The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler
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Charles Benjamin Bright McLaren, 1850-1934

Nationality: Scottish
Date of Birth: 1850.05.12
Place of Birth: Edinburgh
Date of Death: 1934.01.23
Place of Death: London


Charles Benjamin Bright McLaren, first Baron Aberconway, was a barrister and M.P. He was the eldest son of Duncan McLaren, M.P. for Edinburgh, and his third wife Priscilla, the daughter of Jacob Bright of Green Bank, Rochdale and the sister of John Bright, the radical statesman. His elder half-brother John, Lord McLaren, became a Scottish judge.

In 1877 McLaren married Laura Elizabeth Pochin, the only daughter of the Radical M.P., chemist and industrialist Henry Davis Pochin of Bodnant, Denbighshire. She inherited his fortune. They had two sons and two daughters. McLaren was succeeded by his eldest son Henry Duncan (b. 1879).


McLaren studied at Edinburgh, Bonn and Heidelberg Universities. He originally sought a career in journalism, contributing many articles to the Scotsman newspaper, but then decided to become a lawyer. He was called to the Bar by Lincoln's Inn in 1874. In 1880 he was elected Radical M.P. for Stafford and from 1892 to 1910 was M.P. for Bosworth, Leicestershire. He was created a baronet in 1902, sworn of the Privy Council in 1908, and in 1911 became Baron Aberconway of Bodnant, Denbigh.

In 1897 McLaren gave up law and turned to industry. He became the Chairman of the Clydeside shipbuilders, John Brown and Co., of the Metropolitan Railway Company, of the Tredegar Iron and Coal Company and of the Sheepbridge Iron and Coal Company. He published The Basic Industries of Great Britain in 1927.

Laura McLaren, Lady Aberconway, was a gardener, pastellist, business woman and supporter of women's rights and suffrage.

The McLarens were collectors and friends of JW [#00867], in fact they lived next door to the artist. They owned several works by him, including Girl with Cherry Blossom (YMSM 90), Variations in Violet and Green (YMSM 104) and Nocturne in Black and Gold: The Gardens (YMSM 166). They lent to 'Notes' - 'Harmonies' - 'Nocturnes', Messrs Dowdeswell, London, 1884 and were invited to the private view [#08682]. He and his wife were also invited by JW to the Royal Society of British Artists' 1887-1888 winter exhibition [#13403].


MacDonald, Margaret F., James McNeill Whistler. Drawings, Pastels and Watercolours. A Catalogue Raisonné, New Haven and London, 1995; McLaren, Martin, 'Charles Benjamin Bright McLaren', 1949, Dictionary of National Biography Online, Oxford, 1997, accessed 24 October 2003.