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Secretary of State (England)
Secretary of State
Coat of Arms of the Kingdom of England from 1603 to 1649
|Member of||Privy Council|
|Appointer||The English Monarch|
|Term length||No fixed term|
|First holder||John Maunsell|
|Final holder||George Digby, 2nd Earl of Bristol|
In the Kingdom of England, the title of Secretary of State came into being near the end of the reign of Queen Elizabeth I (1558–1603), the usual title before that having been King's Clerk, King's Secretary, or Principal Secretary.
From the time of Henry VIII, there were usually two secretaries of state. After the restoration of the monarchy of 1660, the two posts were specifically designated as the Secretary of State for the Northern Department and the Secretary of State for the Southern Department. Both dealt with home affairs and they divided foreign affairs between them.
From early fourteenth century the Secretary became the third office of state in the kingdom. Most administrative business went through the royal household, particularly the Wardrobe. The Privy Seal's warrants increased rapidly in quantity and frequency during the late medieval period. The Signet warrant, kept by the Keeper of the Privy Seal, could be used to stamp documents on authority of chancery and on behalf of the Chancellor. During wartime the king took his privy seal on his person wherever he went. Its controller was the Secretary, who served on military and diplomatic missions; and the Wardrobe's clerks assumed an even greater importance.
The sovereigns of England had a clerical servant, at first known as their Clerk, later as their Secretary. The primary duty of this office was carrying on the monarch's official correspondence, but in varying degrees the holder also advised the Crown. Until the reign of King Henry VIII (1509–1547), there was usually only one such secretary at a time, but by the end of Henry's reign there was also a second secretary. At about the end of the reign of Henry's daughter Elizabeth I (1558–1603), the secretaries began to be called "Secretary of State".
After the Restoration of 1660, the two posts came to be known as the Secretary of State for the Northern Department and the Secretary of State for the Southern Department. Both of the secretaries dealt with internal matters, but they also divided foreign affairs between them. One dealt with northern Europe (the mostly Protestant states) and the other with southern Europe. Following the Glorious Revolution of 1688, the Cabinet took over the practical direction of affairs previously undertaken by the Privy Council, and the two secretaries of state gained ever more responsible powers.
List of officeholders
- John Maunsell (1253–1263?)
- Francis Accursii (1277?–1282?)
- John de Benstede (1299)
- William Melton (1308)
- William Trussell (1332)
- William of Wykeham (1360)
- Robert Braybrooke (1379)
Lancaster and York
- John Profit (1402–1412)
- John Stone (1415 – c. 1420)
- John Castell (1420)
- William Alnwick (c. 1420 – c. 1422)
- William Hayton (?–1432)
- James Lunayn (1434–1443) (King's Secretary to the Kingdom of France)
- Jean de Rinel (1434–1442) (King's Secretary in his Realm of France)
- Thomas Beckington (1439–1443)
- Gervais de Vulre (1442–1451)
- Michael de Parys
- Thomas Mannyng (1460–1464)
- Gylet de Ferrers
- William Hatteclyffe (c. 1464 – 1480)
- Oliver King (1480–1483)
- John Kendal (1483–1485)
- Richard Foxe (1485–1487)
- Oliver King (1487–1492) (probably)
- Thomas Routhall (1500–1516)
- Richard Pace (1516–1526)
- William Knight (1526 – August 1529)
- Stephen Gardiner (5 August 1529 – April 1534)
- Thomas Cromwell (April 1534 – April 1540)
- Thomas Wriothesley (April 1540 – April 1543)
Wriothesley was the first secretary to share the office with a colleague.
- Sir Ralph Sadler (April 1540 – 23 April 1543)
- Sir William Paget (23 April 1543 – April 1548)
- Sir William Petre (January 1544 – March 1557)
- John Boxall (March 1557 – November 1558)
- Sir William Cecil (November 1558 – 13 July 1572)
- Sir Thomas Smith (13 July 1572 – March 1576)
- William Cecil, 1st Baron Burghley (5 July 1590 – July 1596) (formerly Sir William Cecil), Acting-Secretary
- Sir Robert Cecil (July 1596 – 24 May 1612)
- John Herbert (10 May 1600 – 9 July 1617)
- Robert Carr, Lord Rochester (May 1612 – March 1614)
- Sir Ralph Winwood (29 March 1614 – 27 October 1617)
- Sir Thomas Lake (3 January 1616 – 16 February 1619)
- Sir Robert Naunton (8 January 1618 – 14 January 1623)
- Sir George Calvert (16 February 1619 – January 1625)
- Sir Edward Conway (14 January 1623 – 14 December 1628)
- Sir Albertus Morton (9 February 1625 – 6 September 1625)
- Sir John Coke (9 September 1625 – 3 February 1640)
- Dudley Carleton, 1st Viscount Dorchester (14 December 1628 – 15 February 1632)
- Sir Francis Windebank (15 June 1632 – December 1640)
- Sir Henry Vane (3 February 1640 – December 1641)
- Sir Edward Nicholas (27 November 1641 – 1646 when he left England; he was reappointed by King Charles II September 1654 – 2 October 1662)
Commonwealth & Protectorate
For the subsequent period see:
- M. Keen, Medieval England, p. 3
- Keen, p. 32
- Pollard, Albert Frederick (1911). Encyclopædia Britannica. 4 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. pp. 816–817. . In Chisholm, Hugh (ed.).
- Archer, Ian W. "Smith, Sir Thomas (1513–1577)". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/25906. (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
- Adams, Simon; Bryson, Alan; Leimon, Mitchell. "Walsingham, Sir Francis (c.1532–1590)". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/28624. (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
- Croft, Pauline. "Cecil, Robert, first earl of Salisbury (1563–1612)". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/4980. (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
- Yorke, Philip Chesney (1911). Encyclopædia Britannica. 4 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. pp. 576–577. . In Chisholm, Hugh (ed.).
- Renton, Alexander Wood, ed. (1908). Encyclopædia of the laws of England with forms and precedents. Volume 13. p. 202.
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