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Secretary of State for War

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Edward Cardwell, later Viscount Cardwell, Secretary of State for War from 1868 to 1874; architect of the Cardwell Reforms
Edward Cardwell, later Viscount Cardwell, Secretary of State for War from 1868 to 1874; architect of the Cardwell Reforms

The position of Secretary of State for War, commonly called War Secretary, was a British cabinet-level position which existed from 1794 to 1801 and from 1854 to 1964. The Secretary of State for War headed the War Office and was assisted by a Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for War, a Parliamentary Private Secretary who was also a Member of Parliament, and a Military Secretary, who was a general.


The position of Secretary of State for War was first held by Henry Dundas who was appointed in 1794. In 1801 the post became that of Secretary of State for War and the Colonies. The position of Secretary of State for War was re-instated in 1854. In 1946, the three posts of Secretary of State for War, First Lord of the Admiralty, and Secretary of State for Air became formally subordinated to that of Minister of Defence, which had itself been created in 1940 for the co-ordination of defence and security issues.

On 1 April 1964, with the creation of a new united Ministry of Defence headed by the Secretary of State for Defence, the three service ministries as well as the post of Minister of Defence as created in 1940 were abolished.

Principal political leaders of the English/British Armed Forces:
The Royal Navy The Army The RAF Co-ordination
1628 First Lord of the Admiralty (1628–1964)
1794 Secretary of State for War (1794–1801)
1801 Secretary of State for War and the Colonies (1801–1854)
1854 Secretary of State for War (1854–1964)
1919 Secretary of State for Air (1919–1964)
1936 Minister for Co-ordination of Defence (1936–1940)
1940 Minister of Defence (1940–1964)
1964 Secretary of State for Defence (1964–present)

Secretaries of State for War, 1794–1801

Name Portrait Term of office Political party Prime Minister
Henry Dundas
(also President of the Board of Control)
Henry Raeburn (1756-1823) - The 1st Viscount Melville - N03880 - National Gallery.jpg
11 July 1794 17 March 1801 Tory William Pitt the Younger

For 1801–1854 see Secretary of State for War and the Colonies.

Secretaries of State for War, 1854–1964

Name Portrait Term of office Political party Prime Minister
The Duke of Newcastle
12 June 1854 30 January 1855 Peelite Earl of Aberdeen
The Lord Panmure
Thomas duncan.jpg
8 February 1855 21 February 1858 Whig Earl of Derby
Jonathan Peel
Jonathan Peel.JPG
26 February 1858 11 June 1859 Conservative
Sidney Herbert
Sidney Herbert, 1st Baron Herbert of Lea.jpg
18 June 1859 22 July 1861 Liberal Viscount Palmerston
Sir George Cornewall Lewis, Bt
Sir George Cornewall Lewis, 2nd Bt.jpg
23 July 1861 13 April 1863 Liberal
The Earl de Grey and Ripon
George Robinson 1st Marquess of Ripon.jpg
28 April 1863 16 February 1866 Liberal
Earl Russell
Marquess of Hartington
Picture of Spencer Cavendish, 8th Duke of Devonshire.jpg
16 February 1866 26 June 1866 Liberal
Jonathan Peel
Jonathan Peel.JPG
6 July 1866 8 March 1867 Conservative 14th Earl of Derby
Sir John Pakington, Bt
John Pakington 1st Baron Hampton.jpg
8 March 1867 1 December 1868 Conservative
Benjamin Disraeli
Edward Cardwell
9 December 1868 17 February 1874 Liberal William Ewart Gladstone
Gathorne Hardy
1st Earl of Cranbrook.jpg
21 February 1874 2 April 1878 Conservative Benjamin Disraeli
Frederick Stanley
Frederick Arthur Stanley.jpg
2 April 1878 21 April 1880 Conservative
Hugh Childers
Hugh Childers, Lock & Whitfield woodburytype, 1876-83 crop.jpg
28 April 1880 16 December 1882 Liberal William Ewart Gladstone
Marquess of Hartington
Picture of Spencer Cavendish, 8th Duke of Devonshire.jpg
16 December 1882 9 June 1885 Liberal
W. H. Smith
William Henry Smith (1825–1891).jpg
24 June 1885 21 January 1886 Conservative Marquess of Salisbury
The Viscount Cranbrook
1st Earl of Cranbrook.jpg
21 January 1886 6 February 1886 Conservative
Henry Campbell-Bannerman
Picture of Henry Campbell-Bannerman.jpg
6 February 1886 20 July 1886 Liberal William Ewart Gladstone
W. H. Smith
William Henry Smith (1825–1891).jpg
3 August 1886 14 January 1887 Conservative Marquess of Salisbury
Edward Stanhope
Edward Stanhope.jpg
14 January 1887 11 August 1892 Conservative
Henry Campbell-Bannerman
Picture of Henry Campbell-Bannerman.jpg
18 August 1892 21 June 1895 Liberal William Ewart Gladstone
Earl of Rosebery
The Marquess of Lansdowne
Marquess of Lansdowne crop.jpg
4 July 1895 12 November 1900 Liberal Unionist Marquess of Salisbury
(Unionist Coalition)
St John Brodrick
12 November 1900 6 October 1903 Irish Unionist
Arthur Balfour
(Unionist Coalition)
H. O. Arnold-Forster
Portrait of H. O. Arnold-Forster.jpg
6 October 1903 4 December 1905 Liberal Unionist
Richard Haldane
(Viscount Haldane from 1911)
Portrait of Richard Haldane, 1st Viscount Haldane.jpg
10 December 1905 12 June 1912 Liberal Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman
H. H. Asquith
J. E. B. Seely
JEB Seely 1909.jpg
12 June 1912 30 March 1914 Liberal
H. H. Asquith
(while Prime Minister)
H H Asquith 1908.jpg
30 March 1914 5 August 1914 Liberal
The Earl Kitchener
Lord Kitchener AWM A03547.jpg
5 August 1914 5 June 1916 none
H. H. Asquith
David Lloyd George
6 July[1] 1916 5 December 1916 Liberal
The Earl of Derby
Edward George Villiers Stanley, 17th Earl of Derby by Sir William Orpen.jpg
10 December 1916 18 April 1918 Conservative David Lloyd George
The Viscount Milner
Lord Milner.jpg
18 April 1918 10 January 1919 Conservative
Winston Churchill
Churchill 1904 Q 42037.jpg
10 January 1919 13 February 1921 Liberal
Sir Laming Worthington-Evans, Bt
Laming Worthington Evans.jpg
13 February 1921 19 October 1922 Conservative
The Earl of Derby
Edward George Villiers Stanley, 17th Earl of Derby by Sir William Orpen.jpg
24 October 1922 22 January 1924 Conservative Bonar Law
Stanley Baldwin
Stephen Walsh
Stephen Walsh.gif
22 January 1924 3 November 1924 Labour Ramsay MacDonald
Sir Laming Worthington-Evans, Bt
Laming Worthington Evans.jpg
6 November 1924 4 June 1929 Conservative Stanley Baldwin
Thomas Shaw
Tom Shaw - politician.jpg
7 June 1929 24 August 1931 Labour Ramsay MacDonald
The Marquess of Crewe
Portrait of Robert Crewe-Milnes, 1st Marquess of Crewe.jpg
25 August 1931 5 November 1931 Liberal Ramsay MacDonald
(1st National Min.)
The Viscount Hailsham
5 November 1931 7 June 1935 Conservative Ramsay MacDonald
(2nd National Min.)
The Viscount Halifax
Lord Halifax 1937.jpg
7 June 1935 22 November 1935 Conservative Stanley Baldwin
(3rd National Min.)
Duff Cooper
Duff Cooper 1941.jpg
22 November 1935 28 May 1937 Conservative
Leslie Hore-Belisha
Leslie Hore-Belisha 1951.jpg
28 May 1937 5 January 1940 National Liberal Neville Chamberlain
(4th National Min.;
War Coalition)
Oliver Stanley 5 January 1940 11 May 1940 Conservative
Anthony Eden
Anthony Eden (retouched).jpg
11 May 1940 22 December 1940 Conservative P.M. Min.Defence
Winston Churchill
(War Coalition)
David Margesson 22 December 1940 22 February 1942 Conservative
Sir P. J. Grigg
Percy James Grigg.jpg
22 February 1942 26 July 1945 National
Jack Lawson
Lord Lawson of Beamish.jpg
3 August 1945 4 October 1946 Labour Attlee Attlee
Frederick Bellenger
Frederick Bellenger.jpg
4 October 1946 7 October 1947 Labour A.V. Alexander
Emanuel Shinwell
Emanuel Shinwel HU 059765 (crop).jpg
7 October 1947 28 February 1950 Labour
John Strachey
John Strachey by Lady Ottoline Morrell.jpg
28 February 1950 26 October 1951 Labour Shinwell
Antony Head 31 October 1951 18 October 1956 Conservative Churchill Churchill
H. Alexander
Eden Lloyd
John Hare 18 October 1956 6 January 1958 Conservative Head
Macmillan Sandys
Christopher Soames
Christopher Soames.jpg
6 January 1958 27 July 1960 Conservative
John Profumo
John Profumo.jpg
27 July 1960 5 June 1963 Conservative
Joseph Godber
No image.svg
27 June 1963 21 October 1963 Conservative
James Ramsden
No image.svg
21 October 1963 1 April 1964 Conservative Douglas-Home

See also


  1. ^ Times, 7 July 1916

External links

This page was last edited on 1 May 2021, at 16:29
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