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UK Prime Ministers: Details

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UK Prime Ministers: Details

This page gives detailed information for individual prime ministers.

For basic information (dates and parties), see UK Prime Ministers: Classified.

First to be called prime minister (but not officially) and longest–serving PM (21 years: 1721–42) Click for more information Click to show or hide the answer
1762–3: Britain's 7th Prime Minister, and the first Tory; also the first to have been born in Scotland, following union in 1707; forced to resign after 317 days in office, in the wake of a furore over his implementation of the cider tax and his mauling in John Wilkes' satirical newspaper The North Briton Click to show or hide the answer
Resigned in 1782, following the British defeat at Yorktown in the American War of Independence, and after losing the first ever vote of no confidence Click to show or hide the answer
Youngest (24 years 205 days) and second–longest–serving (18 years + 2: 1783–1801, 1804–6); introduced income tax (at 2d in the pound; budgeted Dec 1798, came into effect 1799) Click to show or hide the answer
The only British PM to be assassinated (House of Commons lobby, 11 May 1812) Click to show or hide the answer
Resigned as Commander–in–Chief of the British army, in 1828, to become Prime Minister Click to show or hide the answer
(1830–4) Introduced the Great Reform Bill, 1832 Click to show or hide the answer
(1834, 1835–41) Queen Victoria's first; husband of Lady Caroline Lamb (he was William Lamb) Click to show or hide the answer
(1841–6) Founded the Metropolitan Police – the first modern police force – in 1829, when Home Secretary Click to show or hide the answer
Reformed the Tories as the Conservative Party, following the Reform Act (1832)
Re–introduced income tax (1841) after it had been removed at the end of the Napoleonic Wars
Responsible for the repeal of the Corn Laws (1846), but subsequently lost office because most of his party opposed it. Formed his own party, but most of its members (including himself) eventually joined the Liberals
The only prime minister to serve four separate terms (1868–74, 1880–5, February–July 1886, 1892–4)
Succeeded Peel in the early days of the Great Irish (potato) Famine (1846) Click to show or hide the answer
1852–55: took Britain into the Crimean War Click to show or hide the answer
The first Liberal PM; last to die in office; real name Henry John Temple Click to show or hide the answer
The only British PM of Jewish heritage (he converted to Anglicanism in his teens) Click to show or hide the answer
Britain's oldest–ever Prime Minister: 84 years old in 1894 when he resigned for the last time; also the oldest to be elected – 82 when elected for his fourth term in 1892 Click to show or hide the answer
Introduced the first Irish Home Rule Bill, 1886
1885–6, 1886–92, 1895–1902: Queen Victoria's last Click to show or hide the answer
Last of the 19th Century and first of the 20th
The last PM with a beard
Nephew of his predecessor (Lord Salisbury); his selection by Salisbury as Chief Secretary for Ireland in 1887 may have given rise to the saying "Bob's your uncle" Click to show or hide the answer
Led the Liberals to a landslide victory in 1905; resigned in 1908 due to ill health, and died 19 days later; the only PM to die in No. 10 Downing Street (he continued to live there after his resignation) Click to show or hide the answer
(1908–16) In post at start of World War I Click to show or hide the answer
Last PM of a Liberal Government Click for more information
The Lords' power was reduced to that of delaying legislation (1911) under
(1916–22) Last Liberal to be PM Click for more information Click to show or hide the answer
First to use Chequers as a country residence
Introduced National Insurance and old age pensions, under the slogan "ninepence for fourpence", when Chancellor of the Exchequer Click for more information
Married his long–serving secretary (and mistress) Frances Stephenson, two years after the death of his first wife and two years before his own
(Oct 1922 – May 1923) the only UK PM born outside the UK Click for more information Click to show or hide the answer
Shortest–serving PM of the 20th century
(1923–4, 1924–29, 1935–37) Only 20th Century PM with three separate terms in office Click to show or hide the answer
PM during the General Strike (1926)
PM during the abdication crisis, and so served under 3 monarchs
Refused to meet the Jarrow marchers on their arrival in London (November 1936)
(1924, 1929–31) First Labour PM Click to show or hide the answer
(1937–40) son of Lord Salisbury's Colonial Secretary (first name Joseph); his brother (Austen) was a Nobel Peace laureate and had been Foreign Secretary Click to show or hide the answer
Lord Mayor of Birmingham 1915
Resigned following the defeat of British forces in Norway
Born at Blenheim Palace in 1873 Click to show or hide the answer
Rode in Kitchener's cavalry charge at Omdurman (1898)
War correspondent during the Boer War; captured by Louis Botha; made a dramatic escape from imprisonment in Pretoria
Elected Conservative MP for Oldham, 1900 (after 5 failed attempts?)
Joined the Liberals in protest at Chamberlain's tariff reforms
As President of the Board of Trade 1908–10, introduced legislation for the establishment of Labour Exchanges
Home Secretary 1910–11, when he caused a major political row by taking personal charge of the Sidney Street siege
First Lord of the Admiralty 1911–15
Served in the trenches in France, 1915–16
Minister of Munitions 1917
Secretary for War 1918–21
As Colonial Secretary, took part in the establishment of the Irish Free State
Actively supported the Whites (anti–Bolsheviks) in Russia
Left parliament 1922, left Liberals 1923
Returned as Constitutionalist for Epping, 1924
As Chancellor of the Exchequer (1924–9) under Baldwin, controverially brought about Britain's return to the Gold Standard in 1925, and was prominent in the defeat of the General Strike (1926)
Out of office 1929–39, disagreeing with Conservative policy on India, rearmament and appeasement
Returned to First Lord of the Admiralty on the day war was declared
PM May 1940 to July 1945 and Apr 1951 to Oct 1955
Leader of the Opposition, 1945–51
George VI's last PM, and Elizabeth II's first
Nobel Prize for Literature (1953)
Refused the title Duke of London, but was made a Knight of the Garter in 1953
Became the USA's first honorary citizen, in 1963; to 2016, seven more people have been made honorary US citizens, but only one (Mother Teresa) in her lifetime
Granted a state funeral following his death in January 1965
(1945–51) Served as deputy prime minister in Churchill's wartime coalition government Click to show or hide the answer
The second Labour PM, and the first with an overall majority
Resigned in 1957 under pressure from Macmillan and Butler, following his disastrous handling of the Suez Crisis (1956) Click to show or hide the answer
Second wife (from 1952, until his death in 1977) was Clarissa Spencer–Churchill, the niece of Winston Churchill (daughter of his younger brother John, known as Jack)
(1955–63) Led his party to victory in a general election (1959) with the slogan "You've never had it so good" Click to show or hide the answer
Introduced Premium Bonds in 1956 (when Chancellor of the Exchequer)
Made the "Wind of Change" speech to the South African parliament, on 3 Feb 1960
(1963–4) Last before Tony Blair to be educated at a public school (Eton) Click to show or hide the answer
Played first class cricket
First to have been born in the 20th century
Gave up a title (Lord Dunglass) to become PM
(1964–70, 1974–76) First Labour leader to win a general election Click to show or hide the answer
The only PM in the 20th century to win four general elections (1964, 1966, 1974, 1974)
First Conservative PM to have attended grammar school Click to show or hide the answer
Worked as News Editor of the Church Times (1948–9)
Introduced the three–day week (January to March 1974), and a 10:30 pm TV curfew
(1976–9) Only person in 20th Century to be Chancellor of the Exchequer, Home Secretary, Foreign Secretary and PM Click to show or hide the answer
Britain's longest–lived prime minister – died in 2005 on the eve of his 93rd birthday, outliving Macmillan by 42 days
(1979–90) Former research chemist, became MP 1959; the first science graduate to become PM Click to show or hide the answer
Longest–serving PM of the 20th century (11 years 208 days)
The only PM to marry a divorcee
Previously served as Education Secretary under Heath (1970–4) – known as 'Milk Snatcher' because she abolished free school milk
(1990–7) campaigned from a soap box (1992) Click to show or hide the answer
Only one kneecap
(1997–2007) Youngest PM of the 20th century (43 yrs 361 days) Click to show or hide the answer
Longest–serving Labour PM
First Labour PM to serve two full terms
Only Labour leader to win three consecutive general elections
First serving PM to become father to a legitimate baby since Lord Russell in 1849 (Leo Blair born 2000)
Played guitar and sang in a rock band called Ugly Rumours, while a student at Oxford
(2007–10) As Chancellor of the Exchequer (1997), set out the "Golden Rule": that over the economic cycle, the Government will borrow only to invest and not to fund current spending Click to show or hide the answer

Unmarried Prime Ministers:

1 Click to show or hide the answer 1742–3 (the immediate successor to Walpole)
2 Click to show or hide the answer 1783–1801, 1804–6
3 Click to show or hide the answer 1902–5
4 Click to show or hide the answer 1970–4

© Haydn Thompson 2017