Nick Name: Bonar
Birthday: September 16, 1858
Died At Age: 65
Sun Sign: Virgo
Born in: Rexton
Famous as: Unknown Prime Minister
political ideology: Conservative
Spouse/Ex-: Annie Bonar Law
father: James Law
mother: Eliza Kidston Law
children: 1st Baron Coleraine, Richard Law
Died on: October 30, 1923
place of death: London
education: University of Glasgow
Andrew Bonar Law was a British Conservative Party statesman and Prime Minister, often referred to as the ‘Unknown Prime Minister’. He represented a half-way stage in the evolution of the modern Conservative Party. With his dedication and hard work, he climbed up the ladder of success in his political career and he used his business background to good advantage in promoting better organization and efficiency. Initially a businessman, he was approached by the Conservative Party to participate as their representative in elections. He was an unusual member of the party; he did not seek power or make any attempt to become a party leader. His prime objective as a member of the party was to execute political decisions keeping in mind welfare of the society and contribute significantly to unite the party people. He held many key positions in his flourishing career and served as a resourceful asset of the party. Even after his retirement from the party he returned to politics to support his party’s decision of appointing him as the Prime Minister of United Kingdom. But his health declined steadily, and he had to resign from this post soon after. Due to his short tenure as the Prime Minister, which lasted only a few months, he is famously remembered as the ‘Unknown Prime Minister’.
Childhood & Early Life
He was born on September 16, 1858, in Kingston, Colony of New Brunswick. to Reverend James Law, a minister of the Free Church of Scotland, and his wife, Eliza Kidston Law. He had a sister, Mary and three brothers, Robert, William and John.
When his mother died in 1861, his mother’s sister, Janet, traveled from Scotland to live with them and looked after the children. She stayed with them until his father remarried in 1870 and his new wife took over her duties.
As Janet was preparing for her return to Scotland, she suggested that Bonar come and live with her family for better future prospects. Both James and Bonar accepted this, and the boy left with his aunt.
Upon his arrival in Glasgow, he was enrolled at Gilbertfield School. In 1873, he was transferred to the High School of Glasgow, where he excelled in Greek, German and French with the aid of his sharp memory.
Even though he excelled in academics, it soon became evident that he was better suited to business than to university. At the age of 16, he left school to become a clerk at Kidston & Sons, a family merchant bank.
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In 1885, the Kidston brothers retired and merged their bank with the Clydesdale Bank. The retiring brothers lent Bonar money to form a partnership in a Glasgow firm of iron merchants. As a result of his managerial efforts and relentless hard work, the firm flourished over the years.
In 1897, the Conservative Party prompted him to become their candidate for the seat of Glasgow Bridgeton. Later, he was offered the Glasgow Blackfriars and Hutchesontown seat, which he accepted after much persuasion.
In 1900 general elections, he successfully campaigned against his opponent from the Liberal Party and distinguished himself with his oratory and wit. As a result, he won and was elected to the parliament.
In 1902, when Prime Minister Arthur Balfour formed his government, Law was appointed as the Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Trade. He was a keen supporter of the tariff reform throughout his political career.
The issue of tariff reform split the Conservative Party, and Arthur Balfour resigned from his post as the Prime Minister in December 1905. The new Prime Minister, the Liberal Henry Campbell-Bannerman, immediately dissolved the parliament and announced the general elections.
Despite strong campaigning, Law lost the election. . However, later that year, he won a by-election from Dulwich and returned to the Parliament.
In 1911, he became the new leader of the Conservative Party after Arthur Balfour resigned from the post. As leader of the Party, he focused his attention on the tariff reform issue, of which he was a supporter, and Irish Home Rule, which he strongly opposed.
In 1915, when Herbert Asquith formed a coalition government, he was appointed as the Secretary of State for the Colonies and a member of the War Committee.
When David Lloyd George replaced Asquith in 1916, Bonar served as the ‘Chancellor of the Exchequer’ in his government. This effectively made him Lloyd George's second-in-command.
In March 1921, he retired as leader of the Conservative Party, but after David Lloyd George was removed from office in October 1922, he agreed to become the Prime Minister, despite his poor health.
In May 1923, he was forced to resign from his post as a result of his deteriorating health.
Personal Life & Legacy
After establishing himself successfully he met Annie Pitcairn Robley, daughter of a Glaswegian merchant, Harrington Robley. Soon they fell in love and got married in 1891. They had five sons—the first one being stillborn—and two daughters.
In 1909, Annie died which left him grief stricken for years. He never remarried despite his relatively young age and prosperous career.
In 1917, his third son, Charlie Law, a soldier, was killed at the Second Battle of Gaza. The same year, his eldest son, a pilot, was also shot down and killed. These tragic events left him shattered.
While he was the Prime Minister of UK, he was diagnosed with terminal throat cancer and died later the same year on October 30, 1923 in Kensington, London, UK. His funeral was held at Westminster Abbey where later his ashes were interred.
He was an avid chess player in his childhood. He eventually became an excellent amateur player, and competed with internationally renowned chess masters.