Biography of ADDINGTON, Henry - Archontology

Henry Addington

b. 30 May 1757, London
d. 15 Feb 1844, Richmond, Surrey

Ministerial offices: First Lord Commissioner of the Treasury and Leader of the House of Commons (17 Mar 1801 - 10 May 1804)
Chancellor of the Exchequer (21 Mar 1801 - 10 May 1804)
Lord President of the Council (14 Jan 1805 - 4 Jul 1805, 8 Oct 1806 - 25 Mar 1807, 8 Apr 1812 - 11 Jun 1812)
Lord Privy Seal (5 Feb 1806 - 8 Oct 1806)
Home Secretary (11 Jun 1812 - 17 Jan 1822)
Minister without Portfolio (17 Jan 1822 - 29 Nov 1824)
Names/titles: 1st Viscount Sidmouth of Sidmouth [from 12 Jan 1805]

A doctor's son, Addington was a young companion of William Pitt the Younger and a mediocre performer in the House of Commons to which he was elected in 1784 for Devizes (MP, 1784-1805). In 1789 Pitt secured him the Speakership of the House of Commons (8 Jun 1789 - 10 Feb 1801), an office he reformed and enhanced over a period of nearly twelve years. When Pitt resigned he supported Addington as next prime minister and the latter was appointed First Lord of the Treasury on 17 Mar 1801. Addington, claiming his ambition was peace and that peace was essential for England pleased everyone by agreeing to the Treaty of Amiens in 1802. A successful election (June 1802) followed and as his own Chancellor of the Exchequer he introduced a very effective budget in 1803. War was again declared on France on 18 May 1803 but the administration of the subsequent Military Service Act encouraging volunteers was bungled and the Administration's reputation damaged. Addington was not an inspiring performer in the House of Commons and certainly no replacement for Pitt who increasingly took up the role of Opposition. With France looking less threatening Addington's majority in the House of Commons fell away and he resigned (10 May 1804) before it disappeared. His political career continued for another thirty years, however, and he became Lord Privy Seal and then Lord President (1806-1807) under William Grenville, Lord President (1812) under Spencer Perceval, and for a long period Home Secretary (1812-1822) under Lord Liverpool. [1, pp. 83-89]

[1] Englefield, Dermot; Seaton, Janet; White, Isobel (eds.) Facts About the British Prime Ministers: A Compilation of Biographical and Historical Information. New York: The H.W. Wilson Company, 1995. online
Image: portrait of Henry Addington by Sir William Beechey, c. 1803.