Macmillan, Harold

Maurice Harold Macmillan

b. 10 Feb 1894, London [1]
d. 29 Dec 1986, Birch Grove House, Chelwood Gate, near Haywards Heath, Sussex

Title: Prime Minister and First Lord of the Treasury
Term: 10 Jan 1957 - 18 Oct 1963
Chronology: 10 Jan 1957, accepted the offer to hold the post of Prime Minister and First Lord of the Treasury, audience of the Queen, Buckingham Palace, London [2][3]
14 Jan 1957, took the oath of office as First Lord of the Treasury before the Queen in Council, Buckingham Palace, London [4]
18 Oct 1963, tendered resignation as Prime Minister and First Lord of the Treasury in a letter delivered to the Queen at about 10:00 18 Oct 1963 to the Buckingham Palace, London (accepted) [5]
Names/titles: Viscount Macmillan of Ovenden of Chelwood Gate in the county of East Sussex and of Stockton-on-Tees in the county of Cleveland, Earl of Stockton (from 24 Feb 1984) [6]
Biography:

Born to a wealthy publishing family; was educated at Eton College (1906-1912); attended Balliol College, Oxford (1912-1914); left before graduating and did not return due to outbreak of World War I; joined the infantry and was commissioned second lieutenant (temporary, 1914); promoted to lieutenant (1915), captain (1916); served with the 4th Grenadier Guards in France and was seriously wounded at the Battle of the Somme (1916); after the war went to Canada to serve as aide-de-camp to the Governor-General, the Duke of Devonshire, whose daughter he married in 1920; joined Macmillan & Co. (Ltd.), the family publishing business, as a junior partner (1920); unsuccessfully contested the election to Parliament in 1923; returned as Conservative/Unionist MP for Stockton-on-Tees (1924-1929); gained a reputation as a radical demanding housing and rating reform; lost his seat in Parliament in the 1929 General Election; returned to Parliament as MP for Stockton-on-Tees (1931-1945); served as Parliamentary Secretary, Ministry of Supply (1940-1942), Parliamentary Under-Secretary for the Colonies (1942), and Minister Resident at Allied Headquarters in North-West Africa (30 Dec 1942 - 25 May 1945); sworn in as a member of the U.K. Privy Council (9 Feb 1942); took his first Cabinet position as Secretary of State for Air (28 May 1945 - 3 Aug 1945) in the caretaker cabinet of Winston Spencer-Churchill; was defeated in the 1945 General Election, but won a by-election in Bromley (MP, 1945-1964); served as Minister for Housing and Local Government (30 Oct 1951 - 18 Oct 1954) in the third Cabinet of Churchill, where he was instrumental in the postwar rebuilding of Britain; was appointed Minister of Defense (18 Oct 1954 - 7 Apr 1955); served as Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs (12 Apr 1955 - 22 Dec 1955) and Chancellor of the Exchequer (22 Dec 1955 - 14 Jan 1957) in the government of Sir Anthony Eden; immediately following the Suez crisis and Eden's resignation, he was chosen by Cabinet colleagues to succeed Eden; was also elevated to the top post of Leader of the Conservative and Unionist Party (22 Jan 1957 - 11 Nov 1963); had to restore confidence in the Government both at home and abroad and in particular Great Britain's 'special relationship' with the United States affected by disagreement over the Suez crisis; held a number of meetings with the U.S. presidents Dwight Eisenhower and John Kennedy, and visited Moscow in February 1959; quickly asserted domination of the House of Commons (General Election, 8 Oct 1959: Conservative and associates 365, Labour 258, Liberal 6, independent 1); was strong in foreign affairs and was aided in sustaining relations with the United States through his friendship with Kennedy; accepted the demise of the Central African Federation and his 'Wind of Change' speech in 1960 presaged the end of colonial domination in Africa; in 1962 economic insecurity, including an unpopular Pay Pause, bred several by-election defeats for the Conservatives; sacked seven cabinet ministers in a reshuffle dubbed 'the night of the long knives' (13 Jul 1962); successfully negotiated for supplying U.S. nuclear missiles for the British submarines; worked hard with Kennedy and Nikita Hruščev to establish the Test Ban treaty in 1963 but his administration was weakened by a scandal involving one of his junior ministers, leading to investigations of lax internal security in the face of Cold War spying; while staying in hospital, he resigned (18 Oct 1963) for health reasons; returned to work in Macmillan & Co. and was instrumental in rationalizing the company and increasing sales; served as the company's chairman until 1967, when his son took over; in 1970 became the first president of the company. Biography source: [7]


[1] The Times, No. 34,185, London, Monday, February 12, 1894, p. 1.
[2] The Times, No. 53,736, Royal Edition, Friday January 11 1957, p. 10: "Court Circular - BUCKINGHAM PALACE, Jan. 10 <...> The Queen this afternoon received in audience the Right Hon. Harold Macmillan, M.P., and offered him the post of Prime Minister and First Lord of the Treasury. The Right Hon. Harold Macmillan, M.P., accepted Her Majesty's offer and kissed hands upon his appointment."
[3] Appointment as Lord Commissioner of the Treasury (prior to appointment as First Lord of the Treasury) by Letters Patent under the Great Seal dated 22 Dec 1955, announced by the Crown Office 10 Jan 1956, and gazetted 13 Jan 1956 (The London Gazette, No. 40684, Friday, 13 January 1956, p. 277).
[4] The Times, No. 53,739, Royal Edition, Tuesday January 15 1957, p. 8: "Court Circular - BUCKINHGAM PALACE, Jan. 14 <...> The Queen held a Council at 3.30 o'clock. <...> The Right Hon. Harold Macmillan, M.P., was sworn First Lord of the Treasury."
[5] 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."
[6] The London Gazette, No. 49660, Wednesday, 29th February 1984, p. 2951.
[7] "Harold Macmillan", by Sir Alistair Horne (Pengiun, 1989-1991), 2 vol.
Image: photograph by Jimmy Sime, 1955.
Last updated on: 26 Jun 2009 04:21:34