Secretary at War

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United Kingdom
Office of the Secretary of State at War
Coat of Arms of the United Kingdom from 1837 to 1952.png
Royal Arms as used by His Majesty's Government
War Office
StyleThe Right Honourable
(Formal prefix)
Secretary of State at War
Member ofBritish Cabinet
Army Board
SeatWestminster, London
AppointerThe British Monarch
on advice of the Prime Minister
Term lengthNo fixed term
First holderSir William Clarke
Final holderHon. Sidney Herbert

The Secretary of State at War, commonly called the War Secretary, was at certain times a British Cabinet level position which existed from 1794 to 1801 and from 1854 to 1964. The Secretary of State at War head of the War Office from 1694 to 1854 when his key responsibilities were taken over by the Secretary of State for War, he then replaced him as head of the War Office. He remained at the War Office in a junior ministerial capacity, until the post was abolished in 1863.[1]


The Secretary of State at War was the Secretary of State responsible for the administrative activities of the British Army. The position of Secretary of State at War, was occasionally as a Cabinet post from 1794 and as the administrative head of the British Army.[2] Initially the minister responsible for the operations of the army lay with for Secretary of State for War. The Secretary at War was a political position in the English Government and reported to the Secretary of State of England. Later as part of the British government his reporting line altered following separation responsibilities of the office Secretary of State for England leading to the creation of two new post's, the Secretary of State for the Northern Department and the Secretary of State for the Southern Department. The office holder had responsibility over the administration organisation of the Army, but not over military policy.[3] The Secretary at War ran the War Office. After 1794 it was occasionally a cabinet-level position. In 1854 his responsibilities were taken over by Secretary of State for War at which point his office became a junior role and was formally abolished in 1863.[4]

Office Holders

Name Entered office Left office
Sir William Clarke 1661 1666
Matthew Locke 1666 1683
William Blathwayt 1683 1692
George Clarke 1692 1704
Henry St John 1704 1708
Robert Walpole 1708 1710
George Granville 1710 1712
Sir William Wyndham, Bt 1712 1713
Francis Gwyn 1713 1714
William Pulteney 1714 1717
James Craggs the Younger 1717 1718
The Viscount Castlecomer 1718 1718
Robert Pringle 1718 1718
George Treby 1718 1720
Thomas Trevor 1720 1724
Hon. Henry Pelham 1724 1730
Sir William Strickland, Bt 1730 1735
Sir William Yonge, Bt 1735 1741
Thomas Winnington 1741 1746
Henry Fox 1746 1755
The Viscount Barrington 1755 1761
Hon. Charles Townshend 1761 1762
Welbore Ellis 1762 1765
The Viscount Barrington 1765 1778
Charles Jenkinson 1778 1782
Thomas Townshend 1782 1782
Sir George Yonge, Bt 1782 1783
Richard FitzPatrick 1783 1783
Sir George Yonge, Bt 1783 1794
William Windham 1794 1801
Charles Philip Yorke 1801 1803
Charles Bragge 1803 1804
William Dundas 1804 1806
Richard FitzPatrick 1806 1807
Sir James Murray-Pulteney, Bt 1807 1809
Lord Granville Leveson-Gower 1809 1809
The Viscount Palmerston 1809 1828
Sir Henry Hardinge 1828 1830
Lord Francis Leveson-Gower 1830 1830
Charles Williams-Wynn 1830 1831
Sir Henry Parnell, Bt 1831 1832
Sir John Hobhouse, Bt 1832 1833
Edward Ellice 1833 1834
John Charles Herries 1834 1835
Viscount Howick 1835 1839
Thomas Babington Macaulay 1839 1841
Sir Henry Hardinge 1841 1844
Sir Thomas Fremantle, Bt 1844 1845
Hon. Sidney Herbert 1845 1846
Hon. Fox Maule 1846 1852
Robert Vernon Smith 1852 1852
William Beresford 1852 1852
Hon. Sidney Herbert 1852 1854

Departments and Offices under this Office

# Name Head Date/s Notes/Ref
1. Office of the Paymaster-General of the Forces Paymaster-General of Forces
2. Marine Pay Office Paymaster of the Marines 1702–1755 moved to Department of Admiralty & renamed Marine Pay Department


  1. Archives, The National. "Senior Cabinet posts". Kew, London: National Archives UK. Retrieved 13 September 2019.
  2. National Archives UK
  3. National Archives UK
  4. National Archives UK


  1. Archives, The National. "Senior Cabinet Posts". Kew, London: National Archives UK. Retrieved 13 September 2019.