Sir Rt Hon. Marquess Robert Gascoyne-Cecil KG PC

Died aged c. 73

Robert Arthur Talbot Gascoyne-Cecil, 3rd Marquess of Salisbury KG GCVO PC FRS DL (/ˈɡæskɔɪn ˈsɪsəl/; 3 February 1830 – 22 August 1903) was a British statesman and Conservative politician 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". Lord Robert Cecil, also known as Lord Salisbury, 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 biggest 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. 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." 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." 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.

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Commemorated on 1 plaque

Robert Gascoyne Cecil Third Marquess of Salisbury (1830-1903) prime minister lived here

21 Fitzroy Square, London, United Kingdom where they lived