“Tempora mutantur” (times change) – wrote Mogg, introducing himself recently on social media.
Indeed they do. Since then his newborn sixth child, Sixtus, has become an Instagram icon and Mogg himself, splendid in double-breasted suit and flashing obscure long words in a cut-glass accent, is running second to David Davis as favourite for next party leader.
He has been called “the MP for the 18th century”. It was a fatal error to mistake Cameron’s tieless informality and “call me Dave” for worldliness, equally foolish to mistake Mogg’s old-fashioned formality for the opposite.
By the time he was 12, Jacob Rees-Mogg was a seasoned investor in the share market, studying company reports and standing up and asking a difficult question at the annual general meeting of a major public company.
By the time he was 12, Jacob Rees-Mogg was a seasoned investor in the share market
At school he continued investing, a serious student of the markets. His father, William, who died aged 84 in 2012, seemed at least equally at odds with the modern life of his time.
Like Jacob, he was teased. Neither of them cared.
In the world of newspaper journalism, which is all about being up-to-date, William Rees-Mogg seemed on another planet but nobody doubted his cleverness.
He was a leading financial journalist and he became editor of The Times where, for the most part, he behaved like a gentleman from a long-previous era.
So it caused great amazement when, on July 1, 1967, he wrote the editorial headlined “Who breaks a butterfly on a wheel?” fiercely attacking the injustice of the jail terms imposed on Mick Jagger and Keith Richards for drugs.
In other ways he was not so switched-on. In the early 1960s when he was working on the Sunday Times, his young assistant Hunter Davies pointed out to William something that was blindingly obvious – his secretary Gillian was in love with him.
William hadn’t clocked that but he heeded Davies’s advice to take her to lunch and quite soon they were married. They had five children. Jacob is the fourth.
Though Jacob may seem eccentric and comfortably out of kilter with those around him, his father was more so.
As a columnist writing about politics and world affairs, he was often unapologetically bonkers.
Writing about the plane that exploded over Lockerbie in 1988, he may have been the only person on earth who put the disaster down to metal fatigue.
I was editing the political comment pages of The Independent newspaper in November 1990 when Mrs Thatcher’s leadership of the Conservative Party was challenged.
Several commentators were busy typing their verdicts into their computers.
William, who had no truck with such modern devices, was dictating his copy to a secretary who had stayed late for this special task.
Though Thatcher had narrowly won the first ballot, everyone could see that her goose was cooked and that she was about to be ousted. William wrote, “Thatcher has won… the victory was clearly a decisive one.”
He was alone in this view but the piece went into the first edition of the paper. We pointed out to him that he was obviously wrong and explained why.
“Would you like to rewrite for the next edition?” we asked, as forcibly as was appropriate to such a grandee.
No he would not, he said politely. Such self-confident eccentricity was evident from an early age. In his memoir about his own public school days at Charterhouse the novelist Simon Raven conjures up his contemporary William, a scholarly type and a genius at getting out of all manner of unattractive duties (such as doing time in the cadet corps). William did not play cricket but he was extremely knowledgeable about the game and valued as an umpire.
He volunteered to stand in a house match involving a team of a master who had upset him by failing him in a Greek test.
He gave one boy out LBW for a ball that hit him on the shoulder, another run out when Mogg himself had impeded him, yet another out caught by the wicket-keeper when he was certainly dropped.
And so it went on until the Greek master’s team had lost. “An extraordinary run of misfortune, Sir,” said William.
Father and son, both with a strong and historic vision of England, have a staunch aversion to the EU.
In 1993 William brought a (failed) legal case challenging the government’s policy over the Maastricht agreement.
Now Jacob is a leading Brexit enthusiast though not a tub-thumper (Jacob is not the sort who thumps a tub).
Strategy or the demands of his six-week sixth son, or both, have meant Jacob has been very much around this August, a good place to be if you want to fill the gap an absent parliament leaves.
Yesterday he was on the Today programme talking about pronunciation, nary (18th century for never) putting a syllable wrong.