Lord Rosebery

Archibald Primrose, 5th Earl of Rosebery

Archibald Primrose redirects here. For other persons with this name, see Earl of Rosebery.
The Earl of Rosebery
Archibald Primrose, 5th Earl of Rosebery

Prime Minister of the United Kingdom
5 March 1894–22 June 1895
Precededby William Ewart Gladstone
Succeededby The Marquess of Salisbury

Born 7 May 1847
Berkeley Square, London
Died 21 May 1929
Epsom, Surrey
Politicalparty Liberal
Spouse Hannah de Rothschild

Archibald Philip Primrose, 5th Earl of Rosebery, KG, PC (7 May 1847 – 21 May 1929) was a British Liberal statesman and Prime Minister, also known as Archibald Primrose (1847-1851) and Lord Dalmeny (1851-1868).


Early life

Rosebery's father died when he was three, which brought him the courtesy title of Lord Dalmeny. He attended Eton where he was a pupil of the influential master William Johnson Cory, and went up to Christ Church, Oxford. While there, he was asked to stand as a candidate for Parliament at Darlington when under age, but refused on the grounds that he had not definitely committed himself to a political party. While at university he set three aims for his life: to marry an heiress; to own a racehorse that won the Epsom Derby; and to be Prime Minister. He managed all three.

The 21-year-old Dalmeny succeeded to his grandfather's Scottish earldom in 1868. The next year he indulged his passion for horse-racing and bought Ladas. University rules prohibited undergraduates from owning racehorses and when the university authorities discovered that he owned one, he was offered a choice between selling his horse or abandoning his studies. He chose the latter.

In 1878 Rosebery married Hannah de Rothschild, the greatest heiress of her day. She died in 1890. They had four children: Sybil (1879-1955), Margaret (1881-1967), Harry (1882-1974), and Neil (1882-1917), killed in action in Palestine. It was speculated that he was bisexual. Like Oscar Wilde, he was hounded by the Marquess of Queensberry for his association with one of Queensberry's sons — Francis Douglas, Viscount Drumlanrig.

Rosebery took his seat in the House of Lords on his coming-of-age. He became a Liberal, and was involved in Gladstone's Midlothian Campaign, which brought the Liberals back into power in 1880. In the Liberal administration that followed, Rosebery served in junior offices, including that of Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department (from which he resigned when there was no separate Minister for Scotland). He returned as First Commissioner of Works and Lord Privy Seal, with a seat in the Cabinet, in February 1885.

The Sydney suburb of Rosebery was named in his honour after his visit to Australia for two months in 1883-84.

Prime Minister

Rosebery became a leader of the Liberal Imperialist faction of the Liberal Party, and in Gladstone's third (February to July 1886) and fourth (August 1892 to March 1894) administrations, Rosebery served as Foreign Secretary. When Gladstone retired in 1894, Rosebery became his successor as Prime Minister, much to the disgust of Sir William Harcourt, the Chancellor of the Exchequer and leader of the more left-wing Liberals. His selection was largely the consequence of Queen Victoria's dislike for most of the leading Liberals of the day.

Rosebery's government was largely unsuccessful. His designs in foreign policy, such as expansion of the fleet, were defeated by disagreements within the Liberal Party, while the Tory-dominated House of Lords stopped the whole of the Liberals' domestic legislation. On June 21, 1895, Rosebery resigned after a minor defeat in the House of Commons, and a Conservative government under Lord Salisbury, took his place.

Rosebery resigned as leader of the Liberal Party on October 8, 1896, to be succeeded by Harcourt, and gradually moved further and further from the mainstream of the party, supporting the Boer War and opposing Irish Home Rule, a position that prevented him from participating in the Liberal government that returned to power in 1905. In his later years, Rosebery turned to writing, including biographies of Lord Chatham, Pitt the Younger, Napoleon, and Lord Randolph Churchill. Another one of his passionate interests was the collecting of books.

When Rosebery died in 1929 his estate was probated at 1,396,577.

Thoroughbred horse racing

As a result of his marriage to Hannah de Rothschild, Rosebery acquired

Lord Rosebery's government, March 1894 – June 1895

  • Lord Rosebery - First Lord of the Treasury, Lord President of the Council, and Leader of the House of Lords
  • Lord Herschell - Lord Chancellor
  • Lord Tweedmouth - Lord Privy Seal
  • Herbert Henry Asquith - Secretary of State for the Home Department
  • Lord Kimberley - Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs
  • Lord Ripon - Secretary of State for the Colonies
  • Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman - Secretary of State for War
  • Sir Henry Hartley Fowler - Secretary of State for India
  • Sir William Harcourt - Chancellor of the Exchequer and Leader of the House of Commons
  • Lord Spencer - First Lord of the Admiralty
  • Anthony John Mundella - President of the Board of Trade
  • Arnold Morley - Postmaster-General
  • George John Shaw-Lefevre - President of the Local Government Board
  • James Bryce - Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster
  • John Morley - Chief Secretary for Ireland
  • Sir George Otto Trevelyan - Secretary for Scotland
  • Sir Arthur Herbert Dyke Acland - Vice President of the Council


  • May 1894 - James Bryce succeeds A.J. Mundella at the Board of Trade. Lord Tweedmouth succeeds Bryce at the Duchy of Lancaster, remaining also Lord Privy Seal.

See also

  • In his fraudulent memoirs, Sir Edmund Backhouse, 2nd Baronet claimed to be Rosebery's lover.
  • Rosebery: Statesman in Turmoil by Leo McKinstry ISBN 0-7195-5879-4

This article might use material from a Wikipedia article, which is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.

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