America's Gateway to the British Isles since 1996


British Prime Ministers

Undoubtedly you will recognize some of their names, Churchill, Thatcher, Chamberlain... all for different reasons. Others, we suspect, will be complete strangers who you will take some mild pleasure in learning about, as we did.

In the somewhat strange catagory, Sir Robert Walpole, while universally recognized as the first prime minister of Britain, did not actually hold the title. He was probably called first minister while the title of prime minister was not officially recognized until 1905.

It may be this unofficial title then that causes problems when trying to positively identify prime ministers. We found that on at least three lists of prime ministers that we consulted, none agreed. Our dilemma is reflected somewhat in the biographical commentary for several of the prime ministers who served prior to 1905. One list had William Pitt, the Elder as prime minister from 1766 to 1768 while another had the Duke of Grafton holding the office from 1766 to 1770. One list left James Arthur Balfour off entirely, while another has him as prime minister from 1902 to1905. After 1905, we are pleased to say, that there is little confusion at least concerning who was the prime minister.

In summarizing the careers of the prime ministers, we have tried to present a brief but accurate picture of the political lives of the men and woman who have assumed the position. In some cases there is little information available. In others there are volumes. In some cases, we have discovered differing accounts and have had to read between the lines to present what we consider to be a fair picture. As is the case with much of history, a story depends on who is doing the telling. If you feel we have been unfair, inaccurate or entirely wrong, please email us with your comments. We are, by no means, finished with this section of Britannia. We will be adding material on a continuing basis.

Under the title of "Perspective" we have included, by year and sometimes month, some of the significant world events that occurred during each ministry. Also, if we have found any related links on the Web, we have included them as well. If you locate a related link that you would like to share with other Britannia explorers, we encourage you to send it along. We are also providing some definitions of terms you will encounter.

 Related Links

British Government on the Web - Basic information, links to political parties, Parliament, speeches and archives to explore.
10 Downing Street - Official biographies of recent prime ministers, speeches, tour of the residence, cabinet ministers bios, press releases and more.


"The Wordsworth Dictionary of Biography", Wordsworth Editions Limited, 1994
"The Wordsworth Dictionary of British History", Wordsworth Editions Limited, 1994
"The Wordsworth Encyclopedia" Wordsworth Editions Limited, 1995
Master, Gerald, ed. "he Wordsworth Book of Days", Wordsworth Editions Limited, 1995
Grun, Bernard, "The Timetables of History", Simon and Shuster, New York, 1975
Marshall, Richard, ed. "Great Events of the 20th Century", Reader's Digest Association, Inc. , 1977
Valentine, Alan, "Lord North", University of Oklahoma Press, 1967
"The World Book Encyclopedia", World Book-Childcraft International, Inc., 1979

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