The Returning Officer


Henry “Inky” Stephens was the son of the founder of the Stephens Ink company and assured its success when his indelible blue-black ink became standard for government documents and navy log books. He was elected as Tory MP for Hornsey (which then included Finchley, where he lived) in an 1887 by-election, defeating Horatio Bottomley, later elected as an MP and jailed for fraud.

In 1916, another by-election saw Kennedy Jones elected. Jones was one of the most famous newspaper men of his day who had helped to rescue the Evening News, launch the Daily Mail and the Daily Mirror, although the latter initially failed when it was marketed as a newspaper for women. In 1945, the communist George Jones polled 10,058 votes for Hornsey, the third highest vote for the party anywhere in the country. Jones had been agreed as a unity candidate with the local Labour Party during the war but they were overruled and the Tory David Gammans held the seat on a split vote. 

This article first appeared in the 07 May 2012 issue of the New Statesman, The Science Issue