7 longest-serving Fathers of the House of Commons since 1900

Ken Clarke

The title "Father of the House" given to the longest-serving MP in any House of Commons.

Tory MP and former Chancellor of the Exchequer Kenneth Clarke became Father of the House after the passing of Labour’s Gerald Kauffman earlier this year, but who were the longest-serving Fathers of the House?

7th – Edward Turnour

Turnour, also known as the sixth Earl of Winterton, was a Conservative MP who represented the seat of Horsham during his time as Father of the House. He was first elected an MP back in 1904, and became Father of the House in 1945, a title he kept until the 1951 election, but he was made a peer in 1952. Significantly, Turnour was also baby of the House at the start of his Westminster career, being the youngest member of the Commons from 1904 – 1906.

That unofficial title is currently held by the SNP’s Mairi Black, who was elected at the age of 20 at the 2015 general election.

Time as Father of the House: 6 years.

6th – David Grenfell

Labour’s David Grenfell was first elected an MP for the south Wales seat of Gower in 1922. He became Father of the House in 1952 following the retirement of the UUP’s Hugh O’Neill in 1952. Grenfell remained Father of the House right up until 1959 when he stepped down in time for the general election that year.

Time as Father of the House: 7 years.

5th – Thomas Burt

Burt was first elected as a Liberal-Labour MP in 1874 for the seat of Morpeth. He became Father of the House in 1910 and kept the title until his 1918 retirement.

Time as Father of the House: 8 years.

House of Commons Chamber: Speaker's table

4th - Robin Turton

Turton was first elected to represent the constituency of Thirsk and Molton in 1929, a seat he held right up until 1974. After the distinguished Rab Butler’s departure from the Commons in 1965, Turton became Father of the House, a title he held until 1974.

Time as Father of the House: 9 years.

3rd – Edward Heath

Heath led the Conservative Party for four elections in a row, winning the one of 1970 with a moderate majority. His time in power ensured Britain’s membership of what was then the EEC. He could well have served for more time as prime minister, but was defeated by Margaret Thatcher in the 1975 Tory leadership contest, ensuring that he would not lead his party into the next election.

Heath became Father of the House after the 1992 election, in which John Major won a surprise majority. He remained Father of the House for a further nine years, stepping down only at the 2001 election, in which Tony Blair secured a second majority for New Labour.

Time as Father of the House: 9 years.

Edward Heath - former British prime

2nd – T. P. O’Connor

O’Connor was an Irish Nationalist who served as an MP first for the seat of Galway Borough and then Liverpool Scotland. He first entered parliament in 1880, and was Father of the House between 1918 and 1929.

Time as Father of the House: 11 years.

That makes him the second longest-serving Father of the House, and one of the country’s longest serving MPs ever.

The longest-serving Father of the House: David Lloyd George

Yes, that’s right – this Liberal giant of a prime minister also served as Father of the House. In 1916, Lloyd George became prime minister, then won the 1918 general election and served in the country’s top job right up until 1922 when a new election gave Andrew Bonar Law’s Conservatives a majority. Nonetheless, Lloyd George stayed in parliament right up until 1945, serving as Father of the House between 1929 and 1945.

Time as Father of the House: 16 years.

David Lloyd George

The dates included in this article are based off those in this list of Fathers of the House.