Note on editorial method

Pages ix-x

Office-Holders in Modern Britain: Volume 8, Foreign Office Officials 1782-1870. Originally published by University of London, London, 1979.

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Note on Editorial Method

This volume is designed to make available lists of the officials who served in the Foreign Office between the establishment of the department in 1782 and the year 1870 which witnessed the introduction of the system of open competition for entrants into most departments of the Civil Service. This system was not applied to the Foreign Office until the twentieth century but, to maintain uniformity with the other volumes in this series, the end of the year 1870 has been adhered to as the terminal point for the lists. The material is presented in four parts: an introduction, lists of appointments, periodic lists of officials and an alphabetical list of officials. The purpose of the introduction is to provide a short account of the institutional development of the Foreign Office during the period in order that the various offices and grades may be related to their general context. The lists of appointments give the dates of appointments to these offices and grades. They are preceded by introductory notes which bring together information concerning methods of appointment, remuneration and other relevant matters. The periodic lists enable the complete establishment to be seen at certain significant dates in the development of the Foreign Office.

The alphabetical list is not intended to be a biographical index. Its purpose is confined simply to providing summarised accounts of the offices held by each individual within the Foreign Office during the period. No information has been included unless it is directly relevant to this purpose. Thus dates of death are included only if the individual in question was in office at his death. Appointments to offices outside the Foreign Office have been ignored unless they occasioned, or can reasonably be held to have occasioned, the departure of the official from the Foreign Office. Clerks quite frequently spent periods of time attached to diplomatic missions overseas. Provided that their rank in the Foreign Office was not affected by such service, no mention of it has been made in the alphabetical list. Similarly members of the diplomatic service who temporarily exchanged places with Foreign Office Clerks, or who spent brief periods of training in the Foreign Office before embarking on a mission or in the interval between missions, have been excluded from these lists. In general the accounts of the careers of the 'political' officials, the Secretary of State, his Private Secretary and Précis Writer, and the 'non-permanent' Under Secretaries, have been confined to a simple statement of their periods of service in these offices; information concerning resignations and retirements is provided only in the case of those holding 'permanent' offices. When a Clerk held an additional office within the Foreign Office such as a private secretaryship, which was not directly related to the ordinary course of promotion, the details of his period of service in this additional office have been placed in a separate paragraph. The accounts of the careers of those who were in office at the end of 1870 have not been continued beyond this point.

All references have been concentrated in the alphabetical list. Peers and holders of courtesy titles have been indexed under their titles. In the case of changes of name or status, appropriate cross-references have been inserted. Unless otherwise noted, information concerning peers and baronets has been taken from the Complete Peerage (ed. G.E.C. 2nd ed. 13 vols. London 1910-59), the Complete Baronetage (ed. G.E.C. 5 vols. Exeter 1900-6) and Burke's Peerage.

Certain conventions have been adopted for dating appointments. Where possible the date selected is that of formal entry into office. Thus appointments of Secretaries of State are dated by reference to the day on which they received the seals of office; those of Under Secretaries and Clerks by reference to the letters written in connection with the privilege of franking, where these are available. This information has been supplemented by letters and minutes of appointment issued by the Secretary of State. Where there is no indication of the date of appointment of an official, his period of service is dated by reference to the time during which he received a salary or other remuneration, or, failing this information, by reference to the earliest and latest date at which he is found occupying a particular office. All officials are taken to have remained in office until the appointment of their successors unless there is clear evidence to support the selection of an earlier date.