Under Secretaries 1782-1870
In 1782 the Foreign Office adopted the convention, which had long operated in the
Northern Department, of having two Under Secretaries. (fn. 1) With the exceptions of the
years 1783-9, when only one Under Secretary held office, and the years 1824-5 and
1826-7, when the number rose temporarily to three, this convention was observed
until the end of the period covered by these lists. The modern distinction between
the Permanent and Parliamentary Under Secretary, although clearly understood in
1782, evolved gradually in the Foreign Office and hardened into custom at a later
date than in the Home and Colonial Offices. The Commissioners on Fees recommended in 1786 that one of the Under Secretaries should have security of tenure or be
'stationary', (fn. 2) but their recommendation was rejected by the Secretaries of State on
the ground that it placed undue restriction on their freedom of action. The order in
council of 1795 which settled the establishment of the office made provision for two
undifferentiated Under Secretaries and allowed the Secretaries of State complete
freedom of action. (fn. 3) It was not until 1831 that the designations 'Permanent' and
'Parliamentary' were first officially applied to the Under Secretaries in the offices of
the Secretaries of State and even then the official designations reflected the practice
already adopted in the Home and Colonial Offices and merely applied it to the
Foreign Office. (fn. 4)
From 1831 the position of the Permanent Under Secretary was clearly defined.
Before that date both Under Secretaries had been removed simultaneously only on
the changes of ministry in February 1806 and March 1807. Eight Under Secretaries
had served under more than one Secretary of State, but of these only two, Fraser and
Backhouse, served under ministries of radically different political complexions and
can confidently be regarded as having attained permanent status. (fn. 5)
Before 1831 most Secretaries of State had appointed a personal or political friend
to one under secretaryship, but their choice had not been restricted to members of
either house of parliament. In the period August 1789-February 1790 both Under
Secretaries, Burges and Ryder, were M.P.s. (fn. 6) In the years 1782-4 and 1796-1808 one
Under Secretary usually sat in the House of Commons. (fn. 7) On Bagot's appointment as
Under Secretary in August 1807, however, he was told by the Secretary of State,
Canning, that his duties at the Foreign Office would be too onerous to combine with
membership of Parliament. (fn. 8) He vacated his seat in the following January. On no
further occasion before 1831 did an Under Secretary sit in the House of Commons. (fn. 9)
Even after the official designation 'parliamentary' had been applied to one under
secretaryship in 1831, its tenure was not invariably associated with membership of
either house of parliament until 1852.
Until 1831 both Under Secretaries received the same remuneration. From 1782 to
1795 this consisted of a salary of £500 from the civil list together with office fees and
other small allowances. While Fraser served as sole Under Secretary in the years
1783-9, he received the emoluments of both offices. (fn. 10) In 1795 the salary of each Under
Secretary was fixed at £1,500. (fn. 11) It was raised to £2,000 in 1799 with provision for an
increase to £2,500 after three years' service. (fn. 12) In 1817 the period of service required
to qualify for the increase was extended to seven years for future occupants of the
offices. (fn. 13) In 1822 the salary was reduced to £2,000 without any increase for length of
service. (fn. 14) The salary of one of the offices was shared by two officials in the years
1824-5 and 1826-7. (fn. 15) In 1831 a distinction was made between the remuneration of
the Permanent and Parliamentary Under Secretary. The salary of the former was
fixed at £2,000; that of the latter at £1,500. (fn. 16)
The following list has been designed to enable the reader to identify the two Under
Secretaries in office at any given moment. Until 1831 no differentiation can be made
between the standing of the Under Secretaries. From that date, however, the column
on the left of the page contains the names of the Permanent Under Secretaries and
that on the right the names of the Parliamentary Under Secretaries. In the alphabetical
list of officials the terms 'Permanent' and 'Parliamentary' have been applied to Under
Secretaries only from 1831.
||Burges, J. B.
||Sheridan, R. B.
||St. John, Hon. St. A.
||Ryder, Hon. D.
||Frere, J. H.
||Vincent, Sir F.
||Smith, C. C.
||Addington, H. U.
||Eliot, Hon. W.
||Walpole, Hon. G.
||Bagot, Hon. C.
||Hamilton, W. R. (fn. 17)
||Clanwilliam, Earl of (fn. 18)
||Conyngham, Lord F. N. (fn. 19)
||Conyngham, Lord F. N.
|Howard de Walden, Lord,
||Howard de Walden, Lord
||Howard de Walden, Lord
|Clanricade, Marquess of
||Howard de Walden, Lord
||Shee, Sir G. (fn. 20)
||Fox Strangways, Hon. W. T. H (fn. 20)
||Leveson, Lord (fn. 20)
||Canning, Viscount (fn. 21)
||Smythe, Hon. G. A. F. P. S.
||Stanley, Hon. E. J. (fn. 22)
||Layard, A. H. (fn. 20)
||Wodehouse, Lord. (fn. 21)
||Shelburne, Earl of (fn. 21)
||Vesey Fitzgerald, W. R. S.
||Wodehouse, Lord (fn. 21)
||Layard, A. H.
||Egerton, E. C.
||Otway, A. J.