Rowntree A-Z

Oscar Rowntree (1879-1947)

Oscar was the youngest of Joseph Rowntree’s four sons and, like his brothers, he worked in the family business.   He was for many years active in the Liberal Party and served on York City Council, taking a strong interest in social affairs.

Director and farmer

Oscar was a director of Rowntree & Co from 1905 and is also named in later years as a director of the Yorkshire Insurance Company.  For some years, besides his role in the family business, he farmed extensively at Brandsby near York.

Quaker work

Like his brothers he spanned the three trusts, staying on as a trustee for the Village Trust until 1941. He was a member of the Committee of the Friends Retreat, and a member of the Health and Housing Reform Association, set up in York to ensure ‘the spread of knowledge regarding health and sanitation, and thus to improve the health condition in the houses of the public’.

Liberal politician

Oscar was chairman of the York and Thirsk division of the Liberal Association, and in 1905 he was elected Liberal councillor for Castlegate ward in York.  He became an alderman in 1920 and only resigned membership of the Council in 1933 when he moved to London.   There, with other members of the family, he frequented the National Liberal Club. One local newspaper report referred to Oscar as ‘one of the most popular members of York City Council, an excellent after-dinner speaker and a gifted and ready wit.  Another described him as: ‘one of the most genial of those who sit in the chamber’.

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