First Lord of the Treasury

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First Lord of the Treasury
Royal Coat of Arms of the United Kingdom (HM Government).svg
Boris Johnson official portrait.jpg
Boris Johnson

since 24 July 2019
HM Treasury
Style The Right Honourable
Member of Cabinet
Residence 10 Downing Street
Seat Westminster
Appointer Monarch
Term length At Her Majesty's pleasure
First holder
Deputy Second Lord of the Treasury

The First Lord of the Treasury is the head of the commission exercising the ancient office of Lord High Treasurer in the United Kingdom, and is by convention also the Prime Minister. This office is not equivalent to the usual position of the "Treasurer" in other governments; the closer equivalent of a Treasurer in the United Kingdom is Chancellor of the Exchequer, who is the Second Lord of the Treasury.


Lords of the Treasury

As of the beginning of the 17th century, the running of the Treasury was frequently entrusted to a commission, rather than to a single individual. Since 1714, it has permanently been in commission. The commissioners have always since that date been referred to as Lords Commissioners of the Treasury, and adopted ordinal numbers to describe their seniority. Eventually in the middle of the same century, the First Lord of the Treasury came to be seen as the natural head of the overall ministry running the country, and, as of the time of Robert Walpole (Whig), began to be known, unofficially, as the Prime Minister.

The term Prime Minister was initially, but decreasingly, used as a term of derogation; it was first used officially in a royal warrant only in 1905. William Pitt the Younger said the Prime Minister "ought to be the person at the head of the finances"—though Pitt also served as Chancellor of the Exchequer for the entirety of his time as Prime Minister, so his linkage of the finance portfolio to the premiership was wider than merely proposing the occupation of the First Lordship by the Prime Minister. [1]

Prior to 1841 the First Lord of the Treasury also held the office of Chancellor of the Exchequer unless he was a peer and thus barred from that office; in this case, the Second Lord of the Treasury usually served as Chancellor. As of 1841, the Chancellor has always been Second Lord of the Treasury when he was not also Prime Minister. By convention, the other Lords Commissioners of the Treasury are also Government Whips in the House of Commons.

Official residence

10 Downing Street is the official residence of the First Lord of the Treasury, not the office of Prime Minister. [2] Chequers, a country house in Buckinghamshire, is the official country residence of the Prime Minister, used as a weekend and holiday home, although the residence has also been used by other senior members of government.[ citation needed ]

List of First Lords (1714–1905)

Much of this list overlaps with the list of prime ministers of the United Kingdom, but there are some notable differences, principally concerning the Marquess of Salisbury, who was Prime Minister but not First Lord in 1885–86, 1887–92 and 1895–1902. Those First Lords who were simultaneously Prime Minister are indicated in bold; those who were considered Prime Minister only during part of their term are indicated in bold italic.

NameEntered officeLeft officeParty
The Earl of Halifax 13 October 171419 May 1715 Whig
The Earl of Carlisle 23 May 171510 October 1715Whig
Robert Walpole 10 October 171512 April 1717Whig
The Earl Stanhope 12 April 171721 March 1718Whig
The Earl of Sunderland 21 March 17184 April 1721Whig
Sir Robert Walpole 4 April 172111 February 1742Whig
The Earl of Wilmington 16 February 17422 July 1743Whig
Henry Pelham 27 August 17436 March 1754Whig
The Duke of Newcastle 16 March 175416 November 1756Whig
The Duke of Devonshire 16 November 17568 June 1757Whig
The Earl Waldegrave 8 June 175712 June 1757Whig
The Duke of Devonshire 12 June 175725 June 1757Whig
The Duke of Newcastle 2 July 175726 May 1762Whig
The Earl of Bute 26 May 176216 April 1763 Tory
George Grenville 16 April 176313 July 1765Whig
The Marquess of Rockingham 13 July 176530 July 1766Whig
The Duke of Grafton [lower-alpha 1] 30 July 176628 January 1770Whig
Lord North 28 January 177022 March 1782Tory
The Marquess of Rockingham 27 March 17821 July 1782Whig
The Earl of Shelburne 4 July 17822 April 1783Whig
The Duke of Portland 2 April 178319 December 1783Whig
William Pitt the Younger 19 December 178314 March 1801Tory
Henry Addington 17 March 180110 May 1804Tory
William Pitt the Younger 10 May 180423 January 1806Tory
The Lord Grenville 11 February 180631 March 1807Whig
The Duke of Portland 31 March 18074 October 1809Whig
Spencer Perceval 4 October 180911 May 1812Tory
The Earl of Liverpool 9 June 181210 April 1827Tory
George Canning 10 April 18278 August 1827Tory
The Viscount Goderich 31 August 182722 January 1828Tory
The Duke of Wellington 22 January 182822 November 1830Tory
The Earl Grey 22 November 183016 July 1834Whig
The Viscount Melbourne 16 July 183414 November 1834Whig
The Duke of Wellington 14 November 183410 December 1834Tory
Sir Robert Peel 10 December 18348 April 1835Tory
The Viscount Melbourne 18 April 183530 August 1841Whig
Sir Robert Peel 30 August 184129 June 1846 Conservative
Lord John Russell 30 June 184623 February 1852Whig
The Earl of Derby 23 February 185219 December 1852Conservative
The Earl of Aberdeen 19 December 18526 February 1855 Peelite
The Viscount Palmerston 6 February 185520 February 1858 Liberal
The Earl of Derby 20 February 185812 June 1859Conservative
The Viscount Palmerston 12 June 185918 October 1865Liberal
The Earl Russell 29 October 186528 June 1866Liberal
The Earl of Derby 28 June 186627 February 1868Conservative
Benjamin Disraeli 27 February 18683 December 1868Conservative
William Ewart Gladstone 3 December 186820 February 1874Liberal
Benjamin Disraeli [lower-alpha 2] 20 February 187423 April 1880Conservative
William Ewart Gladstone 23 April 188023 June 1885Liberal
The Earl of Iddesleigh 29 June 18851 February 1886Conservative
William Ewart Gladstone 1 February 188625 July 1886Liberal
The Marquess of Salisbury [lower-alpha 3] 3 August 188614 January 1887Conservative
William Henry Smith 14 January 18876 October 1891Conservative
Arthur Balfour 6 October 189115 August 1892Conservative
William Ewart Gladstone 15 August 18925 March 1894Liberal
The Earl of Rosebery 5 March 189425 June 1895Liberal
Arthur Balfour [lower-alpha 4] 25 June 18955 December 1905Conservative

Thereafter the posts of First Lord of the Treasury and Prime Minister have continually been held by the same person (see List of Prime Ministers of the United Kingdom § 20th century).

See also


  1. Grafton became Prime Minister on 14 October 1768.
  2. Disraeli became Earl of Beaconsfield in 1876.
  3. Salisbury continued to serve as Prime Minister until 11 August 1892.
  4. Balfour became Prime Minister on 11 July 1902.

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  1. Blick & Jones 2010.
  2. "First Lord of the Treasury",, retrieved 22 March 2018