The Lord Thomas of Swynnerton
|Member of the House of Lords|
16 June 1981 - 7 May 2017
|Born||21 October 1931|
|Died||7 May 2017(aged 85)|
Conservative (until 1998)
Labour (until 1974)
Thomas was born 21 October 1931 in Windsor, England, to Hugh Whitelegge Thomas, a colonial commissioner, and his wife Margery Augusta Angelo, née Swynnerton. Sir Shenton Thomas was his uncle. He was educated at Sherborne School in Dorset, before taking a BA in 1951 at Queens' College, Cambridge, where he was a major scholar and was later an Honorary Fellow. Thomas gained a first class in Part I of the History Tripos in 1952 and was president of the Cambridge Union Society in 1953. He also studied at the Sorbonne in Paris.
From 1954 to 1957, Thomas worked in the Foreign Office partly as secretary of the British Delegation to the sub-committee of the UN Disarmament Commission. From 1966 to 1975, he was professor of History at the University of Reading, and chairman of the European committee. Thomas was then chairman of the Centre for Policy Studies in London from 1979 to 1991, which worked for Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.
Until 1974, Thomas was a member of the Labour Party. He became a life peer as Baron Thomas of Swynnerton, of Notting Hill in Greater London in letters patent dated 16 June 1981 and sat as a Conservative, before he joined the Liberal Democrats in 1998. He later sat as a crossbencher.
He wrote political works favouring European integration such as Europe: the Radical Challenge (1973), as well as histories. He was also the author of three novels: The World's Game (1957), The Oxygen Age (1958), and Klara (1988). Thomas' 1961 book The Spanish Civil War won the Somerset Maugham Award for 1962. A significantly revised and enlarged third edition was published in 1977; further editions were published in 1999 and 2012. Cuba, or the Pursuit of Freedom (1971) is a book of over 1,500 pages tracing the history of Cuba from Spanish colonial rule until the Cuban Revolution. In 1985, he signed a petition against the political project of the Sandinista National Liberation Front of Nicaragua, in support of the Contras, an anti-Sandinista paramilitary group.
Thomas was married to Hon. Vanessa Jebb, a painter and daughter of Gladwyn Jebb, the first Acting United Nations Secretary-General and British Ambassador to France. They had three children: Inigo, Isambard and Isabella.
Thomas won the Somerset Maugham Award (1962), the Nonino Prize (2009), the Boccaccio Prize (2009), the Gabarrón Prize (2008) and the Calvo Serer Prize (2009). The French Government appointed him Commander of the Order of Arts and Letters in 2008.
Thomas also received the Grand Cross of the Royal Order of Isabella the Catholic from Spain as well as the Mexican Order of the Aztec Eagle, the Joaquín Romero Murube Prize in Seville (2013) and the Grand Cross of the Civil Order of Alfonso X the Wise (2014).