Appendix C - Sir Arthur Otway


Sir Arthur Otway

Not many members of the present House of Commons will be able to recall the Parliamentary services of the Right Hon. Sir Arthur John Otway, whose death, at the great age of 89, occurred at his residence, 34 Eaton Square, S.W. on Saturday.

He was the fourth son of Admiral Sir Robert Otway, G.C.B. and was born in Edinburgh in August 1822. His first profession, after a course of education at Sandhurst and in Germany, was the Army, which he entered as an ensign of the 51st Regiment in 1839. With this regiment he served for about seven years; and then, betaking himself to the Middle Temple, he was called to the Bar in 1850. Soon afterwards he was enabled to enter public life as Liberal member for Stafford, which borough he represented from 1852 to 1857; and in after years he sat, at one time for Chatham, and subsequently for Rochester.

He had been in the House for 16 years when he was appointed at the end of 1868 to the most important of the subordinate posts in Mr Gladstone's first Government, and was for the next three years Under-Secretary for Foreign Affairs. His chief was Lord Clarendon, then filling for the fourth time the office of Secretary of State. Lord Clarendon, however, died on the very eve of the Franco-Prussian War, Lord Granville succeeding him, and the eventful months that followed were full of work and anxiety for the representatives of the Foreign Office in both houses. Sir A Otway held no other Ministerial post, but remained a private member of the House until his tenure, from 1883 to 1885, of the post of Chairman of Ways and Means - that is, of Committees of the whole House. In 1885 he retired from Parliament. He had considerable Parliamentary ability, but in those days obstruction and other circumstances rendered the Chairman's duties extremely burdensome, especially to a man who had already given the best part of his life to Parliament.

Sir A Otway succeeded his brother as third baronet in 1881, and became a Privy Councillor in 1885. He married in 1851, Henrietta, daughter of Sir James Langham, who died in 1909. His only son died unmarried in 1884 and the baronetcy becomes extinct.


Sussex Portrait Gallery - No. XXIII.


SIR ARTHUR JOHN OTWAY has a threefold claim to a place in the Gallery of Sussex Celebrities; first, as a Director of the Brighton Railway and of the Newhaven Harbour; secondly, as the son of one who was most closely associated with the beginning of Brighton as a modern watering place; and, thirdly, as a former resident in, and a constant visitor to, the place of his early training.

The Otways are a family of old renown in Yorkshire and Westmoreland. 'Col. Otway, a younger brother (Ed's note - actually cousin) of Sir John Otway, of Ingmire Hall, gave his sword to the Parliament, and was one of Cromwell's best officers. He received, in the Irish Settlement, a grant of lands comprising a large portion of the county of Tipperary. The estate was considerably shorn of its proportions at the Restoration of Charles 11, but Castle Otway has remained in the possession of the family until the present time, and the County of Tipperary was represented in the Imperial Parliament during the governments of Earl Grey, Lord Melbourne, and Sir Robert Peel, in the Liberal interest by its then owner, the Hon. Robert Otway Cave, cousin of Sir Arthur. Ingmire Hall, Kendal, is still the home of the English branch, though it passed in the 17th century into the female line. It is from the Irish branch that the present Sir Arthur is descended. His father, Sir Robert W. Otway, was a naval officer in the days when our navy was constantly in action. He served from the beginning to the end of the war with France, and was so fortunate as to be engaged more than one hundred times, including in the number of the great victories of Howe and Nelson. At Copenhagen he was Sir Hyde Parker's flag captain, and brought home the despatches. Nelson thought very highly of Captain Otway, and he begins one of his private letters thus: " Otway is as good as gold." For his eminent services Admiral Otway was created a Baronet and a G.C.B.

It was his close personal friendship with William IV. that first brought Admiral Otway to Brighton. At a house in Regency Square the King paid the first visit he ever made, after his accession, to the mother of Lady Otway, herself the widow of a distinguished admiral, under whom the King had served as Duke of Clarence.

Sir Robert Otway was one of the first inhabitants of Kemp Town, and there the present baronet passed his boyhood. He was sent to school, when six years old, in Marlborough Place, in a house overlooking the Pavilion entrance lodge, then occupied by Sir Herbert Taylor, the King's private secretary. From the school windows the boys cheered the sailor king's triumphal entry into Brighton on his accession. From this school Arthur Otway went to France and Germany, and afterwards to Sandhurst, whence he took his commission direct in 1839, and was gazetted to the 51st Yorkshire Light Infantry, then in Australia. After two years' service he was promoted (1841) to the 2nd Queen's; he joined that regiment in India and served with it until 1846, when he retired from the Army.

On returning home he began to study for the Bar, and entered his name as a Student at the Middle Temple. But before he had time to hold his first brief, politics took possession of him. He did not deliberately choose public life as a career, but rather he was forced into it by his sense of a great evil to be remedied. It was a time when Indian affairs were becoming a burning question. Arthur Otway had strong Liberal predispositions, and, moreover, his residence in India had given him some practical insight into the administration of that great dependency by the Hon. East India Company. He ardently joined John Bright, Blackett, Phillimore, and others in the formation of the India Reform Society. In 1852 he was elected for Stafford after a severe contest, and in the following session he undertook to open in the House the question of India Administrative Reform.

Mr. Otway selected as his point of attack the complications at Baroda, which had led to the recall of Outram; he moved for an inquiry into the charges and allegations made by Outram of corruption at Baroda, and the enquiry which was granted contributed largely to that interest in Indian affairs which resulted in the transfer of the government of India from the East India Company to the Crown.

At the General Election of 1857 Mr. Otway retired from Parliament, and in 1859 he unsuccessfully contested Chatham. In 1865 he was, how-ever, returned at the head of the poll for the same constituency; and he thereupon undertook to lead a new crusade.

Mr. P. A. Taylor, then Member for Leicester, now a Brighton resident, had for some years introduced a motion on the subject of flogging in the Army, in the form of an amendment to the Annual Mutiny Act. With Mr. Taylor's concurrence Mr. A. Otway took charge of this question. Seeing that Mr. Taylor's "hardy annual" had but little chance of bearing fruit he resolved to transplant it. He dropped the amendment to the Mutiny Bill, and introduced a special resolution, carefully worded, so as to meet the objection which many members felt to abolishing corporal punishment during active service. His resolution ran, "that this House, reserving for future consideration the exigencies of a state of war, is of opinion that flogging in the Army should be abolished in time of peace." This resolution was carried by a majority of one in 1866. That it was a long time in producing its full effect was due, not to Mr. Otway, but to official and semi-official procrastination. At last, however, on the formation of the Liberal Administration of 1880, Mr. Otway succeeded in obtaining a promise from Mr. Childers that a substituted scheme of punishment should be forthwith provided, and in the following year flogging finally came to an end in war time, as it had already done in time of peace.

Mr. Otway's political services were recognised by his appointment, in 1868, to the post of Under~Secretary for Foreign Affairs, in Mr. Gladstone's first Administration. That post he held until 1871, when he resigned office on matters of opinion connected with our action on Russia's declaration as to the Black Sea Treaty, which he felt he could not defend in the House of Commons. He was out of Parliament from 1874 to 1878, being defeated at Chathani in the former year, and elected for Rochester at a bye election in the latter year. In the next Parliament he again represented Rochester and in 1883 he was, on the suggestion of Mr. Gladstone, proposed, and, with the cordial assent of both sides, appointed Deputy Speaker and Chairman of Ways and Means. This post he occupied through some very exhausting sittings of the House until the dissolution of 1885, when he resolved to retire from Parliamentary life.

Sir A. Otway was invited to a seat upon the Board of the Brighton Railway upon the reconstruction of the directorate in 1868. He retired during his Chairmanship of the House, but such had been his colleagues' sense of his services that, at a Special General Meeting early in 1888, on the motion of Mr. Laing, an increase in the Directorate was unanimously voted to enable his name to be restored. Sir Arthur has also taken an active part as a Director of the Newhaven Harbour Board from its formation.

Sir Arthur has always had a great attachment to Brighton, and has generally spent a portion of each year there, occupying for several recent years a house in First Avenue. In 1863 he was selected, in conjunction with Sir Julian Goldsmid and the late Professor Fawcett, as Liberal candidate, but he retired before nomination day, in the hope of healing a split which was threatened by another candidate, who refused to bow to the decision of the Committee. Since that date the pressure of his Parliamentary and Railway duties has prevented Sir A. Otway from taking any active part in local matters, but no one who has had an opportunity of conversing with him will entertain any doubt as to the lively nature of the interest which he retains in the advancement of the town. Attached though he is to Brighton, he is quite alive to its imperfections, foremost among which he places the want of a good permanent orchestra. "In this respect," said Sir Arthur recently, "Brighton is behind not only every German Spa, but such English watering-places as Buxton, Scarborough, and even Weymouth, a place of less than a tenth the population of Brighton. If the Queen of the South Coast is to retain her right to the title she must speedily increase her attractions." Sir Arthur Otway hopes that, if the inhabitants will not allow the Corporation to incur the expense of providing a band worthy of the town, the New Pier Company will be able to supply the deficiency.

Sir A. Otway is at present in his seventieth year; he is a Magistrate for Middlesex, and resides in Eaton Square. He married, in 1851, a daughter of Sir James Langham, the tenth Baronet.

Some measure of his influence and popularity in the world, both of society and finance, may be afforded by the fact that his advocacy of the claims of the Railway Benevolent Institution, as Chairman of its annual dinner last May, produced a sum of 6,016 in donations to the funds of the Institution.

J. B.C.

Extract from The Brighton and County Magazine - Dec 1891

CLOCK TOWER, North Street and Queen's Road

Brighton's Jubilee Clock Tower, designed by John Johnson, was built in 1888 to commemorate Queen Victoria's golden jubilee of the previous year. The foundation stone was laid by Sir Arthur Otway on 20 January 1888, the seventieth birthday of John Willing, a local advertising contractor whose gift to the town the Clock Tower was at a cost of 2,000. Despite being described as 'worthless' by Sir Nikolaus Pevsner, the Brighton public has retained a nostalgic affection for the Clock Tower and it remains at what is probably the hub of modern Brighton despite proposals to remove it.

The tower stands 75 feet high on a red granite base with four seated female statuettes. Above are portraits of Queen Victoria, her late husband Prince Albert; her son Edward, Prince of Wales, and his wife Princess Alexandra. They are flanked by columns and topped by pediments with four projecting hulls giving directions to Hove, the sea, Kemp Town and the station. Above the 5-foot clock faces and cupola is a 16-foot mast, at the base of which lies a gilt-copper sphere. This was a time ball, designed by Magnus Volk and controlled by land-line from Greenwich Observatory, which rose hydraulically up the mast and fell on the hour, but it functioned for a few years only after complaints about the noise. An excellent model of the Clock Tower may be found in Brighton Museum.

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