David Trimble Biography

(Former Northern Irish First Minister Who Won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1998)

Birthday: October 15, 1944 (Libra)

Born In: Bangor

William David Trimble was a British politician who was the first’ First Minister of Northern Ireland’ He made history in his lifetime through his attempts to find a peaceful solution to the ongoing conflict in Northern Ireland. During his early years, Northern Ireland was enveloped with rivalries between Catholics and Protestants. The divide was so polarizing that the period of time came to be called the Troubles. The main driving wedge between the two parties was their view on what should happen with the government. Unionists, mostly Protestants, wanted to remain a part of the United Kingdom while the nationalists, who were mainly Catholic, wanted to join a united Ireland. Trimble effectively ended the Troubles with his unifying and honorable leadership. He began his career teaching in the field of law while simultaneously participating in politics. His early political career was strongly Unionist and he quickly gained popularity among this group. Only once he became deeply involved in politics and left his teaching career did he become more compromising and went on to create a peaceful solution for Northern Ireland. His efforts are internationally recognized as breaking through the overwhelming conflict by remaining open-minded. 

Quick Facts

British Celebrities Born In October

Also Known As: William David Trimble, David Trimble MP, Lord Trimble, Baron Trimble

Died At Age: 66


Spouse/Ex-: Daphne Elizabeth Trimble, Heather McComb

father: William Trimble

mother: Ivy Trimble

children: Nicholas Trimble, Richard Trimble, Sarah Trimble, Victoria Trimble

Born Country: England

Nobel Peace Prize Political Leaders

Height: 5'8" (173 cm), 5'8" Males

Died on: July 25, 2011

More Facts

education: Queen's University Belfast, Bangor Grammar School

Childhood & Early Life
David Trimble was born on October 15, 1944 in Bangor, Northern Ireland, to William and Ivy Trimble. Though they were lower-middle class Presbyterians, they were able to send him to Bangor Grammar School. Lisburn
In 1964, he studied at Queen’s University of Belfast and graduated with a Bachelor of Laws. During his time here, he was given the McKane Medal for Jurisprudence. Lisburn
After graduating, he became a professor at the University of Belfast. In 1973, he became the Assistant Dean of the law faculty, and continued to rise to the Head of the Department of Commercial and Property Law. Lisburn
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In 1975, David Trimble was elected to the Northern Ireland Constitutional Convention for the Vanguard Unionist Progressive Party. The party was known for its opposition towards the British government’s rule over Northern Ireland. He became a deputy leader of the party.

In 1977, he became a member of the Ulster Unionist Party, the conservative political party in Northern Ireland. At the time, the party was divided over the issue of integration with the United Kingdom and the restoration of Northern Ireland’s government.

In 1990, he resigned from his academic career when he was elected to Parliament. He won with a slight majority (58%) and was one of a handful of politicians who supported the Islamic government of Bosnia. Additionally, it was public knowledge that he had an unforgiving view towards Catholics.

In 1995, he became the leader of the Ulster Unionist Party. His election was shocking as he not only defeated favorite front-runner John Taylor, but also won support during the aftermath of the controversial Drumcree conflict.

As a result of his 1998 Belfast Agreement, David Trimble was overwhelmingly elected as the First Minister of Northern Ireland. Terms of this agreement involved the decommissioning of the IRA which Trimble struggled to implement during his entire stay in office.

In 2000, his First Minister status was suspended due to the party’s refusal to hand over its weapons. A few months later, he was back in office but continued to have problems with decommissioning the IRA. He resigned one year later, only to be reelected once more. The office was again suspended.

Despite this cycle, in 2004 he was again elected as the UUP’s party leader. Due to his shortcomings and embarrassing defeats in the House of Commons, he resigned as party leader and went on to join the Conservative Party.

Major Works

The 1998 Belfast Agreement was David Trimble’s plan to take action towards restoring Northern Ireland’s self-government. This agreement, though eventually accepted, was met with much opposition from both parties. This agreement led to his election as the First Minister of Northern Ireland.

Awards & Achievements

David Trimble was awarded with the Nobel Peace Prize in 1998. The honor was given for his negotiations between Catholics and Protestants and the British and Irish in Northern Ireland. His Belfast Agreement allowed for self-government, the release of imprisoned terrorists, the destruction of unlawful weapons, and a reexamination of the penal code.

Family & Personal Life

David married Heather McComb in 1968; the marriage ended in divorce in 1976.

In 1978, he married a former student of his, Daphne Elizabeth. Together, they have four children. His wife shares his political passion and herself served as a member of the Equality Commission for Northern Ireland and the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission.

David Trimble died on July 25, 2022, at the age of 77, following a short illness.

The political passion passed on from mother and father to their son as well. One of his sons, Nicholas Trimble, is the Secretary of the Ulster Unionist Branch in Lisburn.


His peace talks during 1998 caused such uproar on both political sides that it was not safe for him to visit some districts. After the agreement was accepted, however, he was elected by the majority as First Minister.

When he met with the Sinn Fein leader to discuss compromise, it was the first time since 1922 that Protestant leaders from Northern Ireland had met face-to-face with Catholic leaders from the republic. They were both reluctant to meet, avoided eye contact with each other, and refused to shake hands.

Before he went on to win the Nobel Peace Prize, he was a leader in the controversial Drumcree conflict. The conflict was between Protestant unionists and Catholic nationalists. He was instrumental in opposing a police ban for a Protestant to march through the Catholic quarter during a parade on July 12 each year. Between 1995–2000, this dispute raised international attention to the violence and protests it caused.

See the events in life of David Trimble in Chronological Order

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