Précis Writers 1793-1870

Sponsor

Institute of Historical Research

Publication

Author

J.M. Collinge

Year published

1979

Supporting documents

Pages

41-42

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'Précis Writers 1793-1870', Office-Holders in Modern Britain: Volume 8: Foreign Office Officials 1782-1870 (1979), pp. 41-42. URL: http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.aspx?compid=16884 Date accessed: 21 August 2014.


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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.

1793 29 Sept. Arbuthnot, C.
1795 5 April Wesley, Hon. H.
1797 10 Oct. Bruce, Hon. J.
1798 5 Sept. Taylor, B.
1801 20 Feb. Williams Wynn, H.W.
1803 5 April Jenkinson, Hon. C. C. C.
1804 5 April Hamilton, W. R.
1805 5 Jan. Woodcock, C. (Assistant)
1806 6 March Trotter, J. B.
1807 5 July Canning, S.
1807 5 July Planta, J. (Assistant)
1807 Nov. Douglas, A. S. (Assistant)
1809 5 Jan. Planta, J.
1814 1 Jan. Graham, D. (Assistant)
1817 5 Jan. Lenox Conyngham, G. (Assistant)
1817 5 July Cartwright, T.
l821 5 Jan. Seymour, G. H.
1822 29 Jan. Hill, Lord A. M. C
1822 10 Oct. Howard de Walden, Lord
l824 5July Dunglas, Lord
l827 5 July Abercromby, R.
1828 12 Aug. Ashburnham, Hon. C.
1829 27 Aug. Dawkins, C. G. A. (Acting)
1830 5 April Hamilton, W. J.
1830 22 Nov. Temple, Hon. W.
1832 16 Sept. Sulivan, S. H.
1833 3 May Ponsonby, J. G. B.
1834 17 Nov. Greville, H. W.
1835 27 April Howard, Hon. J. K.
1840 5 Jan. Pleydell Bouverie, Hon. E.
1840 20 April Elliot, Hon. H. G.
1841 3 Sept. Stopford, W. B.
1843 25 Nov. Hamilton Gordon, Hon. A.
1845 18 Feb. Gordon Lennox, Lord H. G. C.
1846 5 Feb. Paget, A. B.
1846 9 July Anson, Viscount
1847 20 Dec. Stanley, H. E. J. (Assistant)
1849 c. April Stanley, Hon. H.E.J.
1851 30 Dec. Leveson Gower, Hon. E. F.
1852 27 Feb. Hamond, H.
1852 1 April Taylor.B.
1852 14 Dec. Bidwell, J.
1852 29 Dec. Cavendish, F. W. H.
1857 9 Dec. Currie, P. H. W.
1858 26 Feb. Dashwood, J. E. B.
1859 18 June Lister, T. V.
1865 3 Nov. Hervey.H. A. W.
1866 6 July Abbott, C. S. A.
1868 10 Dec. Hervey, H. A. W.

Footnotes

1 FO 366/1292, payment 3 Nov. 1794.
2 Order in council 27 Feb. 1795 (16th Rept. on Finance, 309-11).
3 Before 1852 only Planta (1809-17), Sulivan (1832-3), Stopford (1841-3) and Paget (1846) held the office while serving as Clerks. Sulivan received no salary as a Clerk while holding the office (FO 366/673 p. 218). Brook Taylor (1798-1801) and Planta (1814-17) held the office jointly with that of Private Secretary to the Secretary of State and drew the full salary attached to both offices.
4 FO 366/383, case of Anson, whose salary ceased 5 July 1847 on his election. H. E. J. Stanley, who was designated Assistant Précis Writer, drew the full salary of £300 from 20 Dec. 1847 until he succeeded Anson c. April 1849 (FO 366/674 p. 461). Arbuthnot (1795) and Gordon Lennox (1846) left office on being elected members of the House of Commons; Bruce (1797) resigned his seat so that he could draw the salary of the office (FO 366/671 p. 45).
5 FO 366/673 pp. 101, 138, 159, 165.
6 FO 366/1292, payment 15 Aug. 1805.
7 FO 366/380.
8 FO 366/672 pp. 88, 176.
9 See FOL (March 1868), 6 for the fullest list.