Spouse of the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom

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Spouse of the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom
Incumbent
Philip May

since 13 July 2016
Style Mr May, Sir
Residence 10 Downing Street
Inaugural holder Catherine, Lady Walpole
Formation 30 April 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 two men who have been married to British Prime Ministers while in office. The United Kingdom has also had four bachelor and several widower Prime Ministers; the last bachelor was Edward Heath, and the last widower was Ramsay MacDonald. The Duke of Grafton divorced and remarried while in office.

Living spouses of Prime Ministers[edit]

The spouse of the present Prime Minister is Philip May, the husband of Theresa May. There are currently six living spouses of former Prime Ministers of the United Kingdom:

Role and duties[edit]

The role of the prime minister's spouse 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, although 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 host 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 spouse 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 husband 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 British Prime Ministers[edit]

Sir Denis Thatcher, Bt., spouse of Margaret Thatcher, Baroness Thatcher, the first male spouse of a Prime Minister
Prime Minister Term Spouse Notes
Robert Walpole
later Sir Robert Walpole (1725); then The Earl of Orford (1742)
4 April 1721 – 20 August 1737 Catherine Shorter Walpole's first marriage; she died 1737
20 August 1737 – 3 March 1738 None Widower
3 March 1738 – 4 June 1738 Maria Skerrett Walpole's second marriage; she died 1738
4 June 1738 – 11 February 1742 None Widower
The Earl of Wilmington 16 February 1742 – 2 July 1743 None Bachelor:
Wilmington never married
Henry Pelham 27 August 1743 – 6 March 1754 Catherine Manners
The Duke of Newcastle-upon-Tyne 16 March 1754 – 16 November 1756 Lady Harriet Godolphin
The Duke of Devonshire 16 November 1756 – 25 June 1757 None Widower:
Devonshire's wife, Charlotte Boyle, had died 1754
The Duke of Newcastle-upon-Tyne 2 July 1757 – 26 May 1762 Lady Harriet Godolphin
The Earl of Bute 26 May 1762 – 16 April 1763 Mary Wortley Montagu
George Grenville 16 April 1763 – 13 July 1765 Elizabeth Wyndham Mother of The Lord Grenville
The Marquess of Rockingham 13 July 1765 – 30 July 1766 Mary Bright
William Pitt the Elder
later The Earl of Chatham (1766)
30 July 1766 – 14 October 1768 Hester Grenville
later The Baroness Chatham (1761)
Mother of William Pitt the Younger
The Duke of Grafton 14 October 1768 – 23 March 1769 Anne Liddell Grafton's first marriage, lived apart; Liddell's second marriage after The Earl of Upper Ossory
23 March 1769 – 24 June 1769 None Divorcé
24 June 1769 – 28 January 1770 Elizabeth Wrottesley Grafton's second marriage
The Lord North
later The Earl of Guilford (1790)
28 January 1770 – 22 March 1782 Anne Speke
The Marquess of Rockingham 27 March 1782 – 1 July 1782 Mary Bright
The Earl of Shelburne
later The Marquess of Lansdowne (1784)
4 July 1782 – 2 April 1783 Louisa FitzPatrick Shelburne's second marriage after Anne Petty
The Duke of Portland 2 April 1783 – 19 December 1783 Lady Dorothy Cavendish Daughter of The Duke of Devonshire
William Pitt the Younger 19 December 1783 – 14 March 1801 None Bachelor:
Pitt the Younger never married
Henry Addington
later The Viscount Sidmouth (1805)
17 March 1801 – 10 May 1804 Ursula Hammond
William Pitt the Younger 10 May 1804 – 23 January 1806 None Bachelor:
Pitt the Younger never married
The Lord Grenville 11 February 1806 – 31 March 1807 Anne Pitt
The Duke of Portland 31 March 1807 – 4 October 1809 None Widower:
Portland's wife, Lady Dorothy Cavendish, had died 1794
Spencer Perceval 4 October 1809 – 11 May 1812 Jane Wilson
The Earl of Liverpool 8 June 1812 – 12 June 1821 Louisa Hervey Liverpool's first marriage; she died 1821
12 June 1821 – 24 September 1822 None Widower
24 September 1822 – 9 April 1827 Mary Chester Liverpool's second marriage
George Canning 10 April 1827 – 8 August 1827 Joan Scott
later The Viscountess Canning (1828)
The Viscount Goderich
later The Earl of Ripon (1833)
31 August 1827 – 21 January 1828 Sarah Hobart
The Duke of Wellington 22 January 1828 – 16 November 1830 Catherine Pakenham
The Earl Grey 22 November 1830 – 9 July 1834 Mary Ponsonby
The Viscount Melbourne 16 July 1834 – 14 November 1834 None Widower:
Melbourne's wife, Caroline Ponsonby, had died 1828
The Duke of Wellington 14 November 1834 – 10 December 1834 None Widower:
Wellington's wife, Catherine Pakenham, had died 1831
Sir Robert Peel, Bt 10 December 1834 – 8 April 1835 Julia Floyd
The Viscount Melbourne 18 April 1835 – 30 August 1841 None Widower:
Melbourne's wife, Lady Caroline Ponsonby, had died 1828
Sir Robert Peel, Bt 30 August 1841 – 29 June 1846 Julia Floyd
Lord John Russell
later The Earl Russell (1861)
30 June 1846 – 21 February 1852 Frances Elliot-Murray-Kynynmound Russell's second marriage after Adelaide Lister
The Earl of Derby 23 February 1852 – 17 December 1852 Emma Bootle-Wilbraham
The Earl of Aberdeen 19 December 1852 – 30 January 1855 Harriet Douglas Aberdeen's second marriage after Lady Catherine Hamilton; Douglas' second marriage after The Viscount Hamilton
The Viscount Palmerston 6 February 1855 – 19 February 1858 Emily Lamb Lamb's second marriage after The Earl Cowper; Sister of The Viscount Melbourne
The Earl of Derby 20 February 1858 – 11 June 1859 Emma Bootle-Wilbraham
The Viscount Palmerston 12 June 1859 – 16 October 1865 Emily Lamb Lamb's second marriage after The Earl Cowper; Sister of The Viscount Melbourne
Lord John Russell
later The Earl Russell (1861)
29 October 1865 – 26 June 1866 Frances Elliot-Murray-Kynynmound Russell's second marriage after Adelaide Lister
The Earl of Derby 28 June 1866 – 25 February 1868 Emma Bootle-Wilbraham
Benjamin Disraeli
later The Earl of Beaconsfield (1876)
27 February 1868 – 1 December 1868 Mary Anne Evans
later The Viscountess Beaconsfield (1868)
Evans' second marriage after Wyndham Lewis
William Ewart Gladstone 3 December 1868 – 17 February 1874 Catherine Glynne
Benjamin Disraeli
later The Earl of Beaconsfield (1876)
20 February 1874 – 21 April 1880 None Widower:
Disraeli's wife, The Viscountess Beaconsfield (Mary Anne Evans), had died 1872
William Ewart Gladstone 23 April 1880 – 9 June 1885 Catherine Glynne
The Marquess of Salisbury 23 June 1885 – 28 January 1886 Georgina Alderson
William Ewart Gladstone 1 February 1886 – 20 July 1886 Catherine Glynne
The Marquess of Salisbury 25 July 1886 – 11 August 1892 Georgina Alderson
William Ewart Gladstone 15 August 1892 – 2 March 1894 Catherine Glynne
The Earl of Rosebery 5 March 1894 – 22 June 1895 None Widower:
Rosebery's wife, Hannah de Rothschild, had died 1890
The Marquess of Salisbury 25 June 1895 – 20 November 1899 Georgina Alderson She died 1899
20 November 1899 – 11 July 1902 None Widower
Arthur Balfour
later The Earl of Balfour (1922)
11 July 1902 – 5 December 1905 None Bachelor:
Balfour never married
Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman 5 December 1905 – 30 August 1906 Charlotte Bruce She died 1906
30 August 1906 – 3 April 1908 None Widower
Herbert Henry Asquith
later The Earl of Oxford and Asquith (1925)
5 April 1908 – 5 December 1916 Margot Tennant Asquith's second marriage after Helen Melland
David Lloyd George
later The Earl Lloyd-George of Dwyfor (1945)
6 December 1916 – 19 October 1922 Margaret Owen
later Dame Margaret Lloyd George (1920)
Bonar Law 23 October 1922 – 20 May 1923 None Widower:
Law's wife, Annie Robley, had died 1909
Stanley Baldwin
later The Earl Baldwin of Bewdley (1937)
23 May 1923 – 16 January 1924 Lucy Ridsdale
later Dame Lucy Baldwin (1937)
Ramsay MacDonald 22 January 1924 – 4 November 1924 None Widower:
MacDonald's wife, Margaret Gladstone, had died 1911; Their daughter Ishbel MacDonald acted as hostess during MacDonald's term
Stanley Baldwin
later The Earl Baldwin of Bewdley (1937)
4 November 1924 – 5 June 1929 Lucy Ridsdale
later Dame Lucy Baldwin (1937)
Ramsay MacDonald 5 June 1929 – 7 June 1935 None Widower:
MacDonald's wife, Margaret Gladstone, had died 1911; Their daughter Ishbel MacDonald acted as hostess during MacDonald's term
Stanley Baldwin
later The Earl Baldwin of Bewdley (1937)
7 June 1935 – 28 May 1937 Lucy Ridsdale
later Dame Lucy Baldwin (1937)
Neville Chamberlain 28 May 1937 – 10 May 1940 Anne de Vere Cole
Winston Churchill
later Sir Winston Churchill (1953)
10 May 1940 – 27 July 1945 Clementine Hozier
later Dame Clementine Churchill (1946); then The Baroness Spencer-Churchill (1965)
Clement Attlee
later The Earl Attlee (1955)
27 July 1945 – 26 October 1951 Violet Millar
Winston Churchill
later Sir Winston Churchill (1953)
26 October 1951 – 6 April 1955 Clementine Hozier
later Dame Clementine Churchill (1946); then The Baroness Spencer-Churchill (1965)
Sir Anthony Eden
later The Earl of Avon (1961)
6 April 1955 – 9 January 1957 Clarissa Spencer-Churchill Eden's second marriage after Beatrice Beckett
Harold Macmillan
later The Earl of Stockton (1984)
11 January 1957 – 19 October 1963 Lady Dorothy Cavendish
The Earl of Home
later Sir Alec Douglas-Home (1963); then The Lord Home of the Hirsel (1974)
20 October 1963 – 16 October 1964 Elizabeth Alington
Harold Wilson
later The Lord Wilson of Rievaulx (1983)
16 October 1964 – 19 June 1970 Mary Baldwin
Edward Heath
later Sir Edward Heath (1992)
19 June 1970 – 4 March 1974 None Bachelor:
Heath never married
Harold Wilson
later The Lord Wilson of Rievaulx (1983)
4 March 1974 – 5 April 1976 Mary Baldwin
James Callaghan
later The Lord Callaghan of Cardiff (1987)
5 April 1976 – 4 May 1979 Audrey Moulton
Margaret Thatcher
later The Baroness Thatcher (1992)
4 May 1979 – 28 November 1990 Denis Thatcher
later Sir Denis Thatcher, Bt (1990)
First male spouse; Mr Thatcher's second marriage after Margaret Kempson
John Major
later Sir John Major (2005)
28 November 1990 – 2 May 1997 Norma Johnson
later Dame Norma Major (1999)
Tony Blair 2 May 1997 – 27 June 2007 Cherie Booth
Gordon Brown 27 June 2007 – 11 May 2010 Sarah Jane Macaulay
David Cameron 11 May 2010 – 13 July 2016 Samantha Sheffield
Theresa May 13 July 2016 – present Philip May

The PMs names are those upon entering office; their spouses' names are those before marriage, with honours awarded in his or her own right from that time given beneath.

See also[edit]

References[edit]