List of Prime Ministers of the United Kingdom

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Current Prime Minister David Cameron was appointed on 11 May 2010

The Prime Minister of the United Kingdom is the political leader of the country and the Head of Her Majesty's Government. The office holder is responsible for nominating all other members of the government, chairing Cabinet meetings and deciding when to call a new general election for the House of Commons.[1][2] The Prime Minister can also make nominations to senior positions in the Church of England, nominate judges and propose the creation of new life peers.[3]

There is no specific date when the office of Prime Minister first appeared, as the role was not created but evolved over a period of time.[4] The term was used in the House of Commons in 1805,[5] it was certainly in Parliamentary use by the 1880s,[6] and in 1905 the post of Prime Minister was officially given recognition in the order of precedence.[7] Modern historians generally consider Sir Robert Walpole, who led the government of Great Britain for twenty-one years from 1721 to 1742,[8][9] to be the first Prime Minister; he is also the longest serving Prime Minister of the country.[10]

Due to the gradual evolution of the post of Prime Minister, the title is applied to early Prime Ministers only retrospectively; this has sometimes given rise to academic dispute. William Pulteney, 1st Earl of Bath and James Waldegrave, 2nd Earl Waldegrave are both sometimes listed as Prime Ministers. Bath was invited to form a ministry following the resignation of Henry Pelham in 1746, as was Waldegrave in 1757 following the dismissal of William Pitt the Elder (the dominant figure of the first Devonshire Ministry). Neither was able to command sufficient Parliamentary support to form a government; Bath stepped down after two days, and Waldegrave after four. Modern academic consensus does not consider either man to have held the office of Prime Minister, and they are not listed below.

Before 1721[edit]

See also: Chief Ministers of England, Lord High Treasurer (list) and First Lord of the Treasury.

Prior to the creation of the United Kingdom, the Treasury of England was led by the Lord High Treasurer. From Tudor times the Lord High Treasurer was regarded as one of the Great Officers of State, and was often (though not always) the dominant figure in the government: Edward Seymour, 1st Duke of Somerset (Lord High Treasurer 1547–1549) served as Lord Protector to his nephew Edward VI; William Cecil, 1st Baron Burghley (Lord High Treasurer 1572–1598) served Elizabeth I as chief advisor; Burghley's son Robert Cecil, 1st Earl of Salisbury (Lord Privy Seal and Secretary of State; Lord High Treasurer 1608–1612) succeeded his father as chief minister to Elizabeth I and then James I.

From the 17th century onwards, the Treasury was often run not by a single individual (the Lord High Treasurer) but by a commission (ie a committee) of Lords of the Treasury, led by the First Lord of the Treasury.

The last Lord High Treasurers, Sidney Godolphin, 1st Earl of Godolphin (Lord High Treasurer 1702–1710) and Robert Harley, 1st Earl of Oxford and Mortimer (Lord High Treasurer 1711–1714), led the government of Queen Anne.

Following the succession of George I in 1714, the arrangement of a commission of Lords of the Treasury as opposed to a single Lord High Treasurer became permanent. From 1714–1717 the ministry was led by Viscount Townshend, who was nominally Northern Secretary, having[clarification needed] three different First Lords. From 1717–1721 Lords Stanhope and Sunderland led the administration jointly, with Stanhope managing foreign affairs and Sunderland managing domestic affairs. Stanhope died in February 1721 and Sunderland resigned in April 1721; Townshend and Walpole returned to office. From this point, the First Lord was known unofficially as the "Prime Minister"; the Prime Minister still holds the title of First Lord of the Treasury.

Since 1721[edit]

Colour key
(for political parties)

  Whig
  Tory
  Labour

18th century[edit]

PortraitName
(Birth–Death)
Constituency/Title
Term of office

Electoral mandates
Other ministerial offices
held while Prime Minister
Political party
of PM
GovernmentRefs
Robertwalpole cropped cropped.jpgSir Robert Walpole
(1676–1745)
MP for King's Lynn until 1742
Earl of Orford from 1742
4 April
1721
15 May
1730
First Lord of the Treasury,
Chancellor of the Exchequer
& Leader of the House of Commons
WhigWalpole/Townshend[8][10][11][12]
15 May
1730
11 February
1742
Walpole
1722, 1727, 1734, 1741
Regarded as the first Prime Minister in the modern sense; the crash of the South Sea Bubble in 1720; the Licensing Act 1737; resigned after a failing performance in dealing with the War of Jenkins' Ear, which began in 1739, and accusations of corruption in 1742.
Spencer Compton 1st Earl of Wilmington cropped.jpgSpencer Compton,
1st Earl of Wilmington

(1673–1743)
16 February
1742
2 July
1743
First Lord of the TreasuryWhigCarteret[13]
 —
Titular head of the Carteret Ministry; Increased tax on spirits; in poor health for much of his time as Prime Minister. †Died in office.
Henry Pelham cropped.jpgHenry Pelham
(1694–1754)
MP for Sussex
27 August
1743
6 March
1754
First Lord of the Treasury,
Chancellor of the Exchequer
& Leader of the House of Commons
WhigCarteret;
Broad Bottom
[14][15][16][17]
1747
Entered and saw to completion British involvement in the War of the Austrian Succession from 1744 to 1748; Jacobite Rising from 1745–1746; First Carnatic War (1746–1748); Reorganisation of the Royal Navy in the Consolidation Act 1749; Second Carnatic War (1749–1754); adoption of the Gregorian Calendar in 1752; Jewish Naturalization Act 1753; Marriage Act 1753. †Died in office.
1stDukeOfNewcastleOld.jpgThomas Pelham-Holles,
1st Duke of Newcastle

(1693–1768)
16 March
1754
16 November
1756
First Lord of the Treasury
& Leader of the House of Lords
WhigNewcastle I[13][18][19]
1754
Took over government from after his brother died in office; Controversially attempted to reduce interest on National Debt; Led Britain into the French and Indian War in 1754, absorbed, after the Fall of Minorca into the Seven Years War; replaced due to poor performance in the war.
William Cavendish, 4th Duke of Devonshire cropped.JPGWilliam Cavendish,
4th Duke of Devonshire

(1720–1764)
16 November
1756
25 June
1757
First Lord of the Treasury
& Leader of the House of Lords
WhigDevonshire/Pitt;
1757 Caretaker
[13][20]
 —
Replaced Newcastle; The court-martial and execution of Admiral Byng; The government was largely run by William Pitt the Elder until dismissed for his opposition to the course of the continental war and the execution of Byng; Resigned at will of the King and due to public outrage at the execution of Byng.
1stDukeOfNewcastleOld.jpgThomas Pelham-Holles,
1st Duke of Newcastle

(1693–1768)
2 July
1757
26 May
1762
First Lord of the Treasury
& Leader of the House of Lords
WhigNewcastle II[13][21]
1761
Focused on the Seven Years War, prosecuted largely by Pitt the Elder as Secretary of State; Executed a strategy of continental war combined with expeditions against French colonies; Annus Mirabilis of 1759- Captured Senegal, Gambia, Louisbourg, Quebec, defended Madras and prevented a French invasion of Britain with naval victories at Lagos and Quiberon; George III's personal opposition led to a change of ministry.
John Stuart, 3rd Earl of Bute cropped cropped.jpgJohn Stuart,
3rd Earl of Bute

(1713–1792)
26 May
1762
8 April
1763
First Lord of the Treasury
& Leader of the House of Lords
ToryBute[22]
 —
First Scottish Prime Minister. Ended the dominance of the Whigs; Treaty of Paris (1763) ending the Seven Years' War; resigned after fierce criticism of Treaty of Paris concessions.
George Grenville cropped.jpgGeorge Grenville
(1712–1770)
MP for Buckingham
16 April
1763
13 July
1765
First Lord of the Treasury,
Chancellor of the Exchequer
& Leader of the House of Commons
Whig (Grenvillite)Grenville[23]
 —
Briefly lowered domestic tax at the expense of the colonies, though this was rapidly repealed; introduced the unenforceable Stamp Act 1765 (which is popularly cited as one of the causes of the American Revolution). His repealing of the taxes he rolled out were for all except that on tea, which was used as a reason for the Boston Tea Party.
2nd Marquess of Rockingham cropped.jpgCharles Watson-Wentworth,
2nd Marquess of Rockingham

(1730–1782)
13 July
1765
30 July
1766
First Lord of the Treasury
& Leader of the House of Lords
Whig (Rockingham)Rockingham I[24]
 —
Repealed the controversial Stamp Act 1765, inspired by protests from both American colonists and British manufacturers who were affected by it and its difficulty to enforce; introduced the Declaratory Act 1766.
William Pitt, 1st Earl of Chatham by Richard Brompton cropped cropped.jpgWilliam Pitt the Elder,
1st Earl of Chatham

(1708–1778)
30 July
1766
14 October
1768
Lord Privy SealWhig (Chathamite)Chatham[25]
 —
Due to struggles with gout, remained distant from his colleagues. Under his ministry, the Chancellor Charles Townshend, acting largely independently, brought forth the Townshend Acts, which inflamed the situation in the American colonies.
Grafton3 cropped.JPGAugustus FitzRoy,
3rd Duke of Grafton

(1735–1811)
14 October
1768
28 January
1770
First Lord of the Treasury
& Leader of the House of Lords
Whig (Chathamite)Grafton[26]
1768
Attempted to reconcile with the American colonies.
Nathaniel Dance Lord North cropped cropped.jpgFrederick North,
Lord North

(1732–1792)
MP for Banbury
28 January
1770
22 March
1782
First Lord of the Treasury,
Chancellor of the Exchequer
& Leader of the House of Commons
ToryNorth[27]
1774, 1780
Led Great Britain into the American Revolution; the Gordon Riots; attempted reform in Ireland; resigned after a vote of no confidence against the will of the King.
2nd Marquess of Rockingham cropped.jpgCharles Watson-Wentworth,
2nd Marquess of Rockingham

(1730–1782)
27 March
1782
1 July
1782
First Lord of the Treasury
& Leader of the House of Lords
Whig (Rockingham)Rockingham II[13]
 —
Acknowledged the independence of the United States; began a process of economic reform. †Died in office.
Shelburne cropped.jpgWilliam Petty-FitzMaurice,
2nd Earl of Shelburne

(1737–1805)
4 July
1782
2 April
1783
First Lord of the Treasury
& Leader of the House of Lords
Whig (Chathamite)Shelburne[13]
 —
First Irish-born Prime Minister; Planned political reform; secured peace with the United States, France and Spain.
3rd Duke of Portland 1804 cropped cropped.jpgWilliam Cavendish-Bentinck,
3rd Duke of Portland

(1738–1809)
2 April
1783
19 December
1783
First Lord of the Treasury
& Leader of the House of Lords
WhigFox–North Coalition[13]
 —
Titular head of the Fox–North Coalition. Attempted to reform the British East India Company, but was blocked by George III.
William Pitt the Younger 2 cropped.jpgWilliam Pitt the Younger
(1759–1806)
MP for Appleby until 1784
MP for Cambridge University from 1784
19 December
1783
14 March
1801
First Lord of the Treasury,
Chancellor of the Exchequer
& Leader of the House of Commons
Tory (Pittite)Pitt the Younger I[28]
1784, 1790, 1796
Youngest Prime Minister. India Act 1784; attempted to remove rotten boroughs; personally opposed to the slave trade; reduced the national debt due to the rebellion in the North American colonies; formed the Triple Alliance; Constitutional Act of 1791; the Macartney Embassy (1792–1794), first of its kind to China; war with France starting in 1793; Cape Colony (South Africa) taken 1795; introduced the first income tax; Act of Union 1800. Resigned due to opposition of George III to Catholic Emancipation.

19th century[edit]

PortraitName
(Birth–Death)
Constituency/Title
Term of office

Electoral mandates
Other ministerial offices
held while Prime Minister
Political party
of PM
GovernmentRefs
Henry Addington by Beechey.jpgHenry Addington
(1757–1844)
MP for Devizes
17 March
1801
10 May
1804
First Lord of the Treasury,
Chancellor of the Exchequer
& Leader of the House of Commons
Tory (Pittite)Addington[13]
1801 co-option, 1802
Negotiated the Treaty of Amiens with France in 1802. Although Addington had been a Pittite, and had invited Pitt to join his government, Pitt went into opposition and ousted Addington.
William Pitt the Younger 2 cropped.jpgWilliam Pitt the Younger
(1759–1806)
MP for Cambridge University
10 May
1804
23 January
1806
First Lord of the Treasury,
Chancellor of the Exchequer
& Leader of the House of Commons
Tory (Pittite)Pitt the Younger II[13]
 —
Alliance with Russia, Austria and Sweden against France (Third Coalition); Battle of Trafalgar; Battle of Ulm; Battle of Austerlitz. †Died in office.
1st Baron Grenville cropped.jpgWilliam Wyndham Grenville,
1st Lord Grenville

(1759–1834)
11 February
1806
31 March
1807
First Lord of the Treasury
& Leader of the House of Lords
WhigMinistry of All the Talents[13]
1806
Abolition of the slave trade.
3rd Duke of Portland 1804 cropped cropped.jpgWilliam Cavendish-Bentinck,
3rd Duke of Portland

(1738–1809)
31 March
1807
4 October
1809
First Lord of the TreasuryTory
(nominally Whig)
Portland II[13]
1807
Although Portland described himself as a Whig, he was invited to head a Tory government. Was old and ill, leaving the Cabinet to their own devices (largely headed by Spencer Perceval); died twenty-six days after leaving office.
Spencerperceval.jpgSpencer Perceval
(1762–1812)
MP for Northampton
4 October
1809
11 May
1812
First Lord of the Treasury,
Chancellor of the Exchequer,
Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster
& Leader of the House of Commons
ToryPerceval[29]
 —
Descent of George III into madness and the outset of the Regency era; his administration was notable for the lack of senior statesmen (Perceval also served as the Chancellor of the Exchequer); Peninsular War, part of the Napoleonic Wars. †The only Prime Minister to have been assassinated.
Earl jenkinson.jpgRobert Banks Jenkinson,
2nd Earl of Liverpool

(1770–1828)
8 June
1812
9 April
1827
First Lord of the Treasury
& Leader of the House of Lords
ToryLiverpool[30]
1812, 1818, 1820, 1826
Oversaw the United Kingdom's victory in the Napoleonic Wars; the Congress of Vienna; an economic recession in 1817; the Luddite movement; The War of 1812 (in Britain, the American War of 1812 to 1815); Peterloo Massacre in 1819; return to the gold standard in 1819; victory over the Marathas in the Third Anglo-Maratha War in 1819; the Cato Street Conspiracy to assassinate Liverpool in 1820. Retired when he suffered a cerebral haemorrhage; died the following year.
George Canning by Richard Evans - detail.jpgGeorge Canning
(1770–1827)
MP for Seaford
10 April
1827
8 August
1827
First Lord of the Treasury,
Chancellor of the Exchequer
& Leader of the House of Commons
Tory (Canningite)Canning
(CanningiteWhig)
[13]
 —
†Died shortly after taking office.
Frederick John Robinson, 1st Earl of Ripon by Sir Thomas Lawrence cropped.jpgFrederick John Robinson,
1st Viscount Goderich

(1782–1859)
31 August
1827
21 January
1828
First Lord of the Treasury
& Leader of the House of Lords
Tory (Canningite)Goderich
(CanningiteWhig)
[13]
 —
Lacked support amongst colleagues; resigned.
Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington by John Jackson cropped.jpgArthur Wellesley,
1st Duke of Wellington

(1769–1852)
22 January
1828
16 November
1830
First Lord of the Treasury
& Leader of the House of Lords
ToryWellington[13]
1830
Second Irish-born Prime Minister (after Lord Shelburne); Catholic Emancipation Bill (over which he fought a duel).
Charles Grey, 2nd Earl Grey by Sir Thomas Lawrence cropped.jpgCharles Grey,
2nd Earl Grey

(1764–1845)
22 November
1830
9 July
1834
First Lord of the Treasury
& Leader of the House of Lords
WhigGrey[31]
1831, 1832
Reform Act 1832; quelled Swing Riots; restriction of employment of children; reform of the Poor Laws; abolition of slavery throughout the British Empire.
2nd V Melbourne.jpgWilliam Lamb,
2nd Viscount Melbourne

(1779–1848)
16 July
1834
14 November
1834
First Lord of the Treasury
& Leader of the House of Lords
WhigMelbourne I[32]
 —
The last prime minister to be dismissed by a king (William IV) shortly after taking office.
Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington by John Jackson cropped.jpgArthur Wellesley,
1st Duke of Wellington

(1769–1852)
14 November
1834
10 December
1834
First Lord of the Treasury,
Secretary of State for the Home Department,
Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs,
Secretary of State for War and the Colonies
& Leader of the House of Lords
ToryWellington Caretaker[33]
 —
Caretaker government while Sir Robert Peel was located and returned to London. Held many of the major posts himself.
Sir Robert Peel 1844.jpgSir Robert Peel
(1788–1850)
MP for Tamworth
10 December
1834
8 April
1835
First Lord of the Treasury,
Chancellor of the Exchequer
& Leader of the House of Commons
ConservativePeel I[34][35]
1835§
§Minority government. Unable to form a majority in Parliament so resigned.
2nd V Melbourne.jpgWilliam Lamb,
2nd Viscount Melbourne

(1779–1848)
18 April
1835
30 August
1841
First Lord of the Treasury
& Leader of the House of Lords
WhigMelbourne II;
Melbourne III
[36]
1835, 1837
Returned by re-election after dismissal, A father figure to Queen Victoria; Municipal Corporations Act 1835; Bedchamber Crisis; Treaty of Waitangi.
Sir Robert Peel 1844.jpgSir Robert Peel
(1788–1850)
MP for Tamworth
30 August
1841
29 June
1846
First Lord of the Treasury
& Leader of the House of Commons
ConservativePeel II[37]
1841
Mines Act 1842; reintroduction of income tax; Factory Act 1844; Railway Regulation Act 1844; repeal of the Corn Laws (triggered by the Great Irish Potato Famine) and other tariffs; Maynooth Grant.
Lord John Russell.jpgLord John Russell
(1792–1878)
MP for City of London
30 June
1846
21 February
1852
First Lord of the Treasury
& Leader of the House of Commons
WhigRussell I[38]
1847§
§Minority government, but with the Conservatives split between Protectionists and Peelites, the Whigs held power. Education Act 1847; Don Pacifico affair; Chartist demonstrations; Australian Colonies Government Act; The Great Exhibition; improved the Poor laws; the John Russell Ministry was ended by a vote of "no confidence" on a militia bill.
Edward Smith-Stanley, 14th Earl of Derby-1865.jpgEdward Smith-Stanley,
14th Earl of Derby

(1799–1869)
23 February
1852
17 December
1852
First Lord of the Treasury
& Leader of the House of Lords
ConservativeDerby I
('Who? Who?')
[39]
1852
Government collapsed when his Chancellor's Budget was defeated.
Earlofaberdeen.jpgGeorge Hamilton-Gordon,
4th Earl of Aberdeen

(1784–1860)
19 December
1852
30 January
1855
First Lord of the Treasury
& Leader of the House of Lords
PeeliteAberdeen
(PeeliteWhig)
[40]
 —
Led the country into the Crimean War; resigned after defeat in the vote for an inquiry into the conduct of the war.
Henry John Temple, 3rd Viscount Palmerston.jpgHenry John Temple,
3rd Viscount Palmerston

(1784–1865)
MP for Tiverton
6 February
1855
19 February
1858
First Lord of the Treasury
& Leader of the House of Commons
WhigPalmerston I[41]
1857
Responded to the Indian mutiny of 1857; introduced the India Bill.
Edward Smith-Stanley, 14th Earl of Derby-1865.jpgEdward Smith-Stanley,
14th Earl of Derby

(1799–1869)
20 February
1858
11 June
1859
First Lord of the Treasury
& Leader of the House of Lords
ConservativeDerby II[42]
 —
Government of India Act 1858, transferring ownership of the East India Company to the Crown; Jews Relief Act, allowing Jews to become MPs.
Henry John Temple, 3rd Viscount Palmerston.jpgHenry John Temple,
3rd Viscount Palmerston

(1784–1865)
MP for Tiverton
12 June
1859
18 October
1865
First Lord of the Treasury
& Leader of the House of Commons
LiberalPalmerston II[43]
1859, 1865
Between periods in office he founded the Liberal Party; term dominated by policy concerning the American Civil War; attempts to alleviate suffering caused by the Lancashire Cotton Famine. †Died in office.
Lord John Russell.jpgJohn Russell,
1st Earl Russell

(1792–1878)
29 October
1865
26 June
1866
First Lord of the Treasury
& Leader of the House of Lords
LiberalRussell II[44]
 —
Attempted to introduce a further Reform Bill, but was opposed by his Cabinet.
Edward Smith-Stanley, 14th Earl of Derby-1865.jpgEdward Smith-Stanley,
14th Earl of Derby

(1799–1869)
28 June
1866
25 February
1868
First Lord of the Treasury
& Leader of the House of Lords
ConservativeDerby III[45]
 —
Reform Act 1867; considered by some to be the father of the modern Conservative Party.
Disraeli.jpgBenjamin Disraeli
(1804–1881)
MP for Buckinghamshire
27 February
1868
1 December
1868
First Lord of the Treasury
& Leader of the House of Commons
ConservativeDisraeli I[46]
 —
Only ethnically Jewish Prime Minister; dissolved Parliament as the Conservatives did not have a majority.
Gladstone.jpgWilliam Ewart Gladstone
(1809–1898)
MP for Greenwich
3 December
1868
17 February
1874
First Lord of the Treasury,
Leader of the House of Commons
& Chancellor of the Exchequer (1873–74)
LiberalGladstone I[47]
1868
Introduced reforms to the British Army, Civil Service and local government; made peacetime flogging illegal; Irish Church Act 1869; Irish Land Act 1870; Education Act 1870; Trade Union Act 1871; Ballot Act 1872; Licensing Act 1872; failed to prevent the Franco-Prussian War.
Disraeli.jpgBenjamin Disraeli
(1804–1881)
MP for Buckinghamshire until 1876
Earl of Beaconsfield from 1876
20 February
1874
21 April
1880
First Lord of the Treasury,
Leader of the House of Commons (1874–76),
Lord Privy Seal (1876–78)
& Leader of the House of Lords (1876–80)
ConservativeDisraeli II[48]
1874
Various social reforms including the Climbing Boys Act 1875, the Public Health Act 1875 and the Artisans' and Labourers' Dwellings Improvement Act 1875; purchase of shares in the Suez Canal Company; Congress of Berlin; reintroduction of Queen Victoria to public life, including bestowing the title Empress of India; Second Anglo-Afghan War; breaking up of the League of the Three Emperors; the Zulu War; start of Long Depression.
Gladstone.jpgWilliam Ewart Gladstone
(1809–1898)
MP for Midlothian
23 April
1880
9 June
1885
First Lord of the Treasury,
Leader of the House of Commons
& Chancellor of the Exchequer (1880–82)
LiberalGladstone II[49]
1880
First Boer War; Irish Coercion Act; Kilmainham Treaty; Phoenix Park Murders; Married Women's Property Act 1882; Corrupt and Illegal Practices Prevention Act 1883; Reform Act 1884, Redistribution of Seats Act 1885 (sometimes known collectively as the Third Reform Act); failure to rescue General Gordon in Khartoum, Sudan.
Robert cecil.jpgRobert Gascoyne-Cecil,
3rd Marquess of Salisbury

(1830–1903)
23 June
1885
28 January
1886
Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs
& Leader of the House of Lords
ConservativeSalisbury I[50]
1885§
§Minority government. Legislation providing for housing the working class.
Gladstone.jpgWilliam Ewart Gladstone
(1809–1898)
MP for Midlothian
1 February
1886
20 July
1886
First Lord of the Treasury,
Lord Privy Seal
& Leader of the House of Commons
LiberalGladstone III[51]
1885
First introduction of the Home Rule Bill for Ireland, which split the Liberal Party, resulting in the end of Gladstone's third elected government.
Robert cecil.jpgRobert Gascoyne-Cecil,
3rd Marquess of Salisbury

(1830–1903)
25 July
1886
11 August
1892
Leader of the House of Lords,
First Lord of the Treasury (1886–87)
& Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs (1887–92)
ConservativeSalisbury II[52]
1886
Opposed Irish home rule; repeal of final Contagious Diseases Act; Local Government Act 1888; Partition of Africa; Prevention of Cruelty to, and Protection of, Children Act 1889; Free Education Act 1891; creation of Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe); New Unionism and London Dock Strike of 1889.
Gladstone.jpgWilliam Ewart Gladstone
(1809–1898)
MP for Midlothian
15 August
1892
2 March
1894
First Lord of the Treasury,
Lord Privy Seal
& Leader of the House of Commons
LiberalGladstone IV[53]
1892§
§Minority government. Reintroduction of the Home Rule Bill, which was passed by the House of Commons but rejected by the House of Lords leading to his fourth and final resignation.
Archibald Primrose, 5th Earl of Rosebery - 1890s.jpgArchibald Primrose,
5th Earl of Rosebery

(1847–1929)
5 March
1894
22 June
1895
First Lord of the Treasury,
Lord President of the Council
& Leader of the House of Lords
LiberalRosebery[54]
 —
Imperialist; plans for expanding the Royal Navy caused disagreement within the Liberal Party; resigned following a vote of censure over military supplies.
Robert cecil.jpgRobert Gascoyne-Cecil,
3rd Marquess of Salisbury

(1830–1903)
25 June
1895
11 July
1902
Leader of the House of Lords,
Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs (1895–1900)
& Lord Privy Seal (1900–02)
ConservativeSalisbury III
(Cons.Lib.U.)
[55]
1895, 1900
Workmen's Compensation Act 1897; Anglo-Zanzibar War; Second Boer War and Khaki election; Anglo-Japanese Alliance. Last Prime Minister to serve from the House of Lords throughout his term. Resigned in ill health; died the following year.

20th century[edit]

PortraitName
(Birth–Death)
Constituency/Title
Term of office

Electoral mandates
Other ministerial offices
held while Prime Minister
Political party
of PM
GovernmentRefs
Arthur Balfour, photo portrait facing left.jpgArthur Balfour
(1848–1930)
MP for Manchester East
11 July
1902
5 December
1905
First Lord of the Treasury (since 25 June 1895) & Leader of the House of CommonsConservativeBalfour
(Cons.Lib.U.)
[13]
 —
Had poor relations with Edward VII; his cabinet was split over free trade; establishment of the Committee of Imperial Defence; Entente Cordiale; Education Act 1902; Taff Vale case.
Henry Campbell-Bannerman photo.jpgSir Henry Campbell-Bannerman
(1836–1908)
MP for Stirling Burghs
5 December
1905
7 April
1908
First Lord of the Treasury
& Leader of the House of Commons
LiberalCampbell-Bannerman[13]
1906
Restored autonomy to Transvaal and the Orange Free State; Anglo-Russian Entente; first Prime Minister to be referred to as such in Parliamentary legislation; died nineteen days after leaving office.
Herbert Henry Asquith.jpgHerbert Henry Asquith
(1852–1928)
MP for East Fife
7 April
1908
25 May
1915
First Lord of the Treasury,
Leader of the House of Commons
& Secretary of State for War (1914)
LiberalAsquith I[13]
25 May
1915
7 December
1916
Asquith II
(Lib.Cons.Lab.)
Jan.1910§, Dec.1910§
§Hung Parliaments. Liberal Welfare Reforms; People's Budget; Old Age Pensions Act 1908 and National Insurance Act 1911; Parliament Act 1911; Suffragettes and the Cat and Mouse Act; Home Rule Act 1914; World War I; Easter Rising.
David Lloyd George.jpgDavid Lloyd George
(1863–1945)
MP for Caernarvon Boroughs
7 December
1916
19 October
1922
First Lord of the TreasuryLiberalLloyd George
(Lib.Cons.Lab.)
[56]
1918
Welsh-speaking: only Prime Minister whose mother tongue was not English. End of World War I; Paris Peace Conference; attempted to extend conscription to Ireland during the First World War; Chanak Crisis.
Andrew Bonar Law 02.jpgAndrew Bonar Law
(1858–1923)
MP for Glasgow Central
23 October
1922
20 May
1923
First Lord of the Treasury
& Leader of the House of Commons
ConservativeBonar Law[57]
1922
Canadian-born: only Prime Minister born outside the British Isles. Became Prime Minister following Conservative backbenchers' decision at the Carlton Club meeting to withdraw from the Lloyd George Coalition. Resigned due to ill health; died six months after leaving office.
Stanley Baldwin ggbain.35233.jpgStanley Baldwin
(1867–1947)
MP for Bewdley
23 May
1923
16 January
1924
First Lord of the Treasury,
Leader of the House of Commons
& Chancellor of the Exchequer (1923)
ConservativeBaldwin I[58]
 —
Called a general election to gain a mandate for protectionist tariffs but failed to gain a majority; resigned after losing a vote of confidence.
Ramsay MacDonald ggbain 35734.jpgRamsay MacDonald
(1866–1937)
MP for Aberavon
22 January
1924
4 November
1924
First Lord of the Treasury,
Leader of the House of Commons
& Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs
LabourMacDonald I[59]
1923§
§Hung Parliament; minority government reliant on Liberal support. First Labour Prime Minister; did not have a majority so could not introduce radical legislation; settled reparations with Germany following World War I; Zinoviev letter.
Stanley Baldwin ggbain.35233.jpgStanley Baldwin
(1867–1947)
MP for Bewdley
4 November
1924
5 June
1929
First Lord of the Treasury
& Leader of the House of Commons
ConservativeBaldwin II[60]
1924
Treaty of Locarno; signatory of the Kellogg-Briand Pact; Pensions Act; enfranchisement of women over 21; UK General Strike of 1926.
Ramsay MacDonald ggbain 35734.jpgRamsay MacDonald
(1866–1937)
MP for Seaham
5 June
1929
24 August
1931
First Lord of the Treasury
& Leader of the House of Commons
LabourMacDonald II[61]
1929§
§Hung Parliament. Appointed the first female minister, Margaret Bondfield; economic crises following the Wall Street Crash of 1929.
24 August
1931
7 June
1935
First Lord of the Treasury
& Leader of the House of Commons
National Labour1st National;
2nd National
(Lab.Nat.Cons.Lib.Nat.
Lib. until 1932
)
[62]
1931
The Labour Government split on measures to resolve a budget crisis; MacDonald resigned, but was reappointed at the head of a National Government with the support of the Conservative and Liberal parties. He was subsequently expelled from the Labour Party; the National Government fought and won the election on the basis of a 'Doctor's Mandate'. Ottawa Conference supports protectionism, after which the free trade Ministers (the Liberals and Viscount Snowden) resigned..
Stanley Baldwin ggbain.35233.jpgStanley Baldwin
(1867–1947)
MP for Bewdley
7 June
1935
28 May
1937
First Lord of the Treasury
& Leader of the House of Commons
Conservative3rd National
(Cons.Lab.Nat.Lib.Nat.)
[63]
1935
Edward VIII abdication crisis; started rearmament but later criticised for failing to rearm more when Adolf Hitler broke Germany's Treaty of Versailles obligations.
Arthur-Neville-Chamberlain.jpgNeville Chamberlain
(1869–1940)
MP for Birmingham Edgbaston
28 May
1937
3 September
1939
First Lord of the Treasury
& Leader of the House of Commons
Conservative4th National
(Cons.Lab.Nat.Lib.Nat.)
[13]
3 September
1939
10 May
1940
Chamberlain War
(Cons.Lab.Nat.Lib.Nat.)
 —
Attempted to maintain "peace for our time" through appeasement of Germany, settling the Munich Agreement; widely criticised following the German invasion of Poland and consequent outbreak of World War II; resigned after failing to form a coalition government; died six months after leaving office.
Churchill HU 90973.jpgWinston Churchill
(1874–1965)
MP for Epping
10 May
1940
23 May
1945
First Lord of the Treasury,
Minister of Defence
& Leader of the House of Commons (1940–42)
ConservativeChurchill War
(All parties)
[64][65]
23 May
1945
26 July
1945
Churchill Caretaker
(Cons.Lib.Nat.)
 —
World War II; led a Coalition Government; foundation of the United Nations; proposed what would eventually lead to the European Union; Beveridge Report. Following the ending of his all-party coalition, Churchill formed a "caretaker" government out of Conservatives, Liberal Nationals and non-party figures. However after two months it was defeated in the 1945 general election.
Clement Attlee.PNGClement Attlee
(1883–1967)
MP for Limehouse until 1950
MP for Walthamstow West from 1950
26 July
1945
26 October
1951
First Lord of the Treasury
& Minister of Defence (1945–46)
LabourAttlee[66]
1945, 1950
Initiated the post-war consensus; introduced nationalisation of utilities; foundation of the National Health Service; extended national insurance scheme; Independence of India and the end of the British role in Palestine; foundation of NATO; beginning of the Cold War; the Berlin Blockade and the resulting Berlin Airlift; the start of British involvement in the Korean War.
Churchill HU 90973.jpgSir Winston Churchill
(1874–1965)
MP for Woodford
26 October
1951
7 April
1955
First Lord of the Treasury
& Minister of Defence (1951–52)
ConservativeChurchill III[67]
1951
Domestic policy interrupted by foreign disputes (Korean War, Operation Ajax, Mau Mau Uprising, Malayan Emergency).
Sir Anthony-Eden number 10 Official.jpgSir Anthony Eden
(1897–1977)
MP for Warwick and Leamington
7 April
1955
10 January
1957
First Lord of the TreasuryConservativeEden[68]
1955
Egyptian nationalisation of the Suez Canal; which sparked the Suez Crisis. Resigned due to ill health.
Harold Macmillan number 10 official.jpgHarold Macmillan
(1894–1986)
MP for Bromley
10 January
1957
19 October
1963
First Lord of the TreasuryConservativeMacmillan[69]
1959
The UK applied to join the European Economic Community for the first time, the application split the Conservatives and was vetoed by Charles de Gaulle; acceptance of Keynesianism; Rent Act 1957; Wind of Change speech; Notting Hill race riots and New Commonwealth immigration; opening of the BBC Television Centre; beginning of Beeching cuts; Night of the Long Knives; Cuban missile crisis; Profumo Affair.
Lord Alec Douglas-Home Allan Warren.jpgSir Alec Douglas-Home
(1903–1995)
14th Earl of Home until 1963
MP for Kinross and Western Perthshire from 1963
19 October
1963
16 October
1964
First Lord of the TreasuryConservativeDouglas-Home[70]
 —
Was the Earl of Home when he became Prime Minister, and renounced his peerage on 23 October 1963 in order to stand for the House of Commons.
Harold Wilson Number 10 official.jpgHarold Wilson
(1916–1995)
MP for Huyton
16 October
1964
19 June
1970
First Lord of the Treasury
& Minister for the Civil Service (1968–70)
LabourWilson I[71]
1964, 1966
Social reforms, including legalisation of abortion, abolition of capital punishment and decriminalisation of homosexuality; Rhodesian U.D.I.; adopted, then abandoned, the National Plan for the economy; Devaluation of the pound; foundation of the Open University; disputes with trade unions over In Place of Strife and prices and incomes policy.
Heathdod.JPGEdward Heath
(1916–2005)
MP for Bexley
19 June
1970
4 March
1974
First Lord of the Treasury
& Minister for the Civil Service
ConservativeHeath[72]
1970
U-turned over intervention in industry; negotiated Britain's entry to the European Community; Violence due to Northern Ireland's "Troubles" peaked; the Sunningdale Agreement agreed; Three-Day Week; Misuse of Drugs Act 1971; called early election in backfiring attempt to confront striking miners.
Harold Wilson Number 10 official.jpgHarold Wilson
(1916–1995)
MP for Huyton
4 March
1974
5 April
1976
First Lord of the Treasury
& Minister for the Civil Service
LabourWilson II[73]
Feb.1974§, Oct.1974
Hung parliament. Ended dispute with miners; Social Contract with trade unions over the economy; Health and Safety at Work Act; Renegotiated terms for EC membership, then 1975 referendum validated entry; North Sea oil; Cod War.
James Callaghan.JPGJames Callaghan
(1912–2005)
MP for Cardiff South East
5 April
1976
4 May
1979
First Lord of the Treasury
& Minister for the Civil Service
LabourCallaghan[74][75]
 —
International Monetary Fund loan to support the pound; the Lib-Lab pact; enacted devolution to Scotland and Wales but referendums stopped them; breakdown of relations with trade unions and Winter of Discontent.
Margaret Thatcher cropped2.pngMargaret Thatcher
(1925–2013)
MP for Finchley
4 May
1979
28 November
1990
First Lord of the Treasury
& Minister for the Civil Service
ConservativeThatcher
(I, II, III)
[76][77]
1979, 1983, 1987
Only female Prime Minister of the UK. Falklands War; sold council housing to tenants (right to buy); miners' strike 1984–85; privatisation of many previously government-owned industries; decreased the power of trade unions; negotiation of the UK rebate towards the European Community budget; Brighton hotel bombing; Sino-British Joint Declaration; Anglo-Irish Agreement; Westland Affair; abolition of GLC; Section 28; the "Poll tax" and Poll Tax Riots; Lockerbie bombing; the end of the Cold War.
John Major 1996.jpgJohn Major
(1943– )
MP for Huntingdon
28 November
1990
2 May
1997
First Lord of the Treasury
& Minister for the Civil Service
ConservativeMajor[78][79]
1992
Early 1990s recession; Gulf War; ratification of the Maastricht Treaty and the Maastricht Rebels; forced exit from the European Exchange Rate Mechanism ("Black Wednesday"); the Downing Street Declaration (initiating the Northern Ireland peace process); Privatisation of British Rail; The National Lottery; Citizen's Charter; Sunday Shopping; "Back to Basics" campaign; Cones Hotline; Dangerous Dogs Act.
Tony Blair in 2002.pngTony Blair
(1953– )
MP for Sedgefield
2 May
1997
27 June
2007
First Lord of the Treasury
& Minister for the Civil Service
LabourBlair[80][81]
1997, 2001, 2005
Hong Kong handover; Death of Diana, Princess of Wales; Independence for the Bank of England; Ecclestone tobacco controversy; Belfast Agreement; Human Rights Act; devolution to Scotland and Wales; House of Lords Reform; Minimum wage introduced; 1999 NATO bombing of Yugoslavia; Fuel protests; creation of Greater London Authority and Mayoralty of London; 2001 foot and mouth crisis; War in Afghanistan; Iraq War; top-up fees introduced for university tuition; Civil Partnership Act; Constitutional Reform Act; 2005 London bombings; Cash for Honours scandal; Identity Cards Act; introduced student fees.

21st century[edit]

PortraitName
(Birth–Death)
Constituency/Title
Term of office

Electoral mandates
Other ministerial offices
held while Prime Minister
Political party
of PM
GovernmentRefs
Gordon Brown official.jpgGordon Brown
(1951– )
MP for Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath
27 June
2007
11 May
2010
First Lord of the Treasury
& Minister for the Civil Service
LabourBrown[82]
 —
London car bombs prevented from detonating; Glasgow Airport attack; child benefit data misplaced; Donorgate; Northern Rock and other banks nationalised; Treaty of Lisbon ratified; 10p Tax rate abolished; Financial crisis of 2007–2010; Cannabis moved back to Class B; Parliamentary expenses scandal; Release of Abdelbaset al-Megrahi; arrest of Damian Green; Chilcot Inquiry established.
David Cameron official.jpgDavid Cameron
(1966–)
MP for Witney
11 May
2010
IncumbentFirst Lord of the Treasury
& Minister for the Civil Service
ConservativeCameron
(Cons–Lib.Dem.)
[83]
2010
Hung parliament; Bloody Sunday apology; Spending and Strategic Defence reviews (budget cuts to public services with ensuing the 2011 UK anti-austerity protests and strikes); 2010 student protests; Military intervention in Libya (Operation Ellamy); Alternative Vote (AV) referendum; Welfare Reform Act, Health and Social Care Act; 2011 riots; European Fiscal Union veto; London 2012 Summer Olympics; Belfast City Hall flag protests; Benefits Reform Universal Credit; creation of the National Crime Agency, Referendum on Scottish independence, Privatisation of the Royal Mail.

See also[edit]

Timelines[edit]

References[edit]

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  2. ^ "Prime minister". BBC News (British Broadcasting Corporation). 16 October 2008. Retrieved 25 October 2008. 
  3. ^ "Glossary — Parliamentary Jargon Explained; Prime Minister". Parliament of the United Kingdom. Retrieved 25 October 2008. [dead link]
  4. ^ Hennessy (2001), pp. 39–40
  5. ^ Hansard, 29 April 1805
  6. ^ Hansard, 20 March 1885 and 14 April 1885
  7. ^ Marriott (1921), p. 85
  8. ^ a b Clarke (1993), p. 266
  9. ^ Hennessy (2001), p. 39
  10. ^ a b "Parties and Prime Ministers". BBC News (British Broadcasting Corporation). 19 May 1998. Retrieved 12 October 2008. 
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  19. ^ Marston, Daniel (2001). The Seven Years' War. London: Osprey. pp. 11 and 26. ISBN 1-84176-191-5. 
  20. ^ Thal, edited by Herbert Van (1975). The Prime Ministers : from Sir Robert Walpole to Edward Heath. New York: Stein and Day. pp. 93–102. ISBN 0812817389. 
  21. ^ Hibbert, Christopher (2000). George III: A Personal History. New York: Basic books. p. 27. ISBN 978-0465027248. 
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  26. ^ Thomas (2002), pp. 197–218
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  29. ^ Priestley (2002), p. 62
  30. ^ Priestley (2002), p. 65
  31. ^ Clarke (1993), pp. 293–294
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  34. ^ Black (2006), pp. 180–181
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  38. ^ Longford (1998), p. 187
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  41. ^ Longford (1998), p. 246
  42. ^ Longford (1998), p. 281
  43. ^ Longford (1998), p. 282
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  45. ^ Longford (1998), p. 351
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  47. ^ Longford (1998), p. 357
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  66. ^ Hennessy (2001), p. 147
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Bibliography[edit]

External links[edit]