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The Chief Secretary for Ireland was a key political office in the British administration in Ireland. Nominally subordinate to the Lord Lieutenant, and officially the "Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant",[1] from the early 19th century until the end of British rule he was effectively the government minister with responsibility for governing Ireland, roughly equivalent to the role of a Secretary of State. Usually it was the Chief Secretary, rather than the Lord Lieutenant, who sat in the British Cabinet.[2] The Chief Secretary was ex officio President of the Local Government Board for Ireland from its creation in 1872.[3]

Chief Secretary for Ireland
Arms of Ireland (historical).svg
Arms of the Kingdom of Ireland
StyleThe Right Honourable
as a member of the Privy Council
ResidenceChief Secretary's Lodge (from 1776)
AppointerThe Lord Lieutenant
Term lengthAt the pleasure of the Lord Lieutenant
Inaugural holderEdward Woodhouse
Formation20 January 1566
Final holderSir Hamar Greenwood
Abolished19 October 1922
The Chief Secretary's office in Dublin Castle.
The Chief Secretary's residence was the Chief Secretary's Lodge in the Phoenix Park, next to the Viceregal Lodge.

British rule over much of Ireland came to an end as the result of the Irish War of Independence, which culminated in the establishment of the Irish Free State. In consequence the office of Chief Secretary was abolished, as well as that of Lord Lieutenant. Executive responsibility within the Irish Free State and Northern Ireland was effectively transferred to the President of the Executive Council (i.e. the prime minister) and the Prime Minister of Northern Ireland respectively.

Contents

The office before 1801Edit

The dominant position of the Lord Lieutenant at Dublin Castle had been central to the British administration of the Kingdom of Ireland for much of its history. Poynings' Law in particular meant that the Parliament of Ireland lacked an independent power of legislation, and the Crown kept control of executive authority in the hands of the Lord Lieutenant and its own appointees, rather than in the hands of ministers responsible to the Irish parliament.

In 1560 Queen Elizabeth I of England and Ireland ordered the Lord Lieutenant, the Earl of Sussex, to appoint John Challoner of Dublin as Secretary of State for Ireland "because at this present there is none appointed to be Clerk of our Council there, and considering how more meet it were, that in our realm there were for our honour one to be our Secretary there for the affairs of our Realm".[4] The appointment of a Secretary was intended to both improve Irish administration, and to keep the Lord Lieutenant in line.[citation needed] The role of Secretary of State for Ireland and Chief Secretary of Ireland were originally distinct positions, Thomas Pelham being the first individual appointed to both offices concurrently in 1796.[5]

Over time, the post of Chief Secretary gradually increased in importance, particularly because of his role as manager of legislative business for the Government in the Irish House of Commons, in which he sat as an MP. While the Irish administration was not responsible to the parliament, it nevertheless needed to manage and influence it in order to ensure the passage of key legislative measures.

In 1800 the Act of Union was passed by the Irish parliament, merging the kingdom into the new United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland with effect from 1 January 1801. The Chief Secretaryship[citation needed] was of particular importance in the run-up to the eventual enactment, on the second attempt, of the Act of Union, when Viscount Castlereagh held the post. The Chief Secretary's exercise of patronage and direct bribery were central to delivering a parliamentary majority for the Union.[citation needed]

Upon the Union the Irish parliament ceased to exist. However, the existing system of administration in Ireland continued broadly in place, with the offices of Lord Lieutenant and Chief Secretary retaining their respective roles.

The last Chief Secretary was Sir Hamar Greenwood, who left office in October 1922. The Irish Free State, comprising the greater part of Ireland, would become independent on 6 December 1922. In Northern Ireland, a new Government of Northern Ireland was established with a Prime Minister of Northern Ireland. This government was suspended in 1972, and the position of Secretary of State for Northern Ireland was created as a position in the British cabinet.

List of Chief Secretaries for IrelandEdit

This list includes holders of a key political office in the British administration in Ireland. Nominally subordinate to the Lord Lieutenant, from the late 18th century until the end of British rule he was effectively the government minister with responsibility for governing Ireland; usually it was the Chief Secretary, rather than the Lord Lieutenant, who sat in the British Cabinet.[2] Exceptions were the periods from 29 June 1895 to 8 August 1902, when the Lord Lieutenant Lord Cadogan sat in the Cabinet and the Chief Secretaries Gerald Balfour until 9 November 1900 did not sit there and George Wyndham from that date also sat there,[6] and from 28 October 1918 to 2 April 1921, when both the Lord Lieutenant Lord French and the Chief Secretaries Edward Shortt, Ian Macpherson and Sir Hamar Greenwood sat in the Cabinet.[7]

1566–1660Edit

Name Portrait Term of office Served under
Edward Waterhouse[8]   20 January 1566 9 October 1567 Sir Henry Sidney
Edward Waterhouse
(second time)[8]
  28 October 1568 Sir Henry Sidney
Edmund Tremayne   15 July 1569 31 March 1571 Sir Henry Sidney
Philip Williams   post March 1571 17 September 1575 Sir William Fitzwilliam
Edmund Molyneux   18 September 1575 Sir Henry Sidney
Edmund Spenser   7 September 1580 30 August 1582 The Lord Grey de Wilton
Philip Williams   21 June 1584 10 August 1594 Sir John Perrot
Sir William FitzWilliam
Richard Cooke[9]   11 August 1594 21 May 1597 Sir William Russell
Philip Williams   22 May 1597 13 October 1597 The Lord Burgh
Henry Wotton   15 April 1599 4 September 1599 The Earl of Essex
Francis Mitchell   28 February 1600 March 1600 The Lord Mountjoy
George Cranmer   March 1600 Died 16 July 1600 The Lord Mountjoy
Fynes Moryson   14 November 1600 31 May 1603 The Lord Mountjoy
John Bingley   1 June 1603 2 February 1605 Sir George Carey
Henry Piers   3 February 1605 10 February 1616 Sir Arthur Chichester
Henry Holcroft[10]   30 August 1616 3 May 1622 Sir Oliver St John
Sir John Veele   8 September 1622 25 October 1629 The Viscount Falkland
George Lane   21 January 1644 April 1646 The Marquess of Ormonde

1660–1701Edit

Name Portrait Term of office Served under
Matthew Locke   1660 1660 The Lord Robartes
Sir Thomas Page   1662 1669 The Duke of Ormonde:
The Earl of Ossory
Henry Ford   1669 1670 The Lord Robartes
Sir Ellis Leighton   1670 1672 The Lord Berkeley of Stratton
Sir Henry Ford   1672 1673 The Earl of Essex
William Harbord   1673 1676 The Earl of Essex
Sir Cyril Wyche   1677 1682 The Duke of Ormonde
Sir William Ellis   1682 1685 The Duke of Ormonde
Sir Paul Rycaut   1686 1687 The Earl of Clarendon
Thomas Sheridan   1687 1688[11] The Earl of Tyrconnell
Bishop Patrick Tyrrell   1688 1689 The Earl of Tyrconnell
John Davis   1690 1692
Sir Cyril Wyche   1692 1693[12] The Viscount Sydney
Sir Richard Aldworth   1693 1696 The Lord Capell
William Palmer   1696 1697
Matthew Prior   1697 1699
Humphrey May   1699 1701

1701–1750Edit

Name Portrait Term of office Served under
Francis Gwyn   1701 1703 The Earl of Rochester
Edward Southwell   1703 1707 The Duke of Ormonde
George Dodington   1707 1708 The Earl of Pembroke
Joseph Addison   1708 1710 The Earl of Wharton
Edward Southwell   1710 1713 The Duke of Ormonde
Sir John Stanley, Bt   1713 1714 The Duke of Shrewsbury
Joseph Addison   1714 1715 The Earl of Sunderland
Martin Bladen and
Charles Delafaye
  1715 1717
Edward Webster   1717 1720 The Duke of Bolton
Horatio Walpole   1720 1721 The Duke of Grafton
Edward Hopkins   1721 1724 The Duke of Grafton
Thomas Clutterbuck   1724 1730 The Lord Carteret
Walter Cary
(also spelt 'Carey')
  1730 1737 The Duke of Dorset
Sir Edward Walpole   1737 1739 The Duke of Devonshire
Thomas Townshend   1739 1739 The Duke of Devonshire
Hon. Henry Bilson Legge   1739 1741 The Duke of Devonshire
Viscount Duncannon   1741 1745 The Duke of Devonshire
Richard Liddell   1745 1746 The Earl of Chesterfield
Sewallis Shirley   1746 1746 The Earl of Chesterfield
Edward Weston   1746 1750 The Earl of Harrington

1750–1801Edit

Name Portrait Term of office Served under
Lord George Sackville   1750 1755 The Duke of Dorset
Hon. Henry Seymour Conway   1755 1757 The Duke of Devonshire
Richard Rigby   1757 1761 The Duke of Bedford
William Gerard Hamilton   1761 1764 The Earl of Halifax;
The Earl of Northumberland
The Earl of Drogheda   1764 1765 The Earl of Northumberland
Sir Charles Bunbury   1765 1765 The Viscount Weymouth
Viscount Conway   1765 1766 The Earl of Hertford
Hon. Augustus Hervey   1766 1767[13] The Earl of Bristol
Theophilus Jones   1767 1767 The Earl of Bristol
Lord Frederick Campbell   1767 1768 The Viscount Townshend
Sir George Macartney   1769 1772 The Viscount Townshend
Sir John Blaquiere   1772 1776 The Earl Harcourt
Sir Richard Heron   1776 1780 The Earl of Buckinghamshire
William Eden   1780 1782 The Earl of Carlisle
Hon. Richard FitzPatrick   1782 1782 The Duke of Portland
William Grenville   1782 1783 The Earl Temple
William Windham   1783 1783 The Earl of Northington
Hon. Thomas Pelham   1783 1784 The Earl of Northington
Thomas Orde   1784 1787 The Duke of Rutland
Alleyne FitzHerbert   1787 1789 The Marquess of Buckingham
Hon. Robert Hobart   1789 1793 The Marquess of Buckingham;
The Earl of Westmorland
Sylvester Douglas   1793 1794 The Earl of Westmorland
Viscount Milton   1794 1795 The Earl FitzWilliam
Thomas Pelham   1795 1798 The Earl Camden
Viscount Castlereagh   1798 1801 The Marquess Cornwallis

1801–1852Edit

Name Portrait Term of office Political party
Charles Abbot   1801 1802 Tory
William Wickham   1802 1804 Tory
Sir Evan Nepean, Bt   1804 1805 Tory
Nicholas Vansittart   1805 1805 Tory
Charles Long   1805 1806 Tory
William Elliot   1806 1807 Whig
Sir Arthur Wellesley   1807 1809 Tory
Robert Dundas   1809 1809 Tory
William Wellesley-Pole   1809 1812 Tory
Robert Peel   1812 1818 Tory
Charles Grant   1818 1821 Tory
Henry Goulburn   1821 1827 Tory
William Lamb   29 April 1827 21 June 1828 Whig
Lord Francis Leveson-Gower   21 June 1828 30 July 1830 Tory
Sir Henry Hardinge   30 July 1830 15 November 1830 Tory
Edward Smith-Stanley   29 November 1830 29 March 1833 Whig
Sir John Hobhouse, Bt   29 March 1833 May 1833 Whig
Edward Littleton   May 1833 14 November 1834 Whig
Sir Henry Hardinge   16 December 1834 8 April 1835 Conservative
Viscount Morpeth   22 April 1835 30 August 1841 Whig
Lord Eliot   6 February 1841 1 February 1845 Conservative
Sir Thomas Fremantle, Bt   1 February 1845 14 February 1846 Conservative
The Earl of Lincoln   14 February 1846 June 1846 Conservative
Henry Labouchere   6 July 1846 22 July 1847 Whig
Sir William Somerville, Bt   22 July 1847 21 February 1852 Whig

1852–1900Edit

Name Portrait Term of office Political party
Lord Naas   1 March 1852 17 December 1852 Conservative
Sir John Young, Bt   6 January 1853 30 January 1855
Edward Horsman   1 March 1855 27 May 1857 Whig
Henry Arthur Herbert   27 May 1857 21 February 1858 Whig
Lord Naas   4 March 1858 11 June 1859 Conservative
Edward Cardwell   24 June 1859 29 July 1861 Liberal
Sir Robert Peel, Bt   29 July 1861 7 December 1865 Liberal
Chichester Parkinson-Fortescue   7 December 1865 26 June 1866 Liberal
The Earl of Mayo   10 July 1866 29 September 1868 Conservative
John Wilson-Patten   29 September 1868 1 December 1868 Conservative
Chichester Parkinson-Fortescue   16 December 1868 12 January 1871 Liberal
Marquess of Hartington   12 January 1871 17 February 1874 Liberal
Sir Michael Hicks-Beach, Bt   27 February 1874 15 February 1878 Conservative
James Lowther   15 February 1878 21 April 1880 Conservative
William Edward Forster   30 April 1880 6 May 1882 Liberal
Lord Frederick Cavendish   6 May 1882 6 May 1882 Liberal
George Trevelyan   9 May 1882 23 October 1884 Liberal
Henry Campbell-Bannerman   23 October 1884 9 June 1885 Liberal
Sir William Hart Dyke, Bt   25 June 1885 23 January 1886 Conservative
William Henry Smith   23 January 1886 28 January 1886 Conservative
John Morley   6 February 1886 20 July 1886 Liberal
Sir Michael Hicks-Beach, Bt   5 August 1886 7 March 1887 Conservative
Arthur Balfour   7 March 1887 9 November 1891 Conservative
William Jackson   9 November 1891 11 August 1892 Conservative
John Morley   22 August 1892 21 June 1895 Liberal
Gerald Balfour   1895 1900 Conservative

1900–1922Edit

Name Portrait Term of office Political party
George Wyndham
MP for Dover
  9 November 1900 12 March 1905 Conservative
Walter Long
MP for Bristol South
  12 March 1905 4 December 1905 Conservative
James Bryce
MP for Aberdeen South
  10 December 1905 23 January 1907 Liberal
Augustine Birrell
MP for Bristol North
  23 January 1907 3 May 1916 Liberal
Henry Duke
MP for Exeter
  31 July 1916 5 May 1918 Conservative
Edward Shortt
MP for Newcastle upon Tyne West
  5 May 1918 10 January 1919 Liberal
Ian Macpherson
MP for Ross and Cromarty
  10 January 1919 2 April 1920 Liberal
Sir Hamar Greenwood, Bt
MP for Sunderland
  2 April 1920 19 October 1922 Liberal

See AlsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ The National Archives. "Irish administration". Last retrieved 12 November 2015.
  2. ^ a b Quinlan, Tom. "The Registered Papers of the Chief Secretary's Office". National Archives of Ireland. Retrieved 7 June 2011.
  3. ^ "Local Government Board (Ireland) Act, 1872 sec.2". Irish Statute Book. Retrieved 13 October 2016.
  4. ^ Herbert Wood, The Offices of Secretary of State for Ireland and Keeper of the Royal Privy Seal, in Proceedings of the Royal Irish Academy, Section C: Archaeology, Celtic Studies, History, Linguistics, Literature (1928), p. 51
  5. ^ Herbert Wood, The Offices of Secretary of State for Ireland and Keeper of the Royal Privy Seal, in Proceedings of the Royal Irish Academy, Section C: Archaeology, Celtic Studies, History, Linguistics, Literature (1928), p. 55
  6. ^ Chris Cook and Brendan Keith, British Historical Facts 1830–1900, Macmillan, 1975, pages 45–46
  7. ^ British Political Facts 1900–1994, by David Butler and Gareth Butler (Macmillan Press, 7th edition 1994) Page7.
  8. ^ a b Handbook of British Chronology calls him 'Sir Edward Waterhouse', but he was not knighted until 1584
  9. ^ Handbook of British Chronology calls him 'Sir Richard Cooke', but he was not knighted until 1603 – see History of Parliament – Member Biographies
  10. ^ knighted 1 May 1622 – see History of Parliament – Member Biographies
  11. ^ 'removed from his offices on 20 January 1688' John Miller, ‘Sheridan, Thomas (1646–1712)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, Oct 2006, accessed 3 Aug 2014
  12. ^ 'Following Sidney's removal as lord lieutenant in 1693 Wyche was appointed one of three lords justices to take over the chief governorship of Ireland.'C. I. McGrath, ‘Wyche, Sir Cyril (c.1632–1707)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004, accessed 3 Aug 2014
  13. ^ In July 1767 he resigned, having quarrelled with his brother over his own continuing attachment to George Grenville. Ruddock Mackay, ‘Hervey, Augustus John, third earl of Bristol (1724–1779)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004; online edn, Sept 2010, accessed 3 Aug 2014

BibliographyEdit

  • British Historical Facts 1760–1830, by Chris Cook and John Stevenson (The Macmillan Press 1980) ISBN 0-333-21512-5 (includes list of Chief Secretaries on page 31)
  • British Historical Facts 1830–1900, by Chris Cook and Brendan Keith (The Macmillan Press 1975) ISBN 0-333-13220-3 (includes list of Chief Secretaries on pages 52–53)
  • Twentieth-Century British Political Facts 1900–2000, by David Butler and Gareth Butler (Macmillan Press, Eighth edition 2000) ISBN 0-333-77222-9 paperback (includes list of Chief Secretaries on page 61)