This thesis explores the connection between Philip Kerr (1882-1940) and the Irish
Question in the early twentieth century. To date there has been no substantial survey of
his Irish policy. Through consultation of new sources the study explores the evolution of
Kerr’s thought on Ireland in light of his family, his faith, and his political background.
Kerr’s work on Ireland is particularly interesting as an imperialist, keen federalist, an
admirer of the United States and not least as a Catholic who converted to Christian
Science. The core of this piece explores Kerr’s role in Irish affairs as Prime Minister
David Lloyd George’s secretary between 1916 and 1921, and the potentially influential
role that he held at Downing Street. Although his biographers and historians have
alluded to his involvement in the drafting of the 1920 Government of Ireland Bill, none
have considered in detail the extent of the work that Kerr carried out in relation to Ireland
between 1919 and 1921. The study addresses this by exploring Kerr’s position as an
individual who was not a statesman, but an influential figure close to the centre of power,
who was closely involved with the various forces working to shape an Irish settlement.
The thesis adds to the existing biographical literature on Kerr by anchoring him within
the Anglo-Irish story. The fact that the Bill he drafted remained as the basis for the
Government of Northern Ireland until 1972, and was not repealed until 1998, points to
Kerr’s modem relevance, and to the importance of recognising the work that he carried
out behind the scenes during one of the most crucial periods in Anglo-Irish history.