Birth Name: Leonard James Callaghan
Date of Birth: March 27, 1912
Place of Birth: Portsmouth, Hampshire, England, U.K.
Date of Death: March 26, 2005
Place of Death: Ringmer, East Sussex, England
Ethnicity: Irish (paternal grandfather), English, possibly 1/4 or 1/8 Ashkenazi Jewish, likely some Scottish
James Callaghan was a British politician. A member of the Labour Party, he served as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, from 5 April, 1976 to 4 May, 1979. He was also a Member of Parliament for Cardiff South and Penarth, Wales, from 26 July, 1945 to 11 June, 1987, Chancellor of the Exchequer, from 16 October, 1964 to 30 November, 1967, Home Secretary, from 30 November, 1967 to 19 June, 1970, Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, from 5 March, 1974 to 5 April, 1976, Leader of the Labour Party, from 5 April, 1976 to 10 November, 1980, Leader of the Opposition, from 4 May, 1979 to 10 November, 1980, and Father of the House, from 9 June, 1983 to 11 June, 1987.
Prime Minister Callaghan was the son of Charlotte Gertrude (Cundy) and James Callaghan, a chief petty officer in the Royal Navy.
Prime Minister Callaghan’s paternal grandparents were James Garoghan (the son of John Garoghan and Winifred O’Rourke, Groarck, or O Hara) and Elizabeth Bernstein/Burnstein. James was born in Coventry, Warwickshire, England, to Irish parents. Elizabeth was born in Manchester, Lancashire.
Prime Minister Callaghan’s maternal grandfather was William Henry Cundy (the son of Robert Cundy and Grace Burn).
Prime Minister Callaghan’s maternal grandmother was Rosina Fanny McDowell (the daughter of John McDowell and Charlotte Pidgeon). John likely had Scottish ancestry, due to the surname “McDowell” being of Scottish origin. Charlotte was the daughter of James Pidgeon.
Prime Minister Callaghan’s paternal grandmother, born Elizabeth Bernstein or Burnstein, is described in a handful of references as Jewish. It is not clear if this has been verified. Elizabeth appears with her sister, Eliza, on the 1871 England and Wales Census. One genealogy lists Elizabeth’s father’s name as Lewis Burnstein, and one lists her mother’s name as Mary Geary.
Two people of verified Jewish heritage have served as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Benjamin Disraeli (serving for the Conservative Party from February 1868 to December 1868, and from 1874 to 1880) and David Cameron (who served for the Conservative Party from 2010 to 2016).
Sources: Genealogy of James Callaghan – http://www.edwardjdavies.info
James’s paternal grandparents, James Garoghan and Elizabeth Bernstein/Burnstein, on the 1901 England and Wales Census – https://familysearch.org
Likely James’s paternal grandmother, Elizabeth Bernstein/Burnstein, on the 1871 England and Wales Census – https://familysearch.org