Historical records matching Rt Hon Sir Henry Campbell Bannerman, PC, GCB, MP
About Rt Hon Sir Henry Campbell Bannerman, PC, GCB, MP
Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman, GCB (7 September 1836 – 22 April 1908) was a British Liberal statesman who served as Prime Minister from 5 December 1905 until resigning due to ill health on 3 April 1908. No previous First Lord of the Treasury had been officially called "Prime Minister"; this term only came into official usage 5 days after he took office.
Campbell-Bannerman was born at Kelvinside House in Glasgow, Scotland, in 1836 as Henry Campbell. The surname Bannerman was added to his surname in 1871 as required by his maternal uncle's will. It was a condition of his inheritance of his uncle's Kent estate, Hunton Court.
He was the second son and youngest of six children born to Sir James Campbell (1790-1876), who was Lord Provost of Glasgow 1840-1843, and his wife Janet Bannerman (d. 1873). Henry Campbell was educated at the High School of Glasgow (1845-1847), the University of Glasgow (1851), and Trinity College, Cambridge (1854-1858), where he achieved a Third-Class Degree in Classical Tripos. After graduating, he joined his family's firm, J.& W. Campbell & Co., who were warehousemen and drapers, based in Ingram Street in Glasgow. Campbell was made a partner in the firm in 1860. Following his marriage that year to Sarah Charlotte Bruce, Henry and his new bride set up residence at 6 Claremont Gardens in the Park district in the West End of Glasgow.
In 1868 he was elected to the House of Commons as Liberal Member of Parliament for Stirling Burghs — a constituency he was to represent for forty years.
He was appointed as Financial Secretary to the War Office in November 1871, serving in this position until 1874, and again from 1880 to 1882. After serving as Parliamentary and Financial Secretary to the Admiralty from 1882 to 1884, he entered Gladstone's second cabinet as Chief Secretary for Ireland in 1884.
In Gladstone's Third (1886) and Fourth (1892-1894) Cabinets and Rosebery's Government (1894-1895) he served as Secretary of State for War, where he persuaded the Duke of Cambridge, the Queen's cousin, to resign as Commander-in-Chief. This earned Campbell-Bannerman a knighthood. In 1898 Sir Henry succeeded Sir William Vernon Harcourt as leader of the Liberals in the House of Commons. Campbell-Bannerman had a difficult time in holding together the strongly divided party, which was defeated in the "khaki election" of 1900. The Liberals returned to power in December 1905, however, and he became Prime Minister,leading the Liberals to a great victory in the election of 1906.
Campbell-Bannerman's premiership saw the introduction of the so-called Liberal reforms, which included the introduction of sick pay and old age pensions, as well as the achievement of an Entente with Russia in 1907, brought about principally by the Foreign Secretary, Sir Edward Grey. In that same year, Campbell-Bannerman achieved the honour of becoming the Father of the House, the only serving British Prime Minister to do so to date. Nevertheless his health soon took a turn for the worse, and he resigned as Prime Minister on 3 April 1908, to be succeeded by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Herbert Henry Asquith. Campbell-Bannerman remained in residence at 10 Downing Street in the immediate aftermath of his resignation, and became the only (former) Prime Minister to die there, on 22 April 1908.
His last words were "This is not the end of me." Campbell-Bannerman was buried in the churchyard of Meigle Parish Church, Perthshire, near Belmont Castle, his home since 1887. A relatively modest stone plaque set in the exterior wall of the church serves as a memorial.
In an uncharacteristically emotional speech on the day of Campbell-Bannerman's funeral, his successor H. H. Asquith told the House of Commons: "He was not ashamed, even on the verge of old age, to see visions and to dream dreams... He met both good and evil fortune with the same unclouded brow, the same unruffled temper, the same unshakeable confidence in the justice and righteousness of his cause."
Another of Campbell-Bannerman's cabinet Ministers — who was also later to serve as Prime Minister (and, years after his premiership, as Father of the House as well) — David Lloyd George, said of his passing, "I have never met a great public figure who so completely won the attachment and affection of the men who came into contact with him. He was not merely admired and respected; he was absolutely loved by us all. The masses of the people of the country, especially the more unfortunate of them, have lost the best friend they have ever had in the high place of the land. ... He was a truly great man. A great head and a great heart. He was absolutely the bravest man I ever met in politics."
There is a blue plaque outside Campbell-Bannerman's house at 6 Grosvenor Place, London SW1. His bronze bust, sculpted by Paul Raphael Montford is in Westminster Abbey (1908).
Sir Henry Campbell Bannerman biography from the Liberal Democrat History Group
More about Henry Campbell-Bannerman on the Downing Street website. http://www.number10.gov.uk/history-and-tour/prime-ministers-in-history/henry-campbell-bannerman
Archival material relating to Henry Campbell-Bannerman listed at the UK National Register of Archives
- Burke, Bernard, Sir. A genealogical and heraldic history of the landed gentry of Great Britain & Ireland 6th ed. London : Harrison 1879. Vol I. page 262