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The
prime minister of the United Kingdom The prime minister of the United Kingdom is the head of government The head of government is either the highest or second-highest official in the Executive (government), executive branch of a sovereign state, a federated state, or a ...
is the principal minister of the crown of the
Her Majesty's Government ga, Rialtas na Ríochta Aontaithe sco, Govrenment o the Unitit Kinrick , image = HM Government logo.svg , image_size=220px, date_established = , state = United Kingdom The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, comm ...
, and the head of the
British Cabinet The Cabinet of the United Kingdom is a group of the most senior ministers of the crown in the government of the United Kingdom The Government of the United Kingdom, domestically referred to as Her Majesty's Government, is the central go ...
. There is no specific date for when the office of prime minister first appeared, as the role was not created but rather evolved over a period of time through a merger of duties. However, the term was regularly, if informally, used of Walpole by the 1730s.Stephen Taylor ODNB. It was used in the
House of Commons The House of Commons is the name for the elected lower house A lower house is one of two chambers Chambers may refer to: Places Canada: *Chambers Township, Ontario United States: *Chambers County, Alabama *Chambers, Arizona, an unincorpor ...
as early as 1805, and it was certainly in parliamentary use by the 1880s. In 1905, the post of prime minister was officially given recognition in the
order of precedence An order of precedence is a sequential hierarchy of nominal importance and can be applied to individuals, groups, or organizations. Most often it is used in the context of people by many organizations and governments, for very formal and state o ...
. Modern historians generally consider
Sir Robert Walpole Robert Walpole, 1st Earl of Orford, (26 August 1676 – 18 March 1745; known between 1725 and 1742 as Sir Robert Walpole) was a British British may refer to: Peoples, culture, and language * British people The British people, or Brit ...
, who led the government of
Great Britain Great Britain is an island An island (or isle) is an isolated piece of habitat that is surrounded by a dramatically different habitat, such as water. Very small islands such as emergent land features on atoll An atoll (), ...

Great Britain
for over twenty years from 1721, as the first prime minister. Walpole is also the longest-serving British prime minister by this definition. However, Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman was the first and
Margaret Thatcher Margaret Hilda Thatcher, Baroness Thatcher (; 13 October 19258 April 2013), was Prime Minister of the United Kingdom The prime minister of the United Kingdom is the head of government The head of government is either ...

Margaret Thatcher
the longest-serving prime minister officially referred to as such in the order of precedence. The first to use the title in an official act was
Benjamin Disraeli Benjamin Disraeli, 1st Earl of Beaconsfield, (21 December 1804 – 19 April 1881), was twice Prime Minister of the United Kingdom The prime minister of the United Kingdom is the head of government The head of government is e ...

Benjamin Disraeli
, who signed the Treaty of Berlin as "Prime Minister of her Britannic Majesty" in 1878. Strictly speaking, the first prime minister of the
United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland was a sovereign state A sovereign state is a political entity A polity is an identifiable political entity—any group of people who have a collective identity, who are organized by some f ...

United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland
was
William Pitt the Younger William Pitt the Younger (28 May 175923 January 1806) was a prominent Tory A Tory () is a person who holds a political philosophy Political philosophy or political theory is the philosophical Philosophy (from , ) is the st ...

William Pitt the Younger
. The first prime minister of the current
United Kingdom, i.e. the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
United Kingdom, i.e. the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
, was
Bonar Law Andrew Bonar Law (; 16 September 1858 – 30 October 1923) was Prime Minister of the United Kingdom The prime minister of the United Kingdom is the head of government The head of government is either the highest or second hig ...
, although the country was not renamed officially until 1927, when
Stanley Baldwin Stanley Baldwin, 1st Earl Baldwin of Bewdley, (3 August 186714 December 1947) was a British Conservative Conservatism is an aesthetic Aesthetics, or esthetics (), is a branch of philosophy that deals with the nature of beauty and ...
was the serving prime minister. 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. Lord Bath and Lord Waldegrave are sometimes listed as prime ministers. Bath was invited to form a ministry by when
Henry Pelham Henry Pelham (25 September 1694 – 6 March 1754) was a British Whig statesman who served as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Prime Minister of Great Britain from 1743 until his death in 1754. He was the younger brother of Thomas Pelham-H ...

Henry Pelham
resigned in 1746, as was Waldegrave in 1757 after the dismissal of
William Pitt the Elder William Pitt, 1st Earl of Chatham, (15 November 170811 May 1778) was Prime Minister of Great Britain from 1766 to 1768. Historians call him Pitt of Chatham, or William Pitt the Elder, to distinguish him from his son, William Pitt the Younger, ...
, who dominated the affairs of government during the Seven Years' War. 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 office as prime minister; they are therefore listed separately.


Before 1721

Prior to the
Georgian era The Georgian era is a period in British history from 1714 to , named after the House of Hanover, Hanoverian Kings George I of Great Britain, George I, George II of Great Britain, George II, George III of the United Kingdom, George III and George ...
, the
Treasury A treasury is either *A government department related to finance and taxation, a Finance minister, finance ministry. *A place or location where treasure, such as currency or precious items are kept. These can be State ownership, state or roy ...
of
England England is a Countries of the United Kingdom, country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Wales to its west and Scotland to its north. The Irish Sea lies northwest of England and the Celtic Sea to the southwest. E ...

England
was led by the
Lord High Treasurer The post of Lord High Treasurer or Lord Treasurer was an English government position and has been a British government position since the Acts of Union of 1707. A holder of the post would be the third-highest-ranked Great Officers of State (Un ...
. By the late
Tudor period The Tudor period occurred between 1485 and 1603 in and includes the during the of until 1603. The Tudor period coincides with the dynasty of the in England whose first monarch was (b.1457, r.14851509). Historian (1988) argued that "Englan ...
, the Lord High Treasurer was regarded as one of the
Great Officers of State In the United Kingdom, the Great Officers of State are traditional ministers of The Crown who either inherit their positions or are appointed to exercise certain largely ceremonial functions or to operate as members of the government. This cite ...
, and was often (though not always) the dominant figure in government:
Edward Seymour, 1st Duke of Somerset Edward Seymour, 1st Duke of Somerset PC (150022 January 1552) (also 1st Earl of Hertford, 1st Viscount Beauchamp), also known as Edward Semel, was the eldest surviving brother of Queen Jane Seymour Jane Seymour (c. 150824 October 1537), al ...
(Lord High Treasurer, 1547–1549), served as
Lord Protector Lord Protector (plural The plural (sometimes abbreviated An abbreviation (from Latin ''brevis'', meaning ''short'') is a shortened form of a word or phrase, by any method. It may consist of a group of letters, or words taken from the full ...
to his prepubescent nephew ;
William Cecil, 1st Baron Burghley William Cecil, 1st Baron Burghley (13 September 15204 August 1598) was an English statesman, the chief adviser of Queen Elizabeth I Elizabeth I (7 September 153324 March 1603) was Queen of England and Ireland Ireland ( ; ga, ...
(Lord High Treasurer, 1572–1598), was the dominant minister to ; Burghley's son
Robert Cecil, 1st Earl of Salisbury Robert Cecil, 1st Earl of Salisbury, (1 June 156324 May 1612), was an English statesman noted for his direction of the government during the Union of the Crowns The Union of the Crowns ( gd, Aonadh nan Crùintean; sco, Union o the Crou ...

Robert Cecil, 1st Earl of Salisbury
, succeeded his father as chief minister to (1598–1603) and was eventually appointed by

as Lord High Treasurer (1608–1612). By the late
Stuart period The Stuart period of British history lasted from 1603 to 1714 during the dynasty of the House of Stuart The House of Stuart, originally Stewart, was a dynasty, royal house of Kingdom of Scotland, Scotland, Kingdom of England, England, Kingd ...
, the Treasury was often run not by a single individual (i.e., the Lord High Treasurer) but by a
commission Commission or commissioning may refer to: Business and contracting * Commission (remuneration), a form of payment to an agent for services rendered ** Commission (art), the purchase or the creation of a piece of art most often on behalf of another ...

commission
of
Lords of the TreasuryIn the United Kingdom The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known as the United Kingdom (UK) or Britain,Usage is mixed. The Guardian' and Telegraph' use Britain as a synonym for the United Kingdom. Some prefer to u ...
, led by the
First Lord of the Treasury The First Lord of the Treasury is the head of the commission Commission or commissioning may refer to: Business and contracting * Commission (remuneration), a form of payment to an agent for services rendered ** Commission (art), the purchase o ...
. The last Lords High Treasurer, Lord Godolphin (1702–1710) and Lord Oxford (1711–1714), ran the government of
Queen Anne Queen Anne often refers to: * Anne, Queen of Great Britain (1665–1714), queen of England, Scotland and Ireland (1702–1707) and of Great Britain (1707–1714) **Queen Anne style architecture, an architectural style from her reign, and its revival ...

Queen Anne
. After the succession of in 1714, the arrangement of a commission of Lords of the Treasury (as opposed to a single Lord High Treasurer) became permanent. For the next three years, the government was headed by
Lord Townshend
Lord Townshend
, who was appointed
Secretary of State for the Northern Department The Secretary of State for the Northern Department was a position in the Cabinet of the government of Great Britain Great Britain is an island in the North Atlantic Ocean off the northwest coast of continental Europe. With an area of , i ...
. Subsequently, Lord Stanhope and Lord Sunderland ran the government jointly, with Stanhope managing foreign affairs and Sunderland domestic. Stanhope died in February 1721 and Sunderland resigned two months later; Townshend and
Robert Walpole Robert Walpole, 1st Earl of Orford, (26 August 1676 – 18 March 1745; known between 1725 and 1742 as Sir Robert Walpole) was a British British may refer to: Peoples, culture, and language * British people, nationals or natives of the Unit ...

Robert Walpole
were then invited to form the next government. From that point, the holder of the of First Lord also usually (albeit unofficially) held the status of prime minister. It was not until the
Edwardian era The Edwardian era or Edwardian period of British history spanned the reign of King Edward VII, 1901 to 1910, and is sometimes expanded to the start of the First World War. The death of Queen Victoria in January 1901 marked the end of the Victo ...
that the title was constitutionally recognised. The prime minister still holds the office of First Lord by constitutional convention, the only exceptions being
Lord Chatham William Pitt, 1st Earl of Chatham, (15 November 170811 May 1778) was Prime Minister of Great Britain from 1766 to 1768. Historians call him Pitt of Chatham, or William Pitt the Elder, to distinguish him from his son, William Pitt the Younger, ...
(1766–1768) and
Lord Salisbury Robert Arthur Talbot Gascoyne-Cecil, 3rd Marquess of Salisbury (; 3 February 183022 August 1903) was a British statesman and Conservative Conservatism is an aesthetic Aesthetics, or esthetics (), is a branch of philosophy that de ...
(1885–1886, 1887–1892, 1895–1902).


Since 1721


Disputed


See also

*
List of prime ministers of the United Kingdom by length of tenure This article lists each Prime Minister of the United Kingdom The prime minister of the United Kingdom is the head of government The head of government is either the highest or second highest official in the executive branch of a sovere ...
*
List of prime ministers of the United Kingdom by education A list of prime ministers of the United Kingdom and the educational institutions they attended. , of the 55 prime ministers A prime minister or a premier is the head of the cabinet Cabinet or The Cabinet may refer to: Furniture * Cabine ...
*
Assassination of Spencer Perceval On 11 May 1812, at about 5:15 pm, Spencer Perceval Spencer Perceval (1 November 1762 – 11 May 1812) was a British statesman and barrister. He was Prime Minister of the United Kingdom The prime minister of the United Kingdom is the ...

Assassination of Spencer Perceval
*
Downing Street Downing Street is a long street in the City of Westminster The City of Westminster is a City status in the United Kingdom, city and London boroughs, borough in Inner London which forms a core part of Central London. It is the site of the ...

Downing Street
*
List of British governments This article lists successive British governments, also referred to as ministries, from the creation of the Kingdom of Great Britain The Kingdom of Great Britain, officially called Great Britain,"After the political union of England and Sc ...
*
List of current heads of government in the United Kingdom and dependencies In the United Kingdom, various titles are used for the head of government of each of the countries of the United Kingdom, Crown dependencies, and British Overseas Territories, Overseas Territories. Following elections to the assembly or parliament, ...
*
Deputy Prime Minister of the United Kingdom The Deputy prime minister of the United Kingdom (DPM) is a senior minister of the Crown Minister of the Crown is a formal constitutional term used in Commonwealth realm A Commonwealth realm is a sovereign state A sovereign sta ...
*
List of United Kingdom general elections This is a list of United Kingdom general election, general elections (elections for the House of Commons of the United Kingdom, UK House of Commons) since the first in 1802. The members of the 1801–1802 Parliament had been elected to the forme ...
*
Royal prerogative in the United Kingdom The royal prerogative The royal prerogative is a body of customary authority, privilege and immunity, recognized in common law In law, common law (also known as judicial precedent or judge-made law, or case law) is the body of law created b ...
*
List of government ministers of the United Kingdom This is a list of ministerial offices in the Government of the United Kingdom. The highest ranking ministers sit in the Cabinet. Tiers of political offices in the UK government * Prime Minister * Secretary of State * Minister of State * ...
Main articles
* * * * * * * *


Notes


References


Citations


Sources


Publications

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Online

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Further reading

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External links

* * {{DEFAULTSORT:United Kingdom, List Of Prime Ministers Of The
Prime A prime number (or a prime) is a natural number greater than 1 that is not a Product (mathematics), product of two smaller natural numbers. A natural number greater than 1 that is not prime is called a composite number. For example, 5 is prime ...
* 1721 establishments in Great Britain