Secretary of State for War
Royal Coat of Arms of the United Kingdom (HM Government).svg
Royal Arms as used by His Majesty's Government
War Office
Member ofBritish Cabinet
Privy Council
SeatWestminster, London
AppointerThe British Monarch
on advice of the Prime Minister
Term lengthNo fixed term
Formation11 July 1794
First holderHenry Dundas
Final holderJames Ramsden
Abolished1 April 1964
DeputyUnder-Secretary of State for War
Edward Cardwell, later Viscount Cardwell, Secretary of State for War from 1868 to 1874; architect of the Cardwell Reforms
Edward Cardwell, later Viscount Cardwell, Secretary of State for War from 1868 to 1874; architect of the Cardwell Reforms

The Secretary of State for War, commonly called War Secretary, was a secretary of state in the Government of the United Kingdom, which existed from 1794 to 1801 and from 1854 to 1964. The Secretary of State for War headed the War Office and was assisted by a Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for War, a Parliamentary Private Secretary who was also a Member of Parliament (MP), and a Military Secretary, who was a general.

In the nineteenth century the post was twice held by future prime minister Henry Campbell-Bannerman. At the outset of the First World War, prime minister H. H. Asquith was filling the role, but he quickly appointed Lord Kitchener, who became famous while in this position for Lord Kitchener Wants You. He was replaced by David Lloyd George, who went on to become prime minister. Between the World Wars, the post was held by future prime minister Winston Churchill for two years. In the 1960s, John Profumo was filling this post at the time of the Profumo affair.

History

The position of Secretary of State for War was first held by Henry Dundas who was appointed in 1794. In 1801 the post became that of Secretary of State for War and the Colonies. The position of Secretary of State for War was re-instated in 1854 when the Secretary of State for the Colonies was created as a separate position.

In 1946, the three posts of Secretary of State for War, First Lord of the Admiralty, and Secretary of State for Air became formally subordinated to that of Minister of Defence, which had itself been created in 1940 for the co-ordination of defence and security issues.

On 1 April 1964, with the creation of a new united Ministry of Defence headed by the Secretary of State for Defence, the three service ministries as well as the post of Minister of Defence as created in 1940 were abolished.

Secretaries of State for War, 1794–1801

Name Portrait Term of office Time in office Political party Prime Minister
Henry Dundas
(also President of the Board of Control)
Henry Raeburn (1756-1823) - The 1st Viscount Melville - N03880 - National Gallery.jpg
11 July 1794 17 March 1801 6 years, 8 months and 6 days Tory William Pitt the Younger

For 1801–1854 see Secretary of State for War and the Colonies.

Secretaries of State for War, 1854–1964

Name Portrait Term of office Time in office Political party Prime Minister
The Duke of Newcastle
5thDukeOfNewcastle.jpg
12 June 1854 30 January 1855 7 months and 18 days Peelite Earl of Aberdeen
(Coalition)
The Lord Panmure
Thomas duncan.jpg
8 February 1855 21 February 1858 3 years and 13 days Whig Earl of Derby
Jonathan Peel
Jonathan Peel.JPG
26 February 1858 11 June 1859 1 year, 3 months and 16 days Conservative
Sidney Herbert
Sidney Herbert, 1st Baron Herbert of Lea.jpg
18 June 1859 22 July 1861 2 years, 1 month and 4 days Liberal Viscount Palmerston
Sir George Cornewall Lewis, Bt
Sir George Cornewall Lewis, 2nd Bt.jpg
23 July 1861 13 April 1863 1 year, 8 months and 21 days Liberal
The Earl de Grey and Ripon
George Robinson 1st Marquess of Ripon.jpg
28 April 1863 16 February 1866 2 years, 9 months and 19 days Liberal
Earl Russell
Marquess of Hartington
Picture of Spencer Cavendish, 8th Duke of Devonshire.jpg
16 February 1866 26 June 1866 4 months and 10 days Liberal
Jonathan Peel
Jonathan Peel.JPG
6 July 1866 8 March 1867 8 months and 2 days Conservative 14th Earl of Derby
Sir John Pakington, Bt
John Pakington 1st Baron Hampton (cropped).jpg
8 March 1867 1 December 1868 1 year, 8 months and 23 days Conservative
Benjamin Disraeli
Edward Cardwell
1stViscountCardwell.jpg
9 December 1868 17 February 1874 5 years, 2 months and 8 days Liberal William Ewart Gladstone
Gathorne Hardy
1st Earl of Cranbrook.jpg
21 February 1874 2 April 1878 4 years, 1 month and 12 days Conservative Benjamin Disraeli
Frederick Stanley
Frederick Arthur Stanley.jpg
2 April 1878 21 April 1880 2 years and 19 days Conservative
Hugh Childers
Hugh Childers, Lock & Whitfield woodburytype, 1876-83 crop.jpg
28 April 1880 16 December 1882 2 years, 7 months and 18 days Liberal William Ewart Gladstone
Marquess of Hartington
Picture of Spencer Cavendish, 8th Duke of Devonshire.jpg
16 December 1882 9 June 1885 2 years, 5 months and 24 days Liberal
W. H. Smith
William Henry Smith (1825–1891).jpg
24 June 1885 21 January 1886 6 months and 28 days Conservative Marquess of Salisbury
The Viscount Cranbrook
1st Earl of Cranbrook.jpg
21 January 1886 6 February 1886 16 days Conservative
Henry Campbell-Bannerman
Picture of Henry Campbell-Bannerman.jpg
6 February 1886 20 July 1886 5 months and 14 days Liberal William Ewart Gladstone
W. H. Smith
William Henry Smith (1825–1891).jpg
3 August 1886 14 January 1887 5 months and 11 days Conservative Marquess of Salisbury
Edward Stanhope
Edward Stanhope.jpg
14 January 1887 11 August 1892 5 years, 6 months and 28 days Conservative
Henry Campbell-Bannerman
Picture of Henry Campbell-Bannerman.jpg
18 August 1892 21 June 1895 2 years, 10 months and 3 days Liberal William Ewart Gladstone
Earl of Rosebery
The Marquess of Lansdowne
Marquess of Lansdowne crop.jpg
4 July 1895 12 November 1900 5 years, 4 months and 8 days Liberal Unionist Marquess of Salisbury
(Unionist Coalition)
St John Brodrick
St John Brodrick, 1st Earl of Midleton, circa 1910s.jpg
12 November 1900 6 October 1903 2 years, 10 months and 24 days Irish Unionist
Arthur Balfour
(Unionist Coalition)
H. O. Arnold-Forster
Portrait of H. O. Arnold-Forster.jpg
6 October 1903 4 December 1905 2 years, 1 month and 28 days Liberal Unionist
Richard Haldane
(Viscount Haldane from 1911)
Portrait of Richard Haldane, 1st Viscount Haldane.jpg
10 December 1905 12 June 1912 6 years, 6 months and 2 days Liberal Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman
H. H. Asquith
J. E. B. Seely
JEB Seely 1909.jpg
12 June 1912 30 March 1914 1 year, 9 months and 18 days Liberal
H. H. Asquith
(while Prime Minister)
H H Asquith 1908.jpg
30 March 1914 5 August 1914 4 months and 6 days Liberal
The Earl Kitchener
Lord Kitchener AWM A03547.jpg
5 August 1914 5 June 1916 1 year and 10 months none
H. H. Asquith
(Coalition)
David Lloyd George
PMLloydGeorge--nsillustratedwar03londuoft.jpg
6 July[1] 1916 5 December 1916 4 months and 29 days Liberal
The Earl of Derby
17th Earl of Derby.jpg
10 December 1916 18 April 1918 1 year, 4 months and 8 days Conservative David Lloyd George
(Coalition)
The Viscount Milner
Lord Milner.jpg
18 April 1918 10 January 1919 8 months and 23 days Conservative
Winston Churchill
Churchill 1904 Q 42037.jpg
10 January 1919 13 February 1921 2 years, 1 month and 3 days Liberal
Sir Laming Worthington-Evans, Bt
Worthington-Evans MP.jpg
13 February 1921 19 October 1922 1 year, 8 months and 6 days Conservative
The Earl of Derby
17th Earl of Derby.jpg
24 October 1922 22 January 1924 1 year, 2 months and 29 days Conservative Bonar Law
Stanley Baldwin
Stephen Walsh
Stephen Walsh MP.png
22 January 1924 3 November 1924 9 months and 12 days Labour Ramsay MacDonald
Sir Laming Worthington-Evans, Bt
Worthington-Evans MP.jpg
6 November 1924 4 June 1929 4 years, 6 months and 29 days Conservative Stanley Baldwin
Thomas Shaw
Tom Shaw - politician.jpg
7 June 1929 24 August 1931 2 years, 2 months and 17 days Labour Ramsay MacDonald
The Marquess of Crewe
Portrait of Robert Crewe-Milnes, 1st Marquess of Crewe.jpg
25 August 1931 5 November 1931 2 months and 11 days Liberal Ramsay MacDonald
(1st National Min.)
The Viscount Hailsham
Hailsham1.JPG
5 November 1931 7 June 1935 3 years, 7 months and 2 days Conservative Ramsay MacDonald
(2nd National Min.)
The Viscount Halifax
Lord Halifax 1937.jpg
7 June 1935 22 November 1935 5 months and 15 days Conservative Stanley Baldwin
(3rd National Min.)
Duff Cooper
Duff Cooper 1941.jpg
22 November 1935 28 May 1937 1 year, 6 months and 6 days Conservative
Leslie Hore-Belisha
Leslie Hore-Belisha 1951.jpg
28 May 1937 5 January 1940 2 years, 7 months and 8 days National Liberal Neville Chamberlain
(4th National Min.;
War Coalition)
Oliver Stanley
Oliver Stanley.png
5 January 1940 11 May 1940 4 months and 6 days Conservative
Anthony Eden
Anthony Eden (retouched).jpg
11 May 1940 22 December 1940 7 months and 11 days Conservative P.M. Min.Defence
Winston Churchill
(War Coalition)
David Margesson
David Margesson.jpg
22 December 1940 22 February 1942 1 year and 2 months Conservative
Sir P. J. Grigg
Percy James Grigg.jpg
22 February 1942 26 July 1945 3 years, 5 months and 4 days National
Jack Lawson
Lord Lawson of Beamish.jpg
3 August 1945 4 October 1946 1 year, 2 months and 1 day Labour Attlee Attlee
Frederick Bellenger
Frederick Bellenger.jpg
4 October 1946 7 October 1947 1 year and 3 days Labour A.V. Alexander
Emanuel Shinwell
Emanuel Shinwel HU 059765 (crop).jpg
7 October 1947 28 February 1950 2 years, 4 months and 21 days Labour
John Strachey
John Strachey.jpg
28 February 1950 26 October 1951 1 year, 7 months and 28 days Labour Shinwell
Antony Head 31 October 1951 18 October 1956 4 years, 11 months and 18 days Conservative Churchill Churchill
H. Alexander
Macmillan
Eden Lloyd
Monckton
John Hare
John Hare 1929.jpg
18 October 1956 6 January 1958 1 year, 2 months and 19 days Conservative Head
Macmillan Sandys
Christopher Soames
Christopher Soames.jpg
6 January 1958 27 July 1960 2 years, 6 months and 21 days Conservative
Watkinson
John Profumo
John Profumo.jpg
27 July 1960 5 June 1963 2 years, 10 months and 9 days Conservative
Thorneycroft
Joseph Godber 27 June 1963 21 October 1963 3 months and 24 days Conservative
James Ramsden
No image.svg
21 October 1963 1 April 1964 5 months and 11 days Conservative Douglas-Home

See also

Principal political leaders of the English/British Armed Forces:
Royal Navy British Army Royal Air Force Co-ordination
1628 First Lord of the Admiralty
(1628–1964)
1794 Secretary of State for War
(1794–1801)
1801 Secretary of State for War and the Colonies
(1801–1854)
1854 Secretary of State for War
(1854–1964)
1919 Secretary of State for Air
(1919–1964)
1936 Minister for Co-ordination of Defence
(1936–1940)
1940 Minister of Defence (1940–1964)
1964 Secretary of State for Defence (1964–present)

References

  1. ^ Times, 7 July 1916