Gomer Berry, 1st Viscount Kemsley

(James) Gomer Berry, 1st Viscount Kemsley GBE (7 May 1883 – 6 February 1968), was a Welsh colliery owner and newspaper publisher.


Berry was born the son of John Mathias and Mary Ann (née Rowe) Berry, of Merthyr Tydfil in Wales. He was the younger brother of Henry Berry, 1st Baron Buckland, an industrialist, and William Berry, 1st Viscount Camrose, a fellow press lord.


Sir Gomer operating steam train rides at Cardiff Bute Road station in the early 1990s. The locomotive originally worked at Berry's Mountain Ash Colliery

Berry originally co-owned The Daily Telegraph with his second brother Lord Camrose, and Lord Burnham. He founded Kemsley Newspapers, which owned The Sunday Times, The Daily Sketch and The Sunday Graphic amongst its titles.

Berry was chairman of the Reuters News Agency from 1951 to 1958.[1]

In 1954 Berry was part of the Kemsley-Winnick consortium, which won the initial ITV weekend contracts for the Midlands and the North of England. Berry had cold feet over the financial risk, and withdrew, causing the consortium to collapse.

In 1959 Kemsley Newspapers was bought by Lord Thomson, ironically enabled by Thomson's profits from Scottish Television.


Berry was created a baronet in 1928,[2] and was appointed as an Officer of the Most Venerable Order of the Hospital of St John of Jerusalem in 1931.[3] In 1936, he was raised to the peerage as Baron Kemsley, of Farnham Royal in the County of Buckingham,[4] and advanced to Viscount Kemsley, of Dropmore in the County of Buckingham, in 1945.[5] In 1929 he was appointed High Sheriff of Buckinghamshire[6] and in 1959, a Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the British Empire (GBE) for "political and public service".[7]

Marriages & Family

Lord Kemsley married twice. He married firstly in 1907 Mary Lilian Holmes, daughter of Horace George Holmes, with whom he had six sons and a daughter:[8]

His first wife died on 1 February 1928 and on 30 April 1931 he married Marie Edith Merandon du Plessis, daughter of E. N. Merandon du Plessis. There were no children of this marriage.

Upon his death, Viscount Kemsley was buried in St Anne's churchyard, Dropmore. Marie Edith, Viscountess Kemsley OBE was buried with him following her death on 12 September 1976. The title passed to his eldest son Lionel. His youngest son, Conservative politician the Honourable Sir Anthony Berry, was killed by the IRA in the 1984 Brighton hotel bombing.


As owner of Kemsley Newspapers, Viscount Kemsley made several written contributions to his in-house journal The Kemsley Writer. Kemsley also oversaw the publication of the large format hardcover book The Kemsley Manual of Journalism (Cassell, 1950). Sub-titled A Comprehensive Guide to the Practice and Principles of Modern Journalism, this featured an introduction by Kemsley and an essay from his Foreign Manager Ian Fleming, later the author of the James Bond novels.


  1. Kingston NY Daily Freeman, "Lord Kemsley Dies, Retired News Magnate", Tuesday evening, February 6, 1968
  2. The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 33343. p. 1. 30 December 1927. Retrieved 2008-12-10.
  3. The London Gazette: no. 33728. p. 4072. 23 June 1931. Retrieved 2008-12-10.
  4. The London Gazette: no. 34252. p. 730. 3 February 1936. Retrieved 2008-12-10.
  5. The London Gazette: no. 37267. p. 4587. 14 September 1945. Retrieved 2008-12-10.
  6. The London Gazette: no. 33479. p. 1965. 22 March 1929. Retrieved 2011-03-06.
  7. The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 41589. p. 10. 30 December 1958. Retrieved 2008-12-10.
  8. The Peerage, entry for 1st Viscount Kemsley
  9. Rosemary Leonara Ruth de Rothschild (1913-2013) Rothschild Archive

External links

Peerage of the United Kingdom
New creation Viscount Kemsley
Succeeded by
Geoffrey Lionel Berry
New creation Baron Kemsley
Baronetage of the United Kingdom
New creation Baronet
Succeeded by
Geoffrey Lionel Berry
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