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Henry Campbell-Bannerman

Henry Campbell-Bannerman Born: 7 September 1836 in Kelvinside, Glasgow, Scotland

First entered Parliament: 20 November 1868

Age he became PM: 69 years, 89 days

Maiden Speech: 17 June 1869 supporting amendments to the Endowed Hospitals etc. (Scotland) Bill

Total time as PM: Two years, 122 days

Died: 22 April 1908 at 10 Downing Street, London

Facts and figures

Nickname: “CB”

Education: Glasgow High School, Glasgow University and Trinity College, Cambridge

Family: Campbell-Bannerman was the second son and youngest of 6 children. He was married to (Sarah) Charlotte Bruce.

Interests: Travelling, billiards and horses


Believer in free trade

Henry Campbell-Bannerman was the first man to be given official use of the title ‘Prime Minister’. Known as CB, he was a firm believer in free trade, Irish Home Rule and the improvement of social conditions.

The son of the Lord Provost of Glasgow, he was educated at Glasgow High School and at Glasgow and Cambridge universities.

In 1868 he was elected the Liberal MP for Stirling Burghs. Gladstone appointed him Financial Secretary at the War Office, and then Secretary of State for War in his next two governments. He held the position again under Rosebery. He later became Liberal leader, and was seen as “a safe pair of hands”.

CB was critical of Lord Kitchener's war methods The Liberals split over the Boer War, with Lloyd George joining CB in denouncing the campaign, and CB himself caused a furore by refusing to withdraw his remarks about Kitchener’s “methods of barbarism” being used to win the war.

Following Balfour’s resignation in 1905, Edward VII invited Campbell-Bannerman, as leader of the next largest party, to form a government. CB accepted the King’s offer.

His government became known for being strong and efficient, and he skilfully ensured that it embraced all wings of the Liberal party.

The Liberals went on to win the 1906 election. Following this win CB restored autonomy to the Transvaal and the Orange Free State (both parts of South Africa), and clashed with the Lords over an Education Bill.

Quote unquote

On his own health regime: “Personally I am an immense believer in bed, in constantly keeping horizontal: the heart and everything else goes slower, and the whole system is refreshed”

Did you know?

Ill health forced Campbell-Bannerman to resign, but he remained in Number 10 until he died almost three weeks later. He is the only PM to die in a place he once described as a ‘rotten old barrack of a house’.


Charlotte Bruce was a shy woman who suffered from ill-health for most of her life. She had diabetes which caused her to be overweight and she lacked self-confidence in social situations.

But she was an intelligent woman and a shrewd judge of character. Bannerman often referred to her as his ‘higher authority’ or as his ‘final court of appeal’.

They were an inseparable couple, sharing the same interests and a similar sense of humour. When she became critically ill she would only allow her husband to nurse her.

CB was broken by her death and he died himself just a year later although his last words were defiant - ‘this is not the end of me’.

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