Henry Addington, 1st Viscount Sidmouth

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The Viscount Sidmouth

Henry Addington by Beechey.jpg
Portrait by Sir William Beechey
Prime Minister of the United Kingdom
In office
17 March 1801 10 May 1804
Monarch George III
Preceded by William Pitt the Younger
Succeeded by William Pitt the Younger
Chancellor of the Exchequer
In office
17 March 1801 10 May 1804
Monarch George III
Preceded by William Pitt the Younger
Succeeded by William Pitt the Younger
Lord President of the Council
In office
14 January 10 July 1805
Monarch George III
Prime Minister William Pitt the Younger
Preceded by The Duke of Portland
Succeeded by The Earl Camden
In office
8 October 1806 26 March 1807
Monarch George III
Prime Minister Spencer Perceval
Preceded by The Earl Fitzwilliam
Succeeded by The Earl Camden
In office
8 April 11 June 1812
Preceded by The Earl Camden
Succeeded by The Earl of Harrowby
Home Secretary
In office
8 June 1812 17 January 1822
Preceded by Richard Ryder
Succeeded by Robert Peel
Personal details
Born(1757-05-30)30 May 1757
Bedford Row, Holborn, Middlesex, England
Died15 February 1844(1844-02-15) (aged 86)
White Lodge, Richmond Park, Surrey, England
Resting place St Mary the Virgin, Mortlake
Political party Tory
Ursula Hammond
(m. 1781;died 1811)

Marianne Townsend(m. 1823)
ParentsDr. Anthony Addington
Mary Addington
Alma mater Brasenose College, Oxford
Signature Henry Addington, 1st Viscount Sidmouth Signature.svg

Henry Addington, 1st Viscount Sidmouth, PC (30 May 1757 – 15 February 1844) was a British statesman who served as Prime Minister from 1801 to 1804. He is best known for obtaining the Treaty of Amiens in 1802, an unfavourable peace with Napoleonic France which marked the end of the Second Coalition during the French Revolutionary Wars. When that treaty broke down he resumed the war but he was without allies and conducted a relatively weak defensive war, ahead of what would become the War of the Third Coalition. He was forced from office in favour of William Pitt the Younger, who had preceded Addington as Prime Minister. Addington is also known for his reactionary crackdown on advocates of democratic reforms during a ten-year spell as Home Secretary from 1812 to 1822. He is the longest continuously serving holder of that office since it was created in 1782.

Privy Council of the United Kingdom Formal body of advisers to the sovereign in the United Kingdom

Her Majesty's Most Honourable Privy Council, usually known simply as the Privy Council of the United Kingdom or just the Privy Council, is a formal body of advisers to the Sovereign of the United Kingdom. Its membership mainly comprises senior politicians who are current or former members of either the House of Commons or the House of Lords.

Prime Minister of the United Kingdom Head of UK Government

The Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, until 1801 known as the Prime Minister of Great Britain, is the head of government of the United Kingdom. The Prime Minister directs both the executive and the legislature, and together with their Cabinet are collectively accountable for their policies and actions to the Monarch, to Parliament, to their political party and ultimately to the electorate. The office of Prime Minister is one of the Great Offices of State. The current holder of the office, Theresa May, leader of the Conservative Party, was appointed by the Queen on 13 July 2016.

Treaty of Amiens peace treaty

The Treaty of Amiens temporarily ended hostilities between France and the United Kingdom during the French Revolutionary Wars. It was signed in the city of Amiens on 25 March 1802 by Joseph Bonaparte and Marquess Cornwallis as a "Definitive Treaty of Peace." The consequent peace lasted only one year and was the only period of general peace in Europe between 1793 and 1814.



Henry Addington was the son of Anthony Addington, Pitt's physician, and Mary Addington, the daughter of the Rev. Haviland John Hiley, headmaster of Reading School. As a consequence of his father's position, Addington was a childhood friend of William Pitt the Younger. Addington studied at Reading School, Winchester and Brasenose College, Oxford, and then studied law at Lincoln's Inn. In 1781 Addington married Ursula Mary Hammond, who brought an income of £1,000 a year into the marriage. The couple had eight children, of whom six survived to adulthood. Ursula Addington died in 1811 and in 1823 Addington married a widow, Marianne Townsend, daughter of William Scott, 1st Baron Stowell.

Anthony Addington English physician

Anthony Addington was an English physician.

William Pitt, 1st Earl of Chatham 18th-century British statesman

William Pitt, 1st Earl of Chatham, was a British statesman of the Whig group who served twice as Prime Minister of Great Britain in the middle of the 18th century. Historians call him Pitt of Chatham, or William Pitt the Elder, to distinguish him from his son, William Pitt the Younger, who also was a prime minister. Pitt was also known as The Great Commoner, because of his long-standing refusal to accept a title until 1766.

Reading School Grade II listed grammar school in the United kingdom

Reading School is a selective grammar school for boys with academy status in the English town of Reading, the county town of Berkshire. It traces its history back to the school of Reading Abbey, making it one of the oldest schools in England. There are no tuition fees for day pupils, and boarders only pay for food and lodging.

Political career

He was elected to the House of Commons in 1784 as one of the Members of Parliament for Devizes, and became Speaker of the House of Commons in 1789. In March 1801, William Pitt the Younger resigned from office, ostensibly over the refusal of King George III to remove some of the existing political restrictions on Roman Catholics in Ireland (Catholic Emancipation), but poor health, failure in war, economic collapse, alarming levels of social unrest due to famine, and irreconcilable divisions within the Cabinet also played a role. Both Pitt and the King insisted that Addington take over as Prime Minister, despite his own objections, and his failed attempts to reconcile the King and Pitt.

Devizes (UK Parliament constituency) Parliamentary constituency in the United Kingdom

Devizes is a constituency in Wiltshire, England, which is represented in the House of Commons of the U.K. Parliament and includes four towns and many villages in the middle and east of the county. The area's representative has been a Conservative since 1924.

William Pitt the Younger 18th/19th-century British statesman

William Pitt the Younger was a prominent British Tory statesman of the late-eighteenth and early-nineteenth centuries. He became the youngest UK Prime Minister in 1783 at the age of 24. He left office in 1801, but served as Prime Minister again from 1804 until his death in 1806. He was Chancellor of the Exchequer for most of his time as Prime Minister. He is known as "the Younger" to distinguish him from his father, William Pitt, 1st Earl of Chatham, called William Pitt the Elder or simply "Chatham", who had previously served as Prime Minister.

Prime Minister

Foreign policy was the centerpiece of his term in office. Some historians have been highly critical saying it was ignorant and indifferent to Britain's greatest needs. However Thomas Goldsmith argues that Addington and Hawkesbury conducted a logical, consistent, and Euro-centric balance-of-power policy, and one rooted in rules and assumptions governing their conduct, rather than a chaotic free-for-all approach. [1]

Addington's domestic reforms doubled the efficiency of the Income tax. In foreign affairs he secured the Treaty of Amiens, in 1802. While the terms of the Treaty were the bare minimum that the British government could accept, Napoleon Bonaparte would not have agreed to any terms more favourable to the British, and the British government had reached a state of financial collapse, owing to war expenditure, the loss of Continental markets for British goods, and two successive failed harvests that had led to widespread famine and social unrest, rendering peace a necessity. By early 1803 Britain's financial and diplomatic positions had recovered sufficiently to allow Addington to declare war on France, when it became clear that the French would not allow a settlement for the defences of Malta that would have been secure enough to fend off a French invasion that appeared imminent.

An income tax is a tax imposed on individuals or entities (taxpayers) that varies with respective income or profits. Income tax generally is computed as the product of a tax rate times taxable income. Taxation rates may vary by type or characteristics of the taxpayer.

Malta island republic in Europe

Malta, officially known as the Republic of Malta, is a Southern European island country consisting of an archipelago in the Mediterranean Sea. It lies 80 km (50 mi) south of Italy, 284 km (176 mi) east of Tunisia, and 333 km (207 mi) north of Libya. With a population of about 475,000 over an area of 316 km2 (122 sq mi), Malta is the world's tenth smallest and fifth most densely populated country. Its capital is Valletta, which is the smallest national capital in the European Union by area at 0.8 km². The official languages are Maltese and English, with Maltese officially recognised as the national language and the only Semitic language in the European Union.

At the time and ever since Addington has been criticized for his lackluster conduct of the war and his defensive posture. However without allies, Britain's options were limited to defence. He did increase the forces, provide a tax base that could finance an enlarged war, and seize several French possessions. To gain allies, Addington cultivated better relations with Russia, Austria, and Prussia, that later culminated in the Third Coalition shortly after he left office. Addington also strengthened British defences against a French invasion through the building of Martello towers on the south coast and the raising of more than 600,000 men at arms. [2]

Austria Federal republic in Central Europe

Austria, officially the Republic of Austria, is a country in Central Europe comprising 9 federated states. Its capital, largest city and one of nine states is Vienna. Austria has an area of 83,879 km2 (32,386 sq mi), a population of nearly 9 million people and a nominal GDP of $477 billion. It is bordered by the Czech Republic and Germany to the north, Hungary and Slovakia to the east, Slovenia and Italy to the south, and Switzerland and Liechtenstein to the west. The terrain is highly mountainous, lying within the Alps; only 32% of the country is below 500 m (1,640 ft), and its highest point is 3,798 m (12,461 ft). The majority of the population speaks local Bavarian dialects as their native language, and German in its standard form is the country's official language. Other regional languages are Hungarian, Burgenland Croatian, and Slovene.

Prussia state in Central Europe between 1525–1947

Prussia was a historically prominent German state that originated in 1525 with a duchy centred on the region of Prussia on the southeast coast of the Baltic Sea. It was de facto dissolved by an emergency decree transferring powers of the Prussian government to German Chancellor Franz von Papen in 1932 and de jure by an Allied decree in 1947. For centuries, the House of Hohenzollern ruled Prussia, successfully expanding its size by way of an unusually well-organised and effective army. Prussia, with its capital in Königsberg and from 1701 in Berlin, decisively shaped the history of Germany.

Martello tower small defensive fort

Martello towers, sometimes known simply as Martellos, are small defensive forts that were built across the British Empire during the 19th century, from the time of the French Revolutionary Wars onwards. Most were coastal forts.

Foundling Hospital

In 1802, Addington accepted an honorary position as vice-president for life on the Court of Governors of London's Foundling Hospital for abandoned babies.

Loss of office

In Britannia between Death and the Doctor's (1804), James Gillray caricatured Pitt as a doctor kicking Addington (the previous doctor) out of Britannia's sickroom. Britannia-between-Death-and-the-Doctors-Gillray.jpeg
In Britannia between Death and the Doctor's (1804), James Gillray caricatured Pitt as a doctor kicking Addington (the previous doctor) out of Britannia's sickroom.

Although the king stood by him it was not enough because Addington did not have a strong enough hold on the two houses of Parliament. By May 1804 partisan criticism of Addington's war policies provided the pretext for a parliamentary putsch by the three major factions – Grenvillites, Foxites, and Pittites – who had decided that they should replace Addington's ministry. Addington's greatest failing was his inability to manage a parliamentary majority, by cultivating the loyal support of MPs beyond his own circle and the friends of the King. This combined with his mediocre speaking ability, left him vulnerable to Pitt's mastery of parliamentary management and his unparalleled oratory skills. Pitt's parliamentary assault against Addington in March 1804 led to the slimming of his parliamentary majority to the point where defeat in the House of Commons was imminent. [3]

Lord President and Lord Privy Seal

Addington remained an important political figure, because he had gained a large following of MPs who supported him loyally in the Commons. He was reconciled with Pitt in December 1804, with the help of Lord Hawkesbury as intermediary. As a result, Pitt arranged for him to join the Cabinet as Lord President of the Council in January 1805, but insisted that Addington accept a peerage as Viscount Sidmouth, to avoid the inconvenience of them sitting together in the Commons. In return for the support of the government by Addington's loyal supporters, Pitt agreed to include Addington's colleague the Earl of Buckinghamshire as Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster with a promise to elevate him to the first vacancy of a more senior position in the Cabinet. However, when Melville resigned as First Lord of the Admiralty in July 1805, Pitt broke his promise by having Sir Charles Middleton appointed instead of Buckinghamshire. As a result of this betrayal, Sidmouth and Buckinghamshire resigned taking all of their supporters into opposition. Sidmouth was appointed Lord Privy Seal in 1806 in the Ministry of All the Talents that succeeded Pitt. Later that year he returned to the position of Lord President to 1807. His resignation, in opposition to a limited measure of Catholic Emancipation that the Cabinet was considering despite the opposition of King George III, precipitated the fall of the Talents Ministry.

Home Secretary

He returned to government again as Lord President in March 1812, and, in June of the same year, became Home Secretary. As Home Secretary, Sidmouth countered revolutionary opposition, being responsible for the temporary suspension of habeas corpus in 1817 and the passage of the Six Acts in 1819. His tenure also saw the Peterloo Massacre of 1819. Sidmouth left office in 1822, succeeded as Home Secretary by Sir Robert Peel, but remained in the Cabinet as Minister without Portfolio for the next two years, opposing, along with the Duke of Wellington, other members of Cabinet, and King George IV British recognition of the South American republics. He remained active in the House of Lords for the next few years, making his final speech in opposition to Catholic Emancipation in 1829 and casting his final vote against the Reform Act 1832.

Residences and land

Addington maintained homes at Upottery, Devon and Bulmershe Court, in what is now the Reading suburb of Woodley, but moved to the White Lodge in Richmond Park when he became Prime Minister. However he maintained links with Woodley and the Reading area, as commander of the Woodley Yeomanry Cavalry and High Steward of Reading. He also donated to the town of Reading the four acres of land that is today the Royal Berkshire Hospital, and his name is commemorated in the town's Sidmouth Street and Addington Road as well as in Sidmouth street in Devizes.


Henry Addington died in London on 15 February 1844 at the age of 86, and was buried in the churchyard at St Mary the Virgin Mortlake, Greater London. [4]

Styles of address


Cabinet of Henry Addington

  Henry Addington *17 March 1801 (1801-03-17)10 May 1804 (1804-05-10) Tory
Lord Chancellor   The Lord Eldon 14 April 1801 (1801-04-14)7 February 1806 (1806-02-07) Tory
Lord President of the Council   The Earl of Chatham 21 September 1796 (1796-09-21)30 July 1801 (1801-07-30) Independent
  The Duke of Portland 30 July 1801 (1801-07-30)14 January 1805 (1805-01-14) Tory
Lord Privy Seal   The Earl of Westmorland February 1798 (1798-02)February 1806 (1806-02) Tory
Secretary of State for the Home Department  The Duke of Portland11 July 1794 (1794-07-11)30 July 1801 (1801-07-30) Tory
  The Lord Pelham of Stanmer 30 July 1801 (1801-07-30)17 August 1803 (1803-08-17) Tory
  Charles Philip Yorke 17 August 1803 (1803-08-17)12 May 1804 (1804-05-12) Tory
Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs   The Lord Hawkesbury 20 February 1801 (1801-02-20)14 May 1804 (1804-05-14) Tory
Secretary of State for War and the Colonies   The Lord Hobart 17 March 1801 (1801-03-17)12 May 1804 (1804-05-12) Tory
First Lord of the Admiralty   The Earl of St Vincent 1801 (1801)1804 (1804) Whig
Master-General of the Ordnance  The Earl of ChathamJune 1801 (1801-06)February 1806 (1806-02) Independent
President of the Board of Trade   The Earl of Liverpool 23 August 1786 (1786-08-23)7 June 1804 (1804-06-07) Independent
President of the Board of Control   The Earl of Dartmouth May 1801 (1801-05)July 1802 (1802-07) Tory
  Viscount Castlereagh July 1802 (1802-07)1806 (1806) Tory

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  1. Goldsmith, Thomas (2016). "British Diplomatic Attitudes towards Europe, 1801–4: Ignorant and Indifferent?". International History Review . 38 (4): 657–674. doi:10.1080/07075332.2015.1096807.
  2. Hall, C. D. (October 1988). "Addington at War: Unspectacular but not Unsuccessful". Historical Research . 61 (146): 306–315. doi:10.1111/j.1468-2281.1988.tb01069.x.
  3. McCahill, Michael W. (May 1987). "The House of Lords and the Collapse of Henry Addington's Administration". Parliamentary History . 6 (1): 69–94. doi:10.1111/j.1750-0206.1987.tb00412.x.
  4. "First Viscount Sidmouth". Napoleon & Empire. 9 April 2016.
  5. "Sidmouth, Viscount (UK, 1805)". Cracroft's Peerage. Heraldic Media Limited. Retrieved 16 December 2015.

Further reading

Parliament of Great Britain
Preceded by
Henry Jones
Sir James Tylney-Long
Member of Parliament for Devizes
With: Sir James Tylney-Long 1784–1788
Joshua Smith 1788–1800
Succeeded by
Parliament of the United Kingdom
Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Parliament of Great Britain
Member of Parliament for Devizes
Served alongside: Joshua Smith
Succeeded by
Thomas Estcourt
Joshua Smith
Political offices
Preceded by
William Wyndham Grenville
Speaker of the British House of Commons
Succeeded by
Sir John Mitford
Preceded by
William Pitt the Younger
Prime Minister of the United Kingdom
17 March 1801 – 10 May 1804
Succeeded by
William Pitt the Younger
First Lord of the Treasury
Chancellor of the Exchequer
Leader of the House of Commons
Preceded by
The Duke of Portland
Lord President of the Council
Succeeded by
The Earl Camden
Preceded by
The Earl of Westmorland
Lord Privy Seal
Succeeded by
The Lord Holland
Preceded by
The Earl Fitzwilliam
Lord President of the Council
Succeeded by
The Earl Camden
Preceded by
The Earl Camden
Lord President of the Council
Succeeded by
The Earl of Harrowby
Preceded by
Richard Ryder
Home Secretary
Succeeded by
Robert Peel
Preceded by
The Duke of Grafton
Oldest living Prime Minister of the United Kingdom
Succeeded by
The Earl Grey
Honorary titles
Preceded by
The Lord St Helens
Senior Privy Counsellor
Succeeded by
The Earl of Harrowby
Peerage of the United Kingdom
New creation Viscount Sidmouth
Succeeded by
William Leonard Addington