Mr John M. Mason

no-picture-square3John Marshall Mason, 65, (1868-1954), financier, may well have been a significant financial backer of this whole enterprise, perhaps commissioning the portrait and backing the dinner. He is a brother of Margaret Eadie Mason (Mrs William Liddle Gledstone) and the uncle of both Margaret Gledstone, the dinner’s organiser (at least for tickets) and of Mrs C. R. Niven.

Seated Beside…

Probably with his sister Mrs William Liddle Gledstone and/or his niece Mrs C. R. Niven.

What’s On His Mind?

Having been a member of the Sound Money Association (1920-28) and with prices falling in 1933 he probably was going to be one of the last to admit that Keynesian stimulus as being advocated by Harold Macmillan and others was going to revive the economy. If he had been the backer of the dinner I suspect he was interested to see if his money had been well spent.

John’s Story So Far

John was born on 27th January 1868 in Scotland to Martha Marshall of Machan in Lanarkshire and Stephen Mason, M.P. and was a career-long money man. He was a financial bill agent in 1901 (at the time of the census a visitor in the Guildford home of the Gledstones, i.e. at his sister’s home), and a dealer in US securities in the 1911 census. Alongside his work he was the Treasurer of the Sound Money Association from the early 1920s to 1928, his brother and Liberal M.P. David Marshall Mason being in the Chair. The latter organisation was designed to combat inflation and pushed, successfully, for Britain to go back onto the Gold Standard (which it did in 1925).  Not that it turned out to be a good idea and Britain came back off in 1931 in the face of the Depression.

What John Did Next

Five days later, on 28th March, John attended the marriage at St. Paul’s Church, Knightsbridge, of his nephew George Marshall Mason, the second son of family patriarch David Mason.  A total of nine members of the family were there.

On May 5th 1937 he attended his sister-in-law Mrs David Marshall Mason’s reception at 34 Queen’s Gate Gardens, Kensington, SW (as did other Masons including his father Stephen and Mrs C.R. Niven and the Gledstones).[1] By 1939 John, by then styling himself a retired accountant, was living with his sister Margaret’s family in Guildford. He died in 1954.

John Mason’s great nephew Christopher Spicer has given us his personal recollections:  “John Mason, my Uncle Jack, I knew living in Malvern with his sisters Chris, Flo and Madge. To me he was a kindly old gentleman, from I inherited his silver topped walking stick. Coming from a strong Scottish Liberal family, as his brother David, he would have had views following the terrible Great War, which saw the start of  female emancipation,  that would have been in line with those of Lady Rhondda. Also, by 1933 he would have been a very disillusioned money man. By 1940 the David Masons and John and his sisters had all decamped to Malvern in Worcestershire.”[2]

puzzle-piece2-50 Was the Mason/Gledstone family one of the driving forces behind the commissioning of the Rhondda portrait? Young Margaret was selling the tickets.  Perhaps she just thought her family would like to take a table.


[1] The Times, 6.5.1937 p19

[2] With many thanks to Christopher Spicer for these recollections, and for his contribution also on his aunt Dorothy, Mrs. C.R. Niven née Mason, on his aunt Margaret Gledstone and on his great aunt Louisa Martindale, Table 10.  And thank you also to Christopher’s nephew Charles for his additional insights and advice.

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