Polish-born British historian. He was knighted in 1952.
Born in Poland of Jewish parents, Namier emigrated to England in 1906 and was awarded a first-class honours degree at Balliol College, Oxford, in 1911. He became a naturalized British citizen in 1913 and after a year in the army at the start of World War I spent five years working in the Foreign Office. Before the war he had already turned to the study of British parliamentary history during the eighteenth century, and in 1920 he returned to what became his major academic preoccupation. Although he lectured for a year (1920–21) in Oxford, it was Manchester University, where he was professor of modern history from 1931 to 1953, that was his academic base.
Collecting and analysing a mass of detailed information about individual Members of Parliament, Namier reshaped the interpretation of British eighteenth-century politics. Disciples and critics alike called it ‘namierizing’. He himself deemed as ‘definitive’ his The Structure of Politics at the Accession of George III (1929) and England in the Age of the American Revolution (1930); he followed the same approach to research in the last nine years of his life as editorial board member of the History of Parliament, given special responsibility for the later eighteenth century.
Namier's other historical writings on European nineteenth- and twentieth-century history were outstanding, and he was a powerful (if controversial) personality, a conservative, and a Zionist.