Chamberlain, Neville, 1869-1940

Alternative names
Birth 1869-03-18
Death 1940-11-09

Biographical notes:

British Prime Minister, 1937-1940.

From the description of Letter, 1938 Oct. 21. (New York University, Group Batchload). WorldCat record id: 58779055

Prime minister of Great Britain, 1937-1940.

From the description of Neville Chamberlain declaration, 1938. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 754868084

British statesman.

From the description of Printed invitation : n.p., 1838 July 18. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 270891845

From the description of Printed invitation to the opening of Parliament : [n.p.], 1838 Oct. 26. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 270891846

From the description of Autograph letter signed : 10 Downing St. [London], to J.P. Morgan, 1938 Oct. 10. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 270887160

1891-1896 established sisal farm in Andros, Bahamas; 1897-1916 businessman in Birmingham (Elliott's Metal Company, Hoskins & Sons, Birmingham Small Arms Company); 1914 alderman; 1915 lord mayor; 1916-1917 director-general of national service; 1918-1929 MP for Birmingham, Ladywood; 1922-1923 postmaster general; 1923 minister of health; 1923 Chancellor of the Exchequer; 1924-1929 minister of health; 1929-1940 MP for Birmingham, Edgbaston; 1931-1937 Chancellor of the Exchequer; 1937-1940 Prime Minister; 1940 lord president

Epithet: Prime Minister

British Library Archives and Manuscripts Catalogue : Person : Description : ark:/81055/vdc_100000000386.0x0000a7

Biographical/Historical Note

Prime minister of Great Britain, 1937-1940.

From the guide to the Neville Chamberlain declaration, 1938, (Hoover Institution Archives)

Right Honourable Arthur Neville Chamberlain, 1869-1940, son of the Right Honourable Joseph and Florence [ne Kenrick] Chamberlain, married Anne Vere Cole in 1911; half brother of the Right Honourable Sir Austen Chamberlain; educated at Rugby and Mason College, Birmingham; unsuccessfully attempted to grow sisal on his father's estate in the Bahamas, 1890-1897. In 1911 he was elected to Birmingham City Council and became Lord Mayor of Birmingham in 1915; established the only municipal savings bank, 1916; was appointed director-general of National Service by Lloyd George in 1916 and resigned, 1917. From 1918-1940 he was Conservative MP for a Birmingham division; while in opposition (1920-1931), he reorganised Conservative Central Office; became postmaster general, 1922; Chancellor of the Exchequer, 1931-1937 and was Prime Minister, 1937-1940.

Reference: The Concise Dictionary of National Biography, 1901-1950 (Oxford, 1967).

From the guide to the Papers of Neville Chamberlain, 1790-1984, (University of Birmingham Information Services, Special Collections Department)

(Arthur) Neville Chamberlain was Joseph Chamberlain's younger son and half-brother of Sir Austen Chamberlain. He was educated at Rugby and Mason College, Birmingham. He was originally destined for a commercial career and, at the age of 21, was sent to direct his father's sisal -growing venture on the family estate on the island of Andros in the Bahamas. The venture failed and he returned seven years later in 1897.

He then became involved in Birmingham's industrial and commercial life and it was in 1911, the year he married, that he became active in local politics. He was elected to City Council in that year and, like his father, became Lord Mayor in 1915. During his time in local politics, he was responsible, for example, for the establishment of the Birmingham Savings Bank, the only municipal savings bank, in 1916. He was appointed director-general of national service by Lloyd George between 1916 and 1917 and in 1918 he entered national politics as firstly as Conservative MP for Ladywood and subsequently for the Edgbaston constituency. He served continuously as a Birmingham MP until his death in 1940. He held various offices during his political career, including Postmaster-General (1922); Chancellor of the Exchequer (1923-24); Minister of Health (1923, 1924-29); and Chancellor of the Exchequer in the National Government (1931-37). During his political career he initiated, supervised and was involved with a range of successful projects, including housing and slum clearance; the Local Government Act of 1920 which reformed the poor law; the reorganisation of Conservative Central Office; the adoption of general tariff, 1932; and, in 1934, took the chief political initiative in increasing air estimates.

He succeeded Baldwin as Prime Minister and Leader of the Conservative Party in May 1937. He is remembered particularly for his efforts to avert a war and his policy of appeasement toward the Italian fascist dictator Benito Mussolini and German Nazi Adolf Hitler. The dramatic events of 1938-39, including the German invasion of Austria and Czechoslovakia and the negotiation of the Munich Agreement with Hitler, which culminated in the Second World War, are well known. Chamberlain declared war on Germany on 3 September 1939 following the invasion of Poland and he resigned, as Prime Minister on 10 May 1940 after the defeat of the British forces in Norway. He became Lord President of the Council in Winston Churchill's subsequent government but resigned, owing to illness, on 1 October and died shortly afterwards on 9 November 1940.

Reference: University of Birmingham, Special Collections Department, Online Archive Catalogue ( Accessed May 2002.

From the guide to the Letters Additional of Neville Chamberlain, 1895-[199-], (University of Birmingham Information Services, Special Collections Department)

(Arthur) Neville Chamberlain was born on 18 March 1869 at Edgbaston, Birmingham. He was educated at Rugby School and at Mason College, Birmingham, and in 1890 went to the Bahamas to manage his father's plantation. Returning to Britain in 1897, he began his business career and became involved in local politics, serving as Lord Mayor of Birmingham from 1915 to 1916.

In 1918, he was elected Conservative Member of Parliament for the Ladywood division of Birmingham, holding the offices of Postmaster-General, Paymaster-General, Minister of Health and Chancellor of the Exchequer. In 1937, Chamberlain replaced Stanley Baldwin as Prime Minister but was criticised for his policy of appeasement towards Nazi Germany during the late 1930s. After Germany invaded Poland in 1939, Chamberlain declared war on Germany and the following year resigned as Prime Minister. He was appointed Lord President of the Council in the government of Winston Churchill, but ill health forced him to leave office in October 1940, and he died soon afterwards on 9 November 1940 at Highfield Park, near Reading.

From the guide to the Neville Chamberlain, polar correspondence, 1904-1914, (Scott polar Research Institute, University of Cambridge)


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  • Sisal industry Bahamas
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  • Canals England Birmingham
  • World War, 1939-1945
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