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JOSEPH, British family. SIR SAMUEL GEORGE (originally "GLUCKSTEIN") JOSEPH (1888–1944) was born in London and was an officer in the British army in Salonika, Egypt, and France in World War I, being twice mentioned in dispatches. He later became chairman and managing director of Bovis, the large building contracting firm. Joseph held several positions in London municipal government before serving as sheriff of the city of London (1933–34) and was lord mayor of London from 1943 to 1944, the sixth Jew to have held this position. He was made a baronet in 1934.

His son, SIR KEITH JOSEPH (1918–1994), inherited his father's title. Educated at Harrow and Oxford, he was a captain in the British army in World War II and was mentioned in dispatches. After the war he was admitted to the bar and, from 1946 to 1960, was a fellow of All Souls College, Oxford. He also held various industrial posts before becoming a director in the family building contracting firm. In 1956 Keith Joseph entered Parliament and three years later was made parliamentary secretary of the Ministry of Housing in the Conservative government. He became minister of state at the Board of Trade in 1961 and, from 1962 to 1964, was minister of housing and local government and minister for Welsh affairs. When the Conservatives returned to power in 1970, he was appointed minister of health and social services, serving until 1974. He earned a reputation for intellectual brilliance and integrity and was one of his party's chief advocates of social welfare reforms. After the Tories lost office in 1974, Joseph was often mentioned as a potential leader of the Conservative Party. He was a founder of the influential "Think Tank," the Centre for Policy Studies, which set the intellectual stage for "Thatcherism" by its advocacy of free enterprise policies. Joseph, however, never became a serious challenger for the party's leadership: he was viewed as cold and distant and, in October 1974, made a regrettable speech advocating birth control among alleged "problem families." Instead, he became a strong supporter and advisor of Margaret Thatcher who appointed him minister for industry (1979–81). From 1981 to 1986 he was minister of education. On retiring from the government he was made a peer. Joseph was treasurer of the British Friends of The Hebrew University and in 1966 became chairman of the Research Board of the Institute of Jewish Affairs.


ODNB online; M. Halcrow, Keith Joseph: A Singular Mind (1989); A. Denham and Mark Garnett, Keith Joseph (2001).

Sources: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2007 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.