Mary Wilson, Baroness Wilson of Rievaulx

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The Lady Wilson of Rievaulx
Mary Wilson, First Lady of the United Kingdom.tif
Mary Wilson in 1970
In role
4 March 1974 – 5 April 1976
Preceded by Vacant[nb]
Succeeded by Audrey Callaghan
In role
16 October 1964 – 19 June 1970
Preceded by Lady Douglas-Home
Succeeded by Vacant[nb]
Personal details
Gladys Mary Baldwin

(1916-01-12)12 January 1916
Diss, Norfolk, England
Died 6 June 2018(2018-06-06) (aged 102)
St Thomas' Hospital, London, England
Resting place St Mary's Old Church
Nationality British
Political party Labour
Children 2, including Robin
Education Milton Mount College
n.b. ^ The Prime Minister from June 1970 to March 1974 was Edward Heath, who was unmarried.

Gladys Mary Wilson, Baroness Wilson of Rievaulx (née Baldwin; 12 January 1916 – 6 June 2018) was an English poet and the wife of Harold Wilson, who twice served as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. The only prime ministerial spouse to become a centenarian, she died at the age of 102 years, 145 days.


She was born in Diss, Norfolk, the daughter of Reverend Daniel Baldwin, who was a Congregationalist minister.[1] She attended boarding school at Milton Mount College near Crawley,[2] leaving aged 16 to attend a secretarial course for two years.[3] She was employed as a stenographer at Lever Brothers in Port Sunlight before marrying Harold Wilson on New Year's Day 1940.[1] She and Wilson had two sons, Robin (born 1943) and Giles (born 1948).[4]

In 1970 her volume of poetry Selected Poems was published and, in 1976, Wilson was one of three judges of the Man Booker Prize, the other judges being Walter Allen and Francis King.[5] According to the Dictionary of National Biography entry for Harold Wilson, written by Roy Jenkins,[6] Mary was not satisfied with life in politics. It was this detachment which gave the Private Eye spoof "Mrs Wilson's Diary", the supposed diary of Wilson, written in the style of the BBC's daily radio serial Mrs Dale's Diary, a spurious look of authenticity.[4]

Politically she opposed her husband in the 1975 European Communities membership referendum, by voting against continued membership, and in her support for the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament.[7]

Mary was widowed on 24 May 1995 when her husband died of colorectal cancer and Alzheimer's disease after ten years of illness. They were married for 55 years. She continued to live in Westminster,[8] a short distance from Downing Street. She retained the couple's holiday home in the Isles of Scilly.[9]

In 2013, aged 97, she attended the funeral of Margaret Thatcher.[10]

Wilson died on 6 June 2018, of a stroke,[7] in London aged 102.[11] The longest-lived spouse of a British prime minister, she was the first and only one to live beyond the age of 100 years.[8][3]

Titles from birth

  • Miss Mary Baldwin (12 January 1916 – 1 January 1940 (1916-01-12 – 1940-01-01))
  • Mrs Harold Wilson (1 January 1940 – 23 April 1976 (1940-01-01 – 1976-04-23))[12]
  • Lady Wilson (23 April 1976 – 16 September 1983 (1976-04-23 – 1983-09-16))[13]
  • The Rt Hon The Lady Wilson of Rievaulx (16 September 1983 – 6 June 2018 (1983-09-16 – 2018-06-06))


  • Wilson, Mary (1970). Selected Poems. London: Hutchinson. ISBN 978-0-09-105010-8. Retrieved 7 June 2018.
  • Wilson, Mary (1979). New Poems. ISBN 978-0-09-139460-8. [publisher missing]


  1. ^ a b Langdon, Julia (7 June 2018). "Mary Wilson obituary". The Guardian. Retrieved 9 June 2018.
  2. ^ Pullein-Thompson, Diana (1985). Five at 10: Prime Ministers' Consorts Since 1957. Trafalgar Square. p. 87. ISBN 978-0-233-97733-1.
  3. ^ a b McSmith, Andy (7 June 2018). "Lady Wilson of Rievaulx: Poet and wife of former Labour prime minister Harold Wilson". The Independent. Retrieved 9 June 2018.
  4. ^ a b "Lady Wilson of Rievaulx obituary". The Times. 7 June 2018. Retrieved 9 June 2018.
  5. ^ "Tears, tiffs and triumphs". The Guardian. 6 September 2008. Retrieved 22 February 2017.
  6. ^ "Wilson, (James) Harold, Baron Wilson of Rievaulx". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/58000. (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  7. ^ a b Elliott, Francis. "Mary Wilson, widow of the prime minister Harold Wilson, dies aged 102". The Times. Retrieved 7 June 2018.
  8. ^ a b McSmith, Andy (8 January 2016). "Mary Wilson: Wife of former Prime Minister Harold turning 100 years-old". The Independent. Retrieved 11 February 2017.
  9. ^ "BT Broadband Brings Together Two Remote UK Communities Further Apart Than London to Venice". Retrieved 11 August 2017.
  10. ^ "Final guest list for Lady Thatcher's funeral" (PDF). 17 October 2013. p. 19. Archived (PDF) from the original on 12 December 2013. Retrieved 20 February 2017.
  11. ^ "Mary Wilson, poet and wife of ex-prime minister Harold, dies aged 102". BBC News. Retrieved 7 June 2018.
  12. ^ "No. 46885". The London Gazette. 27 April 1976. p. 6047.
  13. ^ "No. 49485". The London Gazette. 21 September 1983. p. 12361.

External links

  • Media related to Harold and Mary Wilson at Wikimedia Commons
  • Quotations related to Mary Wilson, Baroness Wilson of Rievaulx at Wikiquote
  • "In praise of ... Mary Wilson". The Guardian. 16 March 2010. Archived from the original on 17 October 2015.
Honorary titles
Preceded by
Lady Douglas-Home
Spouse of the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom
Title next held by
Title last held by
Spouse of the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom
Succeeded by
Audrey Callaghan
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