Chamberlain, Joseph

BORN 8 Jul 1836, Camberwell, Greater London - DIED 2 Jul 1914, Birmingham, West Midlands: Highbury
GRAVE LOCATION Birmingham, West Midlands: Key Hill Cemetery, Icknield Street, Hockley (610.K)

Joseph Chamberlain, known as Joe, was the son of the shoe manufaturer Joseph Chamberlain (1796-1874). He made a career as a businessman in Birmingham by manufacturing screws. In 1861 he married Harriet Kendrick. They had two children before she died in 1863. In 1868 Harriet's cousin Florence Kenrick (1847-1875) became his second wife and with her he had four children. But she died a day after she gave birth to their fifth child and the baby died with her.

In 1873 he was elected mayor of Birmingham after the Liberal Party won the elections. In 1875 he introduced a slum clearance plan for the city centre of Birmingham. More money was spent on schools, libraries and swimming pools and the Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery was enlarged. Chamberlain participated in the elections for the House of Commons in 1876 and at the time he stated that Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli 'never spoke the truth, except by accident'. He was forced to apologise, but he was elected and resigned as mayor of Birmingham afer his election.

During William Gladstone's second government (1880-1885) he was President of the Board of Trade. During that time he frequently attacked Lord Salisbury, the leader of the Conservatives. He resigned from Gladstone's third government in 1886 because he opposed Irish Home Rule. In 1888 he married for a third time. His new wife was Mary Crowninshield Endicott (1864-1957), a daughter of the US Secretary of War, William Crowninshield Endicott )1826-1900). They had no children.

He became a Liberal Unionist and in 1895 his party allied with the conservatives. He became Secretary of State for the Colonies under his old enemy Lord Salisbury. In 1903 he resigned. In 1906 he suffered a stroke and afterwards he was unable to continue an active political career. He died in 1914 and his family refused an offer for a burial in Westminster Abbey. He was buried in Key Hill Cemetery in Birmingham in the same grave as his first two wives and not far from the grave of his father.

Although he was never prime minister he was regarded as one of the most powerful politicians of his era. His son Neville Chamberlain did become prime minister in later years.

• Son: Chamberlain, Austen

Related persons
• was painted by Holl, Frank


The grave of Joseph Chamberlain (1836-1914) at Key Hill Cemetery, Birmingham.
Picture by Androom (11 Aug 2011)


The grave of Joseph Chamberlain (1836-1914) at Key Hill Cemetery, Birmingham.
Picture by Androom (11 Aug 2011)


Joseph Chamberlain - Wikipedia

Chambrelent, Jules

Published: 22 Sep 2013
Last update: 20 May 2023