Arthur Strettell Comyns Carr
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Arthur Strettell Comyns Carr

Arthur Comyns Carr, circa 1914

Sir Arthur Strettell Comyns Carr (19 September 1882 - 20 April 1965) was a British Liberal politician and lawyer.

Family and education

Comyns Carr was the son of J. Comyns Carr, a dramatist and art critic. His mother, Alice Comyns Carr (1850-1927), was a costume designer for the theatre. He was born in Marylebone and educated at Winchester College and Trinity College, Oxford. In 1907 he married Cicely Raikes Bromage, the daughter of a clergyman. They had three sons including Richard Strettell Comyns Carr who was the second husband of the avant garde English novelist Barbara Comyns Carr.[1]


In 1908, Comyns Carr was called to the Bar at Gray's Inn. He became a King's Counsel in 1924, a Bencher of the Inn in 1938[2] and eventually Treasurer in 1951. Comyns Carr's reputation as a barrister was confirmed in a libel action brought by Horatio Bottomley against an associate named Reuben Bigland.[3] Carr's cross-examination of Bottomley and another key witness destroyed his case and was instrumental in Bottomley's eventual imprisonment on charges of fraud and his expulsion from the House of Commons.[4] Comyns Carr later began to specialize in the law relating to local taxation and as a result of appearing in landmark rating appeals he was engaged as counsel to government departments. He also became an expert in the subject of national insurance. Much later Comyns Carr was a prosecutor in trials of German and Japanese war criminals,[5] and he was knighted for this work in 1949.[6]

War service

At the outbreak of the First World War Comyns Carr he joined the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve and later served on the staff at the Ministry of Munitions. He also acted as an adviser to the Ministry of Reconstruction. In the last months of the war he joined the army as a private soldier but did not serve overseas.[7]


Comyns Carr's expertise in National Insurance led him to co-author a book on the subject in 1912 to which David Lloyd George wrote the preface.[8] He was a member of the Liberal land inquiry committee of 1912 and also sat on the land acquisition committee in 1917.

His ambition to become a Liberal Member of Parliament (MP) led Comyns Carr to stand for Parliament on eleven occasions in all. He first stood for election in 1918 in St Pancras South West against a Conservative opponent who had received the Coalition Coupon [9] and fought the same seat again in 1922.[10] At the 1923 general election Comyns Carr had his only success, becoming Liberal MP for Islington East turning a Unionist majority of nearly 4,000 [11] into a Liberal majority of 1,632 [12] but he lost the seat at the general election of 1924 like many other Liberals swept away as British politics seemed to be reverting to its traditional two party model. In 1928, he was Liberal candidate at the by-election for the constituency of Ilford [13] and fought the seat again in the general election of the following year.[14]

In 1930, Comyns Carr published an influential and controversial booklet, Escape from the Dole, which gained him significant public attention. In it he queried the policy of spending large sums of money supporting the unemployed when the government could be investing in providing work for them.[4] He then challenged Winston Churchill in his constituency at Epping in the 1931 general election [15] and in 1935 he suffered his heaviest defeat ever at Nottingham East.[16] In June 1936 he was elected to serve on the Liberal Party Council.[17] He stood again in 1945 when he lost at Shrewsbury.[18] In October 1945 he was a candidate at another by-election, this time in the City of London.[19]

Other public appointments

In later life Comyns Carr served as chairman of the Foreign Compensation Commission (1950-1958) and was a president of the Institute of Industrial Administration and of the Association of Approved Societies.[20] He was also President of the Liberal Party in 1958-59.[21] Comyns-Carr was also one of the British prosecutors at the Tokyo Trials.


He died in Hampstead on 20 April 1965. A memorial service was held for him in the chapel of Gray's Inn on 24 May 1965.[22]



  1. ^ Roy Douglas, "Sir Arthur Comyns Carr", Brack et al. (eds.) Dictionary of Liberal Biography; Politico's 1998, pp. 84-85
  2. ^ The Times, 5.5.38
  3. ^ Alan Hyman, The Rise and Fall of Horatio Bottomley: The Biography of a Swindler; Cassell, 1972
  4. ^ a b Douglas, Dictionary of Liberal Biography
  5. ^ Maureen Mulholland, Brian S. Pullan, Anne Pullan, R. A. Melikan, The Trial in History; Manchester University Press, 2003 p139
  6. ^ Mark Pottle, entry on Comyns Carr in Dictionary of National Biography, OUP 2004-2008
  7. ^ Pottle, DNB
  8. ^ The Times, 7.2.12
  9. ^ The Times, 10.12.18
  10. ^ The Times, 8.11.22
  11. ^ The Times, 22.11.23
  12. ^ The Times 30.10.24
  13. ^ The Times, 13.2.28
  14. ^ The Times, 31.5.29
  15. ^ The Times, 10.10.31
  16. ^ Who was Who, OUP 2007
  17. ^ The Liberal Magazine, 1936
  18. ^
  19. ^
  20. ^ The Times, 21 April 1965
  21. ^ The Times, 16 November 1960
  22. ^ The Times, 25.5.65

External links

  This article uses material from the Wikipedia page available here. It is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.



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