Edward Holton Coumbe (31 January 1865 - 10 September 1942) was a barrister and local politician active in north London.
Born in King's Cross, of a Devon family, he was a leading member of the London Devonian Association and claimed falsely to be born in Tavistock. He was educated at the University of London and won the Holts Scholarship in 1896 to study at Gray's Inn, where he was called to the bar in 1900. He married Ada Clark of Stoke Newington and the couple had a daughter. He also had a number of mistresses and fathered numerous illegitimate children.
By 1895 he was involved in politics as a member of the Council of the Metropolitan Liberal Unionist Federation. At the 1906 general election he was active in supporting the Conservative Party and in 1909 gave public lectures opposing the Liberal Party's "People's Budget" and Home Rule for Ireland.
He was the author of two books: Commercial Correspondence, Including Hints on Composition, Explanations of Business Terms, and a Large Number of Specimen Letters (1899) and What shall I be? A guide to occupations for men and women, in which incomes can be made, ranging from £100 to £1,000 a year (1900).
He became active in local government and in 1901 stood unsuccessfully for the Liberal-backed Progressive Party in the London County Council election at Kensington South. He moved politically towards Unionism, and in 1907 he was elected to the London County Council to represent Tower Hamlets, Mile End as a member of the Conservative-backed Municipal Reform Party by the narrow margin of 23 votes. Three years later he was unseated, with the Progressives taking the seat by 18 votes. He tried to regain the seat in the 1913 council election but was more convincingly defeated by 211 votes.
Too old to fight in the First World War, Coumbe was commissioned as an officer in the 9th County of London Volunteer Regiment, a force equivalent to the Home Guard of the Second World War. Although he only reached the rank of temporary captain, he used the title "major (retired)" for the rest of his life.
Elections were postponed for the duration of the war, and resumed in 1919. Coumbe was now living in Lordship Road, and was elected as a Municipal Reform councillor for Stoke Newington. He held the seat at the next five triennial elections before being defeated by the Labour Party in 1937.
Coumbe was a controversial figure. In his book "London Jewry and London Politics, 1889-1986", the author Geoffrey Alderman reports that: "On 15 April 1919, a week after the Morning Post had informed its readers that the Russian Jews were purveyors of Bolshevism, Major E. H. Coumbe, elected the previous month for Stoke Newington but formerly (1907-10) a councillor for Mile End, took the first step towards committing the Council to a policy of not employing aliens. Coumbe's intention was quite explicitly to bar all aliens from employment by the Council, whether or not they were naturalized."
Coumbe served as Mayor of Stoke Newington for 1921-22.
In March 1942 he suffered a serious injury in a fall, and he died six months later.
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