Henry Addington, 1st Viscount Sidmouth

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Henry Addington 1st Viscount Sidmouth, “The Doctor”

Born 05/30/1757 Holburn, London

Died 02/15/1844 London

Major Acts:

Treaty of Amiens 1802-The Intermission of the great world war with Revolutionary and Napoleonic France



    Henry Addington            First Lord of the Treasury and Chancellor of the Exchequer

    Lord Eldon                      Lord Chancellor

    Lord Chatham                Lord President of the Council and Master-General of the Ordnance

    Lord Westmorland         Lord Privy Seal

    The Duke of Portland     Secretary of State for the Home Department

    Lord Hawkesbury          Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs

    Lord Hobart                    Secretary of State for War and the Colonies

    Lord St Vincent              First Lord of the Admiralty

    Lord Liverpool                President of the Board of Trade


  1.     May, 1801 – Lord Lewisham (who becomes Lord Dartmouth in July), the President of the Board of Control, enters the Cabinet

  2.     July, 1801 – The Duke of Portland succeeds Lord Chatham as Lord President (Chatham remains Master of the Ordnance). Lord Pelham succeeds Portland as Home Secretary.

  3.     July, 1802 – Lord Castlereagh succeeds Lord Dartmouth at the Board of Control.

  4.     August, 1803 – Charles Philip Yorke succeeds Lord Pelham as Home Secretary.

A Gilray cartoon:

A faint Britannia seated on bed with three "doctors," William Pitt kicking Henry Addington and stepping on Charles James Fox. The figure of death, with Napoleon's head, strides from behind bed curtains.

“In youth, the absence of pleasure is pain, in old age the absence of pain is pleasure.”

Political career

He was elected to the House of Commons in 1784 as Member of Parliament (MP) for Devizes, and became Speaker of the House of Commons in 1789. In March 1801, William Pitt the Younger resigned from office, ostensibly over the refusal of King George III to remove some of the existing political restrictions on Roman Catholics in Ireland (Catholic Emancipation), but poor health, failure in war, economic collapse, alarming levels of social unrest due to famine, and irreconcilable divisions within the Cabinet also played a role. Both Pitt and the King insisted that Addington take over as Prime Minister, despite his own objections, and his failed attempts to reconcile the King and Pitt.

Prime minister

Addington's period as Prime Minister was most notable for his reforms that doubled the efficiency of the Income tax and for the negotiation of the Treaty of Amiens, in 1802. While the terms of the Treaty were the bare minimum that the British government could accept, Napoleon Bonaparte would not have agreed to any terms more favourable to the British, and the British government had reached a state of financial collapse, owing to war expenditure, the loss of Continental markets for British goods, and two successive failed harvests that had led to widespread famine and social unrest, rendering peace a necessity. By early 1803 the United Kingdom's financial and diplomatic positions had recovered sufficiently to allow Addington to declare war on France, when it became clear that the French would not allow a settlement for the defences of Malta that would have been secure enough to fend off a French invasion that appeared imminent. Addington's management of the war was characterized by the cultivating of better relations with Russia, Austria, and Prussia, that later culminated in the Third Coalition shortly after he left office. Addington also strengthened British defences against a French invasion through the building of Martello towers on the south coast and the raising of more than 600,000 men at arms.

Loss of office

Addington was driven from office in May 1804 by an alliance of Pitt, Charles James Fox and William Wyndham Grenville, 1st Baron Grenville, who decided that they wanted Cabinet offices for themselves. Addington's greatest failing was his inability to manage a parliamentary majority, by cultivating the loyal support of MPs beyond his own circle and the friends of the King. This combined with his mediocre speaking ability, left him vulnerable to Pitt's mastery of parliamentary management and his unparalleled oratory skills. Pitt's parliamentary assault against Addington in March 1804 led to the slimming of his parliamentary majority to the point where defeat in the House of Commons was imminent.

Lord President and Lord Privy Seal

Addington remained an important political figure, however, and the next year he was created Viscount Sidmouth. He served in Pitt's final Cabinet as Lord President of the Council to 1806, and in the Ministry of All the Talents as Lord Privy Seal and again Lord President to 1807.

Home Secretary

He returned to government again as Lord President in March, 1812, and, in June of the same year, became Home Secretary. As Home Secretary, Sidmouth countered revolutionary opposition, being responsible for the temporary suspension of habeas corpus in 1817 and the passage of the Six Acts in 1819. His tenure also saw the Peterloo Massacre of 1819. Sidmouth left office in 1822, succeeded as Home Secretary by Sir Robert Peel, but remained in the Cabinet as Minister without Portfolio for the next two years, fruitlessly opposing British recognition of the South American republics. He remained active in the House of Lords for the next few years, making his final speech in opposition to Catholic Emancipation in 1829 and casting his final vote against the Reform Act 1832.

Foundling Hospital

As Prime Minister, in 1802, Addington accepted an honorary position as vice president for life on the Court of Governors of London's Foundling Hospital for abandoned babies.

Residences and land

Addington maintained homes at Up Ottery, Devon and Bulmershe Court, in what is now the Reading suburb of Woodley, but moved to the White Lodge in Richmond Park when he became Prime Minister. However he maintained links with Woodley and the Reading area, as commander of the Woodley Yeomanry Cavalry and High Steward of Reading. He also donated to the town of Reading the four acres (16,000 m²) of land that is today the Royal Berkshire Hospital, and his name is commemorated in the town's Sidmouth Street and Addington Road as well as in Sidmouth street in Devizes.


Henry Addigton died in London on February 15, 1844 at the age of 86. He was buried in St. Mary-the-Virgin churchyard at Mortlake, Greater London

A British statesman, and Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1801 to 1804.

Henry Addington was the son of Anthony Addington, Pitt's physician, and Mary Addington, the daughter of the Rev. Haviland John Hiley, headmaster of Reading School. As a consequence of his father's position, Addington was a childhood friend of William Pitt the Younger. Addington studied at Winchester and Brasenose College, Oxford, and then studied law at Lincoln's Inn

Prime Minister                                                                                    Date Takes Office    Date Leaves Office

William Henry Cavendish-Bentinck, 3rd Duke of Portland     04/02/1783            12/19/1783

William Pitt the Younger                                                                 12/19/1783             03/14/1801

Henry Addington 1st Viscount Sidmouth                                   03/14/1801             05/10/1804

William Pitt the Younger                                                                 05/10/1804             01/23/1806

William Wyndham Grenville, 1st Baron Grenville                     02/11/1806            03/31/1807

William Henry Cavendish-Bentinck, 3rd Duke of Portland     03/31/1807            10/04/1809

Spencer Perceval                                                                             04/10/1809            05/11/1812

Robert Banks Jenkinson, 2nd Earl of Liverpool                        06/08/1812            04/09/1827

George Canning                                                                               04/10/1827            08/08/1827

Frederick John Robinson, 1st Viscount Goderich                    08/31/1827            01/21/1828

Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington                                   01/22/1828            11/16/1830

Charles Grey, 2nd Earl Grey                                                         11/22/1830            07/16/1834

William Lamb, 2nd Viscount Melbourne                                     07/16/1834            11/14/1834

Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington                                   11/14/1834            12/10/1834

Sir Robert Peel, 2nd Baronet                                                        12/10/1834            04/08/1835

William Lamb, 2nd Viscount Melbourne                                     04/18/1835            08/30/1841

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