Terry Major-Ball

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Terry Major-Ball (2 July 1932 – 13 March 2007) was the older brother of former British Prime Minister John Major. In early life Major-Ball had worked at the family garden ornament factory and did national service in the Royal Army Medical Corps. While his brother achieved success as a banker and then in politics, Terry was content with a more modest lifestyle, living contentedly in suburban south London with his wife Shirley.

As brother of the Prime minister, Major-Ball fell within the sweep of the media spotlight and he was frequently asked to comment on matters political and otherwise. His seemingly naive reactions gave amusement (although he was sharp enough to be in on the joke), but he was careful never to say anything that reflected badly on his brother. He recorded his life story in the volume of memoirs Major Major, which became a minor best-seller. After his brother left office in 1997, Major-Ball's fortunes likewise declined (at least in terms of media exposure), something he accepted with wry good humor.

He moved from London to Somerset in 2003 and died in 2007, having suffered from prostate cancer.[1]

The surnames Major and Major-Ball

Terry's and John's father, Thomas Ball, had worked 'on the halls', as part of a comic music hall act "Drum and Major", and had incorporated the 'Major' with his own name to create 'Major-Ball'. This was maintained by his elder son, but John dropped the 'real' name of Ball to become plain 'John Major'. Had he chosen to retain the other name, he would, as John Ball, have had the same name as a prominent leader of the 1381 Peasants' Revolt. His parliamentary contemporary, and former foreign secretary, Jack Straw MP also has the same name as a Peasants' Revolt leader.

Notes & References

  1. Daily Telegraph - Obituary of Terry Major-Ball