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The two women and 53 men who have held the title of Prime Minister of England


Boris Johnson: Philippa Whitford hits out at ‘lazy’ Prime Minister


Earl Grey (Prime Minister from 1830-1834) did not just have a tea named after him, he produced the most children – 17. Perhaps because it was difficult to remember them all, he named two sons George and another two were both called William.

Viscount Goderich (1827-1828) lasted only five months as PM after being promoted from Chancellor. That was time enough however for his son George (also later to become a Cabinet minister) to earn the unique distinction of being conceived in 11 Downing Street and born in No.10.

Robert Gascoyne-Cecil, Lord Salisbury (1885-1886, 1886-1892, 1895-1902) was succeeded by his nephew Arthur Balfour (1902-1905). The phrase “Bob’s your uncle” is said to originate from when Salisbury appointed the latter to a Cabinet post.

Earl Grey

Earl Grey had a tea named after him and fathered 17 children (Image: Getty )

Helena Bonham Carter, is the great-granddaughter of Herbert Asquith (1908-1916). Her fellow actress Anna Chancellor (“Duckface” in Four Weddings And A Funeral, is his great-great granddaughter.

The Duke of Grafton (1768-1770) was the first divorced PM (the other two are Anthony Eden (1955-1957) and Boris Johnson). Grafton was only 34 when he stepped down, a period in office distinguished by a notorious personal life which saw him conduct an affair while his wife was pregnant, only for his wife to then have an affair with an Earl and leave him.

Winston Churchill (1940-1945, 1951-1955) and Harold Macmillan (1957-1963) both had American-born mothers.

Anthony Eden married his predecessor Churchill’s niece Clarissa. She is still alive today, aged 100. Mary, widow of Harold Wilson (1964-1970, 1974-1976), was 102 when she died in 2018.

There have been two cases of a father and son both becoming PM: George Grenville (1763-1765) and William Wyndham Grenville (1806-1807), and then William Pitt the Elder (1766-1768) and William Pitt the Younger (1783-1801, 1804-1806).

Boris Johnson

Boris Johnson is one of three divorced PMs (Image: Getty )


Pitt the Younger, appropriately, remains our youngest PM, taking office at 24. He’d entered Cambridge University at 14.

William Gladstone (1868-1874, 1880-1885, 1886, 1892-1894), was 82 when he took up the last of his four terms – also a record.

James Callaghan (1976-1979) is the longest-lived PM in history, dying in 2005 one day short of his 93rd birthday. That was just 11 days after his wife Audrey – their 66-year marriage is the longest for a PM too.


Lord Rosebery (1894-1895) once declared his ambitions were to marry an heiress, own a Derby winner, and become PM. He achieved all three, winning the Derby three times, including both years when he was PM, and marrying the richest woman in Britain, Hannah Primrose, Countess of Rosebery, the daughter of Baron Mayer de Rothschild.

Sir Alec Douglas-Home (1963-1964) was the only Prime Minister to play first-class cricket (for Oxford University, Middlesex, and the MCC).

Sir Edward Heath won the Admiral’s Cup in yachting, captaining Britain’s team in 1971.

Spencer Perceval

Spencer Perceval was our shortest PM at only 5ft 4in (Image: Getty )


Spencer Perceval (1809-1812) was our shortest PM, at only 5ft 4in. The tallest, at 6ft 4in, was Lord Salisbury.

Henry Campbell Bannerman (1905-1908) is believed to have been the heaviest: both he and his wife Charlotte weighed in at nearly 20st in later years.


As well as becoming our first three-time PM, Edward Smith Stanley, the Earl of Derby (1852, 1858-1859, 1866-1868) was the richest one, with a personal fortune in excess of £7million. That’s about £500million in today’s money.


Gordon Brown (2007-2010) was reported to be on a diet that included up to nine bananas per day – to help wean him off his previous preference for three Kit-Kats per day.

Pitt the Younger was known as a “three-bottle man” while PM, which was his per day consumption of port. Even more startlingly, he did so after being advised it was good for his health.


The Earl of Derby had Port Stanley in the Falklands named after him. The town also boasts a Margaret Thatcher Drive.

Pittsburgh in the US was named after William Pitt the Elder, the Australian city of Melbourne after William Lamb, Lord Melbourne (1834, 1835-1841)

The present Foreign Office cat is named after Lord Palmerston (1855-1858, 1859-1865).

Gordon Brown

Gordon Brown was reported to be on a diet that included up to nine bananas per day (Image: Getty )


The longest-serving PM remains our first one: Sir Robert Walpole, left, for just short of 21 years, between 1721 and 1742. The rhyme Who Killed Cock Robin? is said to date from, and be about, the fall of his government.

George Canning was our briefest PM, dying after 119 days in office in 1827. He survived a duel with a Cabinet rival (one of four PMs to have fought one).

The Queen has seen 14 PMs during her 69-year reign – four of whom were born within that time. Two of them, David Cameron (2010-2016) and Boris Johnson are younger than any of her children.

George Canning

George Canning died after 119 days in office in 1927 (Image: Getty )


Boris Johnson is the first American-born PM, as his parents were based in New York at the time of his birth, in June 1964. The only other born outside Britain was Andrew Bonar Law (1922-1923) in Canada.

Seven PMs so far have been Scottish–born, including most recently Tony Blair and Gordon Brown.

Two PMs were born in Dublin: including the Duke of Wellington, who famously said when asked if he was Irish: “Being born in a stable does not make one a horse.”

Widely regarded as the only Welsh PM, David Lloyd George (1916-1922) was born in Manchester. Brought up there as a Welsh speaker from three months old, he is the only premier to have had a different first language to English.


Spencer Perceval is the only PM to have been assassinated.

The Duke of Wellington carried a dagger in his umbrella as protection after unemployment riots saw a mob shower the victor of Waterloo’s London home with missiles.


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