John Cattermole

Duncan Sandys
Portrait of John Cattermole

Prime Minister of England
May 20, 1968 - May 6, 1969

Predecessor Anthony Edwards
Successor Arthur Brown

Foreign Secretary
September 10, 1966 - May 20, 1968

Predecessor Henry Wishaw
Successor James Beauchamp

Chancellor of the Exchequer
May 6, 1965 - September 10, 1966

Predecessor Arthur Brown
Successor James Beauchamp

Home Secretary
1963 - May 6, 1965

Successor Philip Marlowe
Born October 20, 1911
Died March 1, 1984
Spouse Augusta Cattermole
Political Party National Party
Profession Civil Servant, Soldier, Politician

John Eric Francis Cattermole (October 20, 1911 - March 1, 1984) was an English politician who served as Prime Minister of England and Leader of the National Party from 1968 to 1969. He is also the only person to have held all four of the Great Offices of State, Home Secretary (1963-65), Chancellor of the Exchequer (1965-66), Foreign Secretary (1966-68) and Prime Minister (1968-69).

His premiership lasted only 10 months, and was dominated by student protests and industrial unrest. His term in office marked an end to the Period of Good Feelings that had existed since 1945.

The National Party lost the 1969 general election, ending 18 years of conservative government. Cattermole was forced from the leadership shortly afterwards, and remained on the backbenches until he retired from parliament in 1982. Cattermole was also a mentor to the young Megan Taylor, and helped facillitate her rapid rise in politics.

Early Life

John Cattermole was born on October 20, 1911 in Canterbury, Kent. He attended the Sir Alfred Marks Grammar School, and then gained a scholarship to Jesus College, Oxford from 1929, reading classics. At Oxford Cattermole was moderately active in politics, he was a member of both the Liberal and Conservative clubs, however when the parties merged to form the National Party he refused to join, believing the party would not be successful in beating the socialists. Instead he joined the continuation Unified Conservative Club, although the group had few more than a dozen members and little influence.

In 1933 he graduated with a first, and became a civil servant. He was briefly a member of the far right wing Freedom League movement during this period, but in 1936 resigned and became a member of the National Party. As a civil servant he initally worked at the Department of Agriculture, before moving to the Department of Trade in 1937.

When was broke out in 1940 he volunteered for the army, becoming a lieutenant in the 33rd Regiment. He was action in France and Batavia and was promoted to Captain. In 1941, citing his experience as a trained pilot he was transferred to the Royal Air Corps.

Early Political Career

He was elected MP for Stratford-on-Avon in 1948, and soon became associated with the right wing of the National Party

He served as Minister of Education 1951-55.

He served as Minister for Agriculture from 1955 to 1957

He served as Defence Secretary from 1957 to 1963.

After the 1963 election he was made Home Secretary. As Home Secretary he rigorously opposed attempts to repeal the death penalty, it was under his watch that the last death sentence was carried out.

In 1965 Cattermole was reshuffled to become Chancellor of the Exchequer. However the post had little weight as Edwards often acted as if he were his own chancellor. Cattermole only had the chance to present a single budget in October 1965.

After the 1966 election Cattermole became Foreign Secretary.


The student protests of May 1968 continued through the summer, popularly dubbed the "angry summer". Cattermole dubbed the protesters communists and criminals, and suggested a return to some form of conscription in order to return them to discipline.

Later Life

Cattermole was a critic of Eric Harding during his time in government, particularly on economic issues.

He stood down from parliament at the 1982 election.