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George Lawson Johnston

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George Lawson Johnston, 1st Baron Luke, KBE (9 September 1873 – 23 February 1943), was a director of the Bovril Co

Luke was the second son of John Lawson Johnston, a beef manufacturer and the founder of Bovril Ltd and Elizabeth, daughter of George Lawson, biscuit manufacturer of Edinburgh.

He was educated privately in Canada, at Dulwich College and at Blair Lodge, Polmont (a former Scottish public school).

Johnston worked in Canada, Australia, Africa and Argentina, and thereby developed expertise in trade and raw materials. He returned from Argentina in 1896 and joined the board of Bovril Ltd, of which he became Vice-Chairman in 1900 when his father died.

He was a Director of the Daily Express from its foundation in 1900 to 1917, and was also a director of Lloyds Bank. During World War I he was a member of the leather control board and Chairman of Committees in the Raw Materials Department at the War Office.

Apart from his business career, Johnston was also a member of the Bedfordshire County Council and served as a Justice of the Peace and was High Sheriff of Bedfordshire in 1924. He was particularly noted for his work for hospitals, being honorary Treasurer of the Royal Northern Hospital from 1909 to 1923, chairman of the organizing committee of the Hospitals of London combined appeal in 1922, Honorary Secretary of King Edward's Hospital fund for London, Chairman of the British Charities Association, Treasurer of the County of London Red Cross, and Hon Secretary of the League of Mercy

In the 1929 Dissolution Honours, Johnston was raised to the peerage as Baron Luke, of Pavenham in the County of Bedford. He chose his title partly because St Luke was the patron of hospitals, and partly from the parish of St Luke, Old Street EC1 with which he had a long association. He later served as Lord Lieutenant of Bedfordshire between 1936 and 1943.

Lord Luke died in February 1943, aged 69, and was succeeded in the barony by his son Ian.

Lord Luke married Hon. Edith Laura St John, daughter of Beauchamp Mowbray St John, 17th Baron St John of Bletso, in 1902 and had two sons and four daughters. His daughter Margaret married James Pitman.

His second son Hugh was married to Audrey Lawson-Johnston, the last survivor of the sinking of the RMS Lusitania in 1915.

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