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Donald Bradley Somervell, Baron Somervell of Harrow OBE, PC, QC (24 August 188918 November 1960) was a British barrister, judge, Attorney General and Conservative Party politician. He was briefly Home Secretary in Winston Churchill's 1945 caretaker government.

Background, education and legal career

Somervell was the son of Robert Somervell, Master and Bursar of Harrow Schoolmarker, and was educated there before reading chemistry at Magdalen College, Oxfordmarker. He then joined the Inner Templemarker but his legal training was interrupted by the outbreak of the First World War. In 1916 he was called to the Bar and practised in the chambers of William Jowitt, specialising in commercial law matters arising out of the Treaty of Versailles.

Political career

In 1929 he entered politics. Although a Liberal by inclination, the decline of that party and his admiration for the then-Prime Minister Stanley Baldwin led him to instead join the Conservative Party and he stood unsuccessfully for Crewe in the 1929 general election. He won the seat in the 1931 election and held it for the next fourteen years.

In 1933 he became Solicitor General, followed three years later by a promotion to Attorney General. In this latter post he served for no less than nine years, during which he oversaw crises such as the Abdication Crisis of Edward VIII. He was the longest-serving attorney-general since 1754. In 1945 he was briefly Home Secretary in Winston Churchill's "Caretaker" government. The government lost power and Somervell lost his seat in the 1945 general election and he returned to the law.

Judicial career

In 1946 he became a Lord Justice of Appeal. In 1951 Churchill returned to power but passed over Somervell's claims to the Lord Chancellorship. In 1954 Somervell he became a Lord of Appeal in Ordinary and a Law Lord he received a life peerage as Baron Somervell of Harrow, of Ewelme in the County of Oxfordmarker. He retired in 1960, shortly before his death.


Somervell married Loelia Helen Buchan-Hepburn, daughter of Sir Archibald Buchan-Hepburn, 4th Baronet, in 1933. She died in July 1945, aged 48. Somervell survived her by fifteen years and died in November 1960, aged 71. His grave can be found in the grounds of Saint Mary's Church in Ewelme, opposite that of the writer Jerome K. Jerome.


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