Wedgwood, Josiah Clement, First Baron°

views updated


WEDGWOOD, JOSIAH CLEMENT, FIRST BARON ° (1872–1943), British statesman and supporter of Zionism. Wedgwood was a member of the famous pottery family and was educated at Clifton College. He first worked as a naval architect and a military officer. He was a member of Parliament from 1906 to 1942, when he received the title baron; until 1919 he was a member of the Liberal Party, and from then on a member of the Labour Party. While serving on the Gallipoli front as an artillery officer in 1915, Wedgwood met the men of the Zion Mule Corps, commanded by Joseph *Trumpeldor, and from then on took an active interest in Zionism. He participated in the political efforts which led to the *Balfour Declaration in 1917 and was among those who influenced President Wilson's delegate at the Versailles Peace Conference, Colonel House, to take a sympathetic stand toward Zionism. Between the two world wars, he visited several countries on Zionist missions and made two visits to Palestine in 1926 and in 1934. Wedgwood envisaged a Jewish state on both sides of the Jordan that would be a member of the British Commonwealth. He was among the founders of the "League for the Seventh Dominion" and in 1928 published The Seventh Dominion, a work on this subject. He realized at an early stage that the British government would abandon its pro-Zionist policy and concluded that the Jews must fight the British administration with all the means at their disposal – including illegal ones. He was close to V. *Jabotinsky and the *Revisionist movement and often voiced criticism of the Zionist and yishuv leadership for their loyalty to the British authorities. He even drew up a plan for war against the Mandatory government that provided, inter alia, for "illegal" *immigration and for armed resistance to repressive acts perpetrated against the Jews by the British authorities. On the outbreak of World War ii, Wedgwood called for the establishment of a Jewish fighting force within the framework of the British army.

Wedgwood published a number of books, including Testament to Democracy (1943), Forever Freedom (with A. Nevins, 1940), and Palestine: The Fight for Jewish Freedom and Honor (1926), a collection of speeches made in America. One of the leading gentile pro-Zionists of his time, he wrote an autobiography, Memoirs of a Fighting Life (1940). Dame C.V. Wedgwood (1910–1997), the famous historian, was his niece.


C.V. Wedgwood, The Last of the Radicals (1951). add. bibliography: odnb online.