Book montage: Remembering Commonwealth historian David McIntrye

The editorial board of The Round Table was saddened to hear of the Covid-related death of longstanding International Advisory Board member David McIntyre on 11 September, shortly after his ninetieth birthday. David was without question one of the leading historians and analysts of the modern Commonwealth of the last half-century. His most recent article for The Round Table, an analysis of the Kigali CHOGM, appeared in the August issue of the journal and can be accessed here.

William David McIntyre – always known as David, though he published as ‘W. David’ – was born in Basford, Nottinghamshire, England, the son of a Congregationalist minister. After Caterham School he went first to Peterhouse, Cambridge, for a first degree in history, then to Washington University, USA, for his MA, and finally to the School of Oriental and African Studies, London, for his PhD, on ‘British policy in West Africa, the Malay peninsula and the South Pacific during the secretaryships of Lord Kimberley and Lord Carnarvon, 1870–1876’. From 1959 to 1966 he taught at the University of Nottingham. In the latter year he moved to the University of Canterbury, Christchurch, New Zealand, as professor of history, where he remained for the rest of his career, from 1997 as professor emeritus.

In the early 1960s David’s interest shifted from British imperial policy to decolonisation and the emergence of the Commonwealth, and in 1966 he published the first of more than a dozen books on the topic, Colonies into Commonwealth. Among other highlights were The Commonwealth of Nations: Origins and Impact, 1869-1971 (1977), The Significance of the Commonwealth, 1965-90 (1991), A Guide to the Contemporary Commonwealth (2001), and The Britannic Vision: Historians and the Making of the British Commonwealth of Nations, 1907-48 (2009).

In parallel, David developed a second expertise, in the political and constitutional history and foreign policy of his adopted country, New Zealand: Neutrality, Non-Alignment and New Zealand (1969) was followed by, amongst others, New Zealand Prepares for War: Defence Policy, 1919-39 (1988), When, If Ever, Did New Zealand Become Independent? (2002), and Dominion of New Zealand: Statesmen and Status, 1907-1945 (2007).

A prolific and fluent author, and one who was happy to share his knowledge and expertise not just with his students and readers of his academic books, but with the wider public, David also published many hundreds of shorter pieces, ranging from book reviews to reports for think tanks to newspaper articles. His analyses of each CHOGM (many of which he attended, over a long period) were always eagerly awaited. He was a kind mentor, a generous colleague, and a warm friend, and will be widely missed. The Round Table extends its condolences to his wife Marcia, and children Jeff, Ben, Ruth, Markus, and James.

Selected Round Table articles and book reviews by David McIntyre

‘A formula may have to be found’: Ireland, India, and the headship of the Commonwealth
The Round Table, Volume 91, 2002 – Issue 365

‘Whose Commonwealth? Responses to Krishnan Srinivasan’s The Rise, Decline and Future of the British Commonwealth’
The Round Table, Volume 96, 2007 – Issue 388

‘The Expansion of the Commonwealth and the Criteria for Membership’
The Round Table, Volume 97, 2008 – Issue 395

‘Brexit: A View from New Zealand’
The Round Table, Volume 105, 2016 – Issue 5

‘The Empire’s New Clothes: The Myth of the Commonwealth’
The Round Table, Volume 107, 2018 – Issue 3

‘CHOGM 2022: Rwanda hosts a well-organised revival of Commonwealth rituals’
The Round Table, Volume 111, 2022 – Issue 4