Mrs Alfred J. King

Julia King [1]

Mrs Alfred J. KingJulia Constance King née Oliver, 68, (1865-1955) was a peace campaigner, strong supporter of votes for women. Her late husband was the Quaker Alfred John King, a cotton bleacher by profession, and Liberal MP for the Knutsford seat, from 1906 to 1910. Julia was the mother of Ida Whitworth, aka Mrs J. H. Whitworth, also at this table, and of two sons. Most of the crowned heads of Europe blew their noses on  Oliver cotton handkerchiefs, and for good measure, Julia was one of the first Englishwomen to learn to ski.[1]


The choice, as on many tables, is whether Julia was seated beside her daughter Ida. Perhaps the sexes were alternated so that Julia and her daughter Ida would have both been seated beside both men. The only “flaw” in that would be that JTR and Gordon West would not have been able to swap Lloyd George tales together: but for a table of four the conversation was probably around the table anyway, and if talking “shop”, on Liberalism, Lloyd George, campaigning and the unfolding events in Germany. But all four were great travellers, so an evening or travel tales was quite possible.


The events in Germany would doubtless have been of great concern to the peace activist Julia.


Julia Constance Oliver was born on New Year’s Day, 1st January 1865, in Bollington, Cheshire, the daughter of Maria Creswick (c1830-1901) from a silver plating family, and Thomas Oliver, (1823-1901), a cotton manufacturer. Thomas’s great-great grandson writes: “Thomas Oliver owned the Waterhouse cotton mill at Bollington, and her mother, Maria Creswick, came from a family of industrialists in Sheffield.  The Oliver mill prided itself on producing very high quality, 420 count, cotton (It was said that all the crowned heads of Europe blew their noses on an Oliver handkerchief).”[1]

Julia was the eldest of five children, having two brothers and two sisters. In 1881, at 16, Julia was a boarder at a school for Ladies at Stonard House, Stamford Hill. Her great-grandson writes: “Julia was brought up as a Wesleyan Methodist. After leaving school, she studied music and French in Fontainebleau.  She was amongst the very first Englishwomen to learn to ski. On 23rd August 1888 she married Alfred J. King, a Quaker, a son of John King Junior, mayor of Manchester, and had a successful bleaching business in Bollington. They had three children: Ida Mary, born on 11th October 1889, John Francis Oliver King, born in 1893 and Philip Fell King, born in 1897. Julia was a great supporter of the League of Nations (and travelled to Geneva for League of Nations meetings) and was active in the English Speaking Union. She was also a strong supporter of votes for women.”[1]

“She and her husband were staunch Liberals, and Alfred became the Liberal MP for Knutsford in 1906 – losing his seat in the 1910 election. When Alfred lost his voice during his election campaign, Julia stepped forward to make a speech on his behalf. Julia King was very active in local affairs in Bollington, setting up the Bollington District Nursing Association as well as a recreation centre for mill girls and serving as organist at the Methodist chapel. In 1910, Alfred and Julia King moved to Elleray in Windermere, where they lived until Alfred’s death in the mid-1920s.  In 1911 Prince Henry of Prussia, brother of the Kaiser, visited the Kings at Elleray, where they also received a delegation from the German community in Manchester.” [1]

In 1915 along with fellow diner The Hon. Mrs Franklin, (and many others) Julia was on the General Committee of the British Committee of the Women’s International Congress, linked to the Women’s Power to Stop War, a movement of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF) – a movement founded that year and continuing today.[2] On 15th October 1920 she arrived from Cape Town on the Kenilworth Castle, accompanied by her son Phillip F. King 23, a cotton manufacturer. Her husband Alfred had died earlier that year, on 16th March 1920. 


On 30th October 1934 Julia hosted the reception for her son Philip’s wedding, to Margery Kathleen Illingworth, from his home, Brockley Cottage, Edgware.[2]

Her great-grandson writes:  “Julia travelled extensively, visiting South Africa five times (where her son Philip was farming) and the USA four times, including , at the age of 84, sailing to New York to stay with family in Washington. She continued to live in or near Windermere.” [1]

Julia died on 1st February 1955, having recently turned 90, at Orrest Head, Windermere, Westmorland. She had outlived her four siblings.


[1] With many thanks to Michael Carter, great-grandson of Julia, and grandson of Ida, for these extensive contributions to The Dinner Puzzle including photographs and stories.

[2] Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF) 1915

[3] Yorkshire Post and Leeds Intelligencer, 31.10.1934


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