First Lord of the Treasury

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First Lord of the Treasury of the United Kingdom
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David Cameron official.jpg
David Cameron, MP

since 11 May 2010
Style The Right Honourable
Residence 10 Downing Street
Appointer Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom
as sovereign
Term length No statutory limit; by established convention, the position is held by the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom who is by further convention the leader of the party victorious in the general election, which is required at least every five years.
Inaugural holder Nigel (Lord High Treasurer)
Henry Howard, 1st Earl of Northampton (initial First Lord of the Commission)
The Earl of Halifax (Commission became permanent)
Formation 1126 (Lord High Treasurer)
1612 (First Lord of the Commission of the Treasury)
1714 (Commission has been permanent since the resignation of the Duke of Shrewsbury)
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The First Lord of the Treasury is the head of the commission exercising the ancient office of Lord High Treasurer in the United Kingdom, and is now always also the Prime Minister. 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

As of the beginning of the 17th century, the running of the Treasury was frequently entrusted to a commission, rather than to a single individual. As of 1714, it has permanently been in commission. The commissioners have always since that date been referred to as Lords Commissioners of the Treasury, and adopted ordinal numbers to describe their seniority. Eventually in the middle of the same century, the First Lord of the Treasury came to be seen as the natural head of the overall ministry running the country, and, as of the time of Robert Walpole (Whig), began to be known, unofficially, as the Prime Minister. The term Prime Minister was initially, but decreasingly, used as a term of derogation: it was first used officially in a royal warrant only in 1905. William Pitt the Younger once opined that the Prime Minister "ought to be the person at the head of the finances."[1]

Prior to 1827 the First Lord of the Treasury also held the office of Chancellor of the Exchequer unless he was a peer and thus barred from that office; in this case, the Second Lord of the Treasury usually served as Chancellor. As of 1827, the Chancellor of the Exchequer has always been Second Lord of the Treasury when he was not also Prime Minister. By convention, the other Lords Commissioners of the Treasury are also Government Whips in the House of Commons.

Official residence

10 Downing Street is the official residence of the First Lord of the Treasury, and not of the Prime Minister. The only official prime ministerial residence is Chequers, a country house in Buckinghamshire used as a weekend and holiday home. All modern prime ministers have simultaneously been First Lord of the Treasury and Prime Minister, and consequently 10 Downing Street has come to be identified closely with the prime minister.

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, principally concerning the Marquess of Salisbury, who was Prime Minister but not First Lord 1885–86, 1887–92 and 1895–1902. Those First Lords who were simultaneously Prime Minister are indicated by the use of bold typeface; those First Lords who were considered Prime Minister only during part of their term are indicated by the use of bold italic typeface. For earlier Lord Treasurers and First Lords, see List of Lord Treasurers.

Name Entered office Left office Political party
The Earl of Halifax 13 October 1714 19 May 1715 Whig
The Earl of Carlisle 23 May 1715 10 October 1715 Whig
Robert Walpole 10 October 1715 12 April 1717 Whig
The Earl Stanhope 12 April 1717 21 March 1718 Whig
The Earl of Sunderland 21 March 1718 4 April 1721 Whig
Sir Robert Walpole 4 April 1721 11 February 1742 Whig
The Earl of Wilmington 16 February 1742 2 July 1743 Whig
Henry Pelham 27 August 1743 6 March 1754 Whig
The Duke of Newcastle 16 March 1754 16 November 1756 Whig
The Duke of Devonshire 16 November 1756 8 June 1757 Whig
James Waldegrave, 2nd Earl Waldegrave 8 June 1757 12 June 1757 Whig
The Duke of Devonshire 12 June 1757 25 June 1757 Whig
The Duke of Newcastle 2 July 1757 26 May 1762 Whig
The Earl of Bute 26 May 1762 16 April 1763 Tory
George Grenville 16 April 1763 13 July 1765 Whig
The Marquess of Rockingham 13 July 1765 30 July 1766 Whig
The Duke of Grafton[2] 30 July 1766 28 January 1770 Whig
Lord North 28 January 1770 22 March 1782 Tory
The Marquess of Rockingham 27 March 1782 1 July 1782 Whig
The Earl of Shelburne 4 July 1782 2 April 1783 Whig
The 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
The Lord Grenville 11 February 1806 31 March 1807 Whig
The Duke of Portland 31 March 1807 4 October 1809 Whig
Spencer Perceval 4 October 1809 11 May 1812 Tory
The Earl of Liverpool 9 June 1812 10 April 1827 Tory
George Canning 10 April 1827 8 August 1827 Tory
The Viscount Goderich 31 August 1827 22 January 1828 Tory
The Duke of Wellington 22 January 1828 22 November 1830 Tory
The Earl Grey 22 November 1830 16 July 1834 Whig
The Viscount Melbourne 16 July 1834 14 November 1834 Whig
The Duke of Wellington 14 November 1834 10 December 1834 Tory
Sir Robert Peel 10 December 1834 8 April 1835 Tory
The 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
The Earl of Derby 23 February 1852 19 December 1852 Conservative
The Earl of Aberdeen 19 December 1852 6 February 1855 Peelite
The Viscount Palmerston 6 February 1855 20 February 1858 Liberal
The Earl of Derby 20 February 1858 12 June 1859 Conservative
The Viscount Palmerston 12 June 1859 18 October 1865 Liberal
The Earl Russell 29 October 1865 28 June 1866 Liberal
The 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 The Earl of Beaconsfield)
20 February 1874 23 April 1880 Conservative
William Ewart Gladstone 23 April 1880 23 June 1885 Liberal
The Earl of Iddesleigh 29 June 1885 1 February 1886 Conservative
William Ewart Gladstone 1 February 1886 25 July 1886 Liberal
The Marquess of Salisbury[3] 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
The Earl of Rosebery 5 March 1894 25 June 1895 Liberal
Arthur Balfour[4] 25 June 1895 5 December 1905 Conservative

Thereafter the posts of First Lord of the Treasury and Prime Minister have always been held by the same person; see the list of 20th century U.K. Prime Ministers.

See also


  1. Andrew Blick and George Jones (June 2010). "The power of the Prime Minister". History & Policy. United Kingdom: History & Policy. Retrieved 9 December 2010.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. Grafton was also Prime Minister from 14 October 1768
  3. Salisbury was also Prime Minister until 11 August 1892
  4. Balfour was also Prime Minister from 11 July 1902 onwards


  • 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)

External links