The Earl of Iddesleigh
Iddesleigh in 1870s
President of the Board of Trade
In office
6 July 1866 – 8 March 1867
MonarchVictoria
Prime MinisterThe Earl of Derby
Preceded byThomas Milner Gibson
Succeeded byThe Duke of Richmond
Chancellor of the Exchequer
In office
21 February 1874 – 21 April 1880
MonarchVictoria
Prime MinisterBenjamin Disraeli
Preceded byWilliam Ewart Gladstone
Succeeded byWilliam Ewart Gladstone
Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs
In office
3 August 1886 – 12 January 1887
MonarchVictoria
Prime MinisterThe Marquess of Salisbury
Preceded byThe Earl of Rosebery
Succeeded byThe Marquess of Salisbury
Personal details
Born27 October 1818 (1818-10-27)
London
Died12 January 1887(1887-01-12) (aged 68)
London
NationalityBritish
Political partyConservative
Spouse(s)Cecilia Frances Farrer (died 1910)
Children10
Alma materBalliol College, Oxford

Stafford Henry Northcote, 1st Earl of Iddesleigh GCB PC FRS (27 October 1818 – 12 January 1887), known as Sir Stafford Northcote, Bt from 1851 to 1885, was a British Conservative politician. He served as Chancellor of the Exchequer between 1874 and 1880 and as Foreign Secretary between 1885 and 1886

According to Nigel Keohane, historians have portrayed him "as a man who fell short of the ultimate achievement of being prime minister largely because of personal weakness, and lack of political virility and drive."[1]

Background and education

Northcote (pronounced "Northcut") was born at Portland Place, London, on 27 October 1818.[2] He was the eldest son of Henry Stafford Northcote (1792–1850), eldest son of Sir Stafford Henry Northcote, 7th Baronet. His mother was Agnes Mary (died 1840), daughter of Thomas Cockburn. His paternal ancestors had long been settled in Devon, tracing their descent from Galfridas de Nordcote who settled there in 1103. The family home was situated at Pynes House northwest of Exeter. Northcote was educated at Eton and Balliol College, Oxford and was called to the bar, Inner Temple, in 1847.

Early political career

In 1843 Northcote became private secretary to William Ewart Gladstone at the Board of Trade. Northcote was afterwards legal secretary to the board and, after acting as one of the secretaries to the Great Exhibition of 1851, co-operated with Sir Charles Trevelyan in framing the Northcote–Trevelyan Report, which revolutionized the conditions of appointment to the Civil Service. He succeeded his grandfather, Sir Stafford Henry Northcote (1762–1851), as 8th baronet in 1851. He entered Parliament in 1855 as Conservative Member of Parliament for Dudley with the support of the influential local landowner Lord Ward.[3] However, tensions between Northcote and Lord Ward soon arose, in particular over a vote over conflict with China in which the two men supported opposite sides in the vote.[4] Northcote subsequently decided not to contest Dudley again and stood unsuccessfully for North Devon in 1857. He returned to Parliament the following year, when he was elected for Stamford in 1858, a seat that he exchanged in 1866 for North Devon. He was briefly Financial Secretary to the Treasury under the Earl of Derby from January to July 1859.

Later political career

The Earl of Iddesleigh by Edwin Long.
The Earl of Iddesleigh by Edwin Long.

Steadily supporting his party, he became President of the Board of Trade in 1866, Secretary of State for India in 1867 and Chancellor of the Exchequer in 1874. In 1870, during the interval between the last two appointments, he was the Governor of the Hudson's Bay Company, North America's oldest company (established by an English royal charter in 1670), when it sold the Northwest Territories to Canada. Northcote was one of the commissioners for the settlement of the Alabama Claims with the United States, culminating with the Treaty of Washington in 1871.

On Benjamin Disraeli's elevation to the House of Lords as Earl of Beaconsfield in 1876, Northcote became Leader of the Conservatives in the Commons. As a finance minister, he was largely continued the lines of policy laid down by Gladstone. However, he distinguished himself by his dealings with the debt, especially his introduction of the new sinking fund in 1876 by which he fixed the annual charge for the debt in such a way as to provide for a regular series of payments off the capital.

His temper as leader was, however, too gentle to satisfy the more ardent spirits among his own followers. Party cabals (in which Lord Randolph Churchill took a leading part) led to Northcote's elevation to the Lords in 1885, when Lord Salisbury became prime minister. Taking the titles of Earl of Iddesleigh and Viscount St Cyres, he was included in the cabinet as First Lord of the Treasury. In Lord Salisbury's 1886 ministry he became Foreign Secretary, but the arrangement was not a comfortable one, and his resignation had just been decided upon when on 12 January 1887, he died very suddenly at the First Lord of the Treasury's official residence, 10 Downing Street.

Other public positions

Northcote was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1875[5] and Lord Rector of Edinburgh University in 1883, in which capacity he addressed the students on the subject of "Desultory Reading". From 1886 to 1887 he was also Lord Lieutenant of Devon. He was not a prolific or notable writer, but amongst his works were Twenty Years of Financial Policy (1862), a valuable study of Gladstonian finance, and Lectures and Essays (1887).[6] His Life by Andrew Lang appeared in 1890. Northcote was appointed a CB in 1851 and a GCB in 1880 and was sworn of the Privy Council in 1866. He was one of only two people to hold the office of First Lord of the Treasury without ever being Prime Minister.[7]

Family and personal life

Portrait of Sir Stafford Northcote, c.1850s
Portrait of Sir Stafford Northcote, c.1850s

Northcote married Cecilia Frances Farrer (died 1910), daughter of Thomas Farrer and sister of Thomas Farrer, 1st Baron Farrer, in 1843. They had seven sons and three daughters. His second son, Henry, 1st Baron Northcote, was Governor-General of Australia. Another son, Amyas, later became known as a writer of ghost stories.[8]

In the aftermath of the British Expedition to Abyssinia, Northcote built up a small but prestigious collection of Ethiopian artefacts that is now in the British Museum.[9]

The 1881 Census shows him living next door to Lord Randolph Churchill MP and family, at 30 St James Place, Westminster.[citation needed]

References

  1. ^ Nigel Thomas Keohane, "The Lost Leader: Sir Stafford Northcote and the Leadership of the Conservative Party, 1876–85." Parliamentary History 27.3 (2008): 361-379.
  2. ^ Williams, William Retlaw (1897). The parliamentary history of the county of Worcester. Hereford: Jakeman and Carver. p. 182.
  3. ^ Lang, Andrew (1890). Life, Letters, and Diaries of Sir Stafford Northcote, First Earl of Iddesleigh. Edinburgh and London: William Blackwood and Sons. pp. 109–113.
  4. ^ Lang, Andrew (1890). Life, Letters, and Diaries of Sir Stafford Northcote, First Earl of Iddesleigh. Edinburgh and London: William Blackwood and Sons. pp. 147–151.
  5. ^ "Fellow Details". Royal Society. Retrieved 27 January 2017.
  6. ^ "Review of Lectures and Essays by Sir Stafford Henry Northcote". The Athenæum (3113): 826–827. 25 June 1887.
  7. ^ The other was William Henry Smith, his successor-but-two, who, like Iddesleigh, also served in post in one of the Salisbury ministries).
  8. ^ Neil Wilson, Shadows in the Attic: A Guide to British supernatural fiction, 1820–1950, British Library (2000) ISBN 0712310746; p. 383
  9. ^ British Museum Collection, britishmuseum.org; accessed 24 July 2017.

Further reading

Parliament of the United Kingdom Preceded byJohn Benbow Member of Parliament for Dudley 1855–1857 Succeeded byHenry Brinsley Sheridan Preceded byLord Robert CecilJohn Inglis Member of Parliament for Stamford 1858–1866 With: Lord Robert Cecil (Viscount Cranborne from 1865) Succeeded byViscount CranborneSir John Dalrymple-Hay, Bt Preceded byHon. Charles Hepburn-Stuart-Forbes-TrefusisSir Thomas Dyke Acland, Bt Member of Parliament for Devonshire North 1866–1885 With: Sir Thomas Dyke Acland, Bt Succeeded bySir Thomas Dyke Acland, BtJohn Moore-Stevens Political offices Preceded byGeorge Alexander Hamilton Financial Secretary to the Treasury 1859 Succeeded bySamuel Laing Preceded byThomas Milner Gibson President of the Board of Trade 1866–1867 Succeeded byThe Duke of Richmond Preceded byThe Marquess of Salisbury Secretary of State for India 1867–1868 Succeeded byThe Duke of Argyll Preceded byWilliam Ewart Gladstone Chancellor of the Exchequer 1874–1880 Succeeded byWilliam Ewart Gladstone Preceded byBenjamin Disraeli Leader of the House of Commons 1876–1880 Preceded byWilliam Ewart Gladstone First Lord of the Treasury 1885–1886 Preceded byThe Earl of Rosebery Foreign Secretary 1886–1887 Succeeded byThe Marquess of Salisbury Party political offices Preceded byBenjamin Disraeli Conservative Leader in the Commons 1876–1885 Succeeded bySir Michael Hicks Beach, Bt Preceded byThe Earl of Beaconsfield Leader of the British Conservative Party 1881–1885with The Marquess of Salisbury Succeeded byThe Marquess of Salisbury Academic offices Preceded byEarl of Rosebery Rector of the University of Edinburgh 1883–1887 Succeeded byThe Marquess of Lothian Honorary titles Preceded byThe Duke of Somerset Lord Lieutenant of Devon 1886–1887 Succeeded byThe Lord Clinton Baronetage of England Preceded byStafford Henry Northcote Baronet(of Hayne) 1851–1887 Succeeded byWalter Stafford Northcote Peerage of the United Kingdom New creation Earl of Iddesleigh 1885–1887 Succeeded byWalter Stafford Northcote