54 individuals have been British Prime Minister from Walpole to May and 56 First Lords of the Treasury,  including Northcote and Smith. (Pitt the elder was never First Lord). Some lists include the names of the Earl of Bath: 10th to 12th February 1746 and Waldegrave: 8th to 12th June 1757. Just seven days between them. (See Harold Wilson - A Prime Minister On Prime Ministers). However, since neither was officially recognised as Prime Minister, or held the post of First Lord, they have been included in this collection only as an historic courtesy. Others, like the 2nd Earl Granville, (Carteret), were offered the post. In February 1746 he allowed himself to be entrapped by the intrigues of the Pelhams becoming, effectively, Prime Minister for four days, though not widely acceped as such. 
Since 13th October 1714 there have been 59 First Lords of the Treasury (incorporating 84 terms in office).  Excluding Pitt the elder they include Charles Montagu, 1st Earl of Halifax, Charles Howard, 3rd Earl of Carlisle, James Stanhope, 1st Viscount Stanhope, Charles Spencer, 3rd Earl of Sunderland, Northcote and Smith. Prior to 13th October 1714 the equivalent office to First Lord was described as Lord High Treasurer, (see also link),an office that can be traced as far back as 1126 to Nigel, nephew of Roger, Bishop of Salisbury. Incidentally, William Juxon, Bishop of London and Archbishop of Caterbury was the last of the Clergy to 'hold the purse'.  Notable amongst these High Treasurers, including Juxon, would be Thomas Sackville, 1st Earl of Dorset, Henry Montagu, 1st Earl of Manchester, James Ley, 1st Earl of Marlborough,Richard Weston, 1st Earl of Portland, William Juxon, Bishop of London and Archbishop of Canterbury, Edward Littleton, Francis Cottington, 1st Lord Cottington, Thomas Wriothesley, 4th Earl of Southampton, Arthur Capell, 1st Earl of Essex , Laurence Hyde, 1st Earl of Rochester , Sidney Godolphin, 1st Earl of Godolphin, John, 4th Baron Poulett & 1st Earl Poulett,  Robert Harley, 1st Earl of Oxford and Earl Mortimer, Charles Talbot, 1st Duke of Shrewsbury and 12th Earl of Shrewsbury, and Charles Montagu, 1st Earl of Halifax, who had served as both Lord High Treasurer and  the first First Lord of the Treasury.


One significant other signature would complete the oli££ collection:
James Waldegrave, 2nd Earl Waldegrave sig pic
NOTE: Lord Waldegrave is not usually counted as Prime Minister or First Lord of the Treasury, yet he is sometimes regarded as one of the three shortest serving Prime Ministers in British history. (See also John Carteret, 2nd Earl Granville,and William Pulteney, 1st Earl of Bath.) 

British 18th century Prime Ministers Bottom of page
& First Lords of the Treasury
The signature of the 3rd and 6th First Lord of the Treasury and the first ‘recognised’ and longest serving
British Prime Minister 1721-1742 (Whig)
Sir Robert Walpole,Earl of Orford
(26th August 1676 – 18th March 1745)
This was the period known as the 'Robinocracy'
BBC part 1. Signed three months after the resignation of Townshend
7th First Lord of the Treasury
2nd British Prime Minister 1742-43 (Whig)
Spencer Compton, Earl of Wilmington
(1673 – 2nd July 1743) 

9th & 11th First Lord of the Treasury
4th & 6th British Prime Minister 1754-6‚1757-62 (Whig)
Thomas Pelham-Holles, Duke of Newcastle
(21st July 1693 – 17th November 1768) 

14th & 18th First Lord of the Treasury
9th & 13th  British Prime Minister 1765 – 66, 1782 (Whig)
Charles Watson Wentworth, 2nd Marquiss of Rockingham
(13th May 1730 – 1st July 1782)
This is a very rare, historic and important letter to Lord Chatham. 
See the history of the American Revolution - Stamp Act
17th First Lord of the Treasury
12th British Prime Minister 1770 to 1782 (Tory)
Frederick North, 2nd Earl of Guilford
(13th April 1732 – 5th  August 1792)
BBC part 2 The similar piece on the right was recently sold.
19th First Lord of the Treasury
14th British Prime Minister 1782 – 1783 (Whig)
William Petty-FitzMaurice,  2nd Earl of Shelburne
1st Marquess of Lansdowne (2nd May 1737 – 7th May 1805 )

20th & 25th First Lord of the Treasury
15th & 20th British Prime Minister 1783, 1807-1809 (Whig)
William Cavendish-Bentinck, 3rd Duke of Portland
(14th April 1738 – 30th October 1809)

great-great-great maternal grandfather of Queen Elizabeth II

21st & 23rd First Lord of the Treasury
16th & 18th British Prime Minister 1783-1801, 1804-1806 (Tory)
William Pitt (the younger) 
(28th May 1759 – 23rd January 1806)
The last premier of the 18th century and the first of the 19th.  
This is his signature on an envelope addressed to Lady Ann Tynte of Halswell House
BBC part 9
10 Downing Street
8th First Lord of the Treasury
3rd British Prime Minister 1743-1754 (Whig)
Henry Pelham
(25th September 1694 – 6th March 1754)
The similar piece on the right was recently sold.

13th First Lord of the Treasury
8th  British Prime Minister 1763-1765 (Whig)
George Grenville
(14th October 1712 – 13th November 1770)

The Earl of Chatham was never First Lord of the Treasury (see Grafton)
10th British Prime Minister 1766 - 1768 (Whig)
William Pitt (the elder), 1st Earl of Chatham 
(15th November 1708 – 11th May 1778) 
15th (on behalf of Pitt) & 16th First Lord of the Treasury
11th British Prime Minister 1768 - 1770 (Whig)
Augustus Henry FitzRoy, 3rd Duke of Grafton
(28th September 1735 – 14th March 1811)
See Stranraer

There can often be breaks in the holding of the office of the Prime Minister, usually if the handover of power follows an election defeat or the death, resignation or retirement of the current PM. In the 18th century there were 98 days post-Walpole when the UK officially had no prime minister. In the 19th century this figure rose to 192, but there were only 13 such days in the 20th century. Since 2000 there have been 5 days in 2010 when a coalition government was sought though, technically, Brown was still in power. There have been twelve handovers after one-day, seven after a two-day gap and a further eight following a three-day pause. The longest gap so far was the fifty-six day period in 1743 after the Earl of Wilmington’s death and the appointment of Henry Pelham. That was twice as long as the time between Perceval’s assassination and Liverpool’s assumption of office. 

Since Walpole, there are two First Lords of the Treasury who have been almost ignored by history completely. The first is Stafford Northcote, 1st Earl of Iddesleigh. In 1885, when Lord Salisbury became prime minister he took the titles of Earl of Iddesleigh and Viscount St Cyres, and was included in the cabinet as First Lord of the Treasury. The second was William Henry Smith ll who served as the First Lord from 14th January 1887 to 6th October 1891, during Salisbury's second administration. Neither gets a mention on the 10 Downing Street website.Both are included on this site at the bottom of 19th century Prime Minister's.and on Other First Lords of the Treasury

Edinburgh Custom House 18th century
Edinburgh Custom House 18th century
Non elected Prime Ministers.

Theresa May is not alone in being an un-elected Prime Minister. She joins a list of illustrious names including Balfour, Asquith, Lloyd-George, Baldwin, Chamberlain, Churchill, Macmillan, Douglas-Home, Callaghan, Major and Brown
(8 Conservative, 2 Labour and 2 Liberal) 

(See Oliff editorial published 31st July 2009)

In the case of British coalition governments it could be argued that the resulting premier does not necessarily have the full backing of the electorate: none elected. For example, in the 2010 election, Labour had a majority in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. The Conservatives had a majority in England: neither party with an overall majority. Each of the major parties then turned to the Liberal Democrats to negotiate coalition terms to form a government. The Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats found more common ground and formed their coalition with David Cameron (Conservative) as Prime Minister and Nick Clegg (LD) as Deputy Prime Minister leaving many in the UK feeling disenfranchised. 
The Constitution of the United Kingdom
Magna Carta - The Great Charter of 1215
Petition of Right 1628
Habeas Corpus Act 1679
Full translation of the Habeas Corpus Act

The United Kingdom's constitution, being uncodified and largely unwritten, makes no mention of a prime minister. Though it had de facto existed for centuries, its first mention in official state documents did not occur until the first decade of the twentieth century. Accordingly, it is often said "not to exist", indeed there are several instances of parliament declaring this to be the case. The prime minister sits in the cabinet solely by virtue of occupying another office, either First Lord of the Treasury (office in commission), or more rarely Chancellor of the Exchequer (the last of whom was Balfour in 1905).

The title ' Marquess of Rockingham'
Wentworth Village
Wentworth Woodhouse
Earl Malton
Rockingham Castle
4 Grosvenor Square
American Revolution
Rockingham folly
The English Bill of Rights 1689 & Act of Settlement 1701
The English Bill of Rights 1689 & Act of Settlement 1701
Full translation of the English Bill of Rights
Key to entries
The re-order for
Abbey 1739,
for the western
towers to be built
at a cost of

 of Canterbury
The warrant 
includes the
 signatures of both Wilmington and Newcastle

A similar piece (illustrated on the right) was sold at Christie's of London in 2006 for £3,600
Lord Rockingham is one of the three rarest of all Prime Minister signatures, and given the historical significance of this letter would be valued today at around £10,000
This letter was obtained from the Raab Collection of Philadelphia. (Wikipedia.) Dated February 1770. Rockingham Hopes That Pitt the Elder Will Attend the Debate in Parliament on Repeal of Townsend Acts
For the entry of Charles James Fox
see Historical Signatures 2
 Prime Minister Lord North resigned in March 1782. In April 1782, the Commons voted to end the war in America. Preliminary peace articles were signed in Paris at the end of November 1782; the formal end of the war did not occur until the Treaty of Paris was signed on 3rd September 1783, and the U.S Congress of the Confederation ratified the treaty on 14th January 1784. The last British troops left New York City on 25th November 1783.

Henry Fox 1st Baron Holland (28th September 1705 – 1st July 1774)  Though widely tipped as a future Prime Minister, he never held that office. He became a Lord of the Treasury in 1743.
Prime Minister for two days - often debated
10th February 1746 - 12th February 1746
He was never a First Lord. He did, however, 'kiss hands'
William Pulteney, 1st Earl of Bath
(22nd March 1684 – 7th July 1764)
Harold Wilson refers to him only as 'Bath' in his book
'A Prime Minister On Prime Ministers'
This is his rarer form of signature from 9 October 1752

The Earl of Bath is one of the rarest signatures from this time and context and would not be sold today for less than £5,000

Earl of Bath
From the personal collection of
Charles William Dyson Perrins 

Top of this page          Home                                19th century, 20th century, 21st century    other First Lords     Chancellors
General John Pitt, 2nd Earl of Chatham
(9th October 1756 – 24th September 1835)
A British peer and sailor.
The eldest son of William Pitt the Elder and an elder brother of William Pitt the Younger. commissioned into the 47th Regiment of Foot in 1774
There remain differences of interpretation about the precise holders of the position in the eighteenth century: two politicians, William Pulteney, earl of Bath (1684–1764), and James Waldegrave, second Earl Waldegrave (1715–1763), accepted office as first lords of the treasury. Pulteney actually kissed hands (in February 1746) but was unable to form a ministry capable of commanding majorities in the both houses, and resigned within days of his appointment. Waldegrave accepted office in July 1757, but did not kiss hands and instead helped form the coalition that returned the duke of Newcastle to office.

The start of Walpole's premiership is open to interpretation. Only after the resignation of his colleague Charles Townshend  second Viscount Townshend, in May 1730, did he gain unrivalled control of the administration and its policies.

Prime Minister for four days - often debated
(February 1746)  
John Carteret, 2nd Earl Granville, 2nd Baron Carteret
(22nd April 1690–22nd January 1763) 
An extremely rare signature: 1755: as Lord President of the Council

Signed in the year 1755. The only year that Marlborough held this position. See British History Online
12th First Lord of the Treasury
10th British Prime Minister 1762 – 1763 (Tory)
John Stuart, 3rd Earl of Bute
(25th May 1713 – 10th March 1792)
This is an envelope written and signed by the
Prime Minister.Lot 667 25th September 2010
International Autograph Auctions
at the Radisson Edwardian Hotel, Heathrow.                                      To the Right Honerable William Pitt 1761
The list of First Lords of the Treasury on which this collection has been based
The list of First Lords of the Treasury on which this collection has been based
Usualy signed
Usualy signed
 'William Pulteney'
A misguided piece
 of 'Carteret' research.
Wrong signature
Prime Minster for five days - often debated
 8th June 1757 - 12th June 1757
James Waldegrave, 2nd Earl Waldegrave
(4th March 1715 – 13th April 1763)

10th First Lord of the Treasury
5th British Prime Minister 1756-1757 (Whig)
William Cavendish, 4th Duke of Devonshire
(8th May 1720 – 2nd October 1764)
Signed in 1761 when serving as Lord Chamberlain in Newcastle's government (second term): the first year of George III reign
For the entry of Henry Fox
see Historical Signatures 2
Screaming Lord Sutch
Price comparison 2010
Rockingham Castle was a popular haunt of Charles Dickens who spent many a summer there, regularly 'performing' in the long gallery. The Castle is the inspiration for Chesney Wold in Bleak House

4 Grosvenor SquareWestminster, London W1K 4
Occupants of 4 Grosvenor Square include: 9th Duke of Norfolk, 1739–41. Earl of Malton, latterly 1st Marquess of Rockingham, 1742–50: his son, 2nd Marquess, Prime Minister, 1750–82: the latter's nephew, 4th Earl Fitzwilliam, 1782–1833: the latter's son, 5th Earl, 1833–9: the latter's son, Viscount Milton, latterly 6th Earl, 1840–65, 1871–1902: the latter's grandson, 7th Earl, 1902–31. Italian Embassy, 1932-present (except 1940–4).

Burial: York Minster, 
York, North Yorkshire
in the Strafforde family vault
Note: Britains longest serving leader of any political party was David Edward 'Screaming Lord' Sutch
of the Official Monster Raving Loony Party 
Signed when Northern Secretary. February 1721–May 1730
General John Pitt
Another fine Waldegrave example
This envelope was signed on 23 November 1792 (aged 55) as 'Lansdowne'. When Pitt became Prime Minister in 1784, Shelburne, instead of receiving a place in the Cabinet, was created Marquess of Lansdowne. Though giving a general support to the policy of Pitt, he from this time ceased to take an active part in public affairs.
source & cost of my lansdowne
After the resignation of The Duke of Newcastle in November 1756, George II dismissed William Pitt (the driving force of the new government) in April 1757 and invited Lord Waldegrave to take over from Newcastle's successor, The Duke of Devonshire as First Lord of the Treasury. And so, Devonshire was briefly dismissed and Lord Waldegrave tried to form a government from 8–12 June that year but failed to do so and stepped down, partly because he feared that as Prime Minister, he would fall out with his close friend, the King (as his predecessors had done). Devonshire then continued as First Lord and Prime Minister for almost another two weeks and Newcastle returned a week later.
See Henry Fox, tipped as a future Prime Minister. See Historical signatures 2
Another fine example