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Conservative CenturyThe Conservative Party since 1900$

Anthony Seldon and Stuart Ball

Print publication date: 1994

Print ISBN-13: 9780198202387

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198202387.001.0001

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(p.773) Appendix 1 The Leaders of the Conservative Party

(p.773) Appendix 1 The Leaders of the Conservative Party

Conservative Century
Oxford University Press

The term ‘Leader of the Conservative Party’ was not used officially until October 1922. Before this there was a leader of the party in the House of Commons and a leader in the House of Lords; whichever of these was or had most recently been Prime Minister was recognized to be the actual leader of the party. When the party was in opposition, a more equal partnership was expected between the two, and in theory whoever had been the longer in post had the seniority of command. In practice, by 1914 it was recognized that the leader in the House of Commons had to take the tactical initiative and be primarily answerable for the party's policies both in Parliament and upon the public platform. After 1922 Conservative peers participated in the formal meeting at which a new party leader was elected. In consequence they no longer selected their own leader separately, and since then the leader in the upper House has been appointed and dismissed by the leader of the party.

The dates given below are those of formal election or of appointment; public announcement normally appeared in the press on the following day. On some occasions a short interval elapsed between the resignation or death of one occupant and the formal appointment of a successor. When the election as leader coincides with selection as Prime Minister, this is indicated by an asterisk (*) after the date.

Leader of The Party (or of The Commons)

Date elected or appointed

Third Marquess of Salisbury (PM in the House of Lords)

23 June 1885*

Arthur Balfour (PM 12 July 1902–4 Dec. 1905)

14 July 1902*

Andrew Bonar Law (leader in the House of Commons only)

13 Nov. 1911

Austen Chamberlain (leader in the House of Commons only)

21 Mar. 1921

Andrew Bonar Law

23 Oct. 1922*

Stanley Baldwin

28 May 1923*

Neville Chamberlain

31 May 1937*

Winston Churchill (created Knight of the Garter, 1953)

9 Oct. 1940

Sir Anthony Eden

21 Apr. 1955*

Harold Macmillan

22 Jan.1957*

Sir Alec Douglas-Home (renounced peerage, fourteenth Earl of Home)

11 Nov. 1963*

Edward Heath

2 Aug. 1965

Margaret Thatcher

11 Feb. 1975

John Major

27 Nov. 1990*

Leader of The Party In The House of Lords

Date appointed or elected

Third Marquess of Salisbury

10 May 1881

Eighth Duke of Devonshire (a Liberal Unionist)

12 July 1902

Fifth Marquess of Lansdowne (a Liberal Unionist)

13 Oct. 1903

First Earl Curzon (elevated to first Marquis, 1921)

10 Dec. 1916

Fourth Marquess of Salisbury

27 Apr. 1925

First Viscount Hailsham

17 June 1931

Seventh Marquess of Londonderry

7 June 1935

Third Viscount Halifax

22 Nov. 1935

Seventh Earl Stanhope

9 Mar. 1938

First Viscount Caldecote

14 May 1940

Third Viscount Halifax

3 Oct. 1940

First Baron Lloyd

10 Jan.1941

First Baron Moyne

8 Feb. 1941

Viscount Cranborne (fifth Marquess of Salisbury, 1947)

22 Feb.1942

Fourteenth Earl of Home

29 Mar. 1957

Second Viscount Hailsham

27 July 1960

Sixth Baron Carrington

20 Oct. 1963

Second Earl Jellicoe

20 June 1970

Third Baron Windlesham

5 June 1973

Sixth Baron Carrington

28 Oct. 1974

Baron Soames (life peer)

5 May 1979

Baroness Young (life peer)

14 Sep.1981

First Viscount Whitelaw

11 June 1983

Second Baron Belstead

10 Jan.1988

Baron Waddington (life peer)

28 Nov. 1990

Baron Wakeham (life peer)

11 Apr. 1992