1836: The Chamberlain Dynasty

1836: The Chamberlain Dynasty
Photo Credit To Wikipedia Commons/Joseph Chamberlain at his desk at the Colonial Office

Story Highlights

  • Historical event
  • 8 July 1836
  • Joseph, Austen and Neville Chamberlain were all British ministers, with Neville becoming even a prime minister. Let us look at how this powerful dynasty arose.

On this day British politician Joseph Chamberlain, who established a dynasty of the United Kingdom’s ministers, was born.

In fact, besides being a minister himself, both of his sons also became known ministers. The younger son – Neville Chamberlain – became the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom who has been known for his problematic policy towards Adolf Hitler.

Joseph Chamberlain, the father of this ministerial family, was born in London. Having achieved a successful business career, he became active in politics. He achieved the post of Secretary of State for the Colonies, and later was the Leader of the Opposition, which in the British parliamentary system means that he was also the head of the Shadow Cabinet. Although he personally never became a prime minister, his influence on policy was such that Winston Churchill wrote of him that he was the man “who made the weather”.

His wife, Harriet Kenrick, gave birth to Joseph’s son, Austen Chamberlain, but she died a few days after childbirth.

Austen Chamberlain became famous and respected politician and was even awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. He served as a Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, Chancellor of the Exchequer, First Lord of the Admiralty and Secretary of State for India.

His appearance was distinctive because he wore a monocle. He, like his father, also nearly became Prime Minister of the United Kingdom.

Since Joseph’s first wife, as mentioned, died soon after giving birth, he remarried to a cousin of hers.

The son born in that second marriage was named Neville Chamberlain and he was indeed the first in the family who became Prime Minister of the United Kingdom.

Before that, he served as Minister of Health and Chancellor of the Exchequer. Neville Chamberlain is one of the most controversial politicians from the period before World War II.

Joseph Chamberlain had the misfortune of his second wife dying in childbirth as well, after only about six years of marriage.

As a double widower, he married for the third time. His bride was an American woman named Mary Crowninshield Endicott, daughter of the U.S. Secretary of War, William Crowninshield Endicott.

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