1693: Two Brothers who Became British Prime Ministers

1693: Two Brothers who Became British Prime Ministers
Photo Credit To Wikipedia Commons/ Prime Minister Thomas Pelham-Holles (left) and his brother, Prime Minister Henry Pelham (right)

Story Highlights

  • Historical event:
  • 21 July 1693
  • Thomas and Henry were the names of two brothers who, one after another, became British Prime Ministers. They belonged to the family Pelham, and older brother Thomas was also given to the high title of the Duke of Newcastle.

On this day British Prime Minister Thomas Pelham-Holles was born.

He was the older of the two brothers who became, one after the other, British Prime Ministers. Thomas later had the high title of Duke of Newcastle. The ducal title is the highest aristocratic title in Great Britain, and the bearers are the only ones with the right to be addressed with “His Grace”. Lower levels of aristocracy (Marquess, Earl, Viscout, and Baron) do not have this privilege.

Thomas Pelham-Holles is interesting by the fact that both he and his brother became British Prime Ministers. In fact, his younger brother was Henry Pelham – the third Prime Minister in British history, while Thomas directly succeeded his brother as the fourth Prime Minister. Thus, the younger brother was the first one to become the Prime Minister and was succeeded by his older brother.

Interestingly, while the older brother was a duke, the younger brother had no aristocratic title. Such situations are typical for nobility in Great Britain. In fact, unlike in the most of the rest of Europe, where all family members have the same title, the order of succession is followed in Britain. This means that only the eldest son inherits the title, and only when the father dies (similar to succession of the crown).

Prime Minister Thomas Pelham-Holles, i.e. the Duke of Newcastle, was at the head of the British government in the so-called year of miracles (Annus Mirabilis of 1759) when the country experienced unprecedented success in world politics. In fact, at that time the British almost simultaneously managed to defeat the French in North America and occupy much of the continent, gain power in India, and de facto rule the world’s seas (this British world dominance would last for more than 150 years).

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