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Secretary of State for the Colonies

The Secretary of State for the Colonies or Colonial Secretary was the British Cabinet minister in charge of managing the United Kingdom's various colonial dependencies.

Secretary of State for the Colonies
Inaugural holder 1st: The Earl of Hillsborough
2nd: Sir George Grey
Formation 1st: 27 February 1768
2nd: 12 June 1854
Final holder 1st: Welbore Ellis
2nd: Frederick Lee
Abolished 1st: 8 March 1782
2nd: 1 August 1966
Deputy Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies
Joseph Chamberlain; Secretary of State for the Colonies, 1895–1903

Contents

HistoryEdit

The position was first created in 1768 to deal with the increasingly troublesome North American colonies, following passage of the Townsend Acts. Previously, colonial responsibilities were held jointly by the Lords of Trade and Plantations and the Secretary of State for the Southern Department,[1] who was responsible for Southern England, Wales, Ireland, the American colonies, and relations with the Catholic and Muslim states of Europe. Joint responsibility continued under the Secretary of State for the Colonies, but led to a diminution of the board's status, and it became an adjunct to the new Secretary's Department.[2]

Following the loss of the American colonies, both the board and the short-lived secretaryship were dismissed by the king on 2 May 1782; both were abolished later by the Civil List and Secret Service Money Act 1782 (22 Geo. 3, c 82).[3] Following this, colonial duties given to the Home Secretary, then Lord Sydney. Following the Treaty of Paris 1783, a new board, named the Committee of Council on Trade and Plantations (later known as 'the First Committee') was established under William Pitt the Younger, by an Order in Council in 1784.[2] In 1794 a new office was created for Henry Dundas — the Secretary of State for War, which now took responsibility for the Colonies, and was renamed the Secretary of State for War and the Colonies in 1801. In 1854, military reforms led to the Colonial and Military responsibilities of this secretary of state being split into two separate offices, with Sir George Grey becoming the first Secretary of State for the Colonies under the new arrangement.

In the latter part of the nineteenth century Britain gained control over a number of territories with the status of "protectorate". The ministerial responsibility for these territories was initially held by the Foreign Secretary. However, by the early years of the twentieth century the responsibility for each of these territories had been transferred to the Colonial Secretary as well. The League of Nations mandated territories acquired as a result of the Treaty of Versailles (1919) became a further responsibility of the Colonial Office in the aftermath of the First World War.

In 1925 part of the Colonial Office was separated out as the Dominions Office, with its own Secretary of State. The new office was responsible for dealing with the Dominions together with a small number of other territories (most notably Southern Rhodesia).

In the twenty years following the end of the Second World War, much of the British Empire was dismantled as its various territories gained independence. In consequence, the Colonial Office was merged in 1966 with the Commonwealth Relations Office (which until 1947 had been the Dominions Office) to form the Commonwealth Office, while ministerial responsibility was transferred to the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Affairs (previously known as the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations). In 1968 the Commonwealth Office was subsumed into the Foreign Office, which was renamed the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO).

The Colonial Secretary never had responsibility for the provinces and princely states of India, which had its own Secretary of State.

From 1768 until 1966 the Secretary of State was supported by an Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies (at times an Under-Secretary of State for War and the Colonies), and latterly by a Minister of State.

List of Secretaries of State for the ColoniesEdit

Secretaries of State for the Colonies (1768–1782)Edit

Secretary of State for the Colonies
Portrait Name
(Birth–Death)
Term of office Ministry Monarch
(Reign)
  The Right Honourable
Wills Hill
1st Earl of Hillsborough
PC

(1718–1793)
27 February
1768
27 August
1772
 
Grafton
 
George III
 
(1760–1820)
North
  The Right Honourable
William Legge
2nd Earl of Dartmouth
PC FRS

(1731–1801)
27 August
1772
10 November
1775
  The Right Honourable
Lord George Germain

MP for East Grinstead
(1716–1785)
10 November
1775
February
1782
  The Right Honourable
Welbore Ellis
FRS

MP for Weymouth and Melcombe Regis
(1713–1802)
February
1782
8 March
1782

Responsibility for the Colonies held by:

Secretaries of State for the Colonies (1854–1966)Edit

Secretary of State for the Colonies
Portrait Name
(Birth–Death)
Term of office Party Ministry Monarch
(Reign)
  The Right Honourable
Sir George Grey
Bt

MP for Morpeth
(1799–1882)
12 June
1854
8 February
1855
Whig Aberdeen
(PeeliteWhig)
Victoria
 
(1837–1901)
  The Right Honourable
Sidney Herbert

MP for South Wiltshire
(1810–1861)
8 February
1855
23 February
1855
Whig Palmerston I
  The Right Honourable
Lord John Russell
FRS

MP for City of London
(1792–1878)
23 February
1855
21 July
1855
Whig
  The Right Honourable
Sir William Molesworth
Bt

MP for Southwark
(1810–1855)
21 July
1855
21 November
1855
Radical
  The Right Honourable
Henry Labouchere

MP for Taunton
(1798–1869)
21 November
1855
21 February
1858
Whig
  The Right Honourable
Edward Stanley
Lord Stanley

MP for King's Lynn
(1826–1893)
26 February
1858
5 June
1858
Conservative Derby–Disraeli II
  The Right Honourable
Sir Edward Bulwer-Lytton
Bt

MP for Hertfordshire
(1803–1873)
5 June
1858
11 June
1859
Conservative
  His Grace
Henry Pelham-Clinton
5th Duke of Newcastle
KG PC

(1811–1864)
18 June
1859
7 April
1864
Liberal Palmerston II
  The Right Honourable
Edward Cardwell

MP for Oxford
(1813–1886)
7 April
1864
26 June
1866
Liberal
Russell II
  The Right Honourable
Henry Herbert
4th Earl of Carnarvon
PC

(1831–1890)
6 July
1866
8 March
1867
Conservative Derby–Disraeli III
  His Grace
Richard Temple-Grenville
3rd Duke of Buckingham and Chandos
PC DL

(1823–1889)
8 March
1867
1 December
1868
Conservative
  The Right Honourable
Granville Leveson-Gower
2nd Earl Granville
KG PC FRS

(1815–1891)
9 December
1868
6 July
1870
Liberal Gladstone I
  The Right Honourable
John Wodehouse
1st Earl of Kimberley
PC

(1826–1902)
6 July
1870
17 February
1874
Liberal
  The Right Honourable
Henry Herbert
4th Earl of Carnarvon
PC FRS

(1831–1890)
21 February
1874
4 February
1878
Conservative Disraeli II
  The Right Honourable
Sir Michael Hicks Beach
Bt DL

MP for Gloucestershire East
(1837–1916)
4 February
1878
21 April
1880
Conservative
  The Right Honourable
John Wodehouse
1st Earl of Kimberley
PC

(1826–1902)
21 April
1880
16 December
1882
Liberal Gladstone II
  The Right Honourable
Edward Stanley
15th Earl of Derby
KG PC FRS

(1826–1893)
16 December
1882
9 June
1885
Liberal
  The Right Honourable
Frederick Stanley

MP for Blackpool
(1841–1908)
24 June
1885
28 January
1886
Conservative Salisbury Caretaker
  The Right Honourable
Granville Leveson-Gower
2nd Earl Granville
KG PC FRS

(1815–1891)
6 February
1886
20 July
1886
Liberal Gladstone III
  The Right Honourable
Edward Stanhope

MP for Horncastle
(1840–1893)
3 August
1886
14 January
1887
Conservative Salisbury Unionist I
(Con.Lib.U.)
  The Right Honourable
Henry Holland
1st Baron Knutsford
Bt GCMG PC

(1825–1914)
14 January
1887
11 August
1892
Conservative
  The Most Honourable
George Robinson
1st Marquess of Ripon
GCSI CIE VS PC

(1827–1909)
18 August
1892
21 June
1895
Liberal Gladstone IV
Rosebery
  The Right Honourable
Joseph Chamberlain

MP for Birmingham West
(1836–1914)
29 June
1895
16 September
1903
Liberal Unionist Salisbury Unionist II
(Con.Lib.U.)
Edward VII
 
(1901–1910)
Balfour
(Con.Lib.U.)
  The Right Honourable
Alfred Lyttelton
QC

MP for Warwick and Leamington
(1857–1913)
11 October
1903
4 December
1905
Liberal Unionist
  The Right Honourable
Victor Bruce
9th Earl of Elgin
KG GCSI GCIE PC

(1849–1917)
10 December
1905
12 April
1908
Liberal Campbell-Bannerman
  The Right Honourable
Robert Crewe-Milnes
1st Marquess of Crewe
KG PC FSA

(1858–1945)
12 April
1908
3 November
1910
Liberal Asquith
(I & II)
George V
 
(1910–1936)
  The Right Honourable
Lewis Vernon Harcourt

MP for Rossendale
(1863–1922)
3 November
1910
25 May
1915
Liberal
  The Right Honourable
Bonar Law

MP for Bootle
(1858–1923)
25 May
1915
10 December
1916
Conservative Asquith III
(Lib.Con.Lab.)
  The Right Honourable
Walter Long
JP FRS

MP for Westminster St George's [nb 1]
(1854–1924)
10 December
1916
10 January
1919
Conservative Lloyd George
(I & II)

(Lib.Con.Lab.)
  The Right Honourable
Alfred Milner
1st Viscount Milner
GCB GCMG PC

(1854–1925)
10 January
1919
13 February
1921
Liberal
  The Right Honourable
Winston Churchill

MP for Dundee
(1874–1965)
13 February
1921
19 October
1922
Liberal
  His Grace
Victor Cavendish
9th Duke of Devonshire
KG GCMG GCVO TD KStJ PC

(1868–1938)
24 October
1922
22 January
1924
Conservative Law
Baldwin I
  The Right Honourable
James Henry Thomas

MP for Derby
(1874–1949)
22 January
1924
3 November
1924
Labour MacDonald I
  The Right Honourable
Leo Amery

MP for Birmingham Sparkbrook
(1873–1955)
6 November
1924
4 June
1929
Conservative Baldwin II
  The Right Honourable
Sidney Webb
1st Baron Passfield
PC

(1859–1947)
7 June
1929
24 August
1931
Labour MacDonald II
  The Right Honourable
James Henry Thomas

MP for Derby
(1874–1949)
25 August
1931
5 November
1931
National Labour National I
(N.Lab.Con.Lib.N.Lib.)
  The Right Honourable
Sir Philip Cunliffe-Lister
GBE MC

MP for Hendon
(1884–1972)
5 November
1931
7 June
1935
Conservative National II
(N.Lab.Con.Lib.N.Lib.)
  The Right Honourable
Malcolm MacDonald

MP for Bassetlaw
(1901–1981)
7 June
1935
22 November
1935
National Labour National III
(Con.N.Lab.Lib.N.)
  The Right Honourable
James Henry Thomas

MP for Derby
(1874–1949)
22 November
1935
22 May
1936
National Labour
Edward VIII
 
(1936)
  The Right Honourable
William Ormsby-Gore

MP for Stafford
(1885–1964)
28 May
1936
16 May
1938
Conservative
George VI
 
(1936–1952)
National IV
(Con.N.Lab.Lib.N.)
  The Right Honourable
Malcolm MacDonald

MP for Ross and Cromarty
(1901–1981)
16 May
1938
12 May
1940
National Labour
Chamberlain War
(Con.N.Lab.Lib.N.)
  The Right Honourable
George Lloyd
1st Baron Lloyd
GCSI GCIE DSO PC

(1879–1941)
12 May
1940
4 February
1941
Conservative Churchill War
(All parties)
  The Right Honourable
Walter Guinness
1st Baron Moyne
DSO PC

(1880–1944)
8 February
1941
22 February
1942
Conservative
  The Right Honourable
Robert Gascoyne-Cecil
Viscount Cranborne

MP for South Dorset
(1893–1972)
22 February
1942
22 November
1942
Conservative
  The Right Honourable
Oliver Stanley

MP for Westmorland
(1896–1950)
22 November
1942
26 July
1945
Conservative
Churchill Caretaker
(Con.N.Lib.)
  The Right Honourable
George Henry Hall

MP for Aberdare
(1881–1965)
3 August
1945
4 October
1946
Labour Attlee
(I & II)
  The Right Honourable
Arthur Creech Jones

MP for Shipley
(1891–1964)
4 October
1946
28 February
1950
Labour
  The Right Honourable
Jim Griffiths

MP for Llanelli
(1890–1975)
28 February
1950
26 October
1951
Labour
  The Right Honourable
Oliver Lyttelton
DSO MC

MP for Aldershot
(1893–1972)
28 October
1951
28 July
1954
Conservative Churchill III
Elizabeth II
 
(1952–present)
  The Right Honourable
Alan Lennox-Boyd

MP for Mid Bedfordshire
(1904–1983)
28 July
1954
14 October
1959
Conservative
Eden
Macmillan
(I & II)
  The Right Honourable
Iain Macleod

MP for Enfield West
(1913–1970)
14 October
1959
9 October
1961
Conservative
  The Right Honourable
Reginald Maudling

MP for Barnet
(1917–1979)
9 October
1961
13 July
1962
Conservative
  The Right Honourable
Duncan Sandys

MP for Streatham
(1908–1987)
13 July
1962
16 October
1964
Conservative
Douglas-Home
  The Right Honourable
Anthony Greenwood

MP for Rossendale
(1911–1982)
18 October
1964
23 December
1965
Labour Wilson
(I & II)
  The Right Honourable
Frank Pakenham
7th Earl of Longford
PC

(1905–2001)
23 December
1965
6 April
1966
Labour
  The Right Honourable
Frederick Lee

MP for Newton
(1906–1984)
6 April
1966
1 August
1966
Labour

Responsibility for the colonies held by:

Following the British Nationality Act 1981 the term "colony" ceased to be used; Britain's rule over Hong Kong, the last significant colony, ceased in 1997. Britain retains certain overseas territories.

Notes
  1. ^ MP for Strand until 1918; thereafter MP for Westminster St George's.

Secretaries from the ColoniesEdit

A few title holders were born in colonies under their portfolio and some beyond:

ReferencesEdit