William Sproston Caine

William Sproston Caine (26 March 1842 – 17 March 1903) was a British politician and Temperance advocate.

Caine was born at Seacombe, Cheshire,[1] and was the eldest surviving son of Nathaniel Caine, a metal merchant from Cheshire, and was educated at private schools in Egremont, Merseyside and Birkenhead before entering his father's business in 1861. In 1864 he was made a partner, before moving to Liverpool in 1871. In 1873 he was recorded at 16 Alexandra Drive, Liverpool.[2] Public Affairs soon began to occupy large amounts of his attention, and he left the firm in 1878.[3]

After his retirement from his father's company he retained the directorship of the Hodbarrow Mining Co. Ltd, Millom, and he secured the controlling interest in the Shaw's Brown Iron Co., Liverpool, leaving the management of the concern in the hands of his partner, Arthur S. Cox. The business collapsed in 1893, leaving large amounts of debt which were honourably discharged, but Caine's resources were afterwards largely devoted to paying off the mortgage which he raised to meet the firm's losses.[3]

Caine was brought up as a Baptist under the ministry of Hugh Stowell Brown, whose daughter Alice married Caine in 1868; they had two sons and three daughters. He soon after became interested in the Temperance Movement, and joined the Liverpool Temperance and Band of Hope Union, also becoming chairman of the Popular Control and License Reform Association. In 1873 he was elected vice-president of the United Kingdom Alliance. He was also president of the Baptist Total Abstinence Society, the Congregational Temperance Society, the British Temperance League, and the National Temperance Federation.

Caine first became interested in running for parliament in 1873 to advance his Temperance views, and unsuccessfully contested Liverpool in 1873 and 1874 for the Liberal Party. In 1880 he was returned for Scarborough and, identifying with the extreme radical side, began pushing his views on Temperance onto the house of commons. In 1884 he was made Civil Lord of the Admiralty in succession to Thomas Brassey, retaining his seat in parliament through the necessary by-election but losing in the 1885 general election.

In 1886 he was returned for Barrow-in-Furness after a by-election, and played an active part in organising the Liberal Unionist Party, which was nicknamed the "Brand of Caine" as a result. Caine was appointed Chief Whip for the Liberal Unionists, but his extreme temperance views soon damaged the Unionist alliance with the Conservative Party. After the passing of a scheme compensating holders of extinguished public-house licences Caine resigned as Whip and his position in the house in protest, running for reelection through a by-election as an Independent Liberal, but was defeated.

In 1892 he was again elected for Bradford East but lost his seat at the 1895 election. His daughter Hannah married John Roberts, 1st Baron Clwyd in 1893. Caine reentered the House in 1900 for Camborne. Parliamentary activities exhausted his health, and after a trip to South America in 1902 failed to restore it he died of heart failure in 1903 in Mayfair aged 60.

Due to his opposition to alcohol he was praised by Gandhi.


  1. British Census 1881
  2. Listed among the lenders of artworks to the International Exhibition, Vienna in 1873.
  3. 1 2 J. Newton, W. S. Caine

External links

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Sir Harcourt Vanden-Bempde-Johnstone
Sir Charles Legard
Member of Parliament for Scarborough
With: John George Dodson 1880–1884
Richard Fell Steble 1884–1885
Succeeded by
Sir George Sitwell
Preceded by
David Duncan
Member of Parliament for Barrow-in-Furness
1886 – 1890
Succeeded by
James Duncan
Preceded by
Henry Byron Reed
Member of Parliament for Bradford East
Succeeded by
Henry Byron Reed
Preceded by
Arthur Strauss
Member of Parliament for Camborne
Succeeded by
Sir Wilfrid Lawson
This article is issued from Wikipedia - version of the 7/18/2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.