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House Speaker Biographies


Charles A. Ambler

Born: January 5, 1874, Jenkintown Borough, Montgomery County, PA. Died: August 29, 1940, Abington, Montgomery County, PA.  Member of the House: Montgomery County, 1st District, 1903-1910 and 1913-1916.  Affiliation: Republican.

Charles A. Ambler graduated from the public schools of Abington as valedictorian of his class in 1892.  Upon graduation, he assisted his father in the meat business and on the family farm until 1894.  That same year he purchased a general store in Abington Township and began his own grocery business.  Ambler was appointed postmaster of Abington from 1897-1902.  In 1899 he was elected a member of the county Republican committee.  In 1902 he purchased a second grocery store in Wyncote and expanded that business.  Ambler married the former Annie Dubree Hunter in 1902, and together they had 5 children: C. Merrill, Dorothy D., Bertha H., Helen R., and Wayne H.  Ambler was elected to the Pennsylvania House to represent the 1st District of Montgomery County in 1902 and was re-elected in 1904, 1906, and 1908.  He returned to the House in 1912 and continued to serve as Representative until 1916.

As State Representative, Ambler created several pieces of legislation related to public roads and highways, a popular subject at the commencement of the 20th Century.  In 1913 he was the primary sponsor of a bill which became Act 762, which would authorize township commissioners in townships of the first class to establish sidewalks along principal streets.  During that same year, he created legislation which became Act 94, which would authorize townships of the first class to provide for fire protection.  Ambler also introduced legislation that would authorize any borough to collect a license tax on hacks, carriages, and motor vehicles that were operated for pay, which became Act 287 of 1913.

Ambler was elected as chairman of the Manufactures Committee in 1907.  The following term, in 1909, he was selected as chairman of the Public Roads Committee.  In the election of 1910, Ambler was defeated by Democratic candidate David Fitzgerald.  He was re-elected in 1912 to serve in the 1913-1914 session.  On January 5, 1915, Ambler was elected as the 106th Speaker of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives. 

As Speaker, Ambler continued to sponsor legislation related to roads and highways, as well as legislation that promoted suburban expansion.  In 1915 he introduced House Bill 1509, or Act 322, which would repeal an established suburban metropolitan district area within a 25 mile radius of a city of the first class.

In 1916, after his final term in the House, Ambler unsuccessfully ran for state Auditor General.  On September 10, 1917, Ambler was appointed State Insurance Commissioner following the resignation of former Commissioner J. Denny O’Neill.  He served as Commissioner until March 11, 1919.  Ambler ran for the State Senate in 1918.  He was defeated with a platform based on his support of Prohibition. 

For the remainder of his life, Ambler served as advisor to the Ambler-Davis Company, a general contracting firm he cofounded in 1907.  Ambler had served as president of the company during his service as State Representative.  Charles Ambler died on August 29, 1940, at his home in Abington Township, Montgomery County, Pennsylvania.  He is interred at Hatboro Cemetery, Hatboro, Montgomery County, Pennsylvania.

Historical Member Biography

To view this Speaker's House Historical Biography, click here.