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Stafford Henry Northcote, 1st Earl of Iddesleigh GCB, PC (27 October 1818 – 12 January 1887), known as Sir Stafford Northcote, Bt, from 1851 to 1885, was a Britishmarker Conservative politician. He notably served as Chancellor of the Exchequer between 1874 and 1880 and as Foreign Secretary between 1885 and 1886.

Background and education

Northcote (pronounced "Northcut") was born in Londonmarker, the eldest son of Henry Stafford Northcote (1792-1850), eldest son of Sir Stafford Henry Northcote, 7th Baronet. His mother was Agnes Mary (d. 1840), daughter of Thomas Cockburn. His paternal ancestors had long been settled in Devonmarker, tracing their descent from Galfridas de Nordcote who settled there in 1103. Northcote was educated at Etonmarker and Balliol College, Oxfordmarker and was called to the Bar, Inner Templemarker, in 1847.

Early political career

In 1843 Northcote became private secretary to William Gladstone at the board of trade. He was afterwards legal secretary to the board; and after acting as one of the secretaries to the Great Exhibition of 1851, co-operated with Sir Charles Trevelyan in framing the report which revolutionized the conditions of appointment to the Civil Service. He succeeded his grandfather, Sir Stafford Henry Northcote, as 8th baronet in 1851. He entered Parliament in 1855 as Conservative Member of Parliament for Dudley, and was elected for Stamford in 1858, a seat which he exchanged in 1866 for North Devon. He was briefly Financial Secretary to the Treasury under the Earl of Derby from January to July 1859.

Later political career

Steadily supporting his party, he became President of the Board of Trade in 1866, Secretary of State for India in 1867, and Chancellor of the Exchequer in 1874. In the interval between these last two appointments he was the president of the Hudson's Bay Company in 1870, when they gave the Northwest Territoriesmarker to Canadamarker, and one of the commissioners for the settlement of the Alabama difficulty at the Treaty of Washington with the United Statesmarker in 1871.

On Disraeli's elevation to the House of Lordsmarker as Earl of Beaconsfield in 1876 he became leader of the Conservative party in the Commons. As a finance minister he was largely dominated by the lines of policy laid down by Gladstone; but he distinguished himself by his dealings with the Debt, especially his introduction of the New Sinking fund in 1876, by which he fixed the annual charge for the Debt in such a way as to provide for a regular series of payments off the capital.

His temper as leader was, however, too gentle to satisfy the more ardent spirits among his own followers, and party cabals (in which Lord Randolph Churchill, who had made a dead set at the "old gang," took a leading part) led to Sir Stafford's elevation to the Lords in 1885, when Lord Salisbury became prime minister. Taking the titles of Earl of Iddesleigh and Viscount St Cyres, he was included in the cabinet as First Lord of the Treasury. In Lord Salisbury's 1886 ministry he became Foreign Secretary, but the arrangement was not a comfortable one, and his resignation had just been decided upon when on 12 January 1887 he died very suddenly at Lord Salisbury's official residencemarker in Downing Streetmarker.

Other public positions

Lord Iddesleigh was elected lord rector of the University of Edinburgh in 1883, in which capacity he addressed the students on the subject of "Desultory Reading". From 1886 to 1887 he was also Lord-Lieutenant of Devon. He was not a prolific or notable writer, but amongst his works were Twenty Years of Financial Policy (1862), a valuable study of Gladstonian finance, and Lectures and Essays (1887). His Life by Andrew Lang appeared in 1890. Lord Iddesleigh was appointed a CB in 1851 and a GCB in 1880 and was sworn of the Privy Council in 1866.


Lord Iddesleigh married Cecilia Frances Farrer (d. 1910), daughter of Thomas Farrer and sister of Thomas Farrer, 1st Baron Farrer, in 1843. They had seven sons and three daughters. His second son, Henry, 1st Baron Northcote, was Governor-General of Australia.


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