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The office of a minister (q.v.), in all its meanings, political and religious, or the body of persons holding such an office and performing its duties; more particularly the body of persons who, in theory the servants at the head of the state, act as the responsible executive over the whole sphere of government, as in the United Kingdom. On the continent of Europe, on the other hand, the word "ministry" is most usually applied to the responsible head of a particular department together with his subordinates, including the permanent officials or staff. In England, ever since the introduction of monarchical institutions the sovereign has always been surrounded by a select body of confidential advisers to assist the crown in the government of the country. At no period could a king of England act, according to law, without advice in the public concerns of the kingdom; the institutions of the crown of England and the institution of the privy council are coeval. At the Norman Conquest the king's council, or as it is now called, the privy council, was composed of certain members of the aristocracy and great officers of state, specially summoned by the crown, with whom the sovereign usually advised in matters of state and government. In the earlier stages of English constitutional history the king's councillors, as confidential servants of the monarch, were present at every meeting of parliament in order to advise upon matters judicial in the House of Lords; but in the reign of Richard II. the privy council dissolved its judicial connexion with the peers and assumed an independent jurisdiction of its own. It was in the reign of Henry VI. that the king's council first assumed the name of privy council, and it was also during the minority of this sovereign that a select council gradually emerged from the larger body of the privy council, which ultimately became the modern cabinet. Since the Revolution of 1688, and the development of parliamentary government, the privy council has dwindled into comparative insignificance. The power once swayed by the privy council is now exercised by that unrecognized select committee of the council known as the cabinet (q.v.). The practice of consulting a few confidential advisers instead of the whole privy council had been resorted to by English monarchs from a very early period; but the first mention of the term cabinet council in contradistinction to privy council occurs in the reign of Charles I., when the burden of state affairs was entrusted to the committee of state which Clarendon says was enviously called the "cabinet council." At first government by cabinet was as unpopular as it was irregular. Until the formation of the first parliamentary ministry by William III. the ministers of the king occupied no recognized position in the House of Commons; it was indeed a moot point whether they were entitled to sit at all in the lower chamber, and they were seldom of one mind in the administration of matters of importance. Before the Revolution of 1688 there were ministers, but no ministry in the modern sense of the word; colleague schemed against colleague in the council chamber, and it was no uncommon thing to see ministers opposing one another in parliament upon measures that in modern times would be supported by a united cabinet. As the change from government by prerogative to government by parliament, consequent upon the Revolution of 1688, developed, and the House of Commons became more and more the centre and force of the state, the advantage of having ministers in the legislature to explain and defend the measures and policy of the executive government began to be appreciated. The public authority of the crown being only exercised through the medium of ministers, it became absolutely necessary that the advisers of the sovereign, who were responsible for every public act of the Crown as well as for the general policy they had been called upon to administer, should have seats in both Houses of Parliament. Still nearly a century had to elapse before political unanimity in the cabinet was recognized as a political maxim. From the first parliamentary ministry of William III. until the rise of the second Pitt, divisions in the cabinet were constantly occurring, and a prime minister had more to fear from the intrigues of his own colleagues than from the tactics of the opposition. In 181 2 an attempt was made to form a ministry consisting of men of opposite political principles, who were invited to accept office, not avowedly as a coalition government, but with an offer to the Whig leaders that their friends should be allowed a majority of one in the cabinet. This offer was declined on the plea that to construct a cabinet on "a system of counteraction was inconsistent with the prosecution of any uniform and beneficial course of policy." From that date it has been an established principle that all cabinets are to be formed on some basis of political union agreed upon by the members when they accept office together. It is now also distinctly understood that the members of a cabinet are jointly and severally responsible for each other's acts, and that any attempt to distinguish between a particular minister and his colleagues in such matters is unconstitutional.

During the 19th century the power of ministers was greatly extended, and their duties became more distinctly marked out. As now interpreted, the leading principles of the British constitution are the personal irresponsibility of the sovereign, the responsibility of ministers, and the inquisitorial and controlling power of parliament. At the head of affairs is the prime minister (q.v.), whose duties are more general than departmental; and the other members of the administration, whose work is exemplified by the titles of their offices (the more important of which are treated separately), are the lord high chancellor, the lord president of the council, the lord privy seal, the first lord of the treasury, the five secretaries .of state (home, foreign affairs, colonies, war, India), the chancellor of the exchequer, the secretary for Scotland, the chief secretary to the lord-lieutenant of Ireland, the postmaster-general, the presidents of the board of trade, the local government board, the board of agriculture and the board of education (all of which were originally committees of the privy council), the chancellor of the duchy of Lancaster and the first lord of the admiralty. These are the more important members of the administration, and they are generally in the cabinet. The subordinate members of the administration, some of whom are occasionally invited to join the cabinet, while others are never in it, are the parliamentary and financial secretary to the admiralty, the parliamentary under-secretaries of the home, foreign, war, colonial and India offices, the board of trade, local government and board of education, the junior lords of the treasury (assistant "whips"), the financial secretary and patronage secretary to the treasury (the senior "whip"), the first commissioner of works, the paymaster-general, and the attorney-general and solicitor-general. There are in addition the lord advocate and the solicitor-general for Scotland, the lordlieutenant and lord chancellor of Ireland (who are sometimes members of the cabinet), and the attorney-general and solicitorgeneral for Ireland.

Table Of Lord Treasurers Or First Lords Of The Treasury [The title was at first lord treasurer, except when the treasury was put in commission. Ultimately special rank was given to one of the commissioners as first lord of the treasury. From the time of the earl of Essex (1679) the name given is that of the first lords, with the exception of the three printed in italics. In modern times the first lord of the treasury has usually, but not invariably, been the head of the government or prime minister. A list of the Prime Ministers is given in the article Prime Minister.

1603. Lord Buckhurst, cr. Earl of Dorset 1604.

1608. Earl of Salisbury.

1612. Earl of Northampton and others. (Commissioners.) 1614. Earl of Suffolk.

1618. Archbishop Abbot and others. (Commissioners.) 1620. Sir H. Montagu, cr. Vis count Mandeville 1620.1621. Lord Cranfield, cr. Earl of Middlesex 1622.

1624. Sir J. Ley, cr. Lord Ley 1625, and Earl of Marlborough 1626.

1628. Lord Weston, cr. Earl of Portland 1633.

1635. Archbishop Laud and others. (Commissioners.) 1636. W. Juxon, Bishop of Lon don.

1641. Sir E. Littleton and others. (Commissioners.) 1643. Lord Cottington.

1649. Interregnum.

1660. Sir E. Hyde and others. (Commissioners.) 1660. Earl of Southampton. 1667. Duke of Albemarle and others. (Commissioners.) 1672. Lord Clifford.

1673. Viscount Dunblane, cr. Earl, of Danby 1674.1679. Earl of Essex.

1679. Lord Hyde, cr. Earl of Rochester 1682.

1684. Lord Godolphin.

1687. Lord Bellasyse.

1689. Earl of Monmouth.

1690. Viscount Lonsdale.

1690. Lord Godolphin.

1697. C. Montagu, cr. Earl of Halifax 1700.

1699. Earl of Tankerville.

1700. Lord Godolphin.

1701. Earl of Carlisle.

1702. Lord Godolphin. 1710. Earl Poulett.

1711. Earl of Oxford. 1714. Duke of Shrewsbury. 1714. Earl of Halifax. 1715. Earl of Carlisle. 1715. Sir R. Walpole. 1717. Lord Stanhope. 1718. Earl of Sunderland. 1721. Sir R. Walpole. 1742. Earl of Wilmington. 1743. H. Pelham.

1754. Duke of Newcastle. 1756. Duke of Devonshire. 1 757. Duke of Newcastle. 1762. Earl of Bute.

1763. G. Grenville.

1765. Marquess of Rockingham. 1766. Duke of Grafton. 1770. Lord North.

1782. Marquess of Rockingham. 1782. Earl of Shelburne. 1783. Duke of Portland. 1783. W. Pitt.

1801. H. Addington.

1804. W. Pitt.

1806. Lord Grenville. 1807. Duke of Portland. 1807. S. Perceval.

1812. Earl of Liverpool. 1827. G. Canning.

1827. Viscount Goderich. 1828. Duke of Wellington. 1830. Earl Grey.

1834. Viscount Melbourne. 1834. Sir R. Peel.

Table Of Lord Chancellors 1603. Sir T. Egerton, L.K., cr. Lord Ellesmere 1603, and Viscount Brackley 1616.

Sir F. Bacon, L.K., cr. Lord Verulam 1618, and Viscount St Albans 1621.

1621. J. Williams, Bishop of Lincoln, L.K.

1625. Sir T. Coventry, L.K., cr.

Lord Coventry 1628.1640. Sir J. Finch, L.K., cr.

Lord Finch 1640.

1641. Sir E. Littleton, L.K., cr. Lord Lyttelton 1641.1645. Sir R. Lane, L.K.

1649. Interregnum.

1660. Sir E. Hyde, C., cr. Lord Hyde 1660, and Earl of Clarendon 1661.

1667. Sir 0. Bridgeman, L.K. 1672. Earl of Shaftesbury, C. 1673. Sir H. Finch, L.K., cr. Lord Finch 1674, C. 1675, cr. Earl of Nottingham 1681.

1682. Sir F. North, L.K., cr. Lord Guilford 1683.1685. Lord Jeffreys, C.

1690. Sir J. Maynard and others. (Commissioners.) 1690. Sir J. Trevor and others. (Commissioners.) 1693. Sir J. Somers, L.K., C., cr. Lord Somers 1697.1700. Sir N. Wright, L.K.

1705. W. Cowper, L.K., cr. Lord Cowper 1706, C. 1707.1710. Sir T. Trevor and others.


1710. Sir S. Harcourt, L.K., cr. Lord Harcourt 1711, C. 1713.

1714. Lord Cowper, C.

1718. Sir R. Tracy and others. (Commissioners.) 1718. Lord Parker, C., cr. Earl of Macclesfield 1721.

1725. Sir J. Jekyll and others. (Commissioners.) 1725. Lord King, C.

1 733. Lord Talbot of Hensol, C. 1737. Lord Hardwicke, C., cr. Earl of Hardwicke 1754.

1835. Viscount Melbourne.

1841. Sir R. Peel.

1846. Lord J. Russell, cr. Earl Russell 1861.

1852. Earl of Derby.

1852. Earl of Aberdeen.

1855. Viscount Palmerston. 1858. Earl of Derby.

1859. Viscount Palmerston. 1865. Earl Russell.

1866. Earl of Derby.

1868. B. Disraeli.

1868. W. E. Gladstone.

1874. B. Disraeli, cr. Earl of Beaconsfield 1876.

1880. W. E. Gladstone.

1885. Sir Stafford Northcote, cr. Earl of Iddesleigh 1885. (prime minister,Marquess of Salisbury).

1886. W. E. Gladstone.

1886. Marquess of Salisbury. 1887. W. H. Smith (prime minis ter, Lord Salisbury). 1891. A. J. Balfour (prime minis ter, Lord Salisbury). 1892. W. E. Gladstone.

1894. Earl of Rosebery.

1895. A J. Balfour (prime minister, Lord Salisbury till 1902).

1905. Sir H. Campbell-Bannerman.

1908. H. H. Asquith.

(C.) OR Lord Keepers (L.K.) 1756. Sir J. Willes and others. (Commissioners.) 1757. Sir R. Henley, L.K., cr.

Lord Henley and C. 1760, Earl of Northington 1764.. 1766. Lord Camden, C.

1770. Charles Yorke, C.

1770. Sir S. S. Smythe and others. (Commissioners.) 1771. Lord Apsley, C., succeeded as Earl Bathurst 1775.1778. Lord Thurlow, C.

1783. Lord Loughborough and others. (Commissioners.) 1783. Lord Thurlow, C.

1792. Sir J. Eyre and others.. (Commissioners.) 1 793. Lord Loughborough, C., cr. Earl of Rosslyn 1801.. 1801. Lord Eldon, C.

1806. Lord Erskine, C.

1807. Lord Eldon, C.

1827. Lord Lyndhurst, C.

1830. Lord Brougham, C.

1834. Lord Lyndhurst, C.

1835. Sir C. C. Pepys and others.. (Commissioners.) 1836. Lord Cottenham, C.

1841. Lord Lyndhurst, C.

1846. Lord Cottenham, C.

1850. Lord Langdale and others.. (Commissioners.) 1850. Lord Truro, C.

1852. Lord St Leonards, C. 1852. Lord Cranworth, C.

1858. Lord Chelmsford, C.

1859. Lord Campbell, C.

1861. Lord Westbury, C.

1865. Lord Cranworth, C.

1866. Lord Chelmsford, C.

1868. Lord Cairns, C.

1868. Lord Hatherley, C.

1872. Lord Selborne, C.

¶874. Lord Cairns, C., cr. Earl. Cairns 1878.

1880. Lord Selborne, C., cr. Earl; of Selborne 1882.

1885. Lord Halsbury, C.

1886. Lord Herschell, C.

1886. Lord Halsbury, C.

1892. Lord Herschell, C.

1895. Lord Halsbury, C., cr. Earl of Halsbury 1898.

1905. Lord Loreburn, C.

Table Of Secretaries Of State [The substitution of two secretaries for one was the consequence of the increase of business. There was no distinction of departments, each secretary taking whatever work the king saw fit to entrust him with. During the reigns of the first two Stuarts, however, there was a tendency to entrust one secretary with the correspondence with Protestant states and their allies, and the other with the correspondence with Catholic states. Probably in the reign of Charles II., and certainly as early as 1691, two departments, the Northern and the Southern, were instituted. In 1782 the departments were changed to Home and Foreign. A third secretary of state was appointed in 1794, and he was called the Secretary for War and the Colonies from 1801 to 1854, when the work was divided, and the War and Colonial Secretaryships were instituted. The Secretary of State for India was appointed in 1858.] 1603. Sir R. Cecil, cr. Lord Cecil 1603, Viscount Cranborne 1604, Earl of Salisbury 1605 1612. Vacant.

1614. Sir R. Winwood.

1615. .

1618. Sir R. Naunton.

1619. .

1623. Sir E. Conway, cr. Lord Conway 1625.



1628. Viscount Dorchester. 1632. Sir F. Windebank.


1641. Sir E. Nicholas.



1643. Interregnum.

1660. Sir E. Nicholas.

1662. Sir H. Bennet, cr. Earl of Arlington 1665.



1674. Sir J. Williamson. 1678. Earl of Sunderland. 1680.

1681. Lord Conway.

1683. Earl of Sunderland. 1684.



1689. Earl of Shrewsbury. 1690. Viscount Sidney.

1692. Sir J. Trenchard.


1695. Sir W. Trumbull.

1697. J. Vernon.

1700. Sir C. Hedges. Earl of Jersey.

1701. Earl of Manchester.

1702. Earl of Nottingham.

1704. R. Harley, cr. Earl of Oxford 17 I I 1706. Earl of Sunderland.

1708. H. Boyle, cr. Baron Carleton 1714.

1710. Lord Dartmouth, cr. Earl H. St. John, cr. Viscount Boling of Dartmouth 1711. broke 1712.

1713. W. Bromley.

1 794 .





Home Department.

Duke of Portland. .

Lord Pelham, aft. Earl of Chichester

C. P. Yorke

Lord Hawkesbury. ... .

.. .. .. .

Foreign Department.

Lord Grenville. ... .

Lord Hawkesbury. ... .

Lord Harrowby. .. .. .

Lord Mulgrave. .. .. .

War and Colonial Department.

H.Dundas, cr. Visct.Melville1802.

Lord Hobart, aft. Earl of


Earl Camden.

Viscount Castlereagh.


Earl Spencer. .. .

C. J. Fox. .. ... .

W. Windham.


Lord Hawkesbury, aft. Earl of Liverpool

G. Canning. .. ... .

Viscount Castlereagh.


R. Ryder. ... .

Earl Bathurst


.. ... .

Marquess Wellesley .


Viscount Sidmouth (H. Addington)

Viscount Castlereagh, aft. Marquess of

Earl Bathurst.


R. Peel. .. .

G. Canning [Londonderry


W. S. Bourne. ... .

Earl of Dudley

Viscount Goderich.


Marquess of Lansdowne .

W. Huskisson.


R. Peel. .. .. .

Earl of Aberdeen. .. .. .

Sir G. Murray. [Ripon.


Viscount Melbourne. ... .

Viscount Palmerston. ... .

Viscount Goderich, aft. Earl of


.. .. .. .. .

E. G. S. Stanley,aft.Lord Stanley

and Earl of Derby.


Viscount Duncannon,aft.Earl of Bessborough

.. ... .

T. Spring-Rice, aft. Lord Mont-


H. Goulburn. ... .

Duke of Wellington. ... .

Earl of Aberdeen. [eagle.


Lord J. Russell. .. .. .

Viscount Palmerston. ... .

Lord Glenelg.


.. .. .. .. .

Marquess of Normanby.


Marquess of Normanby .

.. ... .

Lord J. Russell.


Sir J. Graham, Bart. .

Earl of Aberdeen. ... .

Lord Stanley.


.. .

.. .. ... .

W. E. Gladstone.


Sir G. Grey. .. .. .

Viscount Palmerston. ... .

Earl Grey. [Hampton.


Spencer H. Walpole. ... .

Earl of Malmesbury. ... .

Sir J. S. Pakington, aft. Lord


Viscount Palmerston

Lord J. Russell. ... .

Duke of Newcastle.

1714. J. Stanhope, cr. Earl StanViscount Townshend. hope 1718

Sir H. Vane.

Viscount Falkland.

Lord Digby.

Sir W. Morrice.

. Sir J. Trevor.

. Henry Coventry. Sir L. Jenkins.

. S. Godolphin.

. Earl of Middleton.. Viscount Preston.

. Earl of Nottingham.

. Earl of Shrewsbury.

Sir T. Lake. Sir G. Calvert.

Sir A. Morton. Sir J. Coke.


1755 1.75 1761. Earl of Bute.

Earl of Egremont. 1761.

1762. G. Grenville.

Earl of Sandwich.

1763. Earl of Halifax.

H. S. Conway. 1765. Duke of Grafton.

1766. Duke of Richmond.

1766. Earl of Shelburne.


1768. Earl of Hillsborough, Colonies. 1768. Earl of Rochford.


1772. Earl of Dartmouth, Colonies. 1 775. Viscount Weymouth, cr.

Marquess of Bath 1789.

1776. Lord G. S. Germaine, Colo- nies. 1779. Viscount Stormont.

1779. Earl of Hillsborough, cr.

Marquess of Downshire 1789 1782. W. Ellis, cr. Baron Mendip, 1794, Colonies. 17 17.1718.1721.1724.1730.1742.

Viscount Weymouth.

Earl of Sandwich. Earl of Halifax. Earl of Suffolk.

1754. Sir T. Robinson, cr. Baron Grantham 1761 H. Fox.

W. Pitt.

Home Department. 1782. Earl of Shelburne.. .

1782. Lord Grantham. .

1783. Lord North.. 1783. Marquess of Carmarthen.

1789. W. W. Grenville, cr. Baron Grenville 1790.

1791. H. Dundas. .

Foreign Department. C. J. Fox. [1783 T. Townshend, cr. Baron Sydney C. J. Fox.

Earl Temple.

Lord Sydney.

Lord Grenville.

Earl of Sunderland. Earl Stanhope. Viscount Townshend.

Lord Harrington. Lord Carteret, became Earl Granville 1744. Earl of Harrington. Earl Granville.

Earl of Harrington. Earl of Chesterfield. Duke of Bedford. Earl of Holderness.

J. Addison.

J. Craggs.

Lord Carteret.

Duke of Newcastle.


Home Department.

Sir G. Grey

Foreign Department.

Earl of Clarendon

Colonial Department.

Sidney Herbert .

War Department.

Lord Panmure.


.. .. ... .

.. .. .. .

Lord J. Russell. [Taunton


.. .. ... .

.. .. .. .

H. Labouchere, aft. Lord


S. H. Walpole

Earl of Malmesbury .

Lord Stanley. .

Jonathan Peel.




Home Department.

S. H. Walpole .

T. H. S. Sotheron-


Sir G. Cornewall

Foreign Department.

Earl of Malmesbury .

Lord J. Russell, cr. Earl

Colonial Department.

Sir E. G. E. L. Bulwer

Lytton, cr. Baron

Lytton 1866

Duke of Newcastle

War Department.

Jonathan Peel. .

S. Herbert, cr. Lord

India Department.

Lord Stanley.

Sir C.Wood,cr. Viscount


Russell 1861

Herbert of Lea 1861

Halifax 1866.


Sir G. Grey. .

... .

.. ... .

Sir G. C. Lewis.


.. .. .

.. ... .

.. ... .

Earl de Grey and Ripon,

aft. Marquess of Ripon


... .

.. .

E. Cardwell


. .

Earl of Clarendon.


S. H. Walpole

Lord Stanley, aft. Earl

of Derby

Earl of Carnarvon

Jonathan Peel .

Viscount Cranborne.


.. .. .

.. .. .

Duke of Buckingham .

Sir J. S. Pakington, aft.

Sir S. H. Northcote, cr.

Baron Hampton

Earl of Iddesleigh 1885


H. A. Bruce, cr.

Baron Aberdare

Earl of Clarendon .

Earl Granville .

E. Cardwell, cr. Vis-

count Cardwell 1874

Duke of Argyll.



. .

Earl Granville. .

Earl of Kimberley.


Sir R. A. Cross

Earl of Derby .

Earl of Carnarvon

G. Hardy. .

Marquess of Salisbury.


... .

Marquess of Salisbury

Sir M. Hicks Beach, cr.

F. A. Stanley .

G. Hardy, cr. Viscount

Viscount St Aldwyn

Cranbrook 1878.



Sir W. Vernon Har-


Earl Granville. .

Earl of Kimberley

H. C. E. Childers

Marquess of Hartington.


.. .. .

... .

Earl of Derby .

Marquess of Hartington,

aft. D. of Devonshire

Earl of Kimberley.


Sir R. A. Cross, cr.

Marquess of Salisbury.

Sir F. A. Stanley, cr.

W. H. Smith .

Lord R. Churchill.

Viscount Cross

Baron Stanley of


Preston 1886, aft.

Earl of Derby



. .

Viscount Cranbrook.


H. C. E. Childers .

Earl of Rosebery. .

Earl Granville .

H. Campbell-Bannerman

Earl of Kimberley.


H. Matthews, cr.

Earl of Iddesleigh .

E. Stanhope .

W. H. Smith. .

Viscount Cross.

Viscount Llandaff



... .

Marquess of Salisbury .

Sir H. T. Holland, cr. Vis-

count Knutsford 1895.

E. Stanhope.


H. H. Asquith

Earl of Rosebery. .

Marquess of Ripon

H. Campbell-Bannerman

Earl of Kimberley.


.. .. .

Earl of Kimberley

.. .


H. H. Fowler, cr. Vis-

count Wolverhamp-

ton 1908.


Sir M. White Ridley,

cr. Viscount Rid-

ley 1900

Marquess of Salisbury .

J. Chamberlain .

Marquess of Lansdowne

Lord G. Hamilton.


C. T. Ritchie, cr.

Baron Ritchie of

Marquess of Lansdowne

.. ... .

Hon. W. St J. Brodrick,

aft. Viscount Midleton

Dundee 1905


A. Akers-Douglas.



.. .

Hon. A. Lyttelton

H. 0. Arnold-Forster .

Hon. W. St J. Brodrick.


H. J. Gladstone, cr.

Sir E. Grey.. .

Earl of Elgin .

R. B. Haldane .

J. Morley, aft. Viscount

Viscount Glad-

stone 1910

Morley of Blackburn.


.. ... .

Earl of Crewe.


Winston S. Churchill.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.

Bibliography Information
Chisholm, Hugh, General Editor. Entry for 'Ministry'. 1911 Encyclopedia Britanica. 1910.

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