Biography of Sir Frederick Edwin Smith 1st Earl of Birkenhead
Frederick Edwin Smith, 1st Earl of Birkenhead (1872-1930) was Rector of the University from 1922 until 1925.
Born in Birkenhead, Smith studied at the University of Liverpool and at Wadham College, Oxford and he was a president of the Oxford Union. He became a Fellow of Merton College and taught Law until 1899, when he was called to the Bar. Elected a Conservative MP in 1906, he was Solicitor General and then Attorney General during the First World War. In 1919 he was appointed Lord Chancellor and was created Baron Birkenhead, and he played an important role in negotiating the Anglo-Irish Treaty of 1921 which created the Irish Free State. From 1924 to 1928 he served as Secretary of State for India and later became Rector of the University of Aberdeen and High Steward of Oxford University.
Birkenhead stood against the Liberal statesman Sir John Simon and the novelist HG Wells in the rectorial election of 1922. In his controversial rectorial address in November 1923, he created headlines by scorning the notion that the League of Nations would be able to preserve international peace.
Now available: A pdf version of the Earl of Birkenhead's Rectorial Address, entitled Idealism in International Politics (12 pages, 3.3mb. GUAS Ref: UGC 57/41/1. Copyright reserved.), delivered to the University of Glasgow on the 3rd November 1923.