British Prime Ministers List

This list of past British Prime Ministers as a handy chronological list and timeline guide.

  • Arthur James Balfour Prime Minister 1902-1905
  • Spencer Perceval shot dead 1812

“I unequivocally deny that I am sole and prime minister.” 
Robert Walpole 1741 uttered this when his Government was under attack

Each Prime Minister is listed in chronological order with an interactive link to the periods where we have related information and an overview to that period in history. This will link to a selection of overviews, profiles and biographies of some of the more notable characters. Simply click on the Prime Ministers name where you see a link and you will be taken to the related article. Additional and key members of the House of Lords and the history of the political leadership of the particular historic periods and how they relate to our historic themes will also be covered, so worth a look there too. Launching this list in 2015, on the occasion of the 50th Anniversary of Winston Churchill, seems fitting.

“The main essentials of a successful Prime Minister are sleep and a sense of history”
Harold Wilson Prime Minister 1964 – 1970 and 1974 – 1976

How long has Britain had what is called a prime minister?

We take for granted that we are led in Government by a Prime Minister but the idea of a Prime Minister was not a status created, more it was one that evolved after the Glorious Revolution of 1688. There was a need for spokesperson, a head who could deliver control of the Parliament for the monarch. It was a term used in the first place to insult someone that was felt to have got above their station, after the monarch was thought to be the ‘prime’ minister.

Robert Walpole was First Lord of the Treasury and found himself in the extended role of being that prime spokesman but the idea of such a role was still not considered justifiable. For decades after Walpole, the post of Prime Minister was still not established but rather assumed that those holding the post of First Lord of the Treasury would also be Prime Minister.

By the end of the 18th century the office of Prime Minister was accepted.

Astonishingly, it was only in 1885 that the list of government ministers printed in Hansard, the official record of parliamentary debates, first used the title Prime Minister and the first statutory reference to the Prime Minister came in the Chequers Estate Act 1917.  In 1977 public recognition of the existence of a ‘Prime Minister’s Office’ was entered in the Civil Service Yearbook.

Whilst the idea of a Prime Minister has been accepted, the role has remained largely informal, it’s powers being a matter of convention rather than law. It is expected that the Prime Minister will take the lead on significant matters of state.

 

Alexandra Feodorovna

Alexandra Feodorovna

Alexandra Feodorovna the last Russian Tsarina was she ultimately responsible for the downfall and murder of the Romanov family? She was ostracized by the Russian court, it’s people and many in Europe, what part did this play in forcing her towards Rasputin?

WW1 Remembrance Poetry Art and Hope

WW1 Remembrance Poetry Art and Hope

The Digital Archives of WW1 Poetry needs little introduction. Worthy of a reflective browse and full of deeply moving artefacts. When souls in the extremes of horrific wars raise themselves to such heights, in spite of all they face, it feels like the least we can do is to take inspiration from their art and…

Rachel Wriothesley wife of Lord Russell

Rachel Wriothesley wife of Lord Russell

Rachel Wriothesley played an interesting role in 17th Century intrigue but who was she? Rachel was born in 1636 in Titchfield Hampshire, the daughter of Thomas Wriothesley the 4th Earl of Southampton. The Wriothesley’s had an illustrious history, after the Reformation, the family grew more powerful and wealthier than ever before. Thomas Wriothesley, the 1st…

Sarah Guppy an English Inventor

Sarah Guppy an English Inventor

This entry is part 1 of 2 in the series Women Inventors, Scientists and Engineers

Sarah Guppy an English inventor and a rare breed indeed. She was born in 1770 and developed a passion for engineering that culminated in a plethora of useful and esoteric inventions.

The Cult of Chivalry

The Cult of Chivalry

The cult of chivalry was born out of the military culture that existed in the 11th century Chivalry was a code of honour for military warriors to follow. These men came from part of the elite ‘aristocratic’ society that existed at the time. Quite literally, the word chivalry came from the French word ‘chevalerie’ meaning…

Fair Rosamund

Fair Rosamund

This entry is part 14 of 15 in the series Intriguing Women

Fair Rosamund, another intriguing woman of the Plantagenet period. Mistress of King Henry II but just why was she so important in his life?

IT Livery Companies History and Dame Shirley

IT Livery Companies History and Dame Shirley

This entry is part 7 of 15 in the series Intriguing Women

Dame Stephanie Shirley, aka Steve computing pioneer, philanthropist and advocate for strategic projects in Autism and child escaping Nazi Germany via the British Kindertransport initiative. She survived and succeeded against the odds, one 10,000 against one and a half million that perished..She is part of history and very much alive and still making it happen, she is for me an inspiration and continues a long line of great contributions to British life that started with the story of a migration and the struggles of an immigrant trying to make the best of the cards life has dealt the, We can all learn something from Dame Shirley.

Richard II King 1377-1399

Richard II King 1377-1399

This entry is part 1 of 7 in the series Plantagenet Monarchs

Richard II son of the Black Prince and Grandson of Edward III what kind of a King would he make coming to the throne at just 9 years old, confronting the Peasants Revolt and growing-up with the burden of kingship. Follow his timeline and chronology of the events that shape his life and impact on his kingdom.

Sidney Street Siege and Winston Churchill 1911

Sidney Street Siege and Winston Churchill 1911

This entry is part 4 of 4 in the series Winston Churchill polymath

Winston Churchill as Home Secretary 1911, dressed in Top Hat it could be mistaken for a scene from the Silent movies but find out what happened and decide for yourself was it ‘over-the-top’ for Winston to be there and to call in Artillery?

Edward Coke 1552 – 1634

Edward Coke 1552 – 1634

Edward Coke, supreme barrister and politician of the C16th and C17th, whose belief and work in Common Law became part of the English and US Constitution whose name should be known by every child in the UK.

Duke of Windsor Sends his Best to Winston Churchill

Duke of Windsor Sends his Best to Winston Churchill

A British King had abdicated for the woman he loved, some 18 years later he would make a rare and awkward film appearance on the occassion of Winston Churchill’s 80th. Had the political climate thawed after the tragedy of a family divided and the Duke wanted to pay tribute and honour an old friend and loyal servant of the nation. An intriguing moment that might be repeated, see he video and follow our new Windsor period on Intriguing History.

Winston Churchill 50th Anniversary Tribute

Winston Churchill 50th Anniversary Tribute

This entry is part 2 of 4 in the series Winston Churchill polymath

The start of a series of some facets of Winston Churchill and his intriguing connections, the character of the man himself his triumphs and failures, his polymorphic abilities, science, writing, oratory excellence, the people he knew and what he thought about them and vice versa. Simply one of the most intriguing men in at least British 20th century history, he had his failing but packed huge amounts in to a life of extremes and huge contrasts. What can we find and connect as a series on the intriguing people he was involved with, how he promoted and developed science and technology throughout his career and a little colour about the character of the man.

Intriguing People Timeline

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An evolving timeline of intriguing people
NameTerm StartTerm EndPolitical PartyMonarch at start of term
Sir Robert Walpole14 Apr 172115 May 1730WhigGeorge I
Sir Robert Walpole15 May 173011 Feb 1742WhigGeorge I
Earl of Wilmington
Spencer Compton
16 Feb 17422 July 1743WhigGeorge II
Henry Pelham27 Aug 174316 Mar 1754WhigGeorge II
Duke of Newcastle
Thomas Pelham - Holles
16 Mar 175416 Nov 1756WhigGeorge II
Duke of Devonshire
William Cavendish
16 Nov 175625 June 1757WhigGeorge II
Duke of Newcastle
Thomas Pelham Holles
2 July 175726 May 1762WhigGeorge II
Earl of Bute
John Stuart
26 May 17628 Apr 1763ToryGeorge III
George Grenville16 Apr 176313 July 1765WhigGeorge III
Marquess of Rockingham
Charles Watson Wentworth
13 July 176530 July 1766WhigGeorge III
Earl of Chatham
William Pitt the Elder
30 July 176614 Oct 1768WhigGeorge III
Duke of Grafton
Augustus Fitzroy
14 Oct 176828 Jan 1770WhigGeorge III
Lord North
Frederick North
28 Jan 177022 Mar 1782ToryGeorge III
Marquess of Rockingham
Charles Watson Wentworth
27 Mar 17821 July 1782WhigGeorge III
Earl of Sherburne
William Petty
4 July 17822 Apr 1783WhigGeorge III
Duke of Portland
William Cavendish Bentinck
2 Apr 178319 Dec 1783WhigGeorge III
William Pitt the Younger19 Dec 178314 Mar 1801ToryGeorge III
Henry Addington17 Mar 180110 May 1804ToryGeorge III
William Pitt the Younger10 May 180423 Jan 1806ToryGeorge III
William Wyndham Grenville11 Feb 180631 Mar 1807WhigGeorge III
Duke of Portland
William Cavendish Bentinck
31 Mar 18074 Oct 1809ToryGeorge III
Spencer PercivalSpencer Perceval 4 Oct 180911 May 1812ToryGeorge III
Earl of Liverpool
Robert Banks Jenkinson
8 June 18129 Apr 1827ToryGeorge III
George Canning10 Apr 18278 Aug 1827ToryGeorge IV
Viscount Goderich
Frederick John Robinson
31 Aug 182721 Jan 1828ToryGeorge IV
Duke Wellington
Arthur Wellesley
22 Jan 182816 Nov 1830ToryGeorge IV
Earl Grey
Charles Grey
22 Nov 18309 July 1834WhigWilliam IV
Viscount Melbourne
William Lamb
16 July 183414 Nov 1834WhigWilliam IV
Duke of Wellington
Arthur Wellesley
14 Nov 183410 Dec 1834ToryWilliam IV
Sir Robert Peel10 Dec 18348 Apr 1835ConsvWilliam IV
Viscount Melbourne
William Lamb
18 Apr 183530 Aug 1841WhigWilliam IV
Sir Robert Peel30 Aug 184129 June 1846ConsvVictoria
Lord John Russell30 June 184621 Feb 1852WhigVictoria
Earl of Derby
Edward Smith Stanley
23 Feb 185217 Dec 1852ConsvVictoria
Earl of Aberdeen
George Hamilton Gordon
19 Dec 1852 30 Jan 1855PeeliteVictoria
Viscount Palmerston
Henry John Temple
6 Feb 185519 Feb 1858WhigVictoria
Earl of Derby
Edward Smith Stanley
20 Feb 185811 June 1859ConsvVictoria
Viscount Palmerston
Henry John Temple
12 June 185918 Oct 1865LibVictoria
Earl Russell
John Russell
29 Oct 186526 June 1866LibVictoria
Earl of Derby
Edward Smith Stanley
28 June 186625 Feb 1868ConsvVictoria
Benjamin Disraeli27 Feb 18681 Dec 1868ConsvVictoria
William Ewart Gladstone3 Dec 186817 Feb 1874LibVictoria
Benjamin Disraeli20 Feb 187421 Apr 1880ConsvVictoria
William Gladstone23 Apr 18809 June 1885LibVictoria
Marquess of Salisbury
Robert Gascoyne - Cecil
23 June 188528 Jan 1886ConsVictoria
William Gladstone1 Feb 188620 July 1886LibVictoria
Marquess of Salisbury
Robert Gascoyne - Cecil
25 July 188611 Aug 1892ConsVictoria
William Gladstone15 Aug 18922 Mar 1894LibVictoria
Earl of Rosebery
Archibald Primrose
5 Mar 189422 June 1895LibVictoria
Marquess of Salisbury
Robert Gascoyne - Cecil
25 June 189511 July 1902ConsVictoria
Andrew Balfour11 July 19025 Dec 1905ConsEdward VII
Sir Henry Campbell Bannerman5 Dec 19057 Apr 1908LibEdward VII
Herbert Asquith7 Apr 190825 May 1915LibEdward VII
Herbert Asquith25 May 19157 Dec 1916LibGeorge V
David Lloyd George7 Dec 191619 Oct 1922LibGeorge V
Andrew Bonar Law23 Oct 192220 May 1923ConsGeorge V
Stanley Baldwin23 May 192316 Jan 1924ConsGeorge V
Ramsay MacDonald22 Jan 19244 Nov 1924LabGeorge V
Stanley Baldwin4 Nov 19245 June 1929ConsGeorge V
Ramsay MacDonald5 June 192924 Aug 1931LabGeorge V
Ramsay MacDonald24 Aug 19317 June 1935National LabGeorge V
Stanley Baldwin7 June 193528 May 1937ConsEdward VIII
Neville Chamberlain Prime MinisterNeville Chamberlain28 May 19373 Sep 1939ConsGeorge VI
Neville Chamberlain3 Sep 193910 May 1940ConsGeorge VI
Winston Churchill 10 May 194023 May 1945ConsGeorge VI
Winston Churchill 23 May 194526 July 1945ConsGeorge VI
Clement Atlee26 July 194526 Oct 1951LabGeorge VI
Sir Winston Churchill 26 Oct 19516 April 1955ConsGeorge VI
Sir Anthony Eden6 Apr 195510 Jan 1957ConsElizabeth II
Harold Macmillan10 Jan 195719 Oct 1963ConsElizabeth II
Sir Alec Douglas Home19 Oct 196316 Oct 1964ConsElizabeth II
Harold Wilson16 Oct 196419 June 1970LabElizabeth II
Edward Heath19 June 19704 Mar 1974ConsElizabeth II
Harold Wilson4 Mar 19745 Apr 1976LabElizabeth II
James Callaghan5 Apr 19764 May 1979LabElizabeth II
Margaret Thatcher4 May 197928 Nov 1990ConsElizabeth II
John Major28 Nov 19902 May 1997ConsElizabeth II
Tony Blair2 May 199722 June 2007LabElizabeth II
Gordon Brown27 June 200711 May 2010LabElizabeth II
David Cameron 11 May 2010IncumbentConsElizabeth II