Spouse of the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom

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Spouse of the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom
Samantha Cameron - crop.jpg
Incumbent
Samantha Cameron

since 11 May 2010
Style Mrs. Cameron
Residence 10 Downing Street
Inaugural holder Catherine, Lady Walpole
Formation April 30, 1789
Website number10.gov.uk

The Spouse of the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom is the wife or husband of the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. To date there have been 44 women and one man who have been married to British Prime Ministers whilst in office. The United Kingdom has also had four bachelor and several widower Prime Ministers, the last bachelor being Edward Heath, and the last widower being Ramsay MacDonald.

Living spouses of Prime Ministers[edit]

The spouse of the current Prime Minister is Samantha Cameron, wife of David Cameron and is also the youngest prime ministerial spouse to enter Downing Street since Clarissa Eden, when Anthony Eden took office in 1955. There are currently five living spouses of former Prime Ministers of the United Kingdom:

Role and duties[edit]

The role of the Prime Ministerial Consort is not an official office and as such they are not given a salary or official duties. Some spouses, such as Norma Major have chosen to remain very much in the background, however over time the position has evolved and others such as Cherie Blair have gained public attention through their own independent careers and achievements, as well as attending engagements such as the African First Ladies Summit.[1] The role also includes playing hostess at 10 Downing Street during state visits and ceremonial functions. Samantha Cameron hosted a street party at Downing Street to celebrate the Wedding of Prince William and Catherine Middleton. The Prime Minister's consort has gained more media attention over time especially concerning fashion and when attending functions such as national conference and at summit meetings, and though their role is not official, staff are appointed to help who form part of the Prime Minister's Office. Isabel Spearman is the current adviser to the wife of the Prime Minister.

Cherie Blair, with Cate Haste, wrote a book about recent Prime Ministerial spouses, The Goldfish Bowl: Married to the Prime Minister, 1955-1997, in 2005.[2]

List of spouses of the British Prime Minister[edit]

Denis Thatcher, then spouse of Margaret Thatcher, the only male spouse of a Prime Minister to date
Prime Minister Dates Spouse Notes
Sir Robert Walpole
later The Earl of Orford
4 April 1721 – 20 August 1737 Lady Walpole
(née Catherine Shorter)
Walpole's first wife, she died in 1737.
20 August 1737 – c. 3 March 1738 None Following Catherine's death, Walpole was a widower until he remarried.
c. 3 March – 4 June 1738 Lady Walpole
(née Maria Skerret)
The second wife of Sir Robert Walpole, she died in childbirth in 1738.
4 June 1738 – 11 February 1742 None Sir Robert Walpole remained a widower after his second wife's death.
The Earl of Wilmington
(Sir Spencer Compton)
16 February 1742 – 2 July 1743 None Lord Wilmington never married.
Henry Pelham 27 August 1743 – 6 March 1754 Lady Catherine Pelham
(née Manners)
The Duke of Newcastle
(Sir Thomas Pelham-Holles)
16 March 1754 – 16 November 1756 The Duchess of Newcastle
(née Lady Henrietta Godolphin)
The Duke of Devonshire
(Sir William Cavendish)
16 November 1756 – 25 June 1757 None The Duke of Devonshire's wife, the Marchioness of Hartington (née Lady Charlotte Boyle), died in 1754, before he came to office.
The Duke of Newcastle
(Sir Thomas Pelham-Holles)
2 July 1757 – 26 May 1762 The Duchess of Newcastle
(née Lady Henrietta Godolphin)
The Earl of Bute
(Sir John Stuart)
26 May 1762 – 16 April 1763 The Countess of Bute
(née Mary Wortley-Montagu)
George Grenville 16 April 1763 – 13 July 1765 Elizabeth Grenville
(née Wyndham)
The Marquess of Rockingham
(Sir Charles Watson-Wentworth)
13 July 1765 – 30 July 1766 The Marchioness of Rockingham
(née Mary Bright)
The Earl of Chatham
(William Pitt)
30 July 1766 – 14 October 1768 The Countess of Chatham
(née Lady Hester Grenville)
The Duke of Grafton
(Sir Augustus FitzRoy)
14 October 1768 – 28 January 1770 The Duchess of Grafton
(née Elizabeth Wrottesley)
Elizabeth was Grafton's second wife
Lord North
(Sir Frederick North;
later Earl of Guilford)
28 January 1770 – 22 March 1782 Lady North
(née Anne Speke;
later Countess of Guilford)
The Marquess of Rockingham
(Sir Charles Watson-Wentworth)
27 March – 1 July 1782 The Marchioness of Rockingham
(née Mary Bright)
The Earl of Shelburne
(Sir William Petty;
later Marquess of Lansdowne)
4 July 1782 – 2 April 1783 The Countess of Shelburne
(née Lady Louisa FitzPatrick;
later Marchioness of Lansdowne)
Louisa was Shelburne's second wife
The Duke of Portland
(William Cavendish-Bentinck)
2 April – 19 December 1783 The Duchess of Portland
(née Lady Dorothy Cavendish)
William Pitt the Younger 19 December 1783 – 14 March 1801 None Pitt the Younger never married.
Henry Addington
(later Viscount Sidmouth)
17 March 1801 – 10 May 1804 Ursula Addington (née Hammond;
later Viscountess Sidmouth)
William Pitt the Younger 10 May 1804 – 23 January 1806 None Pitt the Younger never married.
The Lord Grenville 11 February 1806 – 31 March 1807 The Lady Grenville
The Duke of Portland 31 March 1807 – 4 October 1809 The Duchess of Portland
Spencer Perceval 4 October 1809 – 11 May 1812 Jane Perceval
The Earl of Liverpool 8 June 1812 – 9 April 1827 The Countess of Liverpool
George Canning 10 April – 8 August 1827 Joan Canning
The Viscount Goderich 31 August 1827 – 21 January 1828 The Viscountess Goderich
The Duke of Wellington 22 January 1828 – 16 November 1830 The Duchess of Wellington
The Earl Grey 22 November 1830 – 9 July 1834 The Countess Grey
The Viscount Melbourne 16 July – 14 November 1834 None Lord Melbourne's wife, Lady Caroline Lamb, died in 1828.
The Duke of Wellington 14 November – 10 December 1834 None Wellington's wife, the Duchess of Wellington, died in 1831.
Sir Robert Peel, Bt. 10 December 1834 – 8 April 1835 Julia, Lady Peel
The Viscount Melbourne 18 April 1835 – 30 August 1841 None Lord Melbourne's wife, Lady Caroline Lamb, died in 1828.
Sir Robert Peel, Bt. 30 August 1841 – 29 June 1846 Julia, Lady Peel
Lord John Russell 30 June 1846 – 21 February 1852 Lady John Russell
The Earl of Derby 23 February – 17 December 1852 The Countess of Derby
The Earl of Aberdeen 19 December 1852 – 30 January 1855 The Countess of Aberdeen
The Viscount Palmerston 6 February 1855 – 19 February 1858 The Viscountess Palmerston
The Earl of Derby 20 February 1858 – 11 June 1859 The Countess of Derby
The Viscount Palmerston 12 June 1859 – 16 October 1865 The Viscountess Palmerston
The Earl Russell 29 October 1865 – 26 June 1866 The Countess Russell
The Earl of Derby 28 June 1866 – 25 February 1868 The Countess of Derby
Benjamin Disraeli
(later Earl of Beaconsfield)
27 February – 1 December 1868 Mary Disraeli
William Ewart Gladstone 3 December 1868 – 17 February 1874 Catherine Gladstone
The Earl of Beaconsfield 20 February 1874 – 21 April 1880 None Disraeli's wife, Mary, died in 1872.
William Ewart Gladstone 23 April 1880 – 9 June 1885 Catherine Gladstone
The Marquess of Salisbury 23 June 1885 – 28 January 1886 Georgina, The Marchioness of Salisbury
William Ewart Gladstone 1 February – 20 July 1886 Catherine Gladstone
The Marquess of Salisbury 25 July 1886 – 11 August 1892 Georgina, The Marchioness of Salisbury
William Ewart Gladstone 15 August 1892 – 2 March 1894 Catherine Gladstone
The Earl of Rosebery 5 March 1894 – 22 June 1895 None Lord Rosebery's wife, the Countess of Rosebery, died in 1890.
The Marquess of Salisbury 25 June 1895 – 20 November 1899 The Marchioness of Salisbury Lady Salisbury died in 1899.
20 November 1899 – 11 July 1902 None
Arthur Balfour 11 July 1902 – 5 December 1905 None Arthur Balfour never married.
Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman 5 December 1905 – 30 August 1906 Lady Campbell-Bannerman Lady Campbell-Bannerman died in 1906.
30 August 1906 – 3 April 1908 None
H. H. Asquith 5 April 1908 – 5 December 1916 Margot Asquith
David Lloyd George 6 December 1916 – 19 October 1922 Margaret Lloyd George Margaret Lloyd George was made a Dame of the Order of the British Empire in 1920.
Andrew Bonar Law 23 October 1922 – 20 May 1923 None Andrew Bonar Law's wife, Annie, died in 1909.
Stanley Baldwin 23 May 1923 – 16 January 1924 Lucy Baldwin
Ramsay MacDonald 22 January – 4 November 1924 None MacDonald's wife, Margaret, had died in 1911. Their daughter Ishbel MacDonald acted as hostess during MacDonald's term.
Stanley Baldwin 4 November 1924 – 5 June 1929 Lucy Baldwin
Ramsay MacDonald 5 June 1929 – 7 June 1935 None MacDonald's wife, Margaret, had died in 1911. Their daughter Ishbel MacDonald acted as hostess during MacDonald's term.
Stanley Baldwin 7 June 1935 – 28 May 1937 Lucy Baldwin
Neville Chamberlain 28 May 1937 – 10 May 1940 Anne Chamberlain
Winston Churchill 10 May 1940 – 27 July 1945 Clementine Churchill
Clement Attlee 27 July 1945 – 26 October 1951 Violet Attlee
Winston Churchill 26 October 1951 – 6 April 1955 Clementine Churchill She was made a Dame Grand Cross of the Order of the British Empire (GBE) in 1946. When Winston Churchill was knighted in 1953, Clementine also became Lady Churchill. She became a life peeress in her own right in 1965, as Baroness Spencer-Churchill.
Sir Anthony Eden 6 April 1955 – 9 January 1957 Clarissa, Lady Eden
Harold Macmillan 11 January 1957 – 19 October 1963 The Lady Dorothy Macmillan
Sir Alec Douglas-Home 20 October 1963 – 16 October 1964 Lady Douglas-Home For the first three days of his premiership, Alec Douglas-Home was the 14th Earl of Home until he renounced his peerages. During this time, Elizabeth was The Countess of Home.
Harold Wilson 16 October 1964 – 19 June 1970 Mary Wilson
Edward Heath 19 June 1970 – 4 March 1974 None Edward Heath never married.
Harold Wilson 4 March 1974 – 5 April 1976 Mary Wilson
James Callaghan 5 April 1976 – 4 May 1979 Audrey Callaghan
Margaret Thatcher 4 May 1979 – 28 November 1990 Denis Thatcher First male spouse. The Baronetcy of Thatcher of Scotney was awarded to him in 1992.
John Major 28 November 1990 – 2 May 1997 Norma Major Created Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire (DBE) in 1999
Tony Blair 2 May 1997 – 27 June 2007 Cherie Blair
Gordon Brown 27 June 2007 – 11 May 2010 Sarah Brown
David Cameron 11 May 2010 – Current Samantha Cameron

See also[edit]

References[edit]