A group of naked British Whig politicians, including three Grenvilles, Sheridan, St. Vincent, Moira, Temple, Erskine, Howick, Petty, Whitbread, Sheridan, Windham, and Tomline, Bishop of Lincoln, crossing the river Styx in a boat named the Broad Bottom Packet. Sidmouth's head emerges from the water next to the boat. The boat's torn sail has inscription "Catholic Emancipation" and the centre mast is crowned with the Prince of Wales feathers and motto "Ich Dien". On the far side the shades of Cromwell, Charles Fox and Robespierre wave to them. Overhead, on brooms, are the Three Fates; to the left a three-headed dog. Above the boat three birds soil the boat and politicians.
James Gillray's Charon's Boat.—or—the Ghosts of "all the Talents" taking their last voyage (1807) caricatured the ministry's break-up. Lord Howick rows and St. Vincent steers.

The Ministry of All the Talents was a national unity government in the United Kingdom formed by William Grenville, 1st Baron Grenville, on his appointment as Prime Minister on 11 February 1806, following the death of William Pitt the Younger.[1][2]


With the country remaining at war, Grenville aimed to form the strongest possible government and so included most leading politicians from almost all groupings, although some followers of the younger Pitt, led by George Canning, refused to join.

The inclusion of Charles James Fox surprised some as King George III had previously been very hostile to Fox, but the King's willingness to put aside past enmities for the sake of national unity encouraged many others to join or support the government as well. The ministry boasted a fairly progressive agenda, much of it inherited from Pitt.

The Ministry of All the Talents had comparatively little success, failing to bring the sought-after peace with France. In fact, the war continued for nearly another decade. It did, however, abolish the slave trade in Britain in 1807 before breaking up in 1807 over the question of Catholic emancipation.

It was succeeded by the Second Portland ministry, headed by William Cavendish-Bentinck, 3rd Duke of Portland.

List of ministers

Members of the Cabinet are in bold face.

Office Name Date
First Lord of the Treasury
Leader of the House of Lords
The Lord Grenville 11 February 1806 –
 31 March 1807
Chancellor of the Exchequer Lord Henry Petty 11 February 1806
Joint Secretaries to the Treasury Nicholas Vansittart February 1806 –
 March 1807
John King February –
 July 1806
William Henry Fremantle July 1806 –
 March 1807
Junior Lords of the Treasury Viscount Althorp 11 February 1806
William Wickham 11 February 1806
John Courtenay 11 February 1806
Lord Chancellor The Lord Erskine February 1806
Lord President of the Council The Earl Fitzwilliam 19 February 1806
The Viscount Sidmouth 8 October 1806
Lord Privy Seal The Viscount Sidmouth February 1806
The Lord Holland 8 October 1806
Secretary of State for the Home Department The Earl Spencer 5 February 1806
Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department Charles Williams-Wynn February 1806
Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs
Leader of the House of Commons
Charles James Fox 7 February 1806 –
 13 September 1806
Viscount Howick 24 September 1806
Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs George Walpole February 1806 –
 March 1807
Sir Francis Vincent February 1806 –
 March 1807
Secretary of State for War and the Colonies William Windham February 1806
Under-Secretary of State for War and the Colonies Sir George Shee February 1806 –
 March 1807
Sir James Cockburn February 1806 –
 March 1807
First Lord of the Admiralty Charles Grey[a] 10 February 1806
Thomas Grenville 29 September 1806
First Secretary to the Admiralty William Marsden Continued in office
Civil Lords of the Admiralty Sir Philip Stephens 10 February –
 23 October 1806
Lord William Russell 10 February 1806 –
 31 March 1807
The Lord Kensington 10 February 1806 –
 31 March 1807
William Frankland 23 October 1806 –
 31 March 1807
President of the Board of Trade The Lord Auckland 5 February 1806
Vice-President of the Board of Trade[b] Earl Temple 5 February 1806
President of the Board of Control The Lord Minto 12 February 1806
Thomas Grenville 16 July 1806
George Tierney 1 October 1806
Secretary to the Board of Control Thomas Creevey 14 February 1806
Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster The Earl of Derby 12 February 1806
Master-General of the Ordnance The Earl of Moira February 1806
Lieutenant-General of the Ordnance Sir Thomas Trigge Continued in office
Treasurer of the Ordnance Alexander Davison 20 February 1806
Surveyor-General of the Ordnance James Murray Hadden Continued in office
Clerk of the Ordnance John Calcraft 22 February 1806
Clerk of the Deliveries of the Ordnance James Lloyd 12 March 1806
Storekeeper of the Ordnance John McMahon 22 February 1806
Treasurer of the Navy Richard Brinsley Sheridan February 1806
Secretary at War Richard FitzPatrick February 1806
Master of the Mint Lord Charles Spencer February 1806
Charles Bathurst October 1806
Paymaster of the Forces Earl Temple February 1806 –
 March 1807
Lord John Townshend February 1806 –
 March 1807
Postmaster General The Earl of Carysfort February 1806 –
 March 1807
The Earl of Buckinghamshire February 1806 –
 March 1807
Minister without Portfolio The Earl Fitzwilliam October 1806 –
 March 1807
Lord Lieutenant of Ireland The Duke of Bedford 12 March 1806
The Duke of Richmond 11 April 1807
Chief Secretary for Ireland William Elliot February 1806
Lord Chief Justice of the King's Bench The Lord Ellenborough Continued in office
Attorney General Sir Arthur Piggott 12 February 1806
Solicitor General Sir Samuel Romilly 12 February 1806
Judge Advocate General Nathaniel Bond 8 March 1806
Lord Advocate Henry Erskine February 1806
Solicitor General for Scotland John Clerk February 1806
Attorney General for Ireland William Plunket Continued in office
Solicitor General for Ireland Charles Kendal Bushe Continued in office
Lord Steward of the Household The Earl of Aylesford Continued in office
Treasurer of the Household Lord Ossulston 12 February 1806
Comptroller of the Household Lord George Thynne Continued in office
Lord Chamberlain of the Household The Earl of Dartmouth Continued in office
Vice-Chamberlain of the Household Lord John Thynne Continued in office
Master of the Horse The Earl of Carnarvon 8 February 1806
Master of the Buckhounds The Earl of Albemarle 12 February 1806
Captain of the Gentlemen Pensioners The Lord St John of Bletso 12 February 1806
Captain of the Yeomen of the Guard The Earl of Macclesfield Continued in office
  1. ^ Styled Viscount Howick from 11 April 1806.
  2. ^ Earl Temple concurrently served as Paymaster of the Forces and Vice-President of the Board of Trade.

Other uses of the term

The term has since been used in politics to describe an administration with members from more than one party or even a non-coalition government that enjoys cross-party support due to gifted and/or non-partisan members. Examples include the coalition government which led Great Britain through the Second World War and the Canadian government that won the 1896 election.[3] In Ireland, the Government of the 20th Dáil (a Fine GaelLabour coalition that was in office between 1973 and 1977) was widely called the "cabinet of all the talents."[4][5][6]


  1. ^ A.D. Harvey, "The Ministry of All the Talents: The Whigs in Office, February 1806 to March 1807." Historical Journal 15#4 (1972): 619-48. online.
  2. ^ Lord William Wyndham Grenville Archived 13 August 2009 at the Wayback Machine
  3. ^ John Holland Rose (1929). The Cambridge history of the British Empire: The Growth of the new Empire (Google books). Cambridge University Press. p. 511.
  4. ^ "40 years on, three 'talents' remain". independent.
  5. ^ Burns, John. "Cosgrave's 'no nonsense' farewell" – via www.thetimes.co.uk.
  6. ^ "Liam Cosgrave 1920-2017". 1 December 2017.