Obituary: Lady Mason, Widow of former Ulster Secretary

Lady Marjorie Mason, who has died at 96, was the widow of the former Northern Ireland Secretary, Roy Mason.

Lord and Lady Mason

Lady Marjorie Mason, who has died at 96, was the widow of the former Northern Ireland Secretary, Roy Mason.

Lady Mason lived in Barnsley for nearly all of her life travelled to Ulster extensively in the 1970s – both with her husband while he was James Callaghan’s uncompromising Secretary of State, at the height of the IRA’s influence, and on her own, carrying out more than 100 solo engagements and necessitating constant security for her family.

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“She was very stoical and served with fortitude,” said her daughter, Jill Martin. “She recognised my father’s career was important to him and wanted to support him.

“When my father had to have security guards, she was still fiercely independent and wanted to shop in Barnsley on her own.”

It was typical of a woman whose roots were in the town and who supported many local organisations. Lady Mason was involved as a volunteer with both the Brownies and Guides, and served as president of a local cancer charity.

“Whatever trials and tribulations were thrown in Marjorie’s path as a result of her husband’s public service, she bore it all with great courage, fortitude and humour,” said her friend, the South Yorkshire Mayor Dan Jarvis.

Both Marjorie and her husband were natives of Barnsley. Brought up in the nearby pit village of Carlton, Roy left school with no qualifications and went down the pit at 14 as an apprentice.

By the time he won a by-election in 1953 to take his home-town seat he had taken a university degree through his trade union and married Marjorie. Years later he recalled that his election happened so suddenly that he had to borrow £50 from her father to get them through their first month in London.

Lady Mason leaves two daughters, three grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.