Foot, Isaac, 1880-1960Alternative names
The following information is drawn primarily from Sarah Foot's biography, My Grandfather Isaac Foot ; The Times and The New York Times obituaries (December 14, 1960), and Theodore G. Grieder's, The Isaac Foot Library: A Report to the University :
Isaac Foot, influential British politician, staunch Methodist preacher, avid book collector, and author, was born February 23, 1880, and died December 12, 1960. The son of a builder and carpenter, he grew up in Plymouth and began his career as a poorly paid clerk in the Civil Service. He went on to establish a successful solicitor's (law) firm and held a seat in Parliament, 1922 to 1924 and 1929 to 1935, as an outspoken Liberal Party member for Bodmin, Cornwall.
Foot also was Deputy Mayor of Plymouth, 1920-1921; Minister for Mines, 1931-1932; Lord Mayor of Plymouth, 1945-1946; and President of the Liberal Party Organization, 1947. At various times he was President of the National Temperance League, the National Sunday School Union, and the National Education Association, as well as President of the Brotherhood movement, 1936-37, and Vice-President of the Methodist Conference, 1938. He was a leader in the free trade movement and in the movement for Indian independence.
In 1904 Foot married Eva Mackintosh (1878-1946). They had five sons and two daughters. Three of his sons, Hugh, Dingle, and Michael (known in some quarters as the "Three Left Feet") also became prominent politicians and government officials. Hugh Foot, a Governor of Cyprus, had a long, distinguished career in the Colonial Service and at the United Nations; Dingle was a Labour MP and Solicitor General for the Labour Government, 1964-1967; and Michael has been a well known journalist, Left-wing Labour leader and MP.
During the course of his lifetime, Foot amassed one of the largest private libraries in the country, at his home in Pencrebar, Cornwall. Estimated to be some 52,000 books, it was particularly strong in law, politics, English history and literature, and religion, all of which were particular interests of Foot's. As Sarah Foot notes in My Grandfather Isaac Foot (p. 79), it was the breadth of the subject matter that was particularly impressive:
There were works on Cromwell and Milton, a fantastic collection of Bibles, 450 Greek Testaments alone, books on the Apostles especially Paul, and a group of religious books concerned with the Wesleyans, showing the strong influence Methodism played in his life. There were 2,000 books on the French Revolution and Napoleon Bonaparte, and several volumes covering the American Civil War, military campaigns and Abraham Lincoln, another hero of his. There were books covering the Italian Renaissance and the works of Robert Louis Stevenson, Thomas Carlyle and William Wordsworth.
Letters, documents, historical and literary manuscripts were a lesser interest for Foot, but within the library there were a number of important items such as letters from William and Dorothy Wordsworth, Thomas Carlyle, and Richard Cobden. A fuller description of the library, including the manuscripts, is included in Theodore Grieder's Isaac Foot Library: A Report to the University .
Foot's interest in British history and politics, particularly Oliver Cromwell and the Commonwealth period (mid 17th century), is reflected in his publications. These include a number of monographs, articles, as well as printed versions of some of his more notable speeches, lectures, and addresses. Among these are:
The City of the Living God: Studies of Wesley's Catholicity, with T. S. Gregory (London, 1932).
Drake's Drum Beats Again (Plymouth, Eng., 1945).
Liberty and the Liberal Heritage . Ramsey Muir Memorial lecture (London, 1948).
Michael Verran of Callington and Thomas Carlyle (London, 1946).
Oliver Cromwell and Abraham Lincoln, a Comparison: A Lecture Delivered before the Royal Society of Literature... (London, 1945).
William Tyndale, an Apostle of England (London, 1936).
For further biographical information, see:
Sarah Foot. My Grandfather Isaac Foot . St. Teath, Cornwall: Bossiney Books, 1980.
From the guide to the Isaac Foot Collection, ca. 1530-1964, (University of California, Santa Barbara. Library. Dept. of Special Collections)
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