Timothy Kitson

Last updated

Sally Fattorini
(m. 1959)
Timothy Kitson
Member of Parliament
for Richmond, North Yorkshire
In office
8 October 1959 13 May 1983
Alma mater Royal Agricultural College

Sir Timothy Peter Geoffrey Kitson (28 January 1931 – 18 May 2019) was a British Conservative politician who was Member of Parliament for Richmond, North Yorkshire. He was first elected at the 1959 general election, and stood down at the 1983 general election.



Kitson was born in Leeds, the son of Geoffrey H. and Kathleen Kitson. [1] [2] His family ran a locomotive manufacturing company which went into receivership during his childhood. [1] He was educated at Charterhouse and the Royal Agricultural College, Cirencester. [1] He farmed in Australia from 1949 to 1951. [2]

Kitson married Diana Mary "Sally" Fattorini in 1959; the couple had two daughters and one son. [1]

Political career

From 1954 to 1957, he served as a councillor on Thirsk Rural District Council, and from 1957 to 1961 on North Riding County Council. [2] In 1959, he was elected to Parliament for Richmond, North Yorkshire, after Thomas Dugdale was elevated to a peerage. [1] He acted as joint honorary secretary of the Conservative parliamentary committee on agriculture, fisheries and food from 1965 to 1966 and a Parliamentary Private Secretary to the then Prime Minister Edward Heath from 1970 to 1974. [1] He showed no interest in promotion to higher office, and kept a relatively low profile. [1]

In 1964 and 1965, Kitson supported the Labour MP Sydney Silverman's successful 'Murder (Abolition of Death Penalty) Bill'. [3] He opposed abolition in the form finalised in 1969, however. [4] Kitson received a knighthood in Heath's resignation honours list in 1974. [5]

The droll side of his personality was caught in an anecdote told by Heath in his autobiography. Heath had friendly relations with the Singapore politician, Lee Kuan Yew ['Harry' Lee]: [6]

"Whenever I have visited Singapore, except for the 1971 Commonwealth Conference, Harry Lee has generously settled me in his personal guest-house, and extended his hospitality to me. His dinners are marked by an invitation card and a menu with 'Smoking is not permitted' heavily printed at the top. Dining with the Lee family one time outside in his garden, I was alarmed when the butler came up to Sir Timothy Kitson, my parliamentary private secretary, and handed him a note. After reading it, Tim apologised to the Prime Minister [Lee Kuan Yew] and asked to be excused while he made a telephone call to London. He returned after some twenty minutes, but half an hour later the same thing happened. Again Tim came back without a word of explanation. When we got up after dinner, I quietly went up to him and said, 'Tim, what was all that about ? Is something wrong ? What is happening in London?' 'I didn't worry you because everything is perfectly all right,' he replied. 'I just had to have a smoke.'"

Kitson was part of Heath's campaign team in the 1975 Conservative Party leadership election, though when Heath failed to surpass Margaret Thatcher in the first round, it fell upon Kitson to inform him of his loss. [1] Uncomfortable with the direction the party took under Thatcher, Kitson stood down from parliament at the 1983 general election. [1] He was a staunch defender of Heath's legacy for the rest of his life. [1]

Later life

After leaving parliament, Kitson was chairman of the Provident Financial Group from 1983 to 1995, and of the Halifax Building Society from 1995 to 1998. [1]

Kitson lived in Middleham, North Yorkshire, in retirement, where he died on 18 May 2019, aged 88. [1] [7]

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  1. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 Garnett, Mark (2023). "Kitson, Sir Timothy Peter Geoffrey (1931–2019), politician and farmer". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/odnb/9780198614128.013.90000381271.(Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  2. 1 2 3 Who's Who 1974, London : A. & C. Black, 1974, pg.1839.
  3. Times (London, England), 23 December 1964 April 1974, pg.5.
  4. Hansard, House of Commons, vol. 793, c.1296, 16 December 1969.
  5. Times (London, England), 5 April 1974, pg.1.
  6. E. Heath, The Course of My Life, London : Hodder and Stoughton, 1998, pg.242-3.
  7. "Sir Timothy Kitson obituary". The Times. 21 May 2019.
Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by Member of Parliament for Richmond, North Yorkshire
Succeeded by