British Empire League

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British Empire League
Photo of Lord Avebury.jpg
Founder Lord Avebury
PredecessorImperial Federation League
Founded1895 (1895)
FounderLord Avebury
Extinction1955 (1955)
PurposeUnity for the British Empire
HeadquartersLondon, England, U.K.

The British Empire League existed from 1895 to 1955; its purpose was to secure permanent unity for the British Empire.


The British Empire League was a society founded by Lord Avebury (1834-1913), Lord Roberts (1832-1914) and Lord Strathcona (1820-1914) in London in 1895 with the aim of securing permanent unity for the British Empire.[1][2] It was successor to the former Imperial Federation League, which had broken up in 1893.[3]

Presidents of the League included: Lord Derby (1841-1908), Lord Sydenham (1848-1933), and the Duke of Devonshire (1833-1908); Vice-Presidents included: Bonar Law (1858-1923), Earl Grey (1851-1917), and Arthur Balfour (1848-1930).[3]

In 1947, the League merged with the Commonwealth Industries Association, retaining its name until 1955.[1]


The League helped to mobilise troops during the Second Boer War and World War I; at Imperial Conferences between 1897 and 1911, it called, among other things, for the introduction of an imperial penny post; later it called for preferential tariffs, putting forward a strong case at the 1932 British Empire Economic Conference for the protection of the British film industry.[1]

The League was active in the British dominions of Australia and Canada in the early part of the twentieth century.[3] Francis Bertie Boyce (1844-1931) was the first president of the British Empire League in Australia, in 1901 (and also in 1909-11);[4] George T. Denison (1839-1925) was the first president of the League in Canada.[5]

The League's focus on the celebration of the birthday of Queen Victoria - 24 May - as a patriotic holiday[6] was, in Australia, not only an observance of the holiday in schools, but also a wider opportunity to demonstrate loyalty to Britain; Empire Day was officially adopted by the Reid Government in 1905 and observed for more than fifty years.[7] The League sponsored a monthly Australian publication, United Australia, which featured on its cover Britannia and the motto "One people one destiny".[8]


  1. ^ a b c Barberis, Peter (2005). Encyclopedia of British and Irish Political Organizations: Parties, Groups and Movements of the Twentieth Century. London: Continuum International Publishing Group. p. 94. ISBN 0826458149.
  2. ^ Cook, Chris (2014). Sources in British Political History 1900-1951: Volume I: A Guide to the Archives of Selected Organisations and Societies. London: Palgrave Macmillan. p. 107. ISBN 1349155659.
  3. ^ a b c Stephen, Daniel (2013). The Empire of Progress: West Africans, Indians, and Britons at the British Empire Exhibition, 1924-25. London: Palgrave Macmillan. p. 26. ISBN 1137325119.
  4. ^ "Boyce, Francis Bertie (1844–1931)". Australian Dictionary of Biography. 2017. Retrieved 2 October 2017.
  5. ^ Gagan, David Paul (2013). The Denison family of Toronto 1792-1925. Toronto: University of Toronto Press. p. n.p. ISBN 0802032974.
  6. ^ "Empire? What empire?". The Daily Telegraph. 2004. Retrieved 2 October 2017.
  7. ^ Griffiths, John (2014). Imperial Culture in Antipodean Cities, 1880-1939 (Britain and the World). Toronto: Palgrave Macmillan. p. 154. ISBN 1137385723.
  8. ^ "United Australia". Internet Archive. 2017. Retrieved 2 October 2017.
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