Skip to main content

The Papers of Thomas Horabin

Reference Code: GBR/0014/HRBN

Scope and Contents

Correspondence with Winston Churchill and Clement Attlee and other papers


  • Creation: 1939 - 1965


Conditions Governing Access

The collection is open for consultation by researchers using Churchill Archives Centre, Churchill College, Cambridge.

Conditions Governing Use

Researchers wishing to publish excerpts from the papers must obtain prior permission from the copyright holders and should seek advice from Archives Centre staff.

Biographical / Historical

Thomas Horabin was born in 1896 at Merthyr Tydfil, South Wales.

After the outbreak of war in 1939, he became outspokenly critical of the government’s administration and his views leant ever farther to the Left.

In the summer of 1939, Horabin was adopted as the Liberal candidate for North Cornwall. During the 1939 by-election he publicly declared that Churchill was ‘the only possible man for Prime Minister in this hour of danger’. During the campaign the North Cornwall Liberal Association circulated a petition throughout the constituency requesting that Chamberlain resign and the King entrusted Churchill with the formation of a Government of National Defence that comprised all parties. Churchill alone, the petition declared, had the ‘moral purpose, courage, experience and capacity to save us from these dangers in this hour of peril’.

He was appointed Chief Liberal Whip in August 1945, but decided to leave the party in the autumn of 1946. He joined the Labour party in November 1947. Despite the request of the North Cornwall Liberals that he resign his seat he declined to do so and sat as Labour member for the constituency for the duration of the parliament through to 1950.

Very little trace of his career survives apart from a Penguin Special, "Politics made plain" published in 1944 which set out his distinctive and radical political ideas. After an aircraft accident left him seriously injured, he decided not to run in the 1949 campaign for North Cornwall. He instead fought for the Exeter seat as a Labour Candidate and lost by some 3,000 votes. After this defeat his political activity ceased and he turned his talents elsewhere.

He died in Folkestone in 1956 aged 60.


1 archive box(es) : paper

2 folder(s)

Language of Materials


Other Finding Aids

A copy of this finding aid is available for consultation at Churchill Archives Centre, Cambridge.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The collection was deposited at Churchill Archives Centre in 2019

Related Materials

Thomas Horabin's correspondence with Winston Churchill is also documented in our collection of Churchill's papers [CHAR]. Many are duplicates of items within this catalogue. But it also contains a letter sent by Thomas Horabin which is not part of this collection. Within the letter Horabin conveys his experience of the "public opinion" of the war. [CHAR 2/358A-B no.142]


This collection level description and catalogue was prepared by Jessica Collins of Churchill Archives Centre in October 2019.


Horabin, Thomas, 1896-1956, politician


2019-10-11 14:33:16+00:00
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Churchill Archives Centre Repository

Churchill Archives Centre
Churchill College
Cambridge Cambridgeshire CB3 0DS United Kingdom
+44 (0)1223 336087