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Aretas Akers-Douglas, 1st Viscount Chilston

Aretas Akers-Douglas, 1st Viscount Chilston, GBE, PC, JP, DL (21 October 1851 – 15 January 1926), born Aretas Akers and known as Aretas Akers-Douglas between 1875 and 1911, was a British Conservative statesman who sat in the House of Commons from 1880 until he was raised to the peerage in 1911. He notably served as Home Secretary under Arthur Balfour between 1902 and 1905.

The Viscount Chilston

"The Kent Gang"
As depicted by "Ape" (Carlo Pellegrini) in Vanity Fair, 26 September 1885
Home Secretary
In office
12 July 1902 – 5 December 1905
MonarchEdward VII
Prime MinisterArthur Balfour
Preceded byCharles Ritchie
Succeeded byHerbert Gladstone
Personal details
Born21 October 1851 (1851-10-21)
West Malling, Kent
Died15 January 1926 (1926-01-16) (aged 74)
Political partyConservative
Spouse(s)Adeline Austen-Smith
(d. 1929)
Alma materUniversity College, Oxford


Background and educationEdit

Akers-Douglas was born in West Malling, Kent, the son of Reverend Aretas Akers, parson of West Malling, and his wife Frances Maria, daughter of Francis Holles Brandram. He was educated at Eton and University College, Oxford, before being called to the Bar, Inner Temple, in 1875. That same year he took the additional surname of Douglas under royal licence in accordance with a relative's will.

Political careerEdit

In 1880, Akers-Douglas was elected as Conservative Member of Parliament for East Kent and held it until it was divided under the Redistribution of Seats Act 1885. In 1883, Akers-Douglas was appointed whip to the Conservatives. In the 1885 general election, he was elected MP for St Augustine's in the county of Kent.[1] He became Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasury, and retained this post (with a short interval in 1886 when Gladstone returned to power) for the next seven years. He became a Privy Counsellor in 1891.[2]

In 1895, Akers-Douglas was appointed First Commissioner of Works, with a seat in the Cabinet. Seven years later, when Arthur Balfour became Prime Minister, he became Home Secretary on 11 August 1902,[3][4] and resigned three and a half years later when the Liberals took power.

In 1911, Akers-Douglas was created Viscount Chilston, of Boughton Malherbe in the County of Kent, and Baron Douglas of Baads, in the County of Midlothian.[5] The viscountcy was named for his country house at Chilston Park. During the First World War, Lord Chilston was Chief County Director for the British Red Cross Society and St John Ambulance, in recognition of which he was appointed Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the British Empire (GBE) in the 1920 civilian war honours.[6] Apart from his political career he was a Deputy Lieutenant and Justice of the Peace for Kent, Edinburgh and Dumfries and a lieutenant in the East Kent Yeoman Cavalry.[7]


Lord Chilston married Adeline Mary, daughter of Horatio Austen-Smith, in 1875. They had two sons and five daughters. He died at his London home in January 1926, aged 74, and was buried at Boughton Malherbe, Kent. He was succeeded in his titles by his eldest son, Aretas, who became British Ambassador to Russia. Lady Chilston died in February 1929.[8]


  1. ^ Hansard 1803–2005: contributions in Parliament by Aretas Akers-Douglas
  2. ^ "No. 26176". The London Gazette. 26 June 1891. p. 3367.
  3. ^ "Mr Balfour´s Ministry - full list of appointments". The Times (36842). London. 9 August 1902. p. 5.
  4. ^ "No. 27464". The London Gazette. 12 August 1902. p. 5175.
  5. ^ "No. 28512". The London Gazette. 11 July 1911. p. 5168.
  6. ^ "No. 31840". The London Gazette (Supplement). 26 March 1920. p. 3757.
  7. ^ Debretts Guide to the House of Commons 1886
  8. ^ the


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