3 Responses to The ‘Imps’ at local level: New research on the Junior Imperial League

  1. Dr Chris Woodcock says:

    Whilst researching family history I came across a reference to the Junior Imperial and Constitutional League (Surrey Federation). My wife’s grandfather, Lt-Col Aylmer Galloway presided at their annual meeting and conference in Epsom on Saturday 7th March 1931. At this time he would have been about 54 years old, which does not seem to tie in with the “youthful” nature of the Junior Imperial League. Can someone on your research team please explain this for me?
    [Reference: Sunday Mirror & County Post, Friday 13th March 1931, page 12.]

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    • Dear Chris,

      I think I can explain this, as I was the one who conducted the research you saw mentioned on our site. The Conservative Party leadership were very keen to reach out to the ‘younger generation’ in the 1920s and 1930s, and quite often the Junior Imperial League (JIL) branches had a membership category that defined membership as including ‘junior members’ between the ages of 14 and 25. I think there was a much more flexible approach to classifying who was ‘young’ and who was not. Local branch activists from this 14-25 age category were often elected (or selected) to key executive positions in a given branch. On the other hand, what is clear to me, having looked at a considerable range of examples of JIL branches in the Surrey, Middlesex and general Thames Valley areas, is that the main parent (Conservative) Party remained keen to retain fairly tight control and/or influence over JIL branches, and key positions (such as Hon. President, Hon. Chair, Hon. Treasurer, etc) often ended up in the hands of what you might call the ‘older generation’ of Conservative Party members. Indeed, it was quite common for the local Member of Parliament to be Hon. President of a given branch or, in some cases, a Conservative Party constituency agent to be in a key local branch executive role. While this was not always the case, quite often it was. I am, of course, basing my comments on the evidence I have gleaned from looking at branches in approx 2-3 counties only, so I can’t really comment about the wider national context and whether this was replicated in lots of other branches. I suspect it was. Anyway, fascinating to hear about your wife’s grandfather and many thanks for sharing your findings.
      Best wishes,
      Steve.W.

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      • Dr Chris Woodcock says:

        Thank you Steve for your helpful and interesting response. It still seems a little odd that people in their fifties should have held influential positions in what was, in effect, a “Young Conservatives” organisation, but I can understand your reasoning. It could not happen now, of course!
        Thanks again.

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