Yorkshire has a long and noble history, with the first mention of the modern name occurring in the 11th century. Throughout these hundreds of years, many famous generals, noblemen and other notables have been born among its hallowed dales. However, only three Yorkshire born men have gone on to become Prime Ministers of the United Kingdom.
So, without further ado, let us introduce these three proud sons of the great county.
(1765 – 1766 & 1782 – 1782)
Charles Watson-Wentworth, 2nd Marquess of Rockingham, was a man of many titles. The Right Honourable Viscount Higham, Earl of Malton, Leader of the House of Lords – many were this Rotherham born aristocrat’s accomplishments in the late 18th century. However, chief among them must have been his two terms as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, totalling one and a half years in office. He is perhaps best well known today for helping to initiate the end of the American War of Independence, during his second term as PM in 1782. During this time, he also passed the Relief of the Poor Act in 1782 which introduced many more workhouses in Britain. Unfortunately, not 14 weeks after becoming PM for the second time, Charles was struck down with influenza and died suddenly on July 1st, 1782. He was buried in York Minster Cathedral, and his grave can be visited to this day.
Herbert Henry Asquith
(1908 – 1916)
Herbert Henry Asquith, 1st Earl of Oxford and Asquith was born in September 1852 in Morley, near Leeds in West Yorkshire. He grew up in a politically radical household and held nonconformist Protestant beliefs that excluded him from many spheres of society at the time. His father died when he was just seven, and he moved to London. From then on, his long Yorkshire ancestry was of less importance to him (however unfortunate that is) and he began to see himself as ‘to all intents and purposes, a Londoner’. He was the last Prime Minister of the old Liberal Party and lead Great Britain into World War I – although he resigned not long after amid political discontent on the home front.
(1964 – 1970 & 1974 – 1978)
James Harold Wilson has born in Huddersfield, West Yorkshire, in March 1916. He had political ambitions from a young age, first visiting 10 Downing Street as a child tourist in London. According to several biographers, on the train home he told his mother ‘I am going to be Prime Minister.’
During his first term in the job, nearly 40 years later, Wilson’s Labour government presided over a booming economy with low unemployment. During his second term, things were not so great, and he resigned after just two years. A consummate ‘man of the people’, Harold Wilson is mainly remembered today for furthering the cause of democratic socialism, refusing to commit British troops into the Vietnam war and overseeing the banning of capital punishment in the British Isles. He died in 1995 and was buried in St. Mary’s Church in the Isle of Scilly, off the coast of Cornwall.