Douglas-Home, Sir Alec

Alexander Frederick Douglas-Home

b. 2 Jul 1903, London [1]
d. 9 Oct 1995, The Hirsel, Coldstream, Berwickshire, Scotland

Title: Prime Minister and First Lord of the Treasury
Term: 19 Oct 1963 - 16 Oct 1964
Chronology: 18 Oct 1963, invited to form an Administration, audience of the Queen, Buckingham Palace, London [2]
19 Oct 1963, accepted the offer to hold the post of Prime Minister and First Lord of the Treasury, audience of the Queen, Buckingham Palace, London [3]
21 Oct 1963, took the oath of office as First Lord of the Treasury before the Queen in Council, Buckingham Palace, London [4][5]
16 Oct 1964, tendered resignation as Prime Minister and First Lord of the Treasury (accepted), audience of the Queen, Buckingham Palace, London [6]
Names/titles: Lord Dunglass (from 30 Apr 1918 by courtesy; 11 Jul 1951 - 23 Oct 1963); Earl of Home (11 Jul 1951 - 23 Oct 1963); Lord of Home (11 Jul 1951 - 23 Oct 1963); Lord Hume of Berwick (11 Jul 1951 - 23 Oct 1963); Baron Douglas, of Douglas, in the county of Lanark (11 Jul 1951 - 23 Oct 1963); Baron Hume of Berwick (11 Jul 1951 - 23 Oct 1963) [7]; Sir Alexander (Alec) Frederick Douglas-Home (from 16 Oct 1962, Knight of the Most Ancient and Most Noble Order of the Thistle) [8]; Baron Home of the Hirsel, of Coldstream in the county of Berwick (from 19 Dec 1974, life peerage) [9]
Biography:

Born in the family of Charles Cospatrick Archibald Douglas-Home (known as Lord Dunglass to 30 Apr 1918, and as the 13th Earl of Home 30 Apr 1918 - 11 Jul 1951), whose family was the Scottish landowners since the 13th century; received a degree in modern history from Christ Church College, Oxford (1922-1925); was defeated in the General Election by sitting Labour MP for Coatbridge (1929); elected to Parliament as MP for Lanark (1931-1945) from the Conservative Party; served under Neville Chamberlain as Parliamentary Private Secretary, accompanying him to Munich to meet Adolf Hitler in September 1938; volunteered for military service during World War II, but was rejected on medical grounds; briefly served as Joint Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs (26 May 1945 - 4 Aug 1945) in the second administration of Winston Spencer-Churchill, but he lost his office and a seat in the House of Commons following the Labour victory in the General Election; became President of the Scottish Unionist Party (1948); was returned as MP again in the 1950 General Election (MP for Lanark 1950-1951), but went to the House of Lords on the death of his father; served as Minister of State, Scottish Office (2 Nov 1951 - 7 Apr 1955); sworn in as a member of the U.K. Privy Council (14 Nov 1951); was appointed Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations (12 Apr 1955 - Jul 1960); served as Lord President of the Council (1 Apr 1957 - 23 Sep 1957, 19 Oct 1959 - 28 Jul 1960) and as Leader of the House of Lords (29 Mar 1957 - 27 Jul 1960) in the government of Harold Macmillan; assumed the office of Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs (28 Jul 1960 - 21 Oct 1963), criticizing the Soviet expansionism and supporting the U.S. in the Cuban Missile Crisis (1962); following the announcement of Macmillan on his plans to resign (10 Oct 1963), Douglas-Home was persuaded to stand up for the leadership as a compromise figure; acting on Macmillan's advice, Queen Elizabeth II summoned him to form a government (18 Oct 1963), but he requested time for consultations; after another audience with the Queen (19 Oct 1963), he was appointed Prime Minister and First Lord of the Treasury; became the first person to disclaim his peerage (23 Oct 1963) in order to be elected to the House of Commons and won a by-election becoming MP for the third time (MP for Kinross and West Pertshire, 1963-1975); was elected Leader of the Conservative and Unionist Party (11 Nov 1963 - 2 Aug 1965); was not successful as Prime Minister and his adequacy in economic affairs was questioned; failed to achieve improvements in the growth of national economy and estranged Conservative backbenchers by introducing the Resale Prices Bill aimed against price-fixing; held talks on independence of Southern Rhodesia (Jan 1964), but it proved to be inconclusive; the General Election of 1964 brought a Conservative defeat (15 Oct 1964: Labour 317, Conservative and associates 304, Liberal 9) and Douglas-Home resigned on 16 Oct 1964; tendered his resignation as party leader (22 Jul 1965) and was finally replaced with Edward Heath (2 Aug 1965) at a party conference at Westminster; when Heath became Prime Minister in 1970, Douglas-Home was appointed Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwelath Affairs (22 Jun 1970 - 5 Mar 1974); was raised to the peerage (19 Dec 1974) as Baron Home of the Hirsel; returned to the House of Lords as a life peer (1975-1995). Biography sources: [10]


[1] The Times, No. 37,123, London, Friday, July 3, 1903, p. 1.
[2] The Times, No. 55,836, Royal Edition, Saturday October 19 1963, p. 10: "Court Circular - BUCKINGHAM PALACE, Oct. 18 The Right Hon. Harold Macmillan, M.P. (Prime Minister and First Lord of the Treasury) this morning tendered to The Queen his resignation as Prime Minister and First Lord of the Treasury, which Her Majesty was graciously pleased to accept. The Queen later visited the Right Hon. Harold Macmillan, M.P., in King Edward VII's Hospital for Officers. <...> Her Majesty subsequently received in audience the Earl of Home and requested him to form an Administration."
[3] The Times, No. 55,837, Royal Edition, Monday October 21 1963, p. 12: "Court Circular - BUCKINGHAM PALACE, Oct. 19 The Queen this morning received in audience the Earl of Home who kissed hands upon his appointment as Prime Minister and First Lord of the Treasury."
[4] The Times, No. 55,838, Royal Edition, Tuesday October 22 1963, p. 12: "Court Circular - BUCKINGHAM PALACE, Oct. 21 <...> The Queen held a Council at 6 o'clock this evening. <...> The Earl of Home was sworn First Lord of the Treasury."
[5] Appointment as Lord Commissioner of the Treasury by Letters Patent under the Great Seal dated 21 Oct 1963, announced by the Crown Office 21 Oct 1963, and gazetted 22 Oct 1963 (The London Gazette, No. 43139, Tuesday, 22nd October 1963, p. 8609).
[6] The Times, No. 56,145, Late London Edition, Saturday October 17 1964, p. 10: "Court Circular - BUCKINGHAM PALACE, Oct. 16 <...> The Right Hon. Sir Alec Douglas-Home had an audience of The Queen this afternoon and tendered his resignation as Prime Minister and First Lord of the Treasury, which Her Majesty was graciously pleased to accept."
[7] Instrument of Disclaimer of peerages was received by the Lord Chancellor and entered in the register maintained in the Crown Office 23 Oct 1963 (The London Gazette, No. 43143, Friday, 25th October 1963, p. 8770; The Times, No. 55,840, Royal Edition, Thursday October 24 1963, p. 12)
[8] The London Gazette, No. 42815, Tuesday, 23rd October 1962, p. 8275.
[9] The London Gazette, No. 46441, Tuesday, 24th December 1974, pp. 13203-13204.
[10] "Alec Douglas-Home", by D. R. Thorpe (London: Sinclair-Stevenson, 1996)
Image: photograph by Rex Coleman, 1962.
Last updated on: 26 Jun 2009 04:21:07