Frederick Edwin Smith, 1st Earl of Birkenhead, GCSI, PC, KC (12 July 1872 – 30 September 1930), best known to history as F. E. Smith, was a British Conservative statesman and lawyer who attained high office in the early 20th century, most notably Lord Chancellor. He was a skilled orator, noted for his staunch opposition to Irish nationalism, his wit, pugnacious views, and hard living and drinking. He is perhaps best remembered today as Winston Churchill's greatest personal and political friend until Birkenhead's death.
Smith was born in Birkenhead in Cheshire, the eldest son of Frederick Smith and Elizabeth Taylor.
He was educated at a dame school in the town, Sandringham School at Southport, then, (having failed entry exams to Harrow), at Birkenhead School from 1887 to 1889. After four terms at the University College of Liverpool, he went up to Wadham College, Oxford, in 1891, where he was a contemporary of the politician John Simon and the athlete C. B. Fry.
He became President of the Oxford Union, where a bust of him now stands. He obtained only a Second in Mods before switching to Law, in which he obtained a First. However, to his disappointment, he only obtained a Second in his Bachelor of Civil Law degree. After winning a Fellowship of Merton College in 1896, and also a lecturership at Oriel College, he taught law at Oxford until 1899, when he was called to the Bar at Gray's Inn, where the Birkenhead Award bears his name. The F.E. Smith Memorial Mooting Prizes commemorate him at Merton...
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