This month’s blog post focuses upon Edward Taylor Scott, and John Russell Scott, sons of C.P. Scott, both of whom worked at the Manchester Guardian, E.T. Scott as a journalist, and J.R. Scott as business manager.
E.T. Scott succeeded his father as editor of the paper on C.P. Scott’s retirement in 1929, but his time in this role was to be short, owing to his unexpected death in 1932 in a boating accident on Lake Windermere, in the company of his son, Richard. He would outlive his father by less than 4 months.
The overriding intention of both E.T. Scott and J.R. Scott, following the death of their father, was to ensure that the Manchester Guardian continued to operate according to the ideals and standards set by C.P. Scott. It was a little poignant, therefore, to discover the last letter ever written by J.R. Scott to his brother, in 1932, and for that letter to relate to the Scott brothers’ last will and testaments, the appointment of executors, and the preparation of an agreement for the distribution of their shares in the Manchester Guardian.
The envelope which contained the letter has also been included, and has been inscribed, in an unknown hand: ‘Letter written to E.T.S. on the day of his death and posted to him at Windermere – recovered unopened.’
Following his brother’s death, in accordance with this proposed agreement, J.R. Scott bought all of his brother’s shares, becoming the sole holder of the ordinary shares in the paper. The death duties generated by E.T. Scott’s unexpected demise meant that J.R. Scott had to find a new solution for ensuring the future of the Manchester Guardian as the Liberal paper of international renown that his father had shaped.
J.R. Scott’s answer was the creation of The Scott Trust. He divested himself of all financial interest in the paper, transferring all of the ordinary shares to the trust, and appointed seven trustees, who would henceforth be responsible for the management of the paper. These seven trustees included J.R. Scott’s son, Lawrence Scott, his nephew, Evelyn Montague, and the editors of the Manchester Guardian and the Manchester Evening News, W.P. Crozier and Sir William Haley.
The core purpose of The Scott Trust is outlined as: ‘to secure the financial and editorial independence of the Guardian in perpetuity: as a quality national newspaper without party affiliation; remaining faithful to its liberal tradition; as a profit-seeking enterprise managed in an efficient and cost-effective manner.’
E.T. Scott’s son, Richard Scott, followed in his father’s footsteps and became a journalist, and also a member of the Scott Trust. Today, the Guardian continues to be owned and managed by The Scott Trust Ltd, and there is still a member of the Scott family on the board, Russell Scott. As a result of J.R. Scott’s unusually selfless action, he was able to achieve for perpetuity the pledge to the future of the Manchester Guardian that he and his brother made in 1932.