Ralph Kilner Brown

Ralph Kilner Brown
Medal record
Men's athletics
Representing  England
British Empire Games
1934 London 440 yd hurdles

Sir Ralph Kilner Brown, OBE, TD, DL (28 August 1909 – 15 June 2003), was a British hurdling athlete, Liberal Party politician and judge.


He was born in Calcutta, the son of Rev. A. E. Brown. He was educated at Kingswood School, Bishop Vesey's Grammar School[1] and Trinity Hall, Cambridge.[2]

He married, in 1943, Cynthia Rosemary Breffit. They had one son and two daughters.[3]

Sports career

He was a British 440 yards hurdles champion. At the 1934 Empire Games he won the bronze medal in the 440 yards hurdles event. He missed the 1936 Summer Olympics due to injury. His brother Godfrey and sister Audrey both won medals.

Professional career

In 1934 he was Called to the Bar by Middle Temple and worked at the chambers of Donald Finnemore.

He was commissioned into the Royal Army Service Corps in March 1939[4] and served on Field Marshal Montgomery's staff planning the Normandy landings.

He became a High Court judge in 1970 and served until 1985.[5]

Political career

At Cambridge University he was the runner-up for the Presidency of the Cambridge Union and president of the University Liberal Club, 1931-2. He had become noticed already through his many impassioned speeches as a Young Liberal in opposition to appeasement.[6]

In 1939 He was adopted as Liberal prospective parliamentary candidate for the Stourbridge Division of Worcestershire[7] in succession to his chambers boss Donald Finnemore, but had to wait until after the war ended in 1945 to fight an election. Despite starting in third place, he managed to increase the Liberal share of the vote;

General Election 1945: Stourbridge[8] Electorate 97,095
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Labour Arthur Moyle 34,912 48.5 +14.2
Conservative Robert Harry Morgan 18,979 26.3 -17.2
Liberal Lt-Col. Ralph Kilner Brown 18,159 25.2 +3.0
Majority 15,933 22.1
Turnout 74.2
Labour gain from Conservative Swing

He was President of Birmingham Liberal Organisation, 1946–56.[9] At the 1950 General Election, after boundary changes, Stourbridge was divided with part going into the new Oldbury and Halesowen seat. He fought this new seat for the Liberals. He finished third again.[10] He was Chairman of the West Midlands Liberal Federation, 1950–56. He was a Member of the Liberal Party National Executive, 1950–56.[11]

In 1959 he was Liberal candidate for the South Buckinghamshire Division. At the General Election he finished third. He continued to play an active part within the Liberal Party at a national level, being a Member of Liberal Party Council.[12] He fought South Buckinghamshire again at the following General Election in 1964 and pushed the Labour candidate into third place. However, this was his last parliamentary contest.[13]

In 1970 he declined an invitation to become a Liberal peer but accepted a knighthood.[14]


  1. The London Gazette: no. 34604. p. 1469. 3 March 1939. Retrieved 21 May 2015.
  2. "Sir Ralph Kilner Brown". The Times. Retrieved 20 December 2010.
  3. http://www.ukWhosWho.com
  4. The London Gazette: no. 34604. p. 1469. 3 March 1939. Retrieved 21 May 2015.
  5. http://www.ukWhosWho.com
  6. Cripplegate Ward Club
  7. The Liberal Magazine, 1939
  8. Craig, F. W. S. (1983). British parliamentary election results 1918-1949 (3 ed.). Chichester: Parliamentary Research Services. ISBN 0-900178-06-X.
  9. http://www.ukWhosWho.com
  10. British parliamentary election results 1950-1973 Craig, FWS
  11. http://www.ukWhosWho.com
  12. The Times Guide to the House of Commons, 1964
  13. British parliamentary election results 1950-1973 Craig, FWS
  14. Cripplegate Ward Club
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