168th President of the Institute

Sir David Cannadine

Our current President is Professor Sir David Cannadine.

Every year, members of the Institute elect a President, who is a ‘high profile champion of the Institute’ and whose work exemplifies the Institute’s object of ‘The Diffusion and Advancement of Science, Literature and Art’.

From our first president, George Lyttelton, Baron Lyttelton of Hagley, in 1854 to the present day, the BMI boasts an impressive list of eminent individuals – and given our long history, there are a considerable number of them.

Listed below from most recent to first are our presidents. Look out for Dame Ninette de Valois, Sir Arthur Sullivan and Charles Dickens on your way down…


2021 (168th): Professor Sir David Cannadine, author & historian

2020 (167th): Dr Carl Chinn MBE, historian

2019 (166th): Jonathan Coe, novelist

2018 (165th): Simon Callow, actor

2017 (164th): Roger Ward, political historian

2016 (163rd): Julian Lloyd Webber, musician

2015 (162nd): Ms Lyndsey Davis, novelist

2014 (161st): Mr Adrian Shooter, CBE, transport executive

2013 (160th): Christopher Lyttelton, 12th Viscount Cobham,

2012 (159th): The Right Reverend, Michael Dickens Whinney, Bishop of Southwell

2011 (158th): Sir Ralph Kohn, medical scientist

2010 (157th): The Right Reverend, David Urquhart, The Lord Bishop of Birmingham

2009 (156th): Sir Arnold Wolfendale, astronomer

2008 (155th): Professor Stanley Wells CBE, Shakespearian scholar

2007 (154th): Miss Jenny Uglow, historian

2006 (153rd): Mr Brian Walden, journalist

2005 (152nd): The Very Reverend Dr Peter Berry, Provost of Birmingham

2004 (151st): John Lyttelton, 11th Viscount Cobham

2003 (150th): Thomas Trotter, City Honorary Organist

2002 (149th): Dr Desmond King-Hele, physicist

2001 (148th): Professor Peter Willmore, astronomer

2000 (147th): Penelope Lyttelton, Viscountess Cobham

1999 (146th): Fay Weldon, author

1998 (145th): Mr Peter Donohoe, classical pianist

1997 (144th): Dr Carl Chinn, historian

1996 (143rd): Sybil, Lady Thompson

1995 (142nd): Mr Joe Hunt

1994 (141st): Sir Michael Checkland, former Director General of the BBC

1993 (140th): The Most Reverend Maurice Couve de Murville, Roman Catholic Archbishop of Birmingham

1992 (139th): Rachel Waterhouse, local historian and activist

1983 (130th): Sir David Willcocks, musician and composer

1982 (129th): Miss Evelyn Laye, CBE, actress

1981 (128th): Mr Wynford Vaughan-Thomas, broadcaster

1980 (127th): Mr Yehudi Menuhin, KBE, violinist and conductor

1979 (126th): Sir Adrian Cadbury, KT, Chairman of Cadbury

1978 (125th): Dr Beryl Foyle, Managing Director of Boxfoldia

1977 (124th): Sir Peter Scott, ornithologist

1976 (123rd): Honorary Alderman, Mrs. E. V. Smith

1975 (122nd): Dr J. A. Pope

1974 (121st): Sir Lionel Russell, Chief Education Officer, Birmingham, 1946-1968

1973 (120th): The Reverend Canon R. G. Lunt

1972 (119th): The Right Honourable, Jo Grimmond PC, Liberal politician

1971 (118th): The Right Honourable, Lord King’s Norton, aeronautical engineer

1970 (117th): Sir Peter Venables, Aston University’s first Vice-Chancellor

1969 (116th): Sir Peter Venables, Aston University’s first Vice-Chancellor

1968 (115th): The Right Reverend Leonard Wilson, The Lord Bishop of Birmingham

1967 (104th): Sir Eric Clayson, businessman

1966 (113th): Sir Lawrence Bragg, physicist

1965 (112th): Sir Donald Finnemore, Liberal politician

1964 (111th): Dame Ninette de Valois, choreographer

1963 (110th): Charles Lyttelton, 10th Viscount Cobham, Governor-General of New Zealand

1962 (109th): Sir Robert Aitken, physician

1961 (108th): The Right Honourable, The Lord Rennel of Rodd, World War II veteran

1960 (107th): Sir Alexander Fleck,industrial chemist

1959 (106th): The Right Honourable, The Viscount Radcliffe, Law Lord

1958 (105th): M André Maurois, author

1957 (104th): The Right Honourable, The 1st Earl Attlee, politician

1956 (103rd): Sir Cecil Maurice Bowra, CH, FBA, classical scholar

1955 (102nd): Sir Gerald Kelly PRA, painter

1954 (101st): Oliver Lyttelton, 1st Viscount Chandos, businessman and politician

1953 (100th): John Boyd Orr, 1st Baron Boyd-Orr, biologist, politician, awarded the 1949 Nobel Peace Prize

1952 (99th): Sir John Russell CMG GCVO, diplomat and ambassador

1951 (98th): Sir Raymond Evershed, judge and Master of the Rolls

1950 (97th): Leo Amery, politician and journalist

1949 (96th): Sir Raymond Priestley, geologist and Antarctic explorer

1948 (95th): The Right Honourable, Lord Iliffe, newspaper magnate

1947 (94th): Sir Richard Winn Livingstone, classical scholar and university administrator

1946 (93rd): Edward Woods, Bishop of Lichfield

1945 (92nd): Sir Charles Galton Darwin, physicist

1944 (91st): Norman Birkett, judge and politician

1943 (90th): Ernle Chatfield, 1st Baron Chatfield, Admiral of the Fleet

1942 (89th): John Sankey, 1st Viscount Sankey, judge and Lord Chancellor

1941 (88th): The Right Honourable, The Viscount Bennett, PC KC, former Prime Minister of Canada

1940 (87th): Sir H. Walford Davies, Master of the King’s Music

1939 (86th): Thomas Horder, Baron Horder, physician

1938 (85th): The Right Honourable, The Earl of Dudley, MC TD, politician

1937 (84th): The Right Honourable, The Lord Sempill, AFC, air pioneer

1936 (83rd): Sir Josiah Stamp, industrialist and banker

1935 (82nd): Stanley Bruce, High Commissioner of Australia to the United Kingdom (formerly Prime Minister of Australia)

1934 (81st): The Lord Moynihan, surgeon

1933 (80th): Sir James Jeans, physicist, astronomer and mathematician

1932 (79th): The Right Reverend, Ernest Barnes, FRS, Lord Bishop of Birmingham

1931 (78th): The Right Honourable, The Viscount Hewart, Kt PC, Lord Chief Justice of England

1930 (77th): The Most Honourable, The Marquess of Zetland, KG GCSI GCIE PC JP DL, politician

1929 (76th): Sir Frank Dyson, Astronomer Royal

1928 (75th): The Right Honourable, The Earl of Crawford, KT PC DL FRS FSA, politician

1927 (74th): The Right Honourable, The Viscount Grey of Fallodon, KG PC DL FZS, politician

1926 (73rd): Sir William Bragg, OM KBE PRS, physicist

1925 (72nd): F. E. Smith, Earl of Birkenhead, statesman

1924 (71st): Sir Reginald Blomfield, architect

1923 (70th): Austen Chamberlain, awarded the 1925 Nobel Peace Prize

1922 (69th): The Honourable Sir Charles Algernon Parsons, engineer

1921 (68th): Guglielmo Marconi, inventor and electrical engineer

1920 (67th): John W. Davis, US Ambassador to the Court of St James’

1919 (66th): Sir Rickman Godlee, KVCO, surgeon

1918 (65th): Walter Hines Page, US Ambassador to the Court of St James’

1917 (64th): Admiral The Right Honourable, The Lord Beresford, GCB GCVO, admiral and politician

1916 (63rd): The Right Reverend and Right Honourable, Arthur Winnington-Ingram, KCVO, Bishop of London

1915 (62nd): Sir Herbert Beerbohm Tree, actor and theatre manager

1914 (61st): Sir Frederick Treves, surgeon

1913 (60th): The Right Honourable, The Viscount Milner, politician

1912 (59th): General Sir Ian Hamilton, army officer

1911 (58th): Cosmo Gordon Lang, Archbishop of York

1910 (57th): Professor Sir George Darwin, astronomer

1909 (56th): The Right Honourable, Alfred Lyttelton, politician

1908 (55th): Sir William Blake Richmond, artist

1907 (54th): Lord Curzon of Kedleston, politician

1906 (53rd): Richard Webster, Viscount Alverstone, Lord Chief Justice

1905 (52nd): Charles Gore, 1st Bishop of Birmingham

1904 (51st): Sir Oliver Lodge, physicist

1903 (50th): Joseph Hodges Choate, lawyer and United States Ambassador to the United Kingdom

1902 (49th): The Right Honourable, Sir Mountstuart Grant Duff, politician

1901 (48th): Archibald Primrose, 5th Earl of Rosebery, politician

1900 (47th): Mandell Creighton, Bishop of London

1899 (46th): Sir John Evans, archaeologist and geologist

1898 (45th): Sir Norman Lockyer, astronomer

1897 (44th): Frederic Harrison, historian

1896 (43rd): The Right Honourable, G. J. Goschen, MP, politician

1895 (42nd): William Boyd Carpenter, Bishop of Ripon

1894 (41st): The Right Reverend, William Boyd Carpenter, Bishop of Ripon

1893 (40th): Sir Edwin Arnold, poet and journalist

1892 (39th): W. E. H. Lecky, historian

1891 (38th): Sir Robert Ball, astonomer

1890 (37th): Edward Augustus Freeman, historian

1889 (36th): Sir Henry Roscoe, chemist

1888 (35th): Sir Arthur Sullivan, composer

1887 (34th): Sir John Seeley, essayist and historian

1886 (33rd): Sir Frederick Branwell, civil and mechanical engineer

1885 (32nd): Edward White Benson, Archbishop of Canterbury

1884 (31st): James Russell Lowell, poet and United States Minister to Great Britain

1883 (30th): Sir William Thomson (afterwards Baron Kelvin), mathematical physicist and engineer

1882 (29th): J. A. Froude, historian and novelist

1881 (28th): Professor Sir William Siemens, engineer

1880 (27th): Thomas Baring, 1st Earl of Northbrook, politician

1879 (26th): Professor Max Müller, philologist and Orientalist

1878 (25th): Arthur Stanley, Dean of Westminster

1877 (24th): Professor John Tyndall, physicist

1876 (23rd): John Morley, Liberal statesman and newspaper editor

1875 (22nd): Professor Henry Fawcett, statesman and economist

1874 (21st): Sir John Lubbock, banker, politician, philanthropist, and scientist

1873 (20th): Sir Henry Rawlinson, 1st Baronet, army officer and politician

1872 (19th): Canon Charles Kingsley, author of Westward Ho! (1855) and The Water-Babies (1863)

1871 (18th): T. H. Huxley, biologist

1870 (17th): Lyon Playfair, scientist and Liberal politician

1869 (16th): Charles Dickens, author

1868 (15th): Thomas Anson, 2nd Earl of Lichfield, politician

1867 (14th): Matthew Davenport Hill, lawyer and penologist

1866 (13th): Dudley Ryder, 2nd Earl of Harrowby

1865 (12th): John Wrottesley, 2nd Baron Wrottesley, astronomer

1864 (11th): Charles Adderley, 1st Baron Norton, politician

1863 (10th): William Scholefield, businessman and Liberal politician

1862 (9th): Sir John S. Pakington, Conservative politician

1861 (8th): Arthur Ryland, Lord Mayor of Birmingham (1860)

1860 (7th): Sir Francis Scott, 3rd Baronet, landowner

1859 (6th): William Henry Leigh, 2nd Baron Leigh, politician

1858 (5th): William Ward, 11th Baron Ward, industrialist, landowner and benefactor

1857 (4th): Edward Littleton, 1st Baron Hatherton, politician

1856 (3rd): William Legge, 5th Earl of Dartmouth, Conservative politician

1855 (2nd): Frederick Gough, 4th Baron Calthorpe, politician

1854 (1st President): George Lyttelton, Baron Lyttelton of Hagley

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