Office-Holders in Modern Britain: Volume 8, Foreign Office Officials 1782-1870. Originally published by University of London, London, 1979.
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Precis Writers 1793-1870
The office of Précis Writer, or Secretary of the Précis as it was originally designated, first acquired official standing in 1793 when a salary of £300, payable out of the contingent fund, was made available to its holder. (fn. 1) The office was placed on the establishment in 1795. (fn. 2) Until 1852 the office was usually held by relations or personal friends of the Secretary of State, who entered and left office with him; many of them subsequently held office in the diplomatic service. (fn. 3) After the appointment of Bridges Taylor in 1852 the office was invariably held by Clerks on the establishment. No salary was paid to Précis Writers who were members of the House of Commons. (fn. 4) In the years 1829 to 1831 one third of the salary was made available to Dawkins, who was designated Acting Précis Writer. W. J. Hamilton drew two thirds of the salary from April to November 1830. Temple who held the office 1830-2 drew no salary, probably because he was already in receipt of a salary as Secretary of Embassy, St. Petersburg. (fn. 5)
From January to April 1805 a salary of £80, payable out of the contingent fund, was made available to an Assistant Précis Writer. (fn. 6) In the months July to October 1807 Planta, a Clerk on the establishment, drew one third of the salary of the main office as Assistant Précis Writer while S. Canning, the Précis Writer, drew two thirds. (fn. 7) A similar private arrangement may have been made between Canning and his Assistant, Douglas, from November 1807 to January 1809. In the years 1814 to 1819 a Clerk on the establishment received an allowance of £100, payable out of the contingent fund, as Assistant Précis Writer. (fn. 8) Several other individuals are mentioned in the Foreign Office Lists as having held the office of Assistant Précis Writer for short periods. (fn. 9) They have not been included in this list as they appear to have had no formal status in the Foreign Office establishment.