James Craig, 1st Viscount Craigavon

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Missing image
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Cover of Time Magazine (May 26, 1924)

James Craig, 1st Viscount Craigavon (8 January 1871 - 24 November 1940) was a prominent Irish unionist politician and the first Prime Minister of Northern Ireland.

James Craig was born at Sydenham, Belfast, the son of wealthy whiskey distiller.

He was educated at Merchiston School in Edinburgh and after working as a stockbroker served with the British Army in the Boer War. On his return to Ireland he became Member of Parliament for East Down from 1906-1918. From 1918-1921 he represented Mid-Down at Westminster, where he was also Parliamentary Secretary to both the Ministry of Pensions (1919-1920) and the Admiralty (1920-1921). In the latter year he was elected to the Northern Ireland House of Commons as member for County Down.

Craig rallied the Ulster unionist opposition to Irish Home Rule in Ulster before the First World War, organising the paramilitary Ulster Volunteer Force and buying arms from Imperial Germany. He succeeded Edward Carson as leader of the northern unionists in February 1921 and became Ulster Unionist Party Prime Minister of Northern Ireland in June of the same year.

He was made a baronet in 1918, and was in 1927 created Viscount Craigavon, of Stormont in the County of Down. He was also the recipient of honorary degrees from the Queen's University of Belfast (1922) and Oxford University (1926).

Craig was still prime minister when he died peacefully at his home at Glencraig, County Down, in 1940. He was buried on the Stormont Estate, and was succeeded as leader of the Northern Ireland Government by the Minister of Finance John Miller Andrews.


Preceded by:
None
Prime Minister of Northern Ireland
1921-1940
Followed by:
John Millar Andrews
Preceded by:
New Creation
Viscount Craigavon Followed by:
James Craig
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