McArthur, Charles (DNB12)

McARTHUR, CHARLES (1844–1910), politician and writer on marine insurance, born at Kingsdown, Bristol, in May 1844, was son of Charles McArthur of Port Glasgow by his wife Harriet. Educated at Bristol grammar school, McArthur entered the office of North, Ewing & Co., underwriters and marine insurance brokers, Liverpool, in 1860. He made his mark in his profession by the publication in 1871 of 'The Policy of Marine Insurance popularly explained, with a Chapter on Occasional Clauses' (2nd edit. 1875). In 1874 he went into business on his own account as an average adjuster, with Mr. Court as partner, and established the firm of Court & McArthur of Exchange Buildings, Liverpool, and Cornhill, London. In 1885 he published 'The Contract of Marine Insurance' (2nd edit, revised, 1890). McArthur became chairman of the Association of Average Adjusters of Great Britain, and was made chairman of the commercial law committee of the Liverpool Chamber of Commerce in 1887, vice-president of the chamber in 1888, and president from 1892 to 1896. In 1892 he read an important paper on bills of lading reform at the international conference at Genoa on the codification and reform of the law of nations. In 1895 he advised the government in regard to the marine insurance bill and the Companies Amendment Act. His services were acknowledged by the presentation at Liverpool on 8 Sept. 1896 of a service of plate.

McArthur entered parliament in Nov. 1897 as liberal-unionist member for the Exchange division of Liverpool, after a close contest with Mr. Russell Rea. He was re-elected by an increased majority in 1900, but lost the seat in 1906, when he stood as a conservative free- trader. He was returned for another division of Liverpool (Kirkdale) in September 1907, was re-elected in January 1910, and retained the seat till his death. In the House of Commons he was an active champion of shipping and commercial interests. Though a convinced free trader, he advocated subsidies to British shipping companies to enable them to meet foreign state-aided competition, and the meeting of bounties by bounties. He also urged the improvement of the status of the merchant service by the establishment of training-ships on the coasts and a pension scheme for sailors, and the transference of the cost of lighthouses and beacons to the board of trade. He was on the committee of 1904-5 which reported in favour of the application of British statutory regulations to foreign ships in British ports. As a strong evangelical, McArthur played in parliament a persistent, if not very effective, part in church questions. In May 1899 he moved imsuccessfully the second reading of a bill 'to secure a prompt and inexpensive means' for settling ritual disputes. He proposed to overrule the episcopal veto on prosecutions by a lay court and to substitute inhibition for imprisonment in case of contumacy. He resisted the appointment of the royal commission on ecclesiastical discipline in 1904, but in 1908 he introduced the ecclesiastical disorders bill, in which he claimed to give effect to the commission's report. To the bill for amending the royal accession declaration (carried in 1909) he offered a stout resistance.

McArthur died rather suddenly at his London residence on 3 July 1910, and was buried at Wallasey cemetery, Liverpool. His wife Jessie, youngest daughter of John Makin, survived him without issue.

Besides his works on marine insurance, McArthur published 'The Evidences of Natural Religion and the Truths established thereby' (1880).

[The Times, 4, 7 July 1910; Liverpool Daily Post, 4 July (with portrait); Hansard's Parliamentary Debates; Who's Who, 1910; Brit. Mus. Cat.]

G. Le G. N.