Secretary of State for the Colonies

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Secretary of State for the Colonies
Inaugural holder1st: The Earl of Hillsborough
2nd: Sir George Grey
Formation1st: 27 February 1768
2nd: 12 June 1854
Final holder1st: Welbore Ellis
2nd: Frederick Lee
Abolished1st: 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 Joseph Chamberlain in colour.jpg
Joseph Chamberlain; Secretary of State for the Colonies, 1895–1903

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.

Contents

History

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 Colonies

Secretaries of State for the Colonies (1768–1782)

Sometimes referred to as Secretary of State for the American Colonies.

Secretary of State for the Colonies [4]
PortraitName
(Birth–Death)
Term of officeMinistryMonarch
(Reign)
Marquess of Downshire.jpg The Right Honourable
Wills Hill
1st Earl of Hillsborough
PC

(1718–1793)
27 February
1768
27 August
1772
 
Grafton
 
George III
Coat of Arms of Great Britain (1714-1801).svg
(1760–1820)
North
William Legge, 2nd Earl of Dartmouth.jpg The Right Honourable
William Legge
2nd Earl of Dartmouth
PC FRS

(1731–1801)
27 August
1772
10 November
1775
George Germain, 1st Viscount Sackville.PNG The Right Honourable
Lord George Germain

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

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

Office abolished in 1782 after the loss of the American Colonies. [5]

Responsibility for the Colonies thereafter held by:

Secretaries of State for the Colonies (1854–1966)

Secretary of State for the Colonies
PortraitName
(Birth–Death)
Term of officePartyMinistryMonarch
(Reign)
Sir George Grey, 2nd Bt.jpg The Right Honourable
Sir George Grey
Bt

MP for Morpeth
(1799–1882)
12 June
1854
8 February
1855
Whig Aberdeen
( PeeliteWhig )
Victoria
Coat of Arms of the United Kingdom (1837-1952).svg
(1837–1901)
Sidney Herbert, 1st Baron Herbert of Lea.jpg The Right Honourable
Sidney Herbert

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

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

MP for Southwark
(1810–1855)
21 July
1855
21 November
1855
Radical
Henry Labouchere, Baron Taunton by William Menzies Tweedie.jpg The Right Honourable
Henry Labouchere

MP for Taunton
(1798–1869)
21 November
1855
21 February
1858
Whig
Edward Stanley, 15th Earl of Derby 2.jpg The Right Honourable
Edward Stanley
Lord Stanley

MP for King's Lynn
(1826–1893)
26 February
1858
5 June
1858
Conservative Derby–Disraeli II
Edward George Earle Lytton Bulwer Lytton, 1st Baron Lytton by Henry William Pickersgill.jpg The Right Honourable
Sir Edward Bulwer-Lytton
Bt

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

(1811–1864)
18 June
1859
7 April
1864
Liberal Palmerston II
1stViscountCardwell.jpg The Right Honourable
Edward Cardwell

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

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

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

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

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

(1831–1890)
21 February
1874
4 February
1878
Conservative Disraeli II
St Aldwyn Michael Edward Hicks-Beach (1st Earl).jpg The Right Honourable
Sir Michael Hicks Beach
Bt DL

MP for Gloucestershire East
(1837–1916)
4 February
1878
21 April
1880
Conservative
1st Earl of Kimberley 1868.jpg The Right Honourable
John Wodehouse
1st Earl of Kimberley
PC

(1826–1902)
21 April
1880
16 December
1882
Liberal Gladstone II
Edward Stanley, 15th Earl of Derby 2.jpg The Right Honourable
Edward Stanley
15th Earl of Derby
KG PC FRS

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

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

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

MP for Horncastle
(1840–1893)
3 August
1886
14 January
1887
Conservative Salisbury II
Henry Holland, 1st Viscount Knutsford.png The Right Honourable
Henry Holland
1st Baron Knutsford
Bt GCMG PC

(1825–1914)
14 January
1887
11 August
1892
Conservative
George Robinson 1st Marquess of Ripon.jpg 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
Joseph Chamberlain in colour.jpg The Right Honourable
Joseph Chamberlain

MP for Birmingham West
(1836–1914)
29 June
1895
16 September
1903
Liberal Unionist Salisbury
(III & IV)

( Con.Lib.U. )
Edward VII
Coat of Arms of the United Kingdom (1837-1952).svg
(1901–1910)
Balfour
( Con.Lib.U. )
Alfred Lyttelton.jpg The Right Honourable
Alfred Lyttelton
QC

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

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

(1858–1945)
12 April
1908
3 November
1910
Liberal Asquith
(IIII)
George V
Coat of Arms of the United Kingdom (1837-1952).svg
(1910–1936)
Lewis Viscount Harcourt by Solomon J Solomon.jpg The Right Honourable
Lewis Vernon Harcourt

MP for Rossendale
(1863–1922)
3 November
1910
25 May
1915
Liberal
Andrew Bonar Law 02.jpg The Right Honourable
Bonar Law

MP for Bootle
(1858–1923)
25 May
1915
10 December
1916
Conservative Asquith Coalition
( Lib.Con.Lab. )
Lord Long .jpg 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. )
Lord Milner.jpg The Right Honourable
Alfred Milner
1st Viscount Milner
GCB GCMG PC

(1854–1925)
10 January
1919
13 February
1921
Liberal
Churchill 1904 Q 42037.jpg The Right Honourable
Winston Churchill

MP for Dundee
(1874–1965)
13 February
1921
19 October
1922
Liberal
GG Duke of Devonshire.jpg 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
James Henry Thomas circa 1920.jpg The Right Honourable
James Henry Thomas

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

MP for Birmingham Sparkbrook
(1873–1955)
6 November
1924
4 June
1929
Conservative Baldwin II
Sidney Webb 01.jpg The Right Honourable
Sidney Webb
1st Baron Passfield
PC

(1859–1947)
7 June
1929
24 August
1931
Labour MacDonald II
James Henry Thomas circa 1920.jpg 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.)
Lord Swinton.jpg 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.)
Malcolmmacdonald.jpg 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. )
James Henry Thomas circa 1920.jpg The Right Honourable
James Henry Thomas

MP for Derby
(1874–1949)
22 November
1935
22 May
1936
National Labour
Edward VIII
Coat of Arms of the United Kingdom (1837-1952).svg
(1936)
William Ormsby-Gore, 4th Baron Harlech.jpg The Right Honourable
William Ormsby-Gore

MP for Stafford
(1885–1964)
28 May
1936
16 May
1938
Conservative
George VI
Coat of Arms of the United Kingdom (1837-1952).svg
(1936–1952)
National IV
( Con.N.Lab.Lib.N. )
Malcolmmacdonald.jpg 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. )
George Lloyd, 1st Baron Lloyd.png 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)
Walter Guinness, 1st Baron Moyne.png The Right Honourable
Walter Guinness
1st Baron Moyne
DSO PC

(1880–1944)
8 February
1941
22 February
1942
Conservative
Robert Gascoyne-Cecil, 5th Marquess of Salisbury.jpg The Right Honourable
Robert Gascoyne-Cecil
Viscount Cranborne

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

MP for Westmorland
(1896–1950)
22 November
1942
26 July
1945
Conservative
Churchill Caretaker
( Con.N.Lib. )
George Hall, 1st Viscount Hall.png The Right Honourable
George Henry Hall

MP for Aberdare
(1881–1965)
3 August
1945
4 October
1946
Labour Attlee
(I & II)
No image.svg The Right Honourable
Arthur Creech Jones

MP for Shipley
(1891–1964)
4 October
1946
28 February
1950
Labour
No image.svg The Right Honourable
Jim Griffiths

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

MP for Aldershot
(1893–1972)
28 October
1951
28 July
1954
Conservative Churchill III
Elizabeth II
Royal Coat of Arms of the United Kingdom.svg
(1952–present)
No image.svg The Right Honourable
Alan Lennox-Boyd

MP for Mid Bedfordshire
(1904–1983)
28 July
1954
14 October
1959
Conservative
Eden
Macmillan
(I & II)
The National Archives UK - CO 1069-166-17 Macleod crop.jpg The Right Honourable
Iain Macleod

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

MP for Barnet
(1917–1979)
9 October
1961
13 July
1962
Conservative
Duncan Sandys 1975.png The Right Honourable
Duncan Sandys

MP for Streatham
(1908–1987)
13 July
1962
16 October
1964
Conservative
Douglas-Home
No image.svg The Right Honourable
Anthony Greenwood

MP for Rossendale
(1911–1982)
18 October
1964
23 December
1965
Labour Wilson
(I & II)
Lord Longford 4 Allan Warren.jpg The Right Honourable
Frank Pakenham
7th Earl of Longford
PC

(1905–2001)
23 December
1965
6 April
1966
Labour
No image.svg 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 Colonies

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

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Dominions were the semi-independent polities under the British Crown that constituted the British Empire, beginning with Canadian Confederation in 1867. "Dominion status" was a constitutional term of art used to signify an independent Commonwealth realm; they included Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Newfoundland, South Africa, and the Irish Free State. India and Pakistan were also dominions for a short period of time, as was Ceylon. The Balfour Declaration of 1926 recognised the Dominions as "autonomous Communities within the British Empire", and the 1931 Statute of Westminster confirmed their full legislative independence.

References

  1. American and West Indian colonies before 1782, National Archives
  2. 1 2 Records of the Board of Trade and of successor and related bodies, Department code BT, The National Archives
  3. Council of trade and plantations 1696-1782, in Office-Holders in Modern Britain: Volume 3, Officials of the Boards of Trade 1660-1870, p.28-37. University of London, London, 1974.
  4. Chris Cook and John Stevenson, British Historical Facts 1830–1900 (Macmillan Press 1980) 29.
  5. E.B. Fryde and others, Handbook of British Chronology (3rd edn, Cambridge University Press 1986) 125.
History of English and British government departments with responsibility for foreign affairs
and those with responsibility for the colonies, dominions and the Commonwealth
Northern Department
1660–1782
Secretaries
Undersecretaries
Foreign Office
1782–1968
Secretaries
Ministers
Undersecretaries
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
1968–present
Secretaries
Ministers
Undersecretaries
Southern Department
1660–1768
Secretaries
Undersecretaries
Colonial Office
1768–1782
Secretaries
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Home Office
1782–1794
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War Office
1794–1801
Secretaries
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War and Colonial Office
1801–1854
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Colonial Office
1854–1925
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Colonial Office
1925–1966
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Commonwealth Office
1966–1968
Secretaries
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1768–1782
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Dominions Office
1925–1947
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Commonwealth Relations Office
1947–1966
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. India Office
1858–1937
Secretaries
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India Office
and
Burma Office
1937–1947
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