SIR ROBERT BALFOUR 6 March 1844 - 4 November 1929 Langham Hall, 1913 - 1927
Robert Balfour was born in Fifeshire, the son of a substantial tenant farmer. Leaving school at 18, he joined the Liverpool and London shipping company Balfour, Williamson & Co. as a clerk. In 1872, he went to San Francisco, where he established a flourishing shipping business, Balfour, Guthrie & Co, returning after twenty-one years to become a director of Balfour, Williamson & Co, based in Liverpool and then London. Taking up politics in the Liberal interest, Balfour won the Partick (Glasgow) seat in the 1906 General Election, holding the seat until his retirement in 1922. He was created baronet in 1911, presumably in recognition of his financial support of the Liberal Party.
In 1913 Balfour bought Broomhouse Farm and the principal part (426 acres) of the Langham Hall estate from the creditors of William Nocton, farming the land until ill health forced him to retire and sell up in 1927. He died two years later at his London home.
A keen sporting man, Balfour welcomed the Essex & Suffolk to hunt the estate land and he was a renowned host to the Colchester Garrison Beagles. His benevolence encompassed the village, for he founded the Langham Nursing Association to maintain a District Nurse for Langham and nearby villages and was a regular and generous contributor to its funds. He was co-founder of the Langham Cricket Club, providing not only a ground on the Hall’s parkland but erecting a small pavilion and furnishing the gear for the club’s first season*.
With his wife Josephine Maria née Beazley, Balfour had three sons and a daughter; The second son, Alan Scott Balfour, was killed in action in January 1918, aged 24, when serving with the Royal Flying Corps, to which he had been attached from the Royal Artillery; he is buried in Tincourt New British Cemetery, Somme. His name is on the Langham War Memorial.
All three of Balfour’s sons predeceased him and the baronetcy was therefore extinguished on his death.
*The cricket field was ploughed up early in WW2 and the pavilion was eventually burned down; cricket at the Hall was not resumed after the war.
Langham is a village and civil parish in the north east of Essex, England approximately 5 miles north of Colchester - close to junction 28 on the A12.