The Lord Pym
Pym, 60, in a photograph
Pym in 1982
Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs
In office
6 April 1982 – 11 June 1983
Prime MinisterMargaret Thatcher
Preceded byThe Lord Carrington
Succeeded byGeoffrey Howe
Lord President of the Council
In office
14 September 1981 – 5 April 1982
Prime MinisterMargaret Thatcher
Preceded byThe Lord Soames
Succeeded byJohn Biffen
Leader of the House of Commons
In office
5 January 1981 – 5 April 1982
Prime MinisterMargaret Thatcher
Preceded byNorman St John-Stevas
Succeeded byJohn Biffen
Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster
In office
5 January 1981 – 14 September 1981
Prime MinisterMargaret Thatcher
Preceded byNorman St John-Stevas
Succeeded byThe Baroness Young
Paymaster General
In office
5 January 1981 – 14 September 1981
Prime MinisterMargaret Thatcher
Preceded byAngus Maude
Succeeded byCecil Parkinson
Secretary of State for Defence
In office
4 May 1979 – 5 January 1981
Prime MinisterMargaret Thatcher
Preceded byFred Mulley
Succeeded byJohn Nott
Secretary of State for Northern Ireland
In office
2 December 1973 – 4 March 1974
Prime MinisterEdward Heath
Preceded byWilliam Whitelaw
Succeeded byMerlyn Rees
Chief Whip of the House of Commons and Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasury
In office
19 June 1970 – 2 December 1973
Prime MinisterEdward Heath
Preceded byBob Mellish
Succeeded byHumphrey Atkins
Shadow Foreign Secretary
In office
6 November 1978 – 4 May 1979
LeaderMargaret Thatcher
Preceded byJohn Davies
Succeeded byPeter Shore
Shadow Leader of the House of Commons
In office
19 November 1976 – 6 November 1978
LeaderMargaret Thatcher
Preceded byJohn Peyton
Succeeded byNorman St John-Stevas
Shadow Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food
In office
4 March 1974 – 19 November 1976
  • Edward Heath
  • Margaret Thatcher
Preceded byNorman Buchan
Succeeded byMichael Jopling
Shadow Secretary of State for Northern Ireland
In office
4 March 1974 – 29 October 1974
LeaderEdward Heath
Preceded byMerlyn Rees
Succeeded byIan Gilmour
Parliamentary offices
Member of the House of Lords
Life peerage
9 October 1987 – 7 March 2008
Member of Parliament
for South East Cambridgeshire
In office
9 June 1983 – 18 May 1987
Preceded byNew constituency
Succeeded byJim Paice
Member of Parliament
for Cambridgeshire
In office
17 March 1961 – 13 May 1983
Preceded byGerald Howard
Succeeded byConstituency abolished
Personal details
Francis Leslie Pym

(1922-02-13)13 February 1922
Abergavenny, Wales
Died7 March 2008(2008-03-07) (aged 86)
Sandy, Bedfordshire, England
Political partyConservative
Valerie Daglish
(m. 1949)
ParentLeslie Pym (father)
EducationEton College
Alma materMagdalene College, Cambridge

Francis Leslie Pym, Baron Pym, MC, PC, DL (13 February 1922 – 7 March 2008) was a British Conservative Party politician who served in various Cabinet positions in the 1970s and 1980s, including Foreign, Defence and Northern Ireland Secretary, and Leader of the House of Commons. He was Member of Parliament (MP) for Cambridgeshire (South East Cambridgeshire after 1983) from 1961 to 1987. Pym was made a life peer in 1987.

Early life

Pym was born at Penpergwm Lodge, near Abergavenny in Monmouthshire.[1] His father, Leslie Pym, was also an MP, while his grandfather, the Rt Revd Walter Pym, was Bishop of Bombay. He was not a direct descendant of the 17th-century parliamentarian John Pym as has been commonly held (see Pym's own published family history), but a collateral descendant.[2]

He was educated at Eton, before going on to Magdalene College, Cambridge. For much of the Second World War, Pym served in North Africa and Italy as a captain and regimental adjutant in the 9th Lancers. He was mentioned in despatches twice, awarded the Military Cross,[3] and ended his military service as a major. Pym was a managing director and landowner before he went into politics.[citation needed]

Political career

Pym entered politics as a member of Herefordshire County Council in 1958.[4] He contested Rhondda West without success in 1959 and entered Parliament in 1961 at a by-election as MP for Cambridgeshire. He held the seat until 1983, and thereafter was MP for South East Cambridgeshire until 1987. He was an opposition whip from 1964 and served under Edward Heath as Government Chief Whip (1970–1973) and Northern Ireland Secretary (1973–1974), and Margaret Thatcher as Defence Secretary (1979–1981), Leader of the House of Commons and Lord President of the Council (1981–1982). He became foreign secretary during the Falklands War in 1982 following Lord Carrington's resignation, but was removed by Thatcher the following year after her second election victory.

Pym was a leading member of the "wets", Conservative MPs sceptical of Thatcherism. During the 1983 general election campaign he said on the BBC's Question Time that "Landslides don't on the whole produce successful governments".[5] This was publicly repudiated by Thatcher and he was sacked after the election. Shortly afterwards, he launched a pressure group called Conservative Centre Forward to argue for more centrist, one-nation policies but with Thatcher at the height of her powers, it was unsuccessful. He stood down at the 1987 election and was created a life peer as Baron Pym (of Sandy in the County of Bedfordshire) on 9 October 1987.[6]

He was the author of The Politics of Consent, published in 1984 after he left the government. The book is a guide to the Wets' opposition to Thatcher's leadership style and politics.[citation needed]

He was portrayed by Jeremy Child in the 2002 BBC production of Ian Curteis's The Falklands Play, by Julian Wadham in the 2011 film The Iron Lady and by Guy Siner in the fourth series of The Crown.

Personal life

Pym died in Sandy, Bedfordshire, on 7 March 2008 after a prolonged illness, aged 86.[7] He was survived by his wife, Valerie (1929–2017),[8] whom he married on 25 June 1949,[9] and their four children.[2]


Coat of arms of Francis Pym
Upon a mount Vert a hind's head erased Or gorged with a collar nebuly Azure and holding in the mouth a trefoil slipped Vert.
Quarterly, 1st and 4th Sable on a fesse engrailed between three owls Or a trefoil slipped Vert between two cross crosslets of the first all within a bordure of the second (Pym); 2nd Vert on a cross engrailed Ermine a lion rampant reguardant Sable in the dexter canton a mullet Or (Kingsley); 3rd Sable three salmon haurient per pale Argent and Or (Orde).
Dexter, rampant upon a sandy mount with tussocks of grass Proper a warhorse in trian aspect Sable mane tail and hooves Or on its head a chanfron and on the neck a crinet both Argent gorged with a double chain pendent therefrom a portcullis Gold; sinister, rampant upon a like mount a bull in trian aspect Sable armed and unguled Or also gorged with a double chain and pendent therefrom a portcullis Gold.
Ubi Seritur Ibi Floreat[10]


  1. ^ Theakston 2004, p. 141.
  2. ^ a b Roth, Andrew (7 March 2008). "Obituary: Francis Pym". The Guardian. Retrieved 3 December 2019.
  3. ^ "No. 37386". The London Gazette (Supplement). 13 December 1945. p. 6074.
  4. ^ "Francis Pym: Obituary". ThisIsAnnouncements. 7 March 2008. Archived from the original on 20 September 2011.
  5. ^ "Thatcher's Class of '79". BBC News. Retrieved 3 December 2019.
  6. ^ "No. 51091". The London Gazette. 14 October 1987. p. 12695.
  7. ^ "Former foreign secretary Pym dies". BBC News. 7 March 2008. Retrieved 3 December 2019.
  8. ^ "Valerie Fortune (Daglish) PYM". Archived from the original on 8 March 2019. Retrieved 3 December 2019.((cite web)): CS1 maint: bot: original URL status unknown (link)
  9. ^ Hurd, Douglas (5 January 2012). "Pym, Francis Leslie, Baron Pym (1922–2008), politician". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/100102. (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  10. ^ Burke's Peerage. 2000.[incomplete short citation]