George Montagu-Dunk, 2nd Earl of Halifax

George Montagu-Dunk, 2nd Earl of Halifax, KG, PC (6 October 1716 – 8 June 1771) was a British statesman of the Georgian era. Due to his success in extending commerce in the Americas, he became known as the "father of the colonies".[1] President of the Board of Trade from 1748 to 1761, he aided the foundation of Nova Scotia, 1749, the capital Halifax being named after him. When Canada was ceded to the King of Great Britain by the King of France, following the Treaty of Paris of 1763, he restricted its boundaries and renamed it "Province of Quebec".[2]

The Earl of Halifax
Portrait by Joshua Reynolds, 1764
Secretary of State for the Northern Department
In office
22 January 1771 – 8 June 1771
MonarchGeorge III
Prime MinisterLord North
Preceded byThe Earl of Sandwich
Succeeded byThe Earl of Suffolk
In office
14 October 1762 – 9 September 1763
MonarchGeorge III
Preceded byGeorge Grenville
Succeeded byThe Earl of Sandwich
Lord Privy Seal
In office
26 February 1770 – 22 January 1771
MonarchGeorge III
Prime MinisterLord North
Preceded byThe Earl of Bristol
Succeeded byThe Earl of Suffolk
Lord Lieutenant of Ireland
In office
3 April 1761 – 27 April 1763
MonarchGeorge III
Prime MinisterDuke of Newcastle
Earl of Bute
Preceded byThe Duke of Bedford
Succeeded byThe Earl of Northumberland
President of the Board of Trade
In office
1 November 1748 – 21 March 1761
MonarchGeorge II
Prime MinisterHenry Pelham
Duke of Newcastle
Duke of Devonshire
Duke of Newcastle
Preceded byThe Lord Monson
Succeeded byThe Lord Sandys
Personal details
Born(1716-10-06)6 October 1716
Died8 June 1771(1771-06-08) (aged 54)
Political partyTory
Alma materTrinity College, Cambridge
Quartered coat of arms of George Montagu-Dunk, 2nd Earl of Halifax, KG

Early life edit

The son of the 1st Earl of Halifax, he was styled Viscount Sunbury until succeeding his father as Earl of Halifax in 1739 (thus also styled in common usage Lord Halifax). Educated at Eton College and at Trinity College, Cambridge,[3] he was married in 1741 to Anne Richards (died 1753), who had inherited a great fortune from Sir Thomas Dunk, whose name Halifax took.[4]

Career edit

The Earl of Halifax and his secretaries

After having been an official in the household of Frederick, Prince of Wales, Halifax was made Master of the Buckhounds, and in 1748 he became President of the Board of Trade. While filling this position he helped to found Halifax, the capital of Nova Scotia, which was named after him, and he helped foster trade, especially with North America.[4]

About this time he attempted, unsuccessfully, to become a Secretary of State, but was only allowed to enter the Cabinet in 1757. In March 1761, Halifax was appointed Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, and during part of the time which he held this office he was also First Lord of the Admiralty.[4]

He became Secretary of State for the Northern Department under Lord Bute in October 1762, switching to the Southern Department in 1763 and was one of the three ministers to whom King George III entrusted the direction of affairs during the premiership of George Grenville.[4] In 1762, in search of evidence of sedition, he authorised a raid on the home of John Entick, declared unlawful in the case of Entick v. Carrington.

In 1763, he signed the general warrant for the "authors, printers and publishers" of The North Briton number 45, under which John Wilkes and 48 others were arrested, and for which, six years later, the courts of law made Halifax pay damages. He was also mainly responsible for the exclusion of the name of the King's mother, Augusta, Princess of Wales, from the Regency Bill of 1765.

Together with his colleagues, Halifax left office in July 1765, returning to the Cabinet as Lord Privy Seal under his nephew, Lord North, in January 1770. He had just been restored to his former position of Secretary of State when he died.[4]

Cricket edit

Like his friends John Russell, 4th Duke of Bedford, and John Montagu, 4th Earl of Sandwich, Halifax was keen on cricket. The earliest surviving record of his involvement in the sport comes from 1741 when he led Northamptonshire in a match against Buckinghamshire at Cow Meadow in Northampton. In the same season, Sandwich and Halifax formed the Northamptonshire & Huntingdonshire team which twice defeated Bedfordshire, first at Woburn Park and then at Cow Meadow.[5][6]

Legacy edit

Social, moral and cultural impact edit

Halifax, who was Lord-Lieutenant of Northamptonshire and a Lieutenant General, was very extravagant.[7] During the House of Commons election for Northampton in 1768, he spent £150,000 bribing voters to support his candidate, George Brydges Rodney, and was financially ruined by the effort.[8]

He was a political patron of playwright and civil servant Richard Cumberland. He left no legitimate male children, and his titles became extinct on his death. Horace Walpole, 4th Earl of Orford, spoke slightingly of him and his mistress, Anna Maria Faulkner, including alleging that Halifax had "sold every employment in his gift".[9] His mistress had kept a low profile while he was in Ireland, but she was understood to have sold positions.[7]

Politics edit

Halifax was opposed to slavery, and refused to invest his money in any cause that was linked to the TransAtlantic slave trade. There were numerous occasions in which colonists in North America came into conflict with Parliament, and on every one of those occasions he publicly voiced support for the colonists, thus leading to him becoming a popular figure in Britain's North American colonies, including the Province of Massachusetts Bay, the Province of North Carolina and the Colony of Virginia. Halifax supported expanding the franchise so that a larger portion of people in the Kingdom of Great Britain would be able to vote in parliamentary elections.[9] His mistress had kept a low profile while he was in Ireland, but she was alleged to have sold positions which was a political scandal for part of Halifax's career.[7]

Memorials edit

Halifax was buried in the parish church of Horton, Northamptonshire; an effigy bust and plaque features in the north transept of Westminster Abbey. An obelisk is erected at Chicksands Wood in the parish of Haynes, Bedfordshire, inscribed to his memory.

Collections edit

University College London holds over 4000 tracts in its Lansdowne and Halifax tracts collections, the latter being named after Halifax.[10] The tracts were published in England between 1559 and 1776, and relate to the union between England and Scotland, the Civil War and the Restoration. Many of the tracts were written by Daniel Defoe and Jonathan Swift under pseudonyms.[10]

Related locations edit

The municipality of Halifax and Halifax County, Nova Scotia, are named in his honour, as are the Halifax River in Central Florida; the town of Halifax and Halifax County, North Carolina; Halifax, Virginia, Halifax, Vermont in the United States; and Dunk Island in Queensland and Montague Island in New South Wales.

Footnotes edit

  1. ^ "George Montagu Dunk, Second Earl of Halifax". Au cœur de l'Acadie: Archives concernant la Déportation et le Grand dérangement, 1714-1768. Nova Scotia Archives. Archived from the original on 4 December 2006. Retrieved 18 July 2012.
  2. ^ Halifax to the Lords of Trade, september 19,1763. In: Shortt, Adam and Doughty, Arthur-G, Documents relating to the constitutional history of Canada (Sessional Papers no. 18), Ottawa, Dawson, King's Printer, 1907, p. 112.
  3. ^ "Sunbury, George (Lord) (SNBY733G)". A Cambridge Alumni Database. University of Cambridge.
  4. ^ a b c d e Chisholm 1911.
  5. ^ Maun, pp. 106–107.
  6. ^ Waghorn, Cricket Scores, p. 27.
  7. ^ a b c "Falkner [Faulkner; married names Donaldson, Lumm], Anna Maria (d. 1796/7), singer". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. 2004. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/64335. ISBN 978-0-19-861412-8. (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  8. ^ Joseph Grego (1886). A History of Parliamentary Elections and Electioneering in the Old Days . Archived from the original on 15 January 2021. Retrieved 28 October 2020.
  9. ^ a b "Lord Lucan and others at Hampton Court House" Archived 24 February 2012 at the Wayback Machine Watford Observer English History article.
  10. ^ a b UCL Special Collections (23 August 2018). "Lansdowne and Halifax Tracts". UCL Special Collections. Retrieved 18 December 2023.


Bibliography edit

  • Maun, Ian (2009). From Commons to Lord's, Volume One: 1700 to 1750. Roger Heavens. ISBN 978-1-900592-52-9.
  • Waghorn, H. T. (1899). Cricket Scores, Notes, etc. (1730–1773). Blackwood.

Further reading edit

  • Andrew D. M. Beaumont, Colonial America and the Earl of Halifax, 1748-1761. Oxford, England: Oxford University Press, 2015.

External links edit

Political offices
Preceded by Master of the Buckhounds
Succeeded by
Preceded by First Lord of Trade
Succeeded by
Preceded by Lord Lieutenant of Ireland
Succeeded by
Preceded by First Lord of the Admiralty
Succeeded by
Preceded by Secretary of State for the Northern Department
Succeeded by
Preceded by Secretary of State for the Southern Department
Succeeded by
Preceded by Leader of the House of Lords
Succeeded by
Preceded by Lord Privy Seal
Succeeded by
Preceded by Northern Secretary
Legal offices
Preceded by Justice in Eyre
south of the Trent

Succeeded by
Honorary titles
Preceded by Lord Lieutenant of Northamptonshire
Succeeded by
Peerage of Great Britain
Preceded by Earl of Halifax