Archibald Primrose, 5th Earl of Rosebery
|The Right Honourable
The Earl of Rosebery
|Prime Minister of the United Kingdom|
5 March 1894 – 22 June 1895
|Preceded by||William Ewart Gladstone|
|Succeeded by||The Marquess of Salisbury|
|Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs|
6 February 1886 – 3 August 1886
|Prime Minister||William Ewart Gladstone|
|Preceded by||The Marquess of Salisbury|
|Succeeded by||The Earl of Iddesleigh|
18 August 1892 – 10 March 1894
|Prime Minister||William Ewart Gladstone|
|Preceded by||The Marquess of Salisbury|
|Succeeded by||The Earl of Kimberley|
|Lord President of the Council|
10 March 1894 – 21 June 1895
|Preceded by||The Earl of Kimberley|
|Succeeded by||The Duke of Devonshire|
|Leader of the Opposition|
22 June 1895 – 6 October 1896
|Preceded by||The Marquess of Salisbury|
|Succeeded by||Sir William Harcourt|
7 May 1847|
Berkeley Square, London
|Died||21 May 1929
|Spouse(s)||Hannah de Rothschild|
|Alma mater||Christ Church, Oxford|
Archibald Philip Primrose, 5th Earl of Rosebery, 1st Earl of Midlothian, KG, PC (7 May 1847 – 21 May 1929) was a British Liberal statesman and Prime Minister. Between the death of his father, in 1851, and the death of his grandfather, the 4th Earl, in 1868, he was known by the courtesy title of Lord Dalmeny.
Rosebery was a Liberal Imperialist who favoured strong national defence and imperialism abroad and social reform at home, while being solidly anti-socialist. His parents were Scottish and his earldom title was part of the peerage of Scotland. Rosebery married Hannah de Rothschild, the heiress of Mayer Amschel de Rothschild.
Early life 
Archibald Philip Primrose was born in his parents' house in Charles Street, London, on 7 May 1847. His father, who, as heir to the 4th Earl of Rosebery, was known by the courtesy title of Lord Dalmeny, was MP for Stirling from 1832 to 1847 and served as First Lord of the Admiralty under Lord Melbourne. His mother, Wilhemina, was a daughter of Earl Stanhope. Lord Dalmeny died on 23 January 1851, the courtesy title passing to his son as the new heir to the earldom. In 1854, his mother married the Duke of Cleveland. The relationship between mother and son was very poor. His elder and favourite sister became Lady Leconfield. Dalmeny attended preparatory schools in Hertfordshire and Brighton.
Dalmeny attended Eton between 1860 and 1865. His remarkable intellect, displayed in debates, attracted the attention of William Johnson Cory. Michael Matthew Kaylor's Secreted Desires: The Major Uranians: Hopkins, Pater and Wilde (2006) explores their personal relationship.
Dalmeny was educated at Christ Church, Oxford, from 1865 until 1869. The three Prime Ministers from 1880 to 1902 – Gladstone, Salisbury and Rosebery – all went to both Eton and Christ Church. A prominent figure on the turf for 40 years, Dalmeny bought a horse, Ladas, in 1868, though a rule banned undergraduates from owning horses. When he was found out, he was offered a choice: sell the horse or give up his studies. He chose the latter.
When his grandfather died, in 1868, Dalmeny became Earl of Rosebery. This did not entitle him to sit in the House of Lords, as the title is part of the old Peerage of Scotland, from which 16 members (representative peers) were elected to sit in the Lords for each session of Parliament. However, in 1828, Rosebery's grandfather had been created 1st Baron Rosebery in the Peerage of the United Kingdom, which did entitle Rosebery to sit in the Lords like all peers of the United Kingdom.
Rosebery toured the United States in 1873, 1874 and 1876. He was pressed to marry Marie Fox, the adopted daughter of Lord Holland. However, Fox, who was only sixteen, declined and later married Prince Louis of Liechtenstein.
Personal life after 1878 
In 1878, Rosebery married Hannah, only child of the Jewish banker Baron Mayer de Rothschild, and the greatest English heiress of her day. Her father had died in 1874, leaving her the bulk of his estate. They were married in the Board of Guardians in Mount Street, London, on 20 March 1878, when he was 31 and she 27. Later that day, the marriage was blessed in a Christian ceremony in Christ Church, Down Street, Piccadilly. In January, Rosebery had said to a friend that he found Hannah "very simple, very unspoilt, very clever, very warm-hearted and very shy...I never knew such a beautiful character." Both Queen Victoria's son the Prince of Wales and her cousin, the army commander George, Duke of Cambridge attended the ceremony. Hannah's death in 1890 from typhoid, compounded by Bright's disease, left him distraught.
It was also speculated that he was bisexual. Like Oscar Wilde, he was hounded by John Douglas, 9th Marquess of Queensberry for his association with one of Queensberry's sons — Francis Douglas, Viscount Drumlanrig who was his private secretary.
Rosebery had four children with Hannah:
- Sybil Myra Caroline (1879–1955), who married General Sir Charles Grant (1877–1950)
- Margaret Etrenne Hannah, known as Peggy, (1881–1967), who in 1899 married The Marquess of Crewe (1858–1945). Such was her father's popularity that London came to a standstill for the wedding.
- Harry Primrose, 6th Earl of Rosebery (Albert Edward Harry Meyer Archibald) (January 1882 – 1974), who served as Scottish Secretary in 1945.
- Neil James Archibald Primrose (December 1882 – 1917). He married Lady Victoria Stanley; father of Ruth, Countess of Halifax, and was killed in action in Palestine.
Margot Asquith said that Rosebery loved to play with his children.
Rosebery was the owner of twelve houses. By marriage, he acquired:
- Mentmore Towers in Buckinghamshire, a huge neo-Renaissance stately home, sold in the 1970s
- Number 40, Piccadilly, in London.
With his fortune, he bought:
- a shooting lodge at Carrington in Midlothian
- a Georgian villa at Postwick in Norfolk
- In 1897, he bought Villa Delahante in Posillipo, overlooking the Bay of Naples, currently residence of the President of the Italian Republic, still known as "Villa Rosebery"
- 38 Berkeley Square, London
- The Durdans, Epsom, where he died in 1929.
As Earl of Rosebery, he was laird of:
- Dalmeny House on the banks of the Firth of Forth (pictured)
- Barnbougle Castle in the grounds of Dalmeny Estate, used by Rosebery (an insomniac) for privacy.
- a home in Randolph Crescent, Edinburgh, during World War I
- Lansdowne House, in London, from the Marquess of Lansdowne.
Early political career 
At Eton, Rosebery notably attacked Charles I of England for his despotism, and went on to praise his Whig forebears - his ancestor, James Stanhope, 1st Earl Stanhope, was a minister to George I of Great Britain.
Benjamin Disraeli often met with Rosebery in the 1870s to try to recruit him for his party, but this proved futile. Disraeli's major rival, William Ewart Gladstone, also pursued Rosebery, with considerable success. As part of the Liberal plan to get Gladstone to be MP for Midlothian, Rosebery sponsored and largely ran the Midlothian Campaign of 1879. He based this on what he had observed in elections in the United States. Gladstone spoke from open-deck trains, and gathered mass support. In 1880, he was duly elected Member for Midlothian and returned to the premiership.
Rosebery served as Foreign Secretary in Gladstone's brief third ministry, 1886. He served as the first chairman of the London County Council, set up by the Conservatives in 1889. Rosebery Avenue in Clerkenwell is named after him.
Rosebery's second period as Foreign Secretary predominantly involved quarrels with France over Uganda. To quote his hero Napoleon, Rosebery thought that "the Master of Egypt is the Master of India"; thus he pursued the policy of expansion in Africa.
Rosebery helped Gladstone's Second Home Rule Bill in the House of Lords; nevertheless it was defeated overwhelmingly in the autumn of 1893. The first bill, in 1886, had been defeated in the House of Commons.
Prime Minister 
Rosebery became a leader of the Liberal Imperialist faction of the Liberal Party and when Gladstone retired, in 1894, Rosebery succeeded him as Prime Minister, much to the disgust of Sir William Harcourt, the Chancellor of the Exchequer and leader of the more left-wing Liberals. Rosebery's selection was largely because Queen Victoria disliked most of the other leading Liberals.
Rosebery's government was largely unsuccessful. His designs in foreign policy, such as expansion of the fleet, were defeated by disagreements within the Liberal Party, while the Unionist-dominated House of Lords stopped the whole of the Liberals' domestic legislation. The strongest figure in the cabinet was Rosebery's rival, Harcourt. He and his son Lewis were perennial critics of Rosebery's policies.
According to his biographer, Robert Rhodes James, Rosebery rapidly lost interest in running the government. In the last year of his premiership, he was increasingly haggard: he suffered insomnia due to the continual dissension in his Cabinet. There were two future prime ministers in the Cabinet, Home Secretary Herbert Asquith, and Secretary of State for War Henry Campbell-Bannerman.
On 21 June 1895, the government lost a vote in committee on army supply by just seven votes. While this might have been treated merely as a vote of no confidence in Secretary for War Campbell-Bannerman, Rosebery chose to treat it as a vote of censure on his government. On 22 June, he and his ministers tendered their resignations to the Queen, who invited the Unionist leader, Lord Salisbury, to form a government. The following month, the Unionists won a crushing victory in the 1895 general election, and held power for ten years (1895–1905) under Salisbury and Arthur Balfour.
Later life 
Rosebery resigned as leader of the Liberal Party on 6 October 1896, to be succeeded by Harcourt, and gradually moved further and further from the mainstream of the party, although a much-trailed speech at Chesterfield in 1900 was expected to mark his return to active politics. He supported the Boer War and opposed Irish Home Rule, a position that prevented him from participating in the Liberal government that returned to power in 1905. In his later years, Rosebery turned to writing, including biographies of Lord Chatham, Pitt the Younger, Napoleon, and Lord Randolph Churchill. Another one of his passionate interests was the collecting of books.
The last years of his political life saw Rosebery become a purely negative critic of the Liberal governments of Campbell-Bannerman and Asquith. His crusade "for freedom as against bureaucracy, for freedom as against democratic tyranny, for freedom as against class legislation, and … for freedom as against Socialism" was a lonely one, conducted from the cross-benches in the Lords. He did join the die-hard unionist peers in attacking Lloyd George's redistributive People's Budget in 1909, but stopped short of voting against the measure for fear of bringing retribution upon the Lords. The crisis provoked by the Lords' rejection of the budget encouraged him to reintroduce his resolutions for Lords reform, but they were lost with the dissolution of parliament in December 1910. After assaulting the "ill-judged, revolutionary and partisan" terms of the 1911 Parliament Bill, which proposed to curb the Lords' veto, he voted with the government in what proved to be his last appearance in the House of Lords. This was effectively the end of his public life, though he made several public appearances to support the war effort after 1914 and sponsored a "bantam battalion" in 1915. Though Lloyd George offered him "a high post not involving departmental labour" to augment his 1916 coalition, Rosebery declined to serve.
The last year of the war was clouded by two personal tragedies—his son Neil's death in Palestine in November 1917 and Rosebery's own stroke a few days before the armistice. He regained his mental powers, but his movement, hearing, and sight remained impaired for the rest of his life. His sister, Constance, described his last years as a "life of weariness, of total inactivity, & at the last of almost blindness"; John Buchan remembered him in his last month of life, "crushed by bodily weakness" and "sunk in sad and silent meditations". Rosebery died at The Durdans, Epsom, Surrey, on 21 May 1929, to the accompaniment—as he had requested—of a gramophone recording of the Eton Boating Song. Survived by three of his four children, he was buried in the small church at Dalmeny.
When Rosebery died in 1929 his estate was probated at £1,500,122 3s. 6d.; ( £62,693,299.71 in modern values) he was thus the richest Prime Minister ever, followed by Salisbury, then by Palmerston.
Sport Interests 
Thoroughbred horse racing 
As a result of his marriage to Hannah de Rothschild, Rosebery acquired Mentmore Towers and Mentmore stud near Leighton Buzzard that had been built by Mayer Amschel de Rothschild. Rosebery built another stable and stud near Mentmore Towers at Crafton, Buckinghamshire, called Crafton Stud.
Rosebery's horses won at least one of each of the five English Classic Races. Among the most famous were Ladas who won the 1894 Epsom Derby, Sir Visto who did it again in 1895 (Rosebery was Prime Minister on both occasions), and Cicero in 1905.
Rosebery became the first president of the London Scottish Rugby Football Club in 1878, also developed a keen in interest in association football and was an early patron of the sport in Scotland. In 1882 he donated a trophy, the Rosebery Charity Cup, to be competed for by clubs under the jurisdiction of the East of Scotland FA. The competition lasted over 60 years and raised thousands of pounds for charities in the Edinburgh area.
Rosebery also became Honorary President of the national Scottish Football Association, with the representative Scotland national team occasionally forsaking their traditional dark blue shirts for his traditional racing colours of primrose and pink. This occurred 9 times during Rosebery's lifetime, most notably for the 1900 British Home Championship match against England, which the Scots won 4–1.
A keen collector of fine books, his library was sold on 29 October 2009 at Sothebys, New Bond Street.
Lord Rosebery's government, March 1894 – June 1895 
- Lord Rosebery – First Lord of the Treasury, Lord President of the Council, and Leader of the House of Lords
- Lord Herschell – Lord Chancellor
- Lord Tweedmouth – Lord Privy Seal
- Herbert Henry Asquith – Secretary of State for the Home Department
- Lord Kimberley – Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs
- Lord Ripon – Secretary of State for the Colonies
- Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman – Secretary of State for War
- Sir Henry Hartley Fowler – Secretary of State for India
- Sir William Harcourt – Chancellor of the Exchequer and Leader of the House of Commons
- Lord Spencer – First Lord of the Admiralty
- Anthony John Mundella – President of the Board of Trade
- Arnold Morley – Postmaster-General
- George John Shaw-Lefevre – President of the Local Government Board
- James Bryce – Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster
- John Morley – Chief Secretary for Ireland
- Sir George Otto Trevelyan – Secretary for Scotland
- Sir Arthur Herbert Dyke Acland – Vice President of the Council
- May 1894: James Bryce succeeds A.J. Mundella at the Board of Trade. Lord Tweedmouth succeeds Bryce at the Duchy of Lancaster, remaining also Lord Privy Seal.
See also 
- Lady Stair’s House
- In his fraudulent memoirs, Sir Edmund Backhouse, 2nd Baronet claimed to be Rosebery's lover.
- Footprints in Time. John Colville. 1976. Chapter 2, Lord Roseberys lamb.
- Lord Rosebery to marry a Princess?, New York Times, 11 July 1901.
- Murray, Douglas Bosie: A Biography of Lord Alfred Douglas ISBN 0-340-76770-7
- Englefield, Dermot; Seaton, Janet; White, Isobel: Facts about the British prime ministers. A compilation of biographical and historical information. London: Mansell, 1995.
- Princess Marie Liechtenstein (1875). "II, Sir Stephen Fox and the First Lord Holland". Holland House (3 ed.). London: Macmillan. p. 50. Retrieved 2012-08-30.
- "Congress Presidents 1869-2002". February 2002. Archived from the original on 28 May 2008. Retrieved 2008-05-10
- The Times, 16 February 1910
- R. R. James, Rosebery: a biography of Archibald Philip, fifth earl of Rosebery (1963), p. 469.
- R. O. A. Crewe-Milnes, Lord Rosebery, (1931), vol. 2. p. 51.
- Rhodes James, p. 485.
- Leo McKinstry, Rosebery: Statesman in Turmoil ISBN 0-7195-5879-4.
- Dick Leonard, Nineteenth-Century British Premiers: Pitt to Rosebery (Basingstoke, Palgrave Macmillan, 2008).
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- Hansard 1803–2005: contributions in Parliament by the Earl of Rosebery
- Earl Of Rosebery 1847–1929 biography from the Liberal Democrat History Group
- More about The Earl of Roseberry on the Downing street website.
- Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Rosebery, Archibald Philip Primrose, 5th Earl of". Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press.
- Archival material relating to Archibald Primrose, 5th Earl of Rosebery listed at the UK National Archives
- Portraits of Archibald Philip Primrose, 5th Earl of Rosebery at the National Portrait Gallery, London