Stamp, Sir Josiah Charles, CBE, FBA, DSc, LLD, Baron Stamp of Shortlands

WM layman, who became a widely acclaimed economist and statistician. He was born at Kilburn on 21 June 1880. The son of a Baptist father and an Anglican mother, he came into Methodism through his wife. His interest in political economy began while he was at school in Goudhurst, Kent at the early age of 12. He was largely self-taught, working his way up in the Inland Revenue, which he entered as a boy clerk in 1896, and becoming assistant Secretary to the Board when he was 36. At the same time he educated himself in economics and political science and in 1911 took a first class in the London BSc. This brought him to the attention of the LSE and he gained a DSc in 1916, becoming widely recognised as an expert on taxation.

In 1919 he left the civil service for the business world. Among the various positions he held were those of Secretary and Director of Nobel Industries and of ICI. From 1923 he was president of the Abbey Road Building Society and from 1925 a governor of the LSE. In 1927 he became president of the London, Midland and Scottish Railway and from 1927 he was Colonel commanding the Royal Engineers Railway and Transport Corps. He represented Britain on the committees dealing with German reparations after World War I. In 1928 he became a Director of the Bank of England and served on Royal Commissions in England and Canada. As a founder-member of the Anglo-German Fellowship from 1935 he met leading German politicians, including Adolf Hitler, and was associated with the appeasement policies of Halifax and Chamberlain. He refrained from entering parliamentary life, but was raised to the peerage in 1935. He became a CBE in 1918, KBE in 1920, GBE in 1924 and GCB in 1935. He was the first Methodist to become President of the British Association for the Advancement of Science. In 1936 he gave the Fernley-Hartley Lecture on 'Motive and Method in a Christian Order'. He received a total of twenty-three honorary degrees from British and overseas universities, beginning with both Oxford and Cambridge in 1926 and including Yale and Columbia.

A member of the Beckenham Church, he was a lay member of the Conference, chairman of governors at both Queenswood and The Leys School and a Treasurer of the NCHO. He delivered the first Beckly Lecture on Social Service (1926). Despite being nominated every year between 1934 and 1938 he was never elected Vice-President of the Conference. He and his wife and eldest son were killed in their home at Shortlands, Kent by a bomb on 16 April 1941.

Stamp's younger brother Sir Laurence Dudley Stamp (1868-1960), born at Catford and educated at Kings College, London, taught at the London School of Economics from 1926 and was professor of Economic Geography (1945) and Social Geography (1948).


'Lord Stamp was unique. I choose that word because no other is appropriate. His uniqueness, I think, principally lay in this: he was himself a host of men, each one of which by himself would have been memorable. That, perhaps, is the nearest one can get in the attempt to convey in words the totality of his personality...

'It would be wrong to suggest that Stamp was the outstanding economist of his generation. His interests were too many and too varied to permit of that amount of devotion to research and purely academic work which produces the superman in economics. His contribution to economic thought must not be judged solely by his own published work. He moved freely among economists, both in the official and business world and in the academic sphere. He was interested in a wide range of problems, and his participation in these discussions generated ideas like sparks from a grindstone. In this way he initiated and stimulated a great deal of research which, though published under other auspices, owed its inspiration to him. This was a quality of his mind with which all his friends were familiar...

'He remained loyal to his early religious faith and was a devoted Methodist… Both he and Lady Stamp had good voices and in their younger days were members of the choir in the Wesleyan Church at Twickenham. He filled most of the offices open to laymen in Methodism, and was also an occasional, though not an accredited, local preacher. Some clue to his sense of responsibility for the discharge of his obligation to the Church he loved may be found in the fact that on one occasion, when in Paris attending the meetings of the Dawes Commission in connection with the vexed question of reparations, he slipped home during the week-end, primarily to serve on the Sunday morning as the steward responsible for assisting at the Communion Service.'

Harold Bellman, Cornish Cockney,Reminiscences and Reflections (1947) pp.221-5

  • Times, 18 April 1941
  • Methodist Recorder, 10 September 1936; 24 April 1941
  • John H. Jones, Josiah Stamp, Public Servant... (1964)
  • Dictionary of Business Biography
  • Oxford DNB