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Useful Notes / The Men of Downing Street

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Number 10. The British White House... note 

Barney: And I say, that England's greatest Prime Minister was Lord Palmerston!
Wade Boggs: Pitt. The. Elder.
Wade Boggs: PITT! THE! ELDER!
Barney: Okay, you asked for it, Boggs! (punches him out)
Moe: Yeah, that's showing him Barney! Heh, 'Pitt the Elder'!
Barney: LORD PALMERSTON!! (punches Moe out)
The Simpsons, "Homer at the Bat"

British Prime Ministers. A varied lot, be it in the areas of appearance, influence, time, origin, personality, politics or even personal lives, though a lot went to Eton or Harrow and then Oxbridge. They have had a great deal of impact on worlds both real and fictional and rank second only to The Presidents of the United States in being the most influential and well known Western world leaders.

Downing Street, by the way, is named after Sir George Downing (1623-84), a major schemer whom Samuel Pepys called a "perfidious rogue". Yep, jokes have been made about that. Before becoming the headquarters of the PM, Number Ten itself was the site of a pit used for cockerel fighting; that's right, Number Ten used to be a meeting place for crooks. Jokes have been made about that as well. The house is actually several old houses joined together, one of which (known as 'the house at the back') was formerly home to both Oliver Cromwell and King William III.


Note that the title "Prime Minister" did not come into formal use until the 20th century, the original title being First Lord of the Treasury (a lot of early Prime Ministers also held a second job in the cabinet), a title the PM still holds. Walpole is generally considered the first PM, but many early such figures did not use the title. In fact, the term "Prime Minister" was originally used as an insult for the figure. It was only by the time of Campbell-Bannerman that it became the official title.

Between about 1895 and 1920 the Conservatives and their Liberal Unionist allies were labeled 'Unionists' by the press (and indeed themselves). For convenience's sake Unionist PMs such as Balfour are listed as Conservatives. (Also, the Conservatives merged with Irish Unionists in the 1910s.)

As you will no doubt notice, technically this page should be called The Men and Women of Downing Street.note 


A list of British Prime Ministers, with pages linked for those who have had a significant impact in their own time and/or one in worlds of fiction.

Prime Ministers of the Kingdom of Great Britain

18th-century Prime Ministers came and went at a rate of knots, as the favours of the reigning monarch wavered. It wasn't until the "madness" of George III and the hedonistic rule of George IV (roughly 1810-1830) that the Prime Ministers began to actually run the country...

George I and II

  • Sir Robert Walpole (Whig, 1721-42) — First PM; also longest-serving PM
  • Earl of Wilmington (Whig, 1742-43)
  • Henry Pelham (Whig, 1743-54)
  • Duke of Newcastle (Whig, 1754-56)
  • Duke of Devonshire (Whig, 1756-57) — largely a figurehead for Pitt the Elder
  • Duke of Newcastle (Whig, 1757-62)

George III

  • Earl of Bute (Tory, 1762-63) — First Scottish PM
  • George Grenville (Whig, 1763-65)
  • Marquess of Rockingham (Whig, 1765-66)
  • William Pitt The Elder (Whig, 1766-68) — also known as the Earl of Chatham
  • Duke of Grafton (Whig, 1768-70)
  • Lord North (Tory, 1770-82)
  • Marquess of Rockingham (Whig, March-July 1782) — recognised US independence
  • Earl of Shelburne (Whig, 1782-83) — made peace with US; ironically also the first general officer to serve as PM
  • Duke of Portland (Whig, April - December 1783) — first PM to be non-Anglican at any point in his life (converted to Unitarianism after leaving office)
  • William Pitt The Younger (Tory, 1783-1801) — youngest PM, taking office at the age of 24
  • Henry Addington (Tory, 1801-04)
  • William Pitt The Younger (Tory, 1804-06)
  • Lord Grenville (Whig, 1806-07)

Prime Ministers of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland

George III

  • Duke of Portland (Tory 1807-09) — Old and sick, Spencer Perceval ran the show
  • Spencer Perceval (Tory, 1809-12) — The only PM to be assassinated
  • Lord Liverpool (Tory, 1812-27) — Congress of Vienna and Treaties of Paris, end of The Napoleonic Wars and beginning of the century-long Pax Britannica; longest-serving PM of the 19th century, no PM since has served a longer term

George IV

William IV


  • Sir Robert Peel (Conservative, 1841-46)
  • Earl Russell (Whig, 1846-52)
  • The Earl Of Derby (Conservative, February - December 1852)
  • The Earl of Aberdeen (Peelite, 1852-55)
  • The Viscount Palmerston (Whig, 1855-58)
  • The Earl of Derby (Conservative, 1858-59)
  • The Viscount Palmerston (Liberal, 1859-65)
  • Earl Russell (Liberal, 1865-66)
  • The Earl of Derby (Conservative, 1866-68)
  • Benjamin Disraeli (Conservative, February - December 1868) — only ethnically Jewish PM; converted to the Church of England in his youth at his father's behest (after his father got into a tiff at his synagogue)
  • William Gladstone (Liberal, 1868-74) — first PM to represent a Scottish constituency in the Commons
  • Benjamin Disraeli (Conservative, 1874-80)
  • William Gladstone (Liberal, 1880-1885)
  • Marquess of Salisbury (Conservative, 1885-86)
  • William Gladstone (Liberal, February - July 1886)
  • Marquess of Salisbury (Conservative, 1886-92)
  • William Gladstone (Liberal, 1892-94) — only PM to serve four non-consecutive terms; oldest PM, retiring at the age of 84
  • The Earl of Rosebery (Liberal, 1894-95)
  • Marquess of Salisbury (Conservative/Unionist, 1895-1902) — last PM to govern from the House of Lords; last PM to not also be First Lord of the Treasury

Edward VII

  • Arthur Balfour (Conservative/Unionist, 1902-05) — first serving PM to not belong to the Anglican Communion (he was Presbyterian)
  • Henry Campbell-Bannerman (Liberal 1905-08) — first PM to officially use the title; last Liberal PM to win the popular vote and a majority of seats in a general election
  • Herbert Henry Asquith (Liberal, 1908-16) — the (first) PM of World War I

George V

  • David Lloyd George (Liberal, 1916-22) — second PM of World War I, represented the United Kingdom at the Paris Peace Conference, and last Liberal Prime Minster; the party split over the issue of Irish independence. The first PM to represent a Welsh constituency and the only PM to have English as a second language (after Welsh).

Prime Ministers of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland

George V

  • Andrew Bonar Law (Conservative, 1922-23) — The first PM born outside the British Isles, though still within the Empire (Canada, to be exact)
  • Stanley Baldwin (Conservative, 1923-16 January 1924)
  • Ramsay MacDonald (Labour, January - November 1924) — First Labour Party Prime Minister
  • Stanley Baldwin (Conservative, 1924-29)
  • Ramsay MacDonald (Labour, 1929-31 then National Labour 1931-35) — passed the Statute of Westminster, granting the Dominions effective political and legislative independence from the British Empire
  • Stanley Baldwin (Conservative 1935-37) — last PM to serve three non-consecutive terms; PM during the Edward VIII abdication crisis

George VI

  • Neville Chamberlain (Conservative, 1937-40) — forever associated with Head-in-the-Sand Management thanks to his signing of the Munich Agreement, stayed on after the invasion of Poland but resigned after the fall of Norway; last PM to never face the electorate as party leader or at any point during his term
  • Winston Churchill (Conservative, 1940-45) — the PM of World War II. Won the War, Lost the Peace(time general election of 1945).
  • Clement Attlee (Labour, 1945-51) — introduced the National Health Service, the first universal health care system in history, and bulwark of the modern welfare state; first irreligiousnote  and non-Christian PM
  • Winston Churchill (Conservative, 1951-55) —Also served (briefly) under Elizabeth II as PM. Less than a month after Elizabeth's coronation in June 1953, Churchill suffered a stroke which would lead Elizabeth to initiate the planning for his funeral

Elizabeth II

  • Anthony Eden (Conservative, 1955-57) — resigned over the Suez Crisis, which effectively marked the end of the British Empire as a geopolitical concept (and British aspirations to superpower status alongside the USA and USSR)
  • Harold Macmillan (Conservative, 1957-63) — last PM to be granted a hereditary peerage (Earl of Stockton)
  • Alec Douglas-Home (Conservative, 1963-64) — pronounced "Douglas-Hume"; the last Prime Minister to sit in the House of Lords (he renounced his peerage and finished his term in the Commons); also (and not surprisingly) the last PM to be descended from or closely related to a previous PM
  • Harold Wilson (Labour, 1964-70) — Presided over the Swinging Sixties and the British Invasion. Led a strongly socially liberal government, having abolished capital punishment, decriminalized homosexuality, and liberalized abortion laws in his first term. Also decimalized the Pound, awarded each of The Beatles an MBE, and was PM the one and only time England won the World Cup (in 1966).
  • Edward Heath (Conservative, 1970-74) — took Britain into the Common Market; most recent PM to enter and exit office by means of a general election
  • Harold Wilson (Labour, 1974-76) — last PM to be returned to office after a defeat; last PM to win four general electionsnote ; last PM to leave office voluntarilynote .
  • James Callaghan (Labour, 1976-79) — first (and to date, the only) known atheist PMnote ; most recent military veteran to serve as PM
  • Margaret Thatcher (Conservative, 1979-90) — The first woman of Downing Street, but many humorists felt she was more manly than her entire Cabinet; longest-serving PM of the 20th century; most recent former PM to be elevated to the Lords
  • John Major (Conservative, 1990-97) — Living
  • Tony Blair (Labour, 1997-2007) — Living; longest-serving Labour PM; last PM to win three general electionsnote ; longest-serving PM of the 21st century so farnote ; first-ever PM to be a member of the Roman Catholic Church, though he did not formally convert until after leaving office
  • Gordon Brown (Labour, 2007-2010) — Living; most recent PM to not win a mandate of his own and the most recent to be removed by the electorate
  • David Cameron (Conservative, 2010-16) — Living; first coalition government (with the Liberal Democrats, led by Nick Clegg) since the Second World War; returned to single-party government in 2015, albeit with a tiny majority. Won the referenda on the Alternative Vote (he supported NO) and Scottish independence (he supported NO); lost the referendum on continued UK membership of the EU (he supported REMAIN)
  • Theresa May (Conservative, 2016-19) — Living; the second woman of Downing Street, taking over from David Cameron following the EU Referendum; following losses in a snap election in 2017, a minority government supported by the DUP; negotiated a withdrawal agreement with the EU but failed to get it past Parliament on three occasionsnote ; resigned after being forced to delay UK withdrawal from the EU past the originally scheduled date of 31 March 2019 and thus requiring participation in the EU Parliamentary elections that summer, in which the Tories placed fifth; still an MP
  • Boris Johnson (Conservative, 2019- ) — Living; the second PM born outside of the British Isles, and the first outside of the British Empire/Commonwealth (in New York City, to be precise); renounced his dual American citizenship in 2016. Taking over following Theresa May's resignation, maintaining the same minority government supported by the DUP, until mass defections by MPs left the Tory-DUP coalition without a functioning majority, meaning he called a general election later that year, which resulted in the Conservatives regaining a solid majority with help from the Brexit Party forming an unofficial alliance with them, the first for the party in over three decades. Took Britain out of the European Union and oversaw the COVID-19 crisis.