Robert Gascoyne-Cecil, 3rd Marquess of Salisbury

Robert Arthur Talbot Gascoyne-Cecil, 3rd Marquess of Salisbury KG GCVO PC FRS DL (/ˈɡæskɔɪn ˈsɪsəl/;[1][2] 3 February 1830  22 August 1903) was a conservative British statesman who served as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom three times for a total of over thirteen years. He was also Foreign Secretary for much of his tenure, and during his last two years of office he was Lord Keeper of the Privy Seal. He avoided alignments or alliances, maintaining the policy of "splendid isolation".


The Marquess of Salisbury

Lord Salisbury c.1886
Prime Minister of the United Kingdom
In office
25 June 1895  11 July 1902
Monarch
Preceded byThe Earl of Rosebery
Succeeded byArthur Balfour
In office
25 July 1886  11 August 1892
MonarchVictoria
Preceded byWilliam Ewart Gladstone
Succeeded byWilliam Ewart Gladstone
In office
23 June 1885  28 January 1886
MonarchVictoria
Preceded byWilliam Ewart Gladstone
Succeeded byWilliam Ewart Gladstone
Ministerial positions
Lord Keeper of the Privy Seal
In office
12 November 1900  11 July 1902
Prime MinisterHimself
Preceded byThe Viscount Cross
Succeeded byArthur Balfour
Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs
In office
29 June 1895  12 November 1900
Prime MinisterHimself
Preceded byThe Earl of Kimberley
Succeeded byThe Marquess of Lansdowne
In office
14 January 1887  11 August 1892
Prime MinisterHimself
Preceded byThe Earl of Iddesleigh
Succeeded byThe Earl of Rosebery
In office
24 June 1885  6 February 1886
Prime MinisterHimself
Preceded byThe Earl Granville
Succeeded byThe Earl of Rosebery
In office
2 April 1878  28 April 1880
Prime MinisterThe Earl of Beaconsfield
Preceded byThe Earl of Derby
Succeeded byThe Earl Granville
Secretary of State for India
In office
21 February 1874  2 April 1878
Prime MinisterBenjamin Disraeli
Preceded byThe Duke of Argyll
Succeeded byThe Viscount Cranbrook
In office
6 July 1866  8 March 1867
Prime MinisterThe Earl of Derby
Preceded byThe Earl de Grey
Succeeded bySir Stafford Northcote
Parliamentary offices
Leader of the Opposition
In office
11 August 1892  22 June 1895
Prime Minister
Preceded byWilliam Ewart Gladstone
Succeeded byThe Earl of Rosebery
In office
28 January 1886  20 July 1886
Prime MinisterWilliam Ewart Gladstone
Preceded byWilliam Ewart Gladstone
Succeeded byWilliam Ewart Gladstone
In office
May 1881  9 June 1885
Prime MinisterWilliam Ewart Gladstone
Preceded byBenjamin Disraeli
Succeeded byWilliam Ewart Gladstone
Member of the House of Lords
Hereditary peerage
12 April 1868  22 August 1903
Preceded byThe 2nd Marquess of Salisbury
Succeeded byThe 4th Marquess of Salisbury
Member of Parliament
for Stamford
In office
22 August 1853  12 April 1868
Preceded byJohn Charles Herries
Succeeded byCharles Chetwynd-Talbot
Personal details
Born
Robert Arthur Talbot Gascoyne-Cecil

(1830-02-03)3 February 1830
Hatfield, Hertfordshire, England
Died22 August 1903(1903-08-22) (aged 73)
Hatfield, Hertfordshire, England
Resting placeSt Etheldreda's Church, Hatfield
Political partyConservative
Spouse(s)
(m. 1857; died 1899)
Children8; including Maud, Gwendolen, James, William, Robert, Edward and Hugh
FatherJames Gascoyne-Cecil, 2nd Marquess of Salisbury
Alma materChrist Church, Oxford
Signature

Lord Robert Cecil was first elected to the House of Commons in 1854 and served as Secretary of State for India in Lord Derby's Conservative government 1866–1867. In 1874, under Disraeli, Salisbury returned as Secretary of State for India, and, in 1878, was appointed foreign secretary, and played a leading part in the Congress of Berlin. After Disraeli's death in 1881, Salisbury emerged as Conservative leader in the House of Lords, with Sir Stafford Northcote leading the party in the Commons. He succeeded William Ewart Gladstone as prime minister in June 1885, and held the office until January 1886. When Gladstone came out in favour of Home Rule for Ireland, Salisbury opposed him and formed an alliance with the breakaway Liberal Unionists, winning the subsequent general election. His great achievement in this term was obtaining the majority of new territory in Africa during the Scramble for Africa, avoiding a war or serious confrontation with the other powers. He remained as prime minister until Gladstone's Liberals formed a government with the support of the Irish nationalists at the 1892 general election. The Liberals, however, lost the 1895 general election, and Salisbury for the third and last time became prime minister. He led Britain to victory in a bitter, controversial war against the Boers, and led the Unionists to another electoral victory in 1900. He relinquished the premiership to his nephew Arthur Balfour in 1902 and died in 1903. He was the last prime minister to serve from the House of Lords.[3]

Historians agree that Salisbury was a strong and effective leader in foreign affairs, with a wide grasp of the issues. Paul Smith characterises his personality as "deeply neurotic, depressive, agitated, introverted, fearful of change and loss of control, and self-effacing but capable of extraordinary competitiveness."[4] A representative of the landed aristocracy, he held the reactionary credo, "Whatever happens will be for the worse, and therefore it is in our interest that as little should happen as possible."[5] Searle says that instead of seeing his party's victory in 1886 as a harbinger of a new and more popular Conservatism, he longed to return to the stability of the past, when his party's main function was to restrain demagogic liberalism and democratic excess.[6]