher died in April 1940, aged 75.


  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 Herbert Fisher
  3. ^ London Gazette: no. 28642, p. 6631, 6 September 1912.
  4. ^ Helen Mathers (2005) Steel City Scholars: The Centenary History of the University of Sheffield, London: James & James
  5. ^ 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. ^ House of Commons: Clonmel to Cork County West
  9. ^ Order of Merit

External links

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Charles Stuart-Wortley
Member of Parliament for Sheffield Hallam
Succeeded by
Douglas Vickers
New constituency Member of Parliament for Combined English Universities
With: Sir Martin Conway
Succeeded by
Sir Martin Conway
Sir Alfred Hopkinson
Political offices
Preceded by
The Marquess of Crewe
President of the Board of Education
Succeeded by
Hon. E. F. L. Wood
Academic offices
Preceded by
Charles Eliot
Vice-Chancellor of the University of Sheffield
Succeeded by
William Ripper


Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

The Right Honourable Herbert Albert Laurens Fisher, OM (21 March 186518 April 1940) was an English historian, educator, and Liberal politician.


  • All political decisions are taken under great pressure, and if a treaty serves its turn for ten or twenty years, the wisdom of its framers is sufficiently confirmed.
    • Political Prophecies (1918)
  • It is easier for eight or nine elderly men to feel their way towards unanimity if they are not compelled to conduct their converging maneuvers under the microscopes and telescopes of the press, but are permitted to shuffle about a little in slippers.
    • An International Experiment (1921)

A History of Europe (1934)

  • I can see ... only one safe rule for the historian: that he should recognize in the development of human destinies the play of the contingent and the unforeseen.
    • Preface
  • Purity of race does not exist. Europe is a continent of energetic mongrels.
    • Ch. 1
  • Politics is the art of human happiness.
    • Ch. 31

External links

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