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December 16, 2019

Interesting facts about British heads of government since 1721

National

December 16, 2019

LAHORE: While the prestigious Oxford University of England has produced 28 of Britain’s 55 Premiers, from Lord Wilmington to the incumbent Boris Johnson, some 14 heads of government are Alumni of the esteemed Cambridge University, research conducted by the “Jang Group and Geo Television Network” shows.

Similarly, during the last 298 years since the first heed of government had assumed charge in this counrry, the reputed Eton College has produced 20 British Premiers, from Sir Robert Walpole to the incumbent Boris Jonson, and seven heads of government, including Winston Churchill, got educated at the Harrow School.Meanwhile, the Inns of Court, a vocational institution, nourished 11 British Premiers, from Lord Wilmington to Tony Blair.

According to the archived “History of British Government,” various editions of “BBC” and “Facts about the British Prime Ministers,” a compilation of biographical and historic information I form of a book written by Dermot Englefield, Janet Seaton and Isobel White, and whose foreword was authored by a former British Premier John Major, the first Prime Minister never to have been a university graduate was the Duke of Devonshire (served 1756–57), the last was John Major (served 1990–97).

Although the United Kingdom has been holding ballot exercises since July 22, 1802, there are 14 Prime Ministers who never fought a general election while they held office or to gain office.They served terms sandwiched between the victor of one election and the Prime Minister who faced the next. These PMs are: Lord Wilmington, the Duke of Devonshire, John Stuart (Lord of Bute), George Greenville, the Duke of Grafton, Lord Rockingham, Lord Shelburne, Spencer Perceval, George Canning, Lord Goodrich, Lord Aberdeen, Lord Roseberry, Arthur Balfour and Neville Chamberlain.

The only Prime Minister to serve four terms under that definition was William Gladstone (December 1868 – February 1874, April 1880 – June 1885, February 1886 – July 1886 and August 1892 – March 1894).Of the 55 British Prime Ministers till date, nine served more than 10 years while eight (including the incumbent) have served less than a year.

Robert Walpole is the only person to have served as Prime Minister for more than two decades. George Canning served for less than four months before his death. Modern historians generally consider Sir Robert Walpole, who led the government of 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. His tenure had lasted 20 years and 315 days.William Pulteney (Lord Bath) had held office of Premier for just two days in 1746, James Waldegrave had remained Premier for four days in 1757.

Interestingly, Lord Bath was asked to form a government but was unable to find more than one person who would agree to serve in his cabinet. A satirist of the time wrote: "The minister, to the astonishment of all wise men, never transacted one rash thing; and, what is more marvelous, he left as much money in the Treasury as he found in it."Stanley Baldwin is the only Prime Minister to have served three sovereigns in succession—King George V, King Edward VIII and King George VI.Queen Elizabeth II has had 14 Prime Ministers serving during her reign (since 1952), from Sir Winston Churchill to present Premier Boris Johnson.This ties a record previously set by George III, who had 14 Prime Ministers serving during his 59-year reign (reigned 1760–1820).Only seven Prime Ministers came to serve office under sovereigns in whose own reigns they were born. The present Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, is the fourth Prime Minister to have been born in the reign of the present monarch, Queen Elizabeth II.The youngest Prime Minister to be appointed was William Pit the Younger on December 19, 1783 at the age of 24 years, 6 months and 21 days. William Gladstone was appointed more times than any other Prime Minister. He was also the oldest person ever appointed (at age 82).The oldest Prime Minister to be appointed for the first time was Lord Palmerston on February 6, 1855 at the age of 70 years, 3 months and 17 days. The oldest Prime Minister to be appointed overall, and oldest to win a General Election, wasThe youngest Prime Minister to leave office was the Duke of Grafton, who retired in 1770, aged 34. The oldest was Gladstone, who was 84 at the time of his final retirement in 1894. The longest-lived Prime Minister was James Callaghan, who was born on March 27, 1912 and died on March 26, 2005 at the age of 92 years 364 days, which was the day before his 93rd birthday. Of the five former Prime Ministers currently alive, the oldest is John Major, who was born on March 29, 1943 and is 76 years old. If he is still alive on March 29, 2036 (his 93rd birthday), he will surpass Callaghan's record and become the longest-lived Prime Minister. The shortest-lived Prime Minister was the Duke of Devonshire, who was born on May 8, 1720 and died on October 2, 1764 at the age of 44 years and 147 days. The Prime Minister who lived the longest after leaving office for the final time was the Duke of Grafton, who left office on January 28, 1770 and died on March 14, 1811, a total of 41 years and 45 days. The Prime Minister who lived the shortest period after leaving office was Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman, who resigned April 3, 1908 and died just 19 days later on April 22 of the same year, while still resident in 10 Downing Street, London.Britain has had just two female Premiers, Margaret Thatcher and Theresa May. The two female Prime Ministers have led the United Kingdom for a total of 14 years 219 days. Britain has had seven disabled Prime Ministers.These include: Lord Liverpool (incapacitated by a severe stroke in February 1827, forcing him to retire from office on April 9, 1827), the Duke of Wellington (he was permanently deaf in his left ear after an operation intended to improve hearing) in 1822), William Gladstone (he lost the forefinger of his left hand in an accident with a firearm in 1842 and also became partially blind by 1897, following his retirement from office), Winston Churchill (he became increasingly deaf with time and had a series of strokes that led to his retirement and using a wheelchair in later years), Harold Macmillan (he was left with a slight limp and poor strength in his right hand, affecting his handwriting, after several wounds in the World War 1), Gordon Brown (he had lost the sight of one eye in a school rugby accident at school) and Theresa May (she had Diabetes Type 1). Most general elections contested by an individual (H.H. Asquith) in Britain is six.Most general elections lost by an individual (Charles James Fox) is five.The most number of general elections won by an individual is four.Robert Walpole, Lord Liverpool, William Gladsome and Harold Wilson had each won four general elections. Only three British Prime Ministers have been divorced. These include the Duke of Grafton, Sir Anthony Eden and sitting Premier Boris Johnson, who had divorced his first wife Allegra Mostyn-Owen in 1993 and remarried to Marina Wheeler two weeks later.

In 2018, Johnson and Wheeler had separated and begun the process of divorce.Only four British Prime Ministers have been bachelors. These are Spencer Compton, William Pit the Younger, Arthur Balfour and Edward Heath.David Lloyd George has been the only British Prime Minister from a non-English-speaking backgroundFirst ethnically Jewish British Prime Minister was Benjamin Disraeli, although his family had joined the Church of England when he was nine.Three other Prime Ministers are known to have had Jewish ancestors. These are James Callaghan, David Cameron and Boris Johnson.By the way, Boris Johnson has both Muslim (Turkish and Circassian) and (Russian-Lithuanian) Jewish ancestry, one ancestor having been a Rabbi and a great grandfather having been the journalist and politician, Ali Kemal.

Research further shows that in 1801, the right to vote in the United Kingdom was severely restricted. Universal suffrage, on an equal basis for men and women over the age of 21, was established in 1928. Before 1918, general elections did not occur on a single day and polling was spread over several weeks.

In 1832, the British electorate was increased from 366,000 to 650,000 (18 per cent of males over 21; i.e. 9 per cent of the total adult population).In 1894, the electorate was increased from three million to five million male adults.In 1911, the maximum life of a Parliament was reduced from seven years to five; however, the election that would have been due by 1916 as a result of the Act was not held due to the First World War.

In 1918, the right to vote was given to most of the adult population (men over 21, women over 30), increasing the electorate from 7.7 million to 16.2 million. The male electorate was extended by 5.2 million to 12.9 million.

The female electorate was 8.5 million.In 1928, right to vote was granted to the adult population over 21, whereby increasing the female electorate by five million.

In 1969, adult population over 18 years old was allowed to vote, and since 2011, elections are now every five years, barring the parliamentary vote.

Currently, the total number of UK parliamentary electors in December 2016 was 45,766,000, an increase of 2.3 per cent, or around 1 million, from December 2015.

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