Born on Teeside, Horace King (1901-1986) came to Southampton after graduating from King's College, London in 1922. He worked as an English teacher at Taunton's School until 1947 when he became headmaster at Regent’s Park Boys School. He and his wife were evacuated with Taunton's to Bournemouth in the war and were active in providing services for evacuated children.
King first stood as a Labour candidate in the 1945 election and although Labour won a landslide he failed to get elected in what was then the safe Conservative seat of New Forest and Christchurch. In the 1950 election, King won the newly-created Southampton Test seat, albeit with a very small majority. He successfully defended the seat in the 1951 election. At the 1955 election, King switched his candidacy to the far safer neighbouring seat of Southampton Itchen, where he held the seat until he left the House of Commons in 1971. In September 1965 he was elected Speaker of the House, a position he held until his retirement in 1971. After leaving the Commons, he entered the Lords and was created a life peer as Baron Maybray-King of the City of Southampton. He went on to serve as a Deputy Speaker of the Lords. He took the ‘Maybray’ from his own middle name which was also his mother Margaret's maiden name.
He served on Hampshire County Council from 1946 to 1965.
His first wife (of four), Victoria Florence King, was also politically active, becoming a town councillor and mayor of Southampton in Coronation year, 1953. She received a posthumous OBE.
During the war Maybray-King organised a fund to raise money for Spitfires. He wrote The Hampshire Spitfire Song to encourage donations. The chorus ran:
There's music in the sky
Don't you hear the engines humming
Prepared to do or die,
The Hampshire 'Planes are coming,
Spitfire or Defiant,
So give a rousing cheer,
The HAMPSHIRE 'PLANES are here!
The idea was that different areas could replace "Hampshire" with their own placename and use the song to raise funds locally. The song was dedicated to Frank tizzard, a former pupil of Taunton's School who was in the RAF. Maybray-King wrote several other songs including When the Convoy Comes Into Port, The ARP Song, The AFS Song and The Evacuees' Song. He also wrote a song for Southampton schoolchildren, which the children of Bassett Green School sung to the mayor. This included the lines:
Though homes lie battered and families scattered,
We still proudly cling to the things that have mattered;
And one day again, 'neath Heaven's bright dome,
Grandly she'll flourish, Southampton our home.
Test Division: Dr. H. M. King - (Southampton Labour Voice, February 1950)
When a mantle of history falls upon a teacher ... - (Southern Evening Echo, 26/10/1965)
"Revived! Horace King's war song" - (Southern Evening Echo, 11/02/1976)
Lord Maybray-King (obituary) - (The Times, 04/09/1986)
"Horace King - a man of many roles" - (Southern Evening Echo, 05/09/1986). says that Maybray-King came to Southampton "on the toss of a coin". Describes Maybray-King at civic dances: "he would smile that wicked, charming smile, and before your answering grin was gone from your lips, your wife was". "There was a time in Southampton's social life that no formal event in the city's big hotels seemed complete without Horace King, banging his spoon on the table to emphasise his 'Hear Hear!" during long after-dinner speeches". Uses material from an unpublished biography of Maybray-King by Minnie Horton, and from a wireless interview with Bob Mitchell in memory of Maybray-King. Includes pictures of Maybray-King, including one at a dance. Describes a speech he made in 1971 to Old Tauntonians, mentioning the boys he had taught who were killed in the war.
Southampton People, by John Edgar Mann, p66-67. (HS/t)
Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, 2004, Volume 31 (under King, Horace Maybray-)
Familiar and Forgotten, by Southampton City Art Gallery. (HS/t)
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