Chancellor of the Exchequer 1660-1870

Office-Holders in Modern Britain: Volume 1, Treasury Officials 1660-1870. Originally published by University of London, London, 1972.

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'Chancellor of the Exchequer 1660-1870', in Office-Holders in Modern Britain: Volume 1, Treasury Officials 1660-1870, (London, 1972) pp. 26-28. British History Online [accessed 11 April 2024]

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Chancellor of the Exchequer 1660-1870

The Chancellor of the Exchequer was in origin an official of the court of Exchequer. (fn. 1) From 1592 he invariably held the office of Under Treasurer of the Exchequer concurrently. The two offices were granted by distinct letters patent under the great seal dated the same day. (fn. 2) They were held on a life tenure until 1676 and during pleasure thereafter. On entering office the Chancellor of the Exchequer took oaths before the Lord Chancellor and in the Exchequer. By the early eighteenth century his connection with the Exchequer court was already tenuous. Nevertheless as late as the nineteenth century there remained certain functions, such as the sealing of instruments, which could only be performed on his authority. As a consequence it was customary, when vacancies in the office occurred, to appoint the Chief Justice of the King's Bench as temporary Chancellor to enable the routine work of the court to be carried on. (fn. 3) These temporary Chancellors were not officials of the Treasury and their appointments have been inserted in the following list only in the interests of providing a complete account of the succession to the office.

The functions of the Chancellor of the Exchequer within the Treasury derived from the fact that, as Under Treasurer, he occupied an office which had its origin in the position of deputy or associate of the Treasurer. When the Treasury was in the hands of Commissioners he was one of their number. (fn. 4) Between 1714 and 1835, except for a brief period in 1743, he was, unless a member of the House of Lords, also First Lord. After 1835 these two offices have been held separately except for the years 1873-4 and 1880-2. From 1710 it was the custom for the Chancellor to occupy the second place in the Treasury commission when the First Lord was in the House of Lords. (fn. 5) In 1817, following the consolidation of the revenues, the Chancellor of the Exchequer of Great Britain was appointed Chancellor of the Exchequer of Ireland and the two offices remained united thereafter. (fn. 6) The process by which the effective powers of the Treasury came to be vested in the Chancellor was gradual. The evidence suggests that it was complete by 1839. (fn. 7)

The remuneration of the Chancellor was originally derived from a number of different sources. The patent salaries amounted to £200. From at least 1685 an additional salary of £1600 was paid in consideration of the relinquishment of certain profits and perquisites. (fn. 8) The Chancellor also enjoyed fees arising from instruments passed under the Exchequer seal. In 1817 the emoluments of the Irish chancellorship were attached to the office. If the Chancellor was a Treasury Lord he received a separate salary as such. In 1830 the total receipts of the office amounted to £5398. In the following year the former arrangements were superseded by a consolidated salary of £5000 or £7500 when the office was held concurrently with that of First Lord. (fn. 9)

In the following list of appointments the date down to and including 1767 is that of the letters patent. From 1782 it is that of the reception of the seals which from this time invariably preceded the issue of the letters patent.


1642 19 July Hyde, Sir E.
1661 13 May Ashley, Lord
1672 22 Nov. Duncombe, Sir J.
1676 2 May Ernle, Sir J.
1689 9 April Delamere, Lord
1690 18 March Hampden, R.
1694 10 May Montagu, C.
1699 2 June Smith, J.
1701 27 March Boyle, Hon. H.
1708 22 April Smith, J.
1710 11 Aug. Harley, R.
1711 4 June Benson, R.
1713 21 Aug. Wyndham, Sir W.
1714 13 Oct. Onslow, Sir R.
1715 12 Oct. Walpole, R.
1717 15 April Stanhope, J.
1718 20 March Aislabie, J.
1721 2 Feb. Pratt, Sir J. (fn. 10)
1721 3 April Walpole, R.
1742 12 Feb. Sandys, S.
1743 12 Dec. Pelham, Hon. H.
1754 8 March Lee, Sir W. (fn. 10)
1754 6 April Bilson Legge, Hon. H.
1755 25 Nov. Lyttleton, Sir G.
1756 16 Nov. Bilson Legge, Hon. H.
1757 13 April Mansfield, Lord (fn. 10)
1757 2 July Bilson Legge, Hon. H.
1761 19 March Barrington, Viscount
1762 29 May Dashwood, Sir F.
1763 16 April Grenville, Hon. G.
1765 16 July Dowdeswell, W.
1766 2 Aug. Townshend, Hon. C.
1767 11 Sept. Mansfield, Lord (fn. 10)
1767 6 Oct. North, Lord
1782 27 March Cavendish, Lord J.
1782 10 July Pitt, Hon. W.
1783 2 April Cavendish, Lord J.
1783 19 Dec. Pitt, Hon. W.
1801 14 March Addington, H.
1804 10 May Pitt, Hon. W.
1806 25 Jan. Ellenborough, Lord (fn. 10)
1806 5 Feb. Petty, Lord H.
1807 26 March Perceval, Hon. S.
1812 12 May Ellenborough, Lord (fn. 10)
1812 23 May Vansittart, N.
1823 31 Jan. Robinson, Hon. F. J.
1827 20 April Canning, G.
1827 8 Aug. Tenterden, Lord (fn. 11)
1827 3 Sept. Herries, J. C.
1828 26 Jan. Goulburn, H.
1830 22 Nov. Althorp, Viscount
1834 2 Dec. Denman, Lord (fn. 11)
1834 10 Dec. Peel, Sir R.
1835 18 April Spring Rice, T.
1839 26 Aug. Baring, F. T.
1841 3 Sept. Goulburn, H.
1846 6 July Wood, C.
1852 27 Feb. Disraeli, B.
1852 28 Dec. Gladstone, W. E.
1855 28 Feb. Lewis, Sir G. C.
1858 26 Feb. Disraeli, B.
1859 18 June Gladstone, W. E.
1866 6 July Disraeli, B.
1868 29 Feb. Hunt, G. W.
1868 9 Dec. Lowe, R.


  • 1. For this office generally, see T 90/16 pp. 1-8; Thomas, Notes of Materials, 9-16; Baxter, Treasury, 32-6; Todd, Parliamentary Government, ii, 434-7.
  • 2. This remained the case until 1885 when the two documents were combined.
  • 3. From 1721 to 1767 these appointments were made by letters patent under the great seal as follows: Pratt (1721) - C 66/3542; Lee (1754) - C 66/3642; Mansfield (1757 and 1767) - C 66/3657, 3714. Thereafter they were made by delivery of the seals alone as follows: Ellenborough (1806 and 1812) - E 197/8 pp. 38, 125; Tenterden (1827) - ibid. p. 257; Denman (1834) - ibid. p. 325. Except in the case of Pratt (1721) no appointment was made to the office of Under Treasurer in these circumstances.
  • 4. Temporary Chancellors were not included in the commission.
  • 5. The only exceptions to this convention occurred in 1754 and 1755 when Darlington, as a peer, was given precedence over the Chancellors.
  • 6. This arrangement was confirmed by act in 1824 (4 Geo. III, c 7).
  • 7. Baring stated, with reference to his period of office 1839-41, that the Chancellor 'was the person who was responsible to Parliament for everything done at the Treasury'. (Rept. on Misc. Expenditure, pt. i, 419.)
  • 8. Before its transfer to the Exchequer in 1703 the history of this additional salary is obscure. It was paid from secret service 1685-6 and 1702-3 (Secret Service Expenses, 121, 139, 146, 153; CTB, xxviii, 403, 404, 409, 413; ibid. xviii, 371). The Chancellor also received 'robe money' amounting to £34 13s 4d a year payable at the Great Wardrobe. For Ashley's receipts as Chancellor, see K. H. D. Haley, The First Earl of Shaftesbury (Oxford 1968), 154.
  • 9. T 90/16 pp. 1-8; Rept. of Select Committee on Reduction of Salaries 1831 (HC 1830-1, iii), 508; TM 15 April 1831 (T 29/316 pp. 259-61). In 1831 the charge for the salary was removed from the civil list to the annual estimates for the Treasury.
  • 10. Chief Justice of the King's Bench.
  • 11. Chief Justice of the King's Bench.