James W. Lowther, 1st Viscount Ullswater, was first elected as an MP in 1883. He came from a political family, as did his wife, Mary Frances Beresford-Hope, who was niece of Prime Minister Salisbury. He became Chairman of Ways & Means (Deputy Speaker) in 1895 and Speaker in 1905.
Speaker Lowther was generally acknowledged to be a dignified and tactful presence in the Commons, who did a good job of reconciling factions during a difficult political period. However he made a controversial ruling on women’s suffrage in 1913, declaring that it could not be added to a men’s suffrage bill. This effectively scuppered the whole bill, to the great anger of Prime Minister H. H. Asquith, some MPs, and suffrage campaigners. Despite this, he was universally praised for his fair handling of the Conference on Electoral Reform during 1916 –17.
This photograph includes (left to right), A. J. Balfour, Sir Edward Grey, Speaker Lowther, Mrs Lowther, John Redmond, Ramsay MacDonald.