Bertram Godfray Falle, 1st Baron Portsea (21 November 1859 - 1 November 1948)
Lord Portsea, known as Sir Bertram Falle between 1916 and 1930, was a Jersey-born barrister and politician in the United Kingdom.
Background and education
Falle was the son of Joshua George Falle (1820-1903), Constable of Saint Helier and later Jurat of the Royal Court, and Mary Elizabeth (née Godfray ( -1917). He was educated at Victoria College and graduated in 1886 from Pembroke College, Cambridge with a Master of Law degree, having been called to the bar, Inner Temple, in 1885. In 1901 he graduated from the University of Paris with a Bachelor en droit degree.
Legal and political career
Falle was a Judge of the Native Court in Egypt from 1901 to 1903. Standing as a Liberal Unionist, he was elected as one of the two Members of Parliament for the Portsmouth constituency at the January 1910 general election. He joined the Conservative Party when the two parties formally merged in 1912, although the Liberal Unionists had long been indistinguishable from the Conservatives. During the First World War he served in the Royal Field Artillery, gaining the rank of Major. When the Portsmouth constituency was abolished for the 1918 general election, he was returned as a Coalition Conservative for the new single-seat Portsmouth North constituency.
Re-elected as a Conservative in 1922, he held the seat until his elevation to the peerage in 1934. Falle was made a Baronet, of Plaisance in the Island of Jersey, on 7 July 1916. In 1934 he was raised to the peerage as Baron Portsea, of Portsmouth in the County of Southampton.
Lord Portsea married Mary, daughter of Russell Sturgis and widow of Leopold Richard Seymour, in 1906. There were no children from the marriage. Mary died in February 1942. Lord Portsea survived her by six years and died in November 1948, aged 88. The baronetcy and barony became extinct on his death. In accordance with his wishes, his sister Albina (who died in 1957) made a bequest to the States of Jersey which became the Lord Portsea Gift Fund. The fund assists people from the Channel Islands who are unable to obtain sufficient financial support for additional training, re-training or specialised equipment in order to benefit their careers in the employment of the States of Jersey or of Guernsey, or of the United Kingdom.
House of Lords statement
Good reasons enough have been advanced for the abandonment of the Channel Islands to the enemy; but those reasons do not appeal to everyone.
"It was honestly meant", said Lord Portsea in the House of Lords on August 1, "but in my view there was a smell of cowardice about it". Lord Portsea belongs to an old Jersey family – his father was one of the judges of the Royal Court of Jersey – and the bitterness of his words will be understood. The Channel Islands had bot been conquered for over a thousand years he went on; the argument that the inhabitants had at least been spared the horrors of modern warfare and bombardment was, in his opinion, a Pétain argument, and he had no sympathy with it.
"I am a very old man", he added, "but do not imagine that because the sands of life are running out those sands are less hallowed. They are hoarded with miserly care. I say to this House in all honesty that if I could go to submit to that bombardment with any chance whatever of recovering those islands I would go today." In conclusion, he appealed to the Government to "do something for my fellow-countrymen" - an appeal which was at once answered in the most sympathetic spirit by the Duke of Devonshire.
By Maurice Michael
"My grandfather, William Butler, grew up in the equine world. His father was the horse-bus driver in the Gloucestershire town of Wotton-under-Edge. In 1885, age 14, he was sent to London to work as a stable boy for the Earl of Sefton. He became a coachman, successively to the Sefton family, Mrs Cornwallis-West and Lord and Lady Portsea. He worked for Lord Portsea from 1924 to 1943.
"Bertram Falle came from Jersey in the Channel Islands. He was MP for Southsea, but lost his seat in the General Election of 1931. He was created Lord Portsea in that year. From 1924 until 1943 my grandfather, William Butler, was his coachman. Throughout the 1930s and into World War 2 he was driven around London in a carriage. He was the last Peer of the Realm to arrive at the House of Lords in a carriage and pair. The policemen in the West End knew Bill well, since he was a rare sight on the London streets by that time. In the Blitz in 1940-41, Bill still drove through London. By this time Georgie and Ginger had been renamed Sarah and Churchill in tribute to the new Prime Minister. The horses' hooves were polished with boot-blacking to get a good shine. As the bombs fell on London, Bill and a groom stayed up all night in the stable to calm the horses in the noise and flashes from the German bombing raids.
"Lady Portsea died in 1943. Everything was sold and Bill had no job. "