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Henry Addington

Henry Addington Born: 30 May 1757 in Bedord Row, Holborn, London

First entered Parliament: 5 April 1784

Age he became PM: 43 years, 291 days

Maiden speech: 24 January 1786. He seconded the Address to the Throne at the opening of Parliament

Total time as PM: Three years, 54 days

Died: 15 February 1844 at Richmond, Surrey

Facts and figures

Nickname: “The Doctor”

Education: Winchester and Brasenose College, Oxford

Family: Addington was the eldest son, and fourth of six children. He was married twice (to Ursula Mary Hammond and then Hon Mary Anne Townsend), and had four sons and four daughters

Interests: A man of few hobbies, although he enjoyed riding and writing poetry


Middle-class PM

The son of a doctor, Addington was the first middle-class prime minister, holding office from 1801 to 1804.

Having served as Speaker of the House of Commons from 1789, Addington became PM when King George III rejected Pitt’s Emancipation of Catholics Bill, forcing his resignation.

Addington enjoyed royal favour because he had treated George III as a doctor during one of his bouts of madness.

Addington’s ministry was most notable for the negotiation of the Treaty of Amiens of 1802, in which the government agreed to an unfavourable peace with France.

It quickly broke down, and Addington could not persuade Pitt to support him as war loomed on the continent. With Napoleon’s forces readying themselves for an invasion of Britain, Addington resigned.

A notably poor orator, Addington continued to serve under Pitt, and was later elevated to the House of Lords as Viscount Sidmouth. He went on to hold office in the governments of Grenville and Lord Liverpool.

Quote unquote

“In youth, the absence of pleasure is pain, in old age the absence of pain is pleasure.”

Did you know?

He donated to the town of Reading the four acres of land that is today the Royal Berkshire Hospital, and his name is commemorated in the town’s Addington Road.

First wife - Ursula Mary Hammond

Described by her son-in-law as being ’shy and retiring’, Ursula was co-heiress to her father and brought an income of £1000 a year to her marriage.

Second wife - Hon Mary Anne Townsend

Gentle, kind and intelligent, Townsend was more sophisticated than Addington’s first wife. A sculptor said ‘her face was more full of lively sweetness than any he ever saw’. She was not very healthy, however, and in the last years of her life was paralysed and in constant pain. She died two years before her husband.

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