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First Lord

First 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, usually but not always the Prime Minister. Currently, it is held by Gordon Brown. 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 the Chancellor of the Exchequer.

Lords of the Treasury

Beginning in the 17th century, the Treasury was frequently entrusted to a commission, rather than to a single individual, and after 1714, it was always in commission. The commissioners were referred to as Lords Commissioners of the Treasury, and given a number based on seniority. Eventually, the First Lord of the Treasury came to be seen as the natural head of any ministry, and, from Robert Walpole on, began to be known, unofficially, as the prime minister. Indeed, the term Prime Minister was sometimes used in a derogatory way. 'Prime minister' was first used officially in a royal warrant in 1905.

Before 1827, the First Lord of the Treasury, when a commoner, also held the office of Chancellor of the Exchequer, while if the First Lord was a peer, the Second Lord would usually serve as Chancellor. Since 1827, the Chancellor of the Exchequer has always been Second Lord of the Treasury when he has not also been the Prime Minister. By convention, the other Lords Commissioners of the Treasury are Government Whips in the House of Commons.

Official residences

Contrary to popular belief, 10 Downing Street is the residence of the First Lord of the Treasury, not the prime minister. There is in fact no prime ministerial residence apart from Chequers, a country house in Buckinghamshire used as a weekend and holiday home; however, all modern prime ministers have simultaneously been First Lord of the Treasury, so 10 Downing Street has come to be identified closely with the premiership.

Similarly, 11 Downing Street is the residence of the Second Lord of the Treasury, not the residence of the Chancellor of the Exchequer. As all chancellors since 1755 who were not themselves prime minister have also been Second Lord, people often wrongly presume that 11 Downing Street is the Chancellor's residence.

List of First Lords of the Treasury, 1714–1905

Much of this list overlaps with the list of Prime Ministers of the United Kingdom, but there are some notable differences. Those First Lords who were simultaneously Prime Minister are indicated by the use of bold typeface. For earlier Lord Treasurers and First Lords, see List of Lord Treasurers.
Name Entered office Left office Political party
Earl of Halifax 13 October 1714 19 May 1715 Whig
Earl of Carlisle 23 May 1715 10 October 1715 Whig
Robert Walpole 10 October 1715 12 April 1717 Whig
Earl Stanhope 12 April 1717 21 March 1718 Whig
Earl of Sunderland 21 March 1718 4 April 1721 Whig
Sir Robert Walpole 4 April 1721 11 February 1742 Whig
Earl of Wilmington 16 February 1742 2 July 1743 Whig
Henry Pelham 27 August 1743 6 March 1754 Whig
Duke of Newcastle-upon-Tyne 16 March 1754 16 November 1756 Whig
Duke of Devonshire 16 November 1756 25 June 1757 Whig
Duke of Newcastle-upon-Tyne 2 July 1757 26 May 1762 Whig
Earl of Bute 26 May 1762 16 April 1763 Tory
George Grenville 16 April 1763 13 July 1765 Whig
Marquess of Rockingham 13 July 1765 30 July 1766 Whig
Duke of Grafton 30 July 1766 28 January 1770 Whig
Lord North 28 January 1770 22 March 1782 Tory
Marquess of Rockingham 27 March 1782 1 July 1782 Whig
Earl of Shelburne 4 July 1782 2 April 1783 Whig
Duke of Portland 2 April 1783 19 December 1783 Whig
William Pitt the Younger 19 December 1783 14 March 1801 Tory
Henry Addington 17 March 1801 10 May 1804 Tory
William Pitt the Younger 10 May 1804 23 January 1806 Tory
Lord Grenville 11 February 1806 31 March 1807 Whig
Duke of Portland 31 March 1807 4 October 1809 Whig
Spencer Perceval 4 October 1809 11 May 1812 Tory
Earl of Liverpool 9 June 1812 10 April 1827 Tory
George Canning 10 April 1827 8 August 1827 Tory
Viscount Goderich 31 August 1827 22 January 1828 Tory
Duke of Wellington 22 January 1828 22 November 1830 Tory
Earl Grey 22 November 1830 16 July 1834 Whig
Viscount Melbourne 16 July 1834 17 November 1834 Whig
Sir Robert Peel 10 December 1834 8 April 1835 Tory
Viscount Melbourne 18 April 1835 30 August 1841 Whig
Sir Robert Peel 30 August 1841 29 June 1846 Conservative
Lord John Russell 30 June 1846 23 February 1852 Whig
Earl of Derby 23 February 1852 19 December 1852 Conservative
Earl of Aberdeen 19 December 1852 6 February 1855 Peelite
Viscount Palmerston 6 February 1855 20 February 1858 Liberal
Earl of Derby 20 February 1858 12 June 1859 Conservative
Viscount Palmerston 12 June 1859 18 October 1865 Liberal
Earl Russell 29 October 1865 28 June 1866 Liberal
Earl of Derby 28 June 1866 27 February 1868 Conservative
Benjamin Disraeli 27 February 1868 3 December 1868 Conservative
William Ewart Gladstone 3 December 1868 20 February 1874 Liberal
Benjamin Disraeli
(from 1876 as Earl of Beaconsfield)
20 February 1874 23 April 1880 Conservative
William Ewart Gladstone 23 April 1880 23 June 1885 Liberal
Earl of Iddesleigh 29 June 1885 1 February 1886 Conservative
William Ewart Gladstone 1 February 1886 25 July 1886 Liberal
Marquess of Salisbury 3 August 1886 14 January 1887 Conservative
William Henry Smith 14 January 1887 6 October 1891 Conservative
Arthur Balfour 6 October 1891 15 August 1892 Conservative
William Ewart Gladstone 15 August 1892 5 March 1894 Liberal
Earl of Rosebery 5 March 1894 25 June 1895 Liberal
Arthur Balfour 25 June 1895 5 December 1905 Conservative
Thereafter the First Lord of the Treasury has always been identical to the Prime Minister (see list).

See also

References

  • E.B. Fryde, D.E. Greenway, S. Porter, and I. Roy, ed. Handbook of British Chronology, 3rd Edition
  • Haydn, Joseph Timothy. The Book of Dignities (1894)

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