Downing Street Blues

A History of Depression and Other Mental Afflictions in British Prime Ministers

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About the Book

Presenting an account of mental illness in British prime ministers from Sir Robert Walpole, generally regarded as the first to hold the position, to Tony Blair, this book reveals how depression, anxiety, dementia, and alcohol or drug use disorders have impacted British leaders over three centuries. It begins with an introduction explaining the principles of diagnosis, the methods used to assess subjects and the assignment of confidence levels in each diagnosis, and the overall significance of mental disorder in political leaders. Individual assessments then follow for each of Britain’s 51 prime ministers, revealing how evidence for psychiatric problems was found in over 70% of cases and how the prevalence of mental disorders remained relatively constant throughout the 18th, 19th, and 20th centuries.

About the Author(s)

Emeritus Professor of Psychiatry at Duke University Medical Center, Jonathan Davidson, M.D., is the author of several books and journal articles. He lives on Seabrook Island, South Carolina.

Bibliographic Details

Jonathan Davidson, M.D.
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 228
Bibliographic Info: tables, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2011
pISBN: 978-0-7864-4846-3
eISBN: 978-0-7864-5793-9
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Table of Contents


Acknowledgments xi

Preface 1

Introduction 5

The Prime Ministers

Sir Robert Walpole (1676–1745) (1721–1745) 15

Earl of Wilmington (1674–1743) (1742–1743) 15

Henry Pelham (1694–1754) (1743–1754) 16

Thomas Pelham-Holles, Duke of Newcastle (1693–1768) (1754–1756; 1757–1762) 16

William Cavendish, 4th Duke of Devonshire (1720–1764) (1756–1757) 17

John Stuart, 3rd Earl of Bute (1713–1792) (1762–1763) 18

George Grenville (1712–1770) (1763–1765) 20

Charles Wentworth, Marquess of Rockingham (1730–1782) (1765–1766; 1782) 21

William Pitt the Elder, Earl of Chatham (1708–1778) (1766–1768) 23

Augustus Henry Fitzroy, 3rd Duke of Grafton (1735–1811) (1768–1770) 27

Lord North (1732–1792) (1770–1782) 27

William Petty, 2nd Earl of Shelburne (1737–1805) (1782–1783) 33

William Cavendish Cavendish-Bentinck, 3rd Duke of Portland (1738–1809) (1783; 1807–1809) 34

William Pitt the Younger (1759–1806) (1783–1801; 1804–1806) 34

Henry Addington, 1st Viscount Sidmouth (1757–1844) (1801–1804) 40

William Wyndham Grenville, Baron Grenville (1759–1834) (1806–1807) 42

Spencer Perceval (1762–1812) (1809–1812) 42

Robert Banks Jenkinson, 2nd Earl of Liverpool (1770–1828) (1812–1827) 44

George Canning (1770–1827) (1827) 47

Frederick Robinson, Viscount Goderich, Earl of Ripon (1782–1859) (1827–1828) 47

Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington (1769–1852) (1828–1830; 1834) 49

Charles Grey, 2nd Earl Grey (1764–1825) (1830–1834) 55

William Lamb, 2nd Viscount Melbourne (1779–1848) (1834; 1835–1841) 59

Sir Robert Peel (1788–1850) (1834–1835; 1841–1846) 66

Lord John Russell (1792–1878) (1846–1852; 1865–1866) 68

Edward Stanley, 14th Earl of Derby (1799–1869) (1852; 1858–1859; 1866–1868) 69

George Gordon, 4th Earl of Aberdeen (1784–1860) (1852–1855) 73

Henry John Temple, Viscount Palmerston (1784–1865) (1855–1858; 1859–1865) 75

Benjamin Disraeli, 1st Earl of Beaconsfield (1804–1881) (1868; 1874–1880) 76

William Ewart Gladstone (1809–1898) (1868–1874; 1880–1885; 1886; 1892–1894) 79

Robert Gascoyne-Cecil, 3rd Marquess of Salisbury (1830–1903) (1885–1886; 1886–1892; 1895–1902) 93

Archibald Philip Primrose, 5th Earl of Rosebery (1847–1929) (1894–1895) 96

Arthur Balfour, 1st Earl of Balfour (1848–1930) (1902–1905) 103

Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman (1836–1908) (1905–1908) 105

Herbert Henry Asquith, 1st Earl of Oxford and Asquith (1852–1928) (1908–1916) 107

David Lloyd George, 1st Earl of Dwyfor (1863–1945) (1916–1922) 112

Andrew Bonar Law (1858–1923) (1922–1923) 117

Stanley Baldwin, 3rd Earl Baldwin of Bewdley (1867–1947)

(1923–1924; 1924–1929; 1935–1937) 121

James Ramsay MacDonald (1866–1937) (1924; 1929–1935) 127

Neville Chamberlain (1869–1940) (1937–1940) 131

Sir Winston Churchill (1875–1965) (1940–1945; 1951–1955) 135

Clement Attlee, 1st Earl of Prestwood (1883–1967) (1945–1951) 141

Sir Anthony Eden, 1st Earl of Avon (1897–1977) (1955–1957) 142

Harold Macmillan, 1st Earl of Stockton (1894–1986) (1957–1963) 147

Sir Alec Douglas-Home, Lord Home of the Hirsel (1903–1995) (1963–1967) 154

Harold Wilson, Lord Wilson of Rievaulx (1916–1995) (1964–1970; 1974–1976) 155

Sir Edward Heath (1916–2005) (1970–1974) 158

James Callaghan, Lord Callaghan of Cardiff (1912–2005) (1976–1979) 160

Margaret Thatcher, Baroness Thatcher of Kesteven (1925–) (1979–1990) 161

Sir John Major (1943–) (1990–1997) 161

Anthony (Tony) Blair (1953–) (1997–2007) 162

Conclusion 163

Appendix: Tables of Psychiatric Issues, by Prime Minister 181

Notes 187

Bibliography 203

Index 213

Book Reviews & Awards

“valuable contribution”—Metapsychology.