1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Ministry

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MINISTRY, the office of a minister (q.v.), in all its meanings, political and religious, or the body of persons holding such an office and performing its duties; more particularly the body of persons who, in theory the servants at the head of the state, act as the responsible executive over the whole sphere of government, as in the United Kingdom. On the continent of Europe, on the other hand, the word " ministry " is most usually applied to the responsible head of a particular department together with his subordinates, including the permanent officials or staff. In England, ever since the introduction of monarchical institutions the sovereign has always been surrounded by a select body of confidential advisers to assist the crown in the government of the country. At no period could a king of England act, according to law, without advice in the public concerns of the kingdom; the institutions of the crown of England and the institution of the privy council are coeval. At the "Norman Conquest the king's council, or as it is now called, the privy council, was composed of certain members of the aristocracy and great officers of state, specially summoned by the crown, with whom the sovereign usually advised in matters of state and government. In the earlier stages of English constitutional history the king's councillors, as confidential servants of the monarch, were present at every meeting of parliament in order to advise upon matters judicial in the House of Lords; but in the reign of Richard II. the privy council dissolved its judicial connexion with the peers and assumed an independent jurisdiction of its own. It was in the reign of Henry VI. that the king's council first assumed the name of privy council, and it was also during the minority of this sovereign that a select council gradually emerged from the larger body of the privy council, which ultimately became the modern cabinet. Since the Revolution of 1688, and the develop- ment of parliamentary government, the privy council has dwindled into comparative insignificance. The power once swayed by the privy council is now exercised by that unrecognized select committee of the council known as the cabinet (q.v.). The practice of consulting a few confidential advisers instead of the whole privy council had been resorted to by English monarchs from a very early period; but the first mention of the term cabinet council in contradistinction to privy council occurs in the reign of Charles I., when the burden of state affairs was entrusted to the committee of state which Clarendon says was enviously called the " cabinet council." At first government by cabinet was as unpopular as it was irregular. Until the for- mation of the first parliamentary ministry by William III. the ministers of the king occupied no recognized position in the House of Commons; it was indeed a moot point whether they were entitled to sit at all in the lower chamber, and they were seldom of one mind in the administration of matters of importance. Before the Revolution of 1688 there were ministers, but no ministry in the modern sense of the word; colleague schemed against colleague in the council chamber, and it was no uncom- mon thing to see ministers opposing one another in parliament upon measures that in modern times would be supported by a united cabinet. As the change from government by prerogative to government by parliament, consequent upon the Revolution of 1688, developed, and the House of Commons became more and more the centre and force of the state, the advantage of having ministers in the legislature to explain and defend the measures and policy of the executive government began to be appreciated. The public authority of the crown being only exercised through the medium of ministers, it became absolutely necessary that the advisers of the sovereign, who were respon- sible for every public act of the Crown as well as for the general policy they had been called upon to administer, should have seats in both Houses of Parliament. Still nearly a century had to elapse before political unanimity in the cabinet was recognized as a political maxim. From the first parliamentary ministry of William III. until the rise of the second Pitt, divisions in the cabi- net were constantly occurring, and a prime minister had more to fear from the intrigues of his own colleagues than from the tactics of the opposition. In 1812 an attempt was made to form a ministry consisting of men of opposite political principles, who were invited to accept office, not avowedly as a coalition govern- ment, but with an offer to the Whig leaders that their friends should be allowed a majority of one in the cabinet. This offer was declined on the plea that to construct a cabinet on " a system of counteraction was inconsistent with the prosecution of any uniform and beneficial course of policy." From that date it has been an established principle that all cabinets are to be formed on some basis of political union agreed upon by the members when they accept office together. It is now also dis- tinctly understood that the members of a cabinet are jointly and severally responsible for each other's acts, and that any attempt to distinguish between a particular minister and his colleagues in such matters is unconstitutional.

During the jgth century the power of ministers was greatly extended, and their duties became more distinctly marked out. As now interpreted, the leading principles of the British constitu- tion are the personal irresponsibility of the sovereign, the respon- sibility of ministers, and the inquisitorial and controlling power of parliament. At the head of affairs is the prime minister (q.v.), whose duties are more general than departmental; and the other members of the administration, whose work is exemplified by the titles of their offices (the more important of which are treated separately), are the lord high chancellor, the lord president of the council, the lord privy seal, the first lord of the treasury, the five secretaries of state (home, foreign affairs, colonies, war, India), the chancellor of the exchequer, the secretary for Scot- land, the chief secretary to the lord-lieutenant of Ireland, the postmaster-general, the presidents of the beard of trade, the local government board, the board of agriculture and the board of education (all of which were originally committees of the privy council), the chancellor of the duchy of Lancaster and the first lord of the admiralty. These are the more impor- tant members of the administration, and they are generally in the cabinet. The subordinate members of the administration, some of whom are occasionally invited to join the cabinet, while others are never in it, are the parliamentary and financial secretary to the admiralty, the parliamentary under-secretaries of the home, foreign, war, colonial and India offices, the board of trade, local government and board of education, the junior lords of the treasury (assistant " whips "), the financial secretary and patronage secretary to the treasury (the senior " whip "), the first commissioner of works, the paymaster-general, and the attorney-general and solicitor-general. There are in addition the lord advocate and the solicitor-general for Scotland, the lord- lieutenant and lord chancellor of Ireland (who are sometimes members of the cabinet), and the attorney-general and solicitor- general for Ireland.


[The title was at first lord treasurer, except when the treasury was put in commission. Ultimately special rank was given to one of the commissioners as first lord of the treasury. From the time of the earl of Essex (1679) the name given is that of the first lords, with the exception of the three printed in italics. In modern times the first lord of the treasury has usually, but not invariably, been the head of the government or prime minister. A list of the Prime Ministers is given in the article Prime Minister.

1603. Lord Buckhurst, cr. Earl 1649. Interregnum, of Dorset 1604.

1608. Earl of Salisbury.

1612. Earl of Northampton and others. (Commissioners.)

1614. Earl of Suffolk.

1618. Archbishop Abbot and others. (Commissioners.)

1620. Sir H. Montagu, cr. Viscount Mandeville 1620.

1621. Lord Cranfield, cr. Earl of Middlesex 1622.

1624. Sir J. Ley, cr. Lord Ley

1625, and Earl of Marlborough 1626.

1628. Lord Weston, cr. Earl of Portland 1633.

1635. Archbishop Laud and others. (Commissioners.)

1636. W. Juxon, Bishop of London.

1641. Sir E. Littleton and others. (Commissioners.)

1643. Lord Cottington.

1660. Sir E. Hyde and others. (Commissioners.)

1660. Earl of Southampton.

1667. Duke of Albemarle and others. (Commissioners.)

1672. Lord Clifford.

1673. Viscount Dunblane, cr.

Earl of Danby 1674.

1679. Earl of Essex.

1679. Lord Hyde, cr. Earl of Rochester 1682.

1684. Lord Godolphin.

1687. Lord Bellasyse.

1689. Earl of Monmouth.

1690. Viscount Lonsdale.

1690. Lord Godolphin.

1697. C. Montagu, cr. Earl of Halifax 1700.

1699. Earl of Tankerville.

1700. Lord Godolphin.

1701. Earl of Carlisle.

1702. Lord Godolphin.

1710. Earl Poulett.

1711. Earl of Oxford. 1714. Duke of Shrewsbury. 1714. Earl of Halifax. I7I5- Earl of Carlisle. 1715- Sir R. Walpole.

1717. Lord Stanhope.

1718. Earl of Sunderland. 1721. Sir R. Walpole.

1742. Earl of Wilmington.

1743. H. Pelham.

1754. Duke of Newcastle.

1756. Duke of Devonshire.

1757. Duke of Newcastle.

1762. Earl of Bute.

1763. G. Grenville.

1765- Marquess of Rockingham.

1766. Duke of Grafton.

1770. Lord North.

1782. Marquess of Rockingbam.

1782. Earl of Shelburne.

1783- Duke of Portland.

1783. W. Pitt.

1801. H. Addington.

1804. W. Pitt.

1806. Lord Grenville.

1807. Duke of Portland.

1807. S. Perceval.

1812. Earl of Liverpool.

1827. G. Canning.

1827. Viscount Goderich.

1828. Duke of Wellington.

1830. Earl Grey.

1834. Viscount Melbourne.

1834. Sir R. Peel.


1603. Sir T. Egcrton, L.K., cr.

Lord Ellesmere 1603, and

Viscount Brackley 1616. 1617. Sir F. Bacon, L.K., cr.

Lord Verulam 1618,

and Viscount St Albans

1621. 1621. J. Williams, Bishop of

Lincoln, L.K. 1625. Sir T. Coventry, L.K., cr.

Lord Coventry 1628.

1640. Sir J. Finch, L.K., cr.

Lord Finch 1640.

1641. Sir E. Littleton, L.K.,

cr. Lord Lyttelton 1641. 1645. Sir R. Lane, L.K. 1649. Interregnum. 1660. Sir E. Hyde, C., cr. Lord

Hyde 1660, and Earl of

Clarendon 1661. 1667. Sir O. Bridgeman, L.K.

1672. Earl of Shaftesbury, C.

1673. Sir H. Finch, L.K.,cr. Lord

Finch 1674, C. 1675,

cr. Earl of Nottingham

1681. 1682. Sir F. North, L.K., cr.

Lord Guilford 1683. 1685. Lord Jeffreys, C. 1690. Sir J. Maynard and others.

(Commissioners.) 1690. Sir J. Trevor and others.

(Commissioners.) 1693. Sir J. Somers, L.K., C.,

cr. Lord Somers 1697. 1700. Sir N. Wright, L.K. 1705. W. Cowper, L.K., cr. Lord

Cowper 1706, C. 1707. 1710. Sir T. Trevor and others.

(Commissioners). 1710. Sir S. Harcourt, L.K., cr.

Lord Harcourt 1711, C.

1714. Lord Cowper, C.

1718. Sir R. Tracy and others.

(Commissioners.) 1718. Lord Parker, C.,cr. Earl of Macclesfield 1721.

1725. Sir J. Jekyll and others. (Commissioners.)

1725. Lord King, C.

1733. Lord Talbot of Hensol, C.

1737. Lord Hardwicke, C., cr. Earl of Hardwicke 1754.

1835. Viscount Melbourne.

1841. Sir R. Peel.

1846. Lord J. Russell, cr. Earl

Russell 1861. 1852. Earl of Derby. 1852. Earl of Aberdeen. '855. Viscount Palmerston.

1858. Earl of Derby.

1859. Viscount Palmerston.

1865. Earl Russell.

1866. Earl of Derby. 1868. B. Disraeli. 1868. W. E. Gladstone.

1874. B. Disraeli, cr. Earl of

Beaconsfield 1876. 1880. W. E. Gladstone.

1885. Sir Stafford Northcote, cr.

Earl of Iddesleigh 1885 (prime minister.Marquess of Salisbury).

1886. W. E. Gladstone.

1886. Marquess of Salisbury.

1887. W. H. Smith (prime minis-

ter, Lord Salisbury).

1891. A. J. Balfour (prime minis-

ter, Lord Salisbury).

1892. W. E. Gladstone. '

1894. Earl of Rosebery.

1895. A J. Balfour (prime minister, Lord Salisbury till 1902). 1905. Sir H. Campbell-Bannerman. 1908. H. H. Asquith.


1756. Sir J. Willes and others.


1757. Sir R. Henley, L.K., cr.

Lord Henley and C. 1760, Earl of Northington 1764.

1766. Lord Camden, C.

1770. Charles Yorke, C.

1770. Sir S. S. Smythe and

others. (Commissioners )

1771. Lord Apsley, C., succeeded

as Earl Bathurst 1775. 1778. Lord Thurlow, C. 1783. Lord Loughborough and

others. (Commissioners.) 1783. Lord Thurlow, C.

1792. Sir J. Eyre and others.


1793. Lord Loughborough, C.,

cr. Earl of Rosslyn 1801. 1801. Lord Eldon, C.

1806. Lord Erskine, C.

1807. Lord Eldon, C. 1827. Lord Lyndhurst, C. 1830. Lord Brougham, C.

1834. Lord Lyndhurst, C.

1835. Sir C. C. Pepys and others.


1836. Lord Cottenham, C.

1841. Lord Lyndhurst, C.

1846. Lord Cottenham, C.

1850. Lord Langdale and others. (Commissioners.)

1850. Lord Truro, C.

1852. Lord St Leonards, C.

1852. Lord Cranworth, C.

1858. Lord Chelmsford, C.

1859. Lord Campbell, C.

1861. Lord Westbury, C.

1865. Lord Cranworth, C.

1866. Lord Chelmsford, C.

1868. Lord Cairns, C.

1868. Lord Hatherley, C.

1872. Lord Selborne, C.

1874. Lord Cairns, C., cr. Earl Cairns 1878.

1880. Lord Selborne, C., cr. Earl of Selborne 1882.

1885. Lord Halsbury, C.

1886. Lord Herschell, C.

1886. Lord Halsbury, C.

1892. Lord Herschell, C.

1895. Lord Halsbury, C., cr. Earl of Halsbury 1898.

1905. Lord Loreburn, C.


[The substitution of two secretaries for one was the consequence of the increase of business. There was no distinction of departments, each secretary taking whatever work the king saw fit to entrust him with During the reigns of the first two Stuarts however, there was a tendency to entrust one secretary with the correspondence with Protestant states and their allies, and the other with the correspondence with Catholic states. Probably in the reign of Charles II., and certainly as early as 1691 two departments, the Northern and the Southern, were instituted. In 1782 the departments were changed to Home and Foreign A third secretary of state was appointed in 1794, and he was called the Secretary for War and the Colonies from 1801 to' 1854, when the work was divided, and the War and Colonial Secretaryships were instituted. The Secretary of State for India was appointed in 1858.]

1717. Earl of Sunderland. J. Addison.

1718. Earl Stanhope. . . . J.Craggs.

1721. Viscount Townshend. . Lord Carteret.

1724 Duke of Newcastle.

1730. Lord Harrington.

1742. Lord Carteret, became Earl Granville 1744. 1744. Earl of Harrington. 1746. Earl Granville. 1746. Earl of Harrington. 1 746. Earl of Chesterfield.

1603. Sir R. Cecil, cr. Lord Cecil

1603, Viscount Cranborne

1604, Earl of Salisbury 1605

1612. Vacant.

1614. Sir R. Winwood.

1615 Sir T. Lake.

1618. Sir R. Naunton.

Sir G. Calvert.

1623. Sir E. Conway, cr. Lord Conway 1625.



1628. Viscount Dorchester. 1632. Sir F. Windebank.


1641. Sir E. Nicholas.



1643. Interregnum. 1660. Sir E. Nicholas. . 1662. Sir H. Bennet, cr. Earl of Arlington 1665.



1674. Sir J. Williamson. 1678. Earl oi Sunderland.

1680. . . .

1 68 1. Lord Conway. 1683. Earl of Sunderland.




1689. Earl of Shrewsbury.

1690. Viscount Sidney. 1692. Sir J.Trenchard.


1695. Sir W. Trumbull. 1697. J. Vernon. 1700. SirC. Hedges.




1 706. Earl of Sunderland.


1710. Lord Dartmouth, cr. Earl of Dartmouth 1711.

1713. W. Bromley.

1714. J. Stanhope, cr. Earl Stan-

hope 1718

Sir A. Morton. Sir J. Coke.

Sir H. Vane.

Viscount Falkland. Lord Digby.

Sir W. Morrice.

Sir J.Trevor. Henry Coventry

Sir L. Jenkins.

S. Godolphin. Earl of Middleton. Viscount Preston. Earl of Nottingham.

Earl of Shrewsbury.

Earl of Jersey.

Earl of Manchester.

Earl of Nottingham.

R. Harley,cr.EarlofOxfordi7ii

H. Boyle, cr. Baron Carleton


H. St. John.cr. Viscount Boling- broke 1712.

Viscount Townshend,

1748. Duke of Bedford. 1751. Earl of Holderness. 1754



1761. Earl of Bute.


1762. G. Grenville.

1763. Earl of Halifax.

1765. Duke of Grafton.

1766. Duke of Richmond. 1766. Earl of Shelburne.


1768. Earl of Hillsborough, Colo- nies. 1768. Earl of Rochford.




1772. Earl of Dartmouth, Colonies.

1775. Viscount Weymouth, cr. Marquess of Bath 1789.

1776. Lord G. S. Germaine, Colonies.


1779. Earl of Hillsborough, cr. Marquess of Downshire 1789 1782. W. Ellis, cr. Baron Mendip, 1794, Colonies.

Sir T. Robinson, cr. Baros Grantham 1761 H. Fox. W. Pitt.

Earl of Egremont.

Earl of Sandwich.

H. S. Conway.

Viscount Weymouth.

Earl of Sandwich. Earl of Halifax. Earl of Suffolk.

Viscount Stormont.

Home Department. 1782. Earl of Shelburne.

1782. Lord Grantham.

1783. Lord North.

1783. Marquess of Carmarthen.


1789. W. W. Grenville, cr. Baron

Grenville 1790. 1791. H. Dundas.

Foreign Department. C. J. Fox. [1783

T. Townshend, cr. Baron Sydney C. J. Fox. Earl Temple. Lord Sydney.

Lord Grenville.

flame Department.

Foreign Department.

War and Colonial Department.


Duke of Portland

Lord Grenville

H. Dundas, cr. Visct.MelvilIel8o2.


Lord Pelham, aft. Earl of Chichester

Lord Hawkesbury

Lord Hobart, aft. Earl of


C. P. Yorke Buckinghamshire.


Lord Hawkesbury

Lord Harrowby

Earl Camden.


Lord Mulgrave

Viscount Castlefeagh.


Earl Spencer

C. J. Fox

W. Windham.


Lord Hawkesbury, aft. Earl of Liverpool

G. Canning

Viscount Castlereagh.


R. Ryder

Earl Bathurst


Marquess Wellcsley


Viscount Sidmouth (H. Addington)

Viscount Castlereagh, aft. Marquess of

Earl Bathurst.


R. Peel

G. Canning [Londonderry


W. S. Bourne

Earl of Dudley

Viscount Goderich.


Marquess of Lansdowne ....

W. Huskisson.


R. Peel

Earl of Aberdeen

Sir G. Murray. [Ripon.


Viscount Melbourne . . , . .

Viscount Palmerston ...

Viscount Goderich, aft. Earl of


E. G. S. Stanley .aft.Lord Stanley

and Earl of Derby.


Viscount Duncannon.aft.Earl of Bessborough

T. Spring-Rice, aft. Lord Mont-


H. Goulbum

Duke of Wellington . . . .

Earl of Aberdeen. [eagle.


Lord J. Russell

Viscount Palmerston

Lord Glenelg.


Marquess of Normanby.


Marquess of Normanby ....

Lord J. Russell.


Sir J. Graham, Bart.

Earl of Aberdeen

Lord Stanley.


\V. E. Gladstone.

1846. 1852.

Sir G. Grey Spencer H. Walpole

Viscount Palmerston .... Earl of Malmesbury

Earl Grey. [Hampton. Sir J. S. Pakington, aft. Lord


Viscount Palmerston ....

Lord J. Russell ...

Duke of Newcastle.



1855- 1855.

Home Department. Sir G. Grey ....

Foreign Department. Earl of Clarendon

Colonial Department. Sidney Herbert . Lord J. Russell. [Taunton H. Labouchere, aft. Lord Lord Stanley

War Department. Lord Panmure.

Jonathan Peel.



S. H. Walpole .

Earl of Malmesbury


1859- 1859.

1861. 1863.

Home Department. S. H. Walpole

T. H. S. Sotheron- Estcourt. Sir G. Cornewall Lewis Sir G. Grey

Foreign Department. Earl of Malmesbury .

Lord J. Russell, cr. Earl Russell 1861

Colonial Department. Sir E. G. E. L. Bulwer Lytton, cr. Baron Lytton 1866

Duke of Newcastle

War Department. Jonathan Peel

S. Herbert, cr. Lord Herbert of Lea 1861 Sir G. C. Lewis. Earl de Grey and Ripon, aft. Marquessof Ripon

Jonathan Peel

Sir J. S. Pakington, aft. Baron Hampton E. Cardwell, cr. Vis- count Cardwell 1874

G. Hardy F. A. Stanley

H. C. E. Childers

Marquess of Hartington, aft. D. of Devonshire W. H. Smith

Viscount Cranbrook. H. Campbell-Bannerman W. H. Smith. . .

E. Stanhope. H. Campbell-Bannerman

India Department. Lord Stanley.

Sir C.Wood.cr. Viscount Halifax 1866.

Viscount Cranbome.

Sir S. H. Northcote, cr. Earlof Iddesleigh 1885 Duke of Argyll.

Marquess of Salisbury. G. Hardy, cr. Viscount Cranbrook 1878.

Marquess of Hartington. Earl of Kimberley. Lord R. Churchill.

Earl of Kimberley. Viscount Cross.

Earl of Kimberley.


1865. 1866.


S.' H. Walpole '

Earl of Clarendon. Lord Stanley, aft. Earl of Derby

Earl of Carnarvon Duke of Buckingham . Earl Granville

Earl of Kimberley. Earl of Carnarvon Sir M. Hicks Beach, cr. Viscount St Aldwyn 1906 Earl of Kimberley

Earl of Derby

Sir F. A. Stanley, cr. Baron Stanley of Preston 1886, aft. Earl of Derby


1870. 1874. 1878.

1880. 1882.

H. A. Bruce, cr. Baron Aberdare 1873

Sir R. A. Cross

Sir W. Vernon Har- court

Earl of Clarendon

Earl Granville Earl of Derby Marquess of Salisbury

Earl Granville

1885. 1886.

Sir R. A. Cross, cr. Viscount Cross 1886 Marquess of Salisbury .

1886. 1886.


1892. 1894.

I895- 1900.

1902. 1903- 1905-


H. C. E. Childers . H. Matthews, cr. Viscount Llandaff 1895

H. H. Asquith

Sir M. White Ridley, cr. Viscount Rid- ley 1900 C. T. Ritchie, cr. Baron Ritchie of Dundee 1905 A. Akers-Douglas.

Earl of Rosebery. Earl of Iddesleigh

Marquess of Salisbury .

Earl of Rosebery. Earl of Kimberley

.Earl Granville E. Stanhope

Sir H. T. Holland. cr. Viscount Knutsford 1895. Marquess of Ripon

Marquess of Salisbury. Marquess of Lansdowne

J. Chamberlain

Hon. A. Lyttelton Earl of Elgin

Earl of Crewe.

Marquess of Lansdowne

Hon. W. St J. Brodrick, aft. Viscount Midleton

H. O. Arnold-Forster . R. B. Haldane

count Wolverhamp- ton 1908. Lord G. Hamilton.

Hon. W. St J. Brodrick. J.. Morley, aft. Viscount Morley of Blackbur^

H. J. Gladstone, cr. . Viscount Gladstone 1910

Sir E. Grey .

1910. Winston S. Churchill.