List of English chief ministers

The retroactive and informal position of chief minister was given to the various personages who presided over the government of England and subsequently Great Britain at the pleasure of the monarch, usually with said monarch's permission, prior to the government under Robert Walpole as Prime Minister in 1721.

Odo of Bayeux was second-in-command to William the Conqueror, the first Norman monarch of England.

The "chief ministership", being an informal capacity, had many titles, sometimes none at all, and while usually a single person, could be held by groups of up to three or four.

Era of royal favourites, regents and rivals (946–1649)Edit

Anglo-SaxonsEdit

 
Harold Godwinson (13 years)

Norman/Angevin ruleEdit

William the ConquerorEdit

William II of England and Henry IEdit

Early PlantagenetsEdit

 
Thomas Becket (7 years)

House of LancasterEdit

House of YorkEdit

House of TudorEdit

Minister Birth Death Formal office(s) Monarch
Thomas Stanley,
1st Earl of Derby

1485–1505
  1435, England

Son of Thomas Stanley, 1st Baron Stanley
and Joan Goushill
29 July 1504, Lancashire
Aged 68–69
Lord High Constable Henry VII
(1485–1509)
Sir Richard Empson
&
Edmund Dudley
1505–1509
  1450, England

Son of Peter Empson
and Elizabeth Joseph
1462 or 1471, England

Son of Sir John Dudley
and Elizabeth Bramshot
17 August 1510, Tower Hill
Executed for treason
Aged 59–60 and 39–47
(respectively)
Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster
(Empson)
&
President of the King's Council
(Dudley)
No informal holder; personal rule of king Henry VIII (1509–1514) Henry VIII
(1509–1547)
Cardinal Thomas Wolsey,
Archbishop of York

1514–1529
  March 1473, Ipswich

Son of Robert Wolsey
and Joan Daundy
29 November 1530, Leicester
Aged 57
Lord Chancellor
Sir Thomas More
1529–1532
  7 February 1478, London

Son of Sir John More
and Agnes Graunger
6 July 1535, Tower Hill
Executed for treason
Aged 57
Lord Chancellor
Thomas Cromwell,
1st Earl of Essex (1540)

1532–1540
  1485, Putney

Son of Walter Cromwell
and Katherine Williams
28 July 1540, Tower Hill
Executed for treason
Aged 54–55
Chancellor of the Exchequer
Lord Privy Seal
Secretary of State
Master of the Rolls
Thomas Howard,
3rd Duke of Norfolk

1540–1546
  1473, England

Son of Thomas Howard, 2nd Duke of Norfolk
and Elizabeth Tilney, Countess of Surrey
25 August 1554, Kenninghall
Aged 80–81
Lord High Treasurer
Earl Marshal
Edward Seymour,
1st Duke of Somerset

1547–1549
  1500, England

Son of Sir John Seymour
and Margery Wentworth
22 January 1552, Tower Hill
Executed for treason
Aged 50–51
Lord Protector of the Realm
Lord High Treasurer
Earl Marshal
Edward VI
(1547–1553)
and
Jane
(1553)
John Dudley,
1st Earl of Warwick
then (1551)
1st Duke of Northumberland

1549–1553
  1504, London

Son of Edmund Dudley
and Elizabeth Grey
22 August 1553, Tower Hill
Executed for treason
Aged 48–49
Lord Great Chamberlain
Lord President of the Council
Lord Steward
Stephen Gardiner,
Bishop of Winchester

1553–1555
  1483, Bury St Edmunds

Son of Jonh or Wyllyam Gardiner
and Helen Tudor
12 November 1555, London
Aged 71–72
Lord Chancellor Mary I
(1553–1558)
Cardinal Reginald Pole,
Archbishop of Canterbury

1555–1558
  3 March 1500, Stourton

Son of Sir Richard Pole
and Margaret Pole, Countess of Salisbury
17 November 1558, London
Aged 58
N/A
William Paulet,
1st Marquess of Winchester

1558–1572
  1483/85, Fisherton Delamere

Son of Sir John Paulet
and Alice Paulet
10 March 1572, Old Basing
Aged 88–89
Lord High Treasurer Elizabeth I
(1558–1603)
William Cecil,
1st Baron Burghley

1572–1598
  13 September 1520, Bourne

Son of Sir Richard Cecil
and Jane Heckington
4 August 1598, Westminster
Aged 77
Lord High Treasurer
Lord Privy Seal
Thomas Sackville,
1st Baron Buckhurst

1599–1603
  1536, Withyham

Son of Sir Richard Sackville
and Winifred Brydges
19 April 1608, Westminster
Aged 71–72
Lord High Treasurer

House of StuartEdit

Minister Birth Death Formal office(s) Monarch
Robert Cecil,
Baron Cecil
then (1605)
1st Earl of Salisbury

1603 – 1612
  1 June 1563, Westminster

Son of William Cecil, 1st Baron Burghley
and Mildred Cooke
24 May 1612, Marlborough
Aged 48
Lord High Treasurer
Lord Privy Seal
James I
(1603–1625)
Henry Howard,
1st Earl of Northampton

1612 – 1614
  25 February 1540, Shotesham

Son of Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey
and Frances de Vere
15 June 1614, Westminster
Aged 74
First Lord of the Treasury
Lord Privy Seal
Robert Carr,
1st Earl of Somerset

1614 – 1615
  c. 1587, Wrington

Son of Sir Thomas Kerr (Carr)
and Janet Scott
17 July 1645, Dorset
Aged 57–58
Lord Warden of the Cinque Ports
Lord Chamberlain
Lord Privy Seal
No informal holder; personal rule of king James I (1615–1617)
Francis Bacon,
Baron Verulam (1618)

1617 – 1621
  22 January 1561, Strand, London

Son of Sir Nicholas Bacon
and Anne Cooke
9 April 1626, Highgate
Aged 65
Lord Chancellor
George Villiers,
arosed (1623)
1st Duke of Buckingham

1621 – 1628
  28 August 1592, Brooksby

Son of Sir George Villiers
and Mary Beaumont
23 August 1628, Portsmouth
Assassinated by John Felton
Aged 35
Lord Warden of the Cinque Ports
Lord High Admiral
Master of the Horse
Charles I
(1625–1649)

Since 1642 in
status of civil war
Richard Weston,
Baron Weston
then (1633)
1st Earl of Portland

1628 – 1634/35
  1 March 1577, Essex

Son of Sir Jerome Weston
and Mary Cave
13 March 1634/35, prob. Westminster
Aged 57/58
Lord High Treasurer
First Lord of the Admiralty
No informal holder; personal rule of king Charles I (1635–1640)
Thomas Wentworth,
1st Earl of Strafford

1640 – 1641
  13 April 1593, London

Son of Sir William Wentworth
and Anne Atkins
12 May 1641, Tower Hill
Executed for conspiracy
Aged 48
Lord Lieutenant of Ireland
Robert Bertie,
1st Earl of Lindsey

1641 – 1642
  16 December 1582, England

Son of Sir Peregrine Bertie
and Mary de Vere
24 October 1642, Edge Hill
Aged 59
Lord Great Chamberlain
Prince Rupert,
Count Palatine of the Rhine

1642 – 1646
  17 December 1619, Prague

Son of Frederick V, Elector Palatine
and Elizabeth Stuart
29 November 1682, Westminster
Aged 62
N/A
Imprisonment of king Charles I until his execution (1646–1649)

The Stuart RestorationEdit

This is very true: for my words are my own, and my actions are my ministers.

In 1660, the leadership of the Commonwealth recalled Charles II and the chief minister became responsible to some extent to Parliament as leader of a ministry, although much of the time King Charles was in effect his own chief minister. The Glorious Revolution of 1688–89 furthered this process and by the time of Queen Anne in 1702, monarchs had little choice as to who their ministers would be.

Charles II and James IIEdit

Portrait Minister(s)
(Birth–Death)
Term of office Ministerial offices Party Election Ministry
  1st Earl of Clarendon
(1609–1674)
1660 1667 First Lord of the Treasury (1660)
Chancellor of the Exchequer (1660–61)
Lord Chancellor
N/A 1661 Clarendon
 
Buckingham
The C.A.B.A.L. 1667 1674 (See Cabal ministry for details.) N/A Cabal
  1st Earl of Danby
(1632–1712)
1674 March 1679 Lord High Treasurer Tory N/A Danby I
 
Temple
The Privy Council
chaired by Sir William Temple (1628–1699)
April 1679 November 1679 (See Privy Council ministry for details.) N/A Privy Council
 
Rochester
 
Godolphin
 
Sunderland
1st Earl of Rochester
(1642–1711)
&
1st Earl of Godolphin
(1645–1712)
&
2nd Earl of Sunderland
(1641–1702)
November 1679 1687 (Rochester:)
First Lord of the Treasury (1679–84)
(Godolphin:)
First Lord of the Treasury (1684–85)
(Sunderland:)
Northern Secretary (1679–80 &
1683–84)

(Godolphin:)
Northern Secretary (1684)
(Sunderland:)
Southern Secretary (1680–81 &
1684–88)

(Rochester:)
Lord High Treasurer (1685–87)
Tory 1681 The Chits
1685

William III and Mary IIEdit

Portrait Minister(s)
(Birth–Death)
Term of office Ministerial offices Party Election Ministry
 
Carmarthen
 
Halifax
1st Marquess of Carmarthen
(1632–1712)
&
1st Marquess of Halifax
(1633–1695)
1689 8 February 1690 (Carmarthen:)
Lord President of the Council
(Halifax:)
Lord Privy Seal
N/A 1689 Carmarthen–Halifax
  1st Marquess of Carmarthen
(1632–1712)
February 1690 1695 Lord President of the Council Tory 1690 Carmarthen

From 1693 and during the sole reign of William III, the government was increasingly dominated by the Whig Junto.

AnneEdit

The Kingdoms of England and Scotland united to form the Kingdom of Great Britain in 1707.

Portrait Minister(s)
(Birth–Death)
Term of office Ministerial offices Party Election Ministry
 
Godolphin
 
Marlborough
1st Earl of Godolphin
(1645–1712)
&
1st Duke of Marlborough
(1650–1722)
1702 1710 (Godolphin:)
Lord High Treasurer
(Marlborough:)
Master-General of the Ordnance
Tory 1702 Godolphin–Marlborough
1705
1708
  Robert Harley
(1661–1724)
1710 30 July 1714 Chancellor of the Exchequer (1710–11)
Lord High Treasurer (1711–14)
Tory
(formerly Whig)
1710 Harley
1713
  1st Duke of Shrewsbury
(1660–1718)
30 July 1714 13 October 1714 Lord High Treasurer Tory N/A

The Hanoverian SuccessionEdit

In the immediate aftermath of the death of Queen Anne in 1714, the monarchy was unable to function as the new King was in his domains in Hanover and did not know of his accession. As a stopgap, Parliament elected Thomas Parker, 1st Earl of Macclesfield Regent, or "acting king" until the new monarch arrived to take his crown. Later, George, Prince of Wales reigned as regent for six months from July 1716 to January 1717 when the King went to Hanover.

In the early part of the reign of George I, who could not speak English, the cabinet began meeting without the monarch present.

Following the succession of George I and the resignation of the Duke of Shrewsbury in 1714, the office of Lord High Treasurer went into permanent commission, its function undertaken by a commission of Lords of the Treasury, chaired by the First Lord of the Treasury, rather than by an individual Lord High Treasurer. From 1714 to 1717 the ministry was led by Viscount Townshend, who was nominally Northern Secretary; the Earl of Halifax, the Earl of Carlisle and Sir Robert Walpole successively served alongside Townshend as nominal First Lord of the Treasury. From 1717 to 1721 Lords Stanhope (First Lord 1717–18) and Sunderland (First Lord 1718–21) led the administration jointly, with Stanhope managing foreign affairs and Sunderland managing home affairs. Stanhope died in February 1721 and Sunderland resigned in April 1721; Townshend and Walpole returned to office.

Thus the First Lord of the Treasury came to be the most powerful minister and the prototype of Prime Minister of the United Kingdom and its dominions.

George IEdit

Portrait Minister(s)
(Birth–Death)
Term of office Ministerial offices Party Election Ministry
  2nd Viscount Townshend
(1674–1738)
13 October 1714 1716 Northern Secretary Whig 1715 Townshend
 
Stanhope
 
Sunderland
1st Viscount Stanhope
(c. 1673–1721)
&
3rd Earl of Sunderland
(1675–1722)
12 April 1717 21 March 1718 (Stanhope:)
First Lord of the Treasury
Chancellor of the Exchequer
(Sunderland:)
Northern Secretary
Whig N/A Stanhope–Sunderland I
21 March 1718 4 April 1721 (Sunderland:)
First Lord of the Treasury
(Stanhope:)
Northern Secretary
Whig Stanhope–Sunderland II

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ Hart, Cyril (2004). "Æthelstan [Ethelstan, Æthelstan Half-King] (Fl. 932–956), magnate". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/8917. ISBN 978-0-19-861412-8. (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)