British Prime Ministers - Timeline

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  5. History of British Prime Ministers - Timeline
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Timeline - British Prime Ministers

No. From To Name Record
1 1721 1742 Sir Robert Walpole Generally accepted as the first real British Prime Minister (his term of office was briefly interrupted by Spencer Crompton)
1730 Irish Famine
1732 First Cavalry and Infantry Muster Rolls
1735 Moved into 10 Downing Street (a present from King George II)
2 1742 1743 Spencer Crompton,
Earl of Wilmington
died in office
3 1743 1754 Henry Pelham 1745 Jacobite Rebellion
1752 Implemented the 1751 Calender Act adopting the Gregorian calender, moving the beginning of the year from 25 March to 1 January
1754 Hardwicke Act (1753) Banns to be called and printed registers used
1754 First printed Army Lists
4 1754 1756 Thomas Pelham-Holles,
Duke of Newcastle
Brother of Henry Pelham
1756 Start of Seven Years War
5 1756 1757 William Cavendish,
4th Duke of Devonshire.
The Seven Years War continued (1756-1763)
6 1757 1762 Thomas Pelham-Holles,
Duke of Newcastle
Held office for most of the Seven Years War(1756-1763)
7 1762 1763 John Stuart,
3rd Earl of Bute
Ended Seven Years War
8 1763 1765 George Grenville 1765 introduced the Stamp Act (which was later to lead to the American war of Independence)
Sacked by George III
9 1765 1766 Charles Wentworth,
2nd Marquis of Rockingham
1766 Repealed the Stamp Act (after protest from the colonies)
Sacked by George III
10 1766 1768 William Pitt,
Earl of Chatham
AKA William Pitt "The Elder"
credited with the birth of the British Empire
Died in office
11 1767 1770 Henry Augustus Fitzroy,
3rd Duke of Grafton
1770 Discovery of Australia by Cook
Believed in the removal of duties from the colonies- except for tea
12 1770 1782 Frederick, Lord North Noted for losing Britain the American colonies
1773 Boston Tea Party
1776 America declared independence
1780 Anti catholic Gordon Riots in London
1781 Surrender at Yorktown
13 1782 1782 Charles Wentworth,
2nd Marquis of Rockingham
14 1782 1783 William Fitzmaurice,
2nd Earl of Shelburne
1782 Gilbert's Act establishes outdoor poor relief
Made peace with America, France and Spain
15 1783 1783 William Cavendish-Bentinck,
3rd Duke of Portland
16 1783 1801 William Pitt AKA William Pitt, "The Younger"
1784 India Act established dual-control of the East India Company 1789 French Revolution
1788 First deportees arrive in New South Wales
1793 Entered war with France
1790's Introduced Income Tax
1799 Combination Act. Amended in 1800 effectively banned Trade Unions and reinforced arbitration as a means of settling disputes
1800 Act of Union with Ireland
17 1801 1804 Henry Addington 1801 Union Flag adopted as the official British flag
1802 Treaty of Amiens: ll-advised peace treaty with France
Later elevated to the peerage as Viscount Sidmouth
18 1804 1806 William Pitt AKA William Pitt, "The Younger"
1805 Battle of Trafalgar
19 1806 1807 William Wyndham,
Lord Grenville
1807 Abolition of the slave trade
20 1807 1809 William Cavendish-Bentinck,
3rd Duke of Portland
21 1809 1812 Spencer Perceval 1812 Luddite Riots (machine breaking)
1812 Shot dead in the lobby of the House of Commons by John Bellingham
22 1812 1827 Robert Banks Jenkinson,
2nd Earl of Liverpool
1815 Battle of Waterloo and ending the Napoleonic Wars
1819 Peterloo Massacre In Manchester where soldiers attacked pro-parliamentary reform protesters
1819 Return to the Gold Standard
1819 Repeal of anti-trade union laws
1825 Opening of the first railway
23 1827 1827 George Canning Died in office
24 1827 1828 Frederick Robinson,
Viscount Goderich
Only held office for four months
25 1828 1830 Arthur Wellesley,
Duke of Wellington
1829 Catholic Emancipation (over which he fought a duel with Lord Winchilsea - both missed!)
1829 Creation of the London Metropolitan Police
26 1830 1834 Charles, 2nd Earl Grey 1831 Reform Bill
1832 Electoral Registers introduced
1833 Abolition of slavery in the British Empire
1833 Factory Act: Banned children under 9 from working in factories
27 1834 1834 William Lamb,
2nd Viscount Melbourne
28 1834 1835 Sir Robert Peel,
2nd Baronet
In office for only five months
29 1835 1841 William Lamb,
2nd Viscount Melbourne
1835 Municipal Corporations Act gave local power to the growing middle classes
1837 (September) Voluntary registration of births, marriages and deaths introduced
1840 Introduction of the "Penny Post"
1841 First census containing personal details
30 1841 1846 Sir Robert Peel,
2nd Baronet
1842 Mines Acts forbade the employment of women and children in the mines
1844 Factory Act limited working hours for women and children in factories
1846 Repeal of Corn Laws
31 1846 1852 Lord John Russell 1847 Ten Hours Act: Cut factory work day to ten hours for women and children
1847 Education Act Improved teachers' pay and provided money for non-conformist schools
He was created Earl Russell in 1861
32 1852 1852 Edward Stanley,
14th Earl of Derby
33 1852 1855 George Gordon,
4th Earl of Aberdeen
1854 Crimean War
34 1855 1858 Henry Temple,
3rd Viscount Palmerston
1856 End of Crimean War
1857 Start of the Indian Mutiny
1858 Introduced the India Bill to transfer the administration of India from the East India Company to the Crown (Whilst out of office in 1859 helped create the Liberal Party)
35 1858 1859 Edward Stanley,
14th Earl of Derby
1858 Completed the passage of the India Bill to transfer the administration of India from the East India Company to the Crown
36 1859 1865 Henry Temple,
3rd Viscount Palmerston
Died in Office
37 1865 1866 Earl Russell 1866 Age at death entered onto Death Certificates
38 1866 1868 Edward Stanley,
14th Earl of Derby
1867 Second Reform Bill
39 1868 1868 Benjamin Disraeli 1868 Last convicts sent to Australia
40 1868 1874 William Ewart Gladstone 1869 Suez Canal Opened
1871 Trades Unions permitted
Disestablished the Church of Ireland and passed the Irish Land Act to remove unfair practices by landlords
41 1874 1880 Benjamin Disraeli 1874 Compulsory registration of births and deaths introduced
1875 Climbing Boys Act prohibited the use of children as chimney sweeps
1875 Artisans Dwelling Act entitled Local Authorities to demolish slums
1875 Public Heath Act provided running water and refuse disposal
1878 Berlin Congress ("Peace with honour" in the Balkans)
1879 First Telephone Exchanges opened in Manchester and London
1879 created Earl of Beaconsfield
42 1880 1885 William Ewart Gladstone 1880 Education Act: Made schooling compulsory for 5-10 year olds
1881 British defeat by the Boers at Majuba
1883 Married Womens Property Act (1898) became effective
Lost British control of Sudan after having failed to rescue Gordon in Khartoum
43 1885 1885 Robert Gascoyne-Cecil,
3rd Marquis ofSalisbury
44 1886 1886 William Ewart Gladstone Introduced and lost an Irish Home Rule Bill
45 1886 1892 Robert Gascoyne-Cecil,
3rd Marquis ofSalisbury
1888 Local Government Act transferring the administration of counties to elected county councils
1891 Free Education Act: Primary education made free and compulsory
Established Rhodesia as a colony
46 1892 1894 William Ewart Gladstone 1894 Opening of the Manchester Ship Canal
1894 Local Government Act creating civil parish councils etc.
Re-introduced his Irish Home Rule Bill which was rejected by the Lords. He resigned
47 1894 1895 Archibald Primrose,
5th Earl of Rosebery
48 1895 1902 Robert Gascoyne-Cecil,
3rd Marquis ofSalisbury
1896 First permanent wireless installation
1897 Workmen's Compensation Act made employers liable for accidents to employees
1899 Boer War started
1900 School leaving age raised to 14
49 1902 1905 Arthur James Balfour 1902 Education Act provided for secondary education
50 1905 1908 Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman 1906 Labour Party founded
Restored autonomy to the Transvaal and the Orange Free State (both part of South Africa)
51 1908 1916 Herbert Henry Asquith 1911 The Parliament Act removed the power to vote against money bills and public legislation from the Lords
1912 Foundation of Royal Flying Corps (later the RAF)
1912 Titanic sinks
1911 (September) Mother's maiden name shown on birth indexes
1912 (March) Surname of spouse shown against both bride and groom in marriage indexes
1914 First World War (1914 - 1918)
1925 Was created Earl of Oxford
52 1916 1922 David Lloyd George 1918 End of First World War (1914 - 1918)
1918 Signed The Treaty of Versailles founding the League of Nations
1918 Votes for women 30+ and men 21+
1921 Irish Free State and Northern Ireland formed
1944 Was made Earl Lloyd-George of Dwyfor
53 1922 1923 Andrew Bonar Law
54 1923 1924 Stanley Baldwin
55 1924 1924 James Ramsey MacDonald Britain's first Labour Party Prime Minister
56 1924 1929 Stanley Baldwin 1925 Return to the Gold Standard
1925 Contributory State Pensions introduced
1926 General Strike
1927 Registration of still-births commenced
1929 Extended the franchise to women aged over 21
1929 Minimum age of marriage increased to 16 (from 14 boys and 12 girls)
57 1929 1935 James Ramsey MacDonald Due to being a member of a minority party in The Commons he entered into a National Government with Stanley Baldwin which eventually caused his downfall
58 1935 1937 Stanley Baldwin 1936 Germany Started to rearm
1936 Achieved a European non-intervention pact in the Spanish Civil War
1937 Abdication of Edward V111
1937 Became Earl Baldwin of Bewdley
59 1937 1940 Arthur Neville Chamberlain 1938 Munich "Peace in our time" Meeting with Hitler
1939 Germany invaded Poland and he declared war
1939 Second World War (1939 - 1945)
60 1940 1945 Winston Leonard Spencer Churchill Noted as a great war leader who could stir the resolve of his countrymen
1945 End Second World War (1939 -1945)
61 1945 1951 Clement Richard Attlee Nationalisation of the Bank of England
Nationalisation of heavy industry
Dismantled the British Empire
1948 Foundation the National Health Service
1949 NATO formed
62 1951 1955 Sir Winston Churchill 1952 Bonn Convention ending British, French and USA's occupation of Germany
1953 First ascent of Everest
1953 End of Korean War
1954 End of food rationing
63 1955 1957 Sir Anthony Eden 1956 Suez Crisis leading to loss of Office
64 1957 1963 Maurice Harold Macmillan 1959 Empire day became Commonwealth Day
1962 Consecration of the new Coventry Cathedral
Presided over the easing of the cold war with Russia and a period of prosperity.
Applied for membership of the EEC but rejected mainly because of General De Gaulle
65 1963 1964 Sir Alex Douglas Home The first person to resign a peerage (14th Earl of Home) in order to become a member of parliament and Prime Minister
66 1964 1970 James Harold Wilson 1965 Rhodesia declared unilateral independence under Ian Smith
1966 Pound Sterling devalued
1969 Capital punishment abolished
1969 Minimum voting age reduced to 16
1969 Founded the Open University
1969 Maiden flight of Concorde
1969 Troops sent into Northern Ireland
1969 Date, place of birth and maiden names added to Death Certificates
Laws on homosexuals and obscene publications liberalised
67 1970 1974 Edward Heath 1971 Decimalisation coinage
1972 Direct rule imposed on Northern Ireland
1973 Miners' strike and the "3 day working week"
1973 Britain joined the EC
68 1974 1976 James Harold Wilson 1983 Became Baron Wilson of Rievaulx;
69 1976 1979 Leonard James Callaghan Presided over a monetary crisis which needed a rescue by the IMF with a strict incomes policy
1978 The "Winter of Discontent" widespread strikes mainly in public services
70 1979 1990 Margaret Thatcher Britain's first woman Prime Minister
1979 Resolved the Rhodesian crisis leading to the foundation of Zimbabwe
1982 Falklands War
1990 Introduced the unpopular "Poll Tax" in England and Wales (Scotland in 1989)
Reversed the policy of state ownership and presided over a period of denationalisation, deregulation, reform of Trade Unions, tax cuts and the move towards a market economy in the public sector
1994 became Baroness Thatcher
71 1990 1997 John Major 1991 Abolished "The Poll Tax"
1991 Devised the Citizens Charter
1991 Invasion of Iraq following Iraq's invasion of Kuwait
1992 Sterling crisis led to leaving the ERM
1993 Established the Northern Ireland Peace Process
1994 Created the National Lottery with the proceeds going to charity
1994 Channel Tunnel opened
72 1997 2007 Anthony Charles Lynton Blair 1997 Bank of England made independent of Government
1998 Good Friday Peace Agreement in Northern Ireland
1999 NATO attacks on Kosovo and Serbia
2001 Terrorists attack the New York Trade Centre
2001 Afghanistan War
2002 Euro introduced (but not in the UK)
2003 Invasion of Iraq
2005 Suicide bombers attack London
2005 Civil Partnerships recognised
2007 Stormont, the Northern Ireland Parliament, restored
2007 Signed the Brussels Reform Treaty extending EU powers
73 2007 2010 Gordon Brown 2007 Signed the Lisbon Treaty
2008 Collapse of Banking System
2008 Withdrawal of active British troops from Iraq
2008 MP's expenses scandal, leading to the enforced resignation of the Speaker
2009 Lisbon European Union Treaty approved by all member states
2010 Restoration of policing governance to Northern Ireland
74 2010 David Cameron Joint administration with the Liberal Democrats
Current Prime Minister

Further information on the Prime Ministers may be obtained from 10 Downing Street and comprehensive timelines are available at The BBC. For detailed information on the effects of the 1799 and 1800 Combination Acts James A Jaffe gives a fascinating insight into life through the application of the arbitration system from the 13th century to around 1850.
Many of my ancestors were miners and Marjie Bloy quotes from The Condition of the Working Class in England in 1844: Friedrich Engels (1845) which vividly illustrates the working conditions of women and children in the coal mines around 1842. Much other detail of life in the 19th century is given on other pages.


This timeline, formatted for Legacy Family Tree may be downloaded from here

then "save as" a ".txt" file to ~ \Legacy\Timelines\English\

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The above information is given without warranty either expressed or implied

The content last updated 12 May 2010