Biography of GODERICH, viscount - Archontology
GODERICH, viscount

Frederick John Robinson

b. 30 Oct 1782
d. 28 Jan 1859, Putney Heath, London

Ministerial offices: Under-Secretary of State for War and the Colonies (27 Apr 1809 - Sep 1809)
Lord of the Admiralty (12 Jun 1810 - 3 Oct 1812)
Vice-President of the Board of Trade (29 Sep 1812 - 24 Jan 1818)
President of the Board of Trade (24 Jan 1818 - Jan 1823, 3 Sep 1841 - 14 May 1843)
Treasurer of the Navy (12 Feb 1818 - Jan 1823)
Chancellor of the Exchequer (12 Jan 1823 - Apr 1827)
Secretary of State for War and the Colonies (28 Apr 1827 - Aug 1827, 22 Nov 1830 - 2 Apr 1833)
Leader of the House of Lords (Apr 1827 - Jan 1828)
First Lord Commissioner of the Treasury (31 Aug 1827 - 21 Jan 1828)
Lord Privy Seal (4 Apr 1833 - 4 Jun 1834)
President of the Board of Control (17 May 1843 - Jun 1846)
Names/titles: Viscount Goderich of Nocton [from 28 Apr 1827]; Earl of Ripon [from 13 Apr 1833]

Frederick Robinson was the second son of the former Ambassador to Spain and Foreign Secretary Thomas Robinson, 2nd Baron Grantham. He graduated from the St. John's College at Cambridge in 1802 and afterwards entered Lincoln's Inn as a law student. After serving as private secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland Robinson was elected to Parliament for Carlow Borough, Ireland (1806-1807) and later for Ripon (1807-1827). He built up a solid reputation having been President of the Board of Trade (1818-1823) and a mostly successful Chancellor of the Exchequer (1823-1827). He was made Secretary of State for War and the Colonies (1827) and Viscount Goderich of Nocton on 28 Apr 1827, and entered the House of Lords.

After the death of George Canning (8 Aug 1827), King George IV sent for Viscount Goderich and asked him to take over the administration of government, but it took more than three weeks before Goderich was formally entrusted with the task of government formation. On 31 Aug 1827, he kissed hand as a new prime minister and assumed the office of First Lord of the Treasury (1827-1828). Goderich was not a firm leader of an Administration. He found his Cabinet colleagues disloyal and lacking in rigor. The Chancellor of the Exchequer J.C.Herries and Secretary of War William Huskisson in particular were a source of trouble and in Cabinet they failed to settle down to constructive work. Even the one overseas success, the winning of the battle of Navarino (20 Oct 1827) against the Turks and the Egyptians, drew confused Cabinet reaction, as sympathy for the Greeks was contradicted by fears of Russian moves against a defeated Turkey. Amidst this disarray Goderich resigned his premiership (8 Jan 1828) after only a few months in office, although some years later he returned to serve briefly in the Cabinet of Earl Grey. [1, pp. 118-123]

[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: engraving of a portrait of Viscount Goderich by Sir Thomas Lawrence.