|Secretary at War|
August 1683 –1704
|Preceded by||Matthew Locke|
|Succeeded by||George Clarke|
|Died||16 August 1717 (aged 68)|
|Alma mater||Brasenose College,Oxford|
William Blathwayt (or Blathwayte) (1649 –16 August 1717) was an English diplomat,public official and Whig politician who sat in the English and British House of Commons between 1685 and 1710. He established the War Office as a department of the British Government and played an important part in administering the English (later British) colonies of North America.
Blaythwayt was baptized in the parish of St Martin-in-the-Fields in London on 2 March 1649,the only son of William Blathwayt,barrister,of the Middle Temple,and his wife Anne Povey,daughter of Justinian Povey of Hounslow,Middlesex,who was accountant-general to Queen Anne of Denmark. He was born to a well-to-do family of Protestant merchants and lawyers. After his father's death,his mother remarried Thomas Vivian,of the prominent Cornish family. In 1665 he was admitted at Middle Temple.
Blaythwayt joined the diplomatic service in 1668 when his uncle Thomas Povey,an influential London lawyer,found him a post as Clerk of the English embassy at The Hague. He followed this in 1672 with a year as Clerk of Embassy at Copenhagen and Stockholm. From 1672 to 1673 he travelled in Sweden,Germany,Italy,Switzerland and France and in the course of his tour,he studied at Padua University.
Blaythwayt returned to London in the early 1670s,and was assistant secretary of trade and plantations from 1675 to 1679. He became a Clerk of the Privy Council in Extraordinary in 1678 and in 1679 was promoted to secretary of trade and plantations. Also in 1679,he was considered "as a very fit person" to be assistant to the secretary of the council,being heavily involved in the administration of England's colonies in North America. In 1680,he became the first surveyor and auditor-general of royal revenues in America. He became under-secretary of state (north) in 1681 until he obtained by purchase in 1683 the office of Secretary at War which he held to February 1689. His role as Secretary at War was originally merely the role of secretary to the Commander-in-Chief of the British Army but under Blathwayt the remit of the Secretary was greatly expanded to encompass all areas of Army administration. He effectively established the War Office as a department of the government,although he had very little input into the actual conduct of wars. Issues of strategic policy during wartime were managed by the Northern and Southern Departments (the predecessors of today's Foreign Office and Home Office respectively).
At the 1685 English general election Blathwayt was returned as Member of Parliament for Newtown in the government interest. He was not active in the Parliament,and was appointed to only one committee to examine the disbandment accounts.
In October 1686,Blaythwayt became a Clerk of the Privy Council in Ordinary. He became the secretary of the Privy Council's committee on trade and foreign plantations —in effect,colonial under-secretary. It was in this capacity that he became a key figure in American affairs. He was responsible for establishing the charter of the Crown colony of the Province of Massachusetts Bay,the predecessor of the state of Massachusetts. He did much to promote trade in America and benefited considerably from gifts and bribes received in connection with his office (as was the usual practice in his day). His rise was noted by many of his contemporaries;the diarist John Evelyn commended him as "very dexterous in business" and as one who had "raised himself by his industry from very moderate circumstances."On 23 December 1686,he married Mary Wynter,daughter of John Wynter of Dyrham Park.
Blaythwayt was a witness for the prosecution at the Trial of the Seven Bishops in 1688 and he lost the politically sensitive post as secretary at war after the Glorious Revolution. He was restored to the post in May 1689 and held it to 1704.
Blaythwayt was returned as a Whig Member of Parliament for Bath in 1693 and held the seat until 1710. He was appointed Lord of Trade in 1696,holding the post until 1707.
Blathwayt retired to Dyrham in 1710 (his wife had died in 1691). He remained there until his death on 16 August 1717 and was buried in the local churchyard.
Blaythwayt built a large mansion house for himself at Dyrham Park near Bristol,which he decorated with numerous Dutch Old Masters and sumptuous fabrics and furnishings.His descendants sold a large part of his art collection in 1765,but some of the paintings have been purchased back or remain at Dyrham Park.
Anthony Ashley Cooper,1st Earl of Shaftesbury PC FRS was a prominent English politician during the Interregnum and the reign of King Charles II. A founder of the Whig party,he was also the patron of John Locke.
Sir Edward Nicholas was an English office holder and politician who served as Secretary of State to Charles I and Charles II. He also sat in the House of Commons at various times between 1621 and 1629. He served as secretary to Edward la Zouche and the Duke of Buckingham in the Admiraltyand became a clerk of the Privy Council. He supported the Royalist cause in the English Civil War and accompanied the court into exile,before assuming the post of Secretary of State on the Restoration.
The Board of Trade is a British government body concerned with commerce and industry,currently within the Department for International Trade. Its full title is The Lords of the Committee of the Privy Council appointed for the consideration of all matters relating to Trade and Foreign Plantations,but is commonly known as the Board of Trade,and formerly known as the Lords of Trade and Plantations or Lords of Trade,and it has been a committee of the Privy Council of the United Kingdom. The board has gone through several evolutions,beginning with extensive involvement in colonial matters in the 17th century,to powerful regulatory functions in the Victorian Era,to virtually being dormant in the last third of 20th century. In 2017,it was revitalised as an advisory board headed by the International Trade Secretary who has nominally held the title of President of the Board of Trade,and who at present is the only privy counsellor of the board,the other members of the present board filling roles as advisers.
John Rushworth was an English lawyer,historian and politician who sat in the House of Commons at various times between 1657 and 1685. He compiled a series of works covering the English Civil Wars throughout the 17th century called Historical Collections and also known as the Rushworth Papers.
Dyrham is a village and parish in South Gloucestershire,England.
Dyrham Park is a baroque English country house in an ancient deer park near the village of Dyrham in South Gloucestershire,England. The house,attached orangery,stable block,and accompanying parish church are Grade I listed buildings,while the park is Grade II* listed on the National Register of Historic Parks and Gardens.
James Vernon (1646–1727) was an English administrator and Whig politician who sat in the English and British House of Commons between 1679 and 1710. He was Secretary of State for both the Northern and the Southern Departments during the reign of William III.
George Berkeley,1st Earl of Berkeley PC FRS was an English merchant and politician who sat in the House of Commons from 1654 until 1658 when he succeeded to the peerage.
Sir John Gibson was the founder of the 28th Regiment of Foot. He was also the Member of Parliament for Portsmouth in 1696–1698 and 1702.
Thomas Povey FRS,was a London merchant-politician. He was active in colonial affairs from the 1650s,but neutral enough in his politics to be named a member from 1660 of Charles II's Council for Foreign Plantations. A powerful figure in the not-yet professionalised First English Empire,he was both "England's first colonial civil servant" and at the same time "a typical office holder of the Restoration". Both Samuel Pepys and William Berkeley,Governor of Virginia,railed at times against Povey's incompetence and maladministration.
Sir Thomas Meautys (1592–1649) was an English civil servant and politician who sat in the House of Commons between 1621 and 1640.
Francis Gwyn PC,of Llansannor Court,was a Welsh Tory politician who sat in the English and House of Commons at various times between 1673 and 1727.
Sir John Povey (1621–1679) was an English-born judge who had a highly successful career in Ireland,holding office as Baron of the Court of Exchequer (Ireland) and subsequently as Lord Chief Justice of Ireland during the years 1673–9.
Sir William Davys was an Irish barrister and judge who held the offices of Recorder of Dublin,Prime Serjeant and Lord Chief Justice of Ireland. He was suspected of Roman Catholic sympathies and was threatened with removal from the bench as a result,but he succeeded in retaining office until his death,due largely to his influential family connections.
James Grahme or Graham (1649–1730) was an English army officer,courtier,politician who sat in the English and British House of Commons between 1685 and 1727. After the Glorious Revolution he was involved for ten years in Jacobite schemes and plots.
Colonel Martin Bladen (1680–1746) was a British politician who sat in the Irish House of Commons from 1713 to 1727 and in the British House of Commons from 1715 to 1746. He was a Commissioner of the Board of Trade and Plantations,a Privy Councillor in Ireland and Comptroller of the Mint.
Maurice Berkeley,3rd Viscount Fitzhardinge,known as Sir Maurice Berkeley,Bt from 1660 to 1668,was an English politician,of the Bruton branch of the Berkeley family.
Edward Ashe of Heytesbury,Wiltshire was an English landowner,and Member of Parliament for Heytesbury for 52 years,from 1695 to 1747.
Matthew Ducie Moreton,1st Baron Ducie (1663–1735) of Moreton,Staffordshire,and Tortworth,Gloucestershire,was a British Army officer and politician who sat in the House of Commons between 1708 and 1720 when he was raised to the peerage as Baron Ducie.
Courtney, William Prideaux (1886). 5. London: Smith, Elder & Co. p. 206.. In Stephen, Leslie (ed.). Dictionary of National Biography . Vol.