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1st Viscount Sidmouth

Fact file

Born London, 30 May, 1757, died Richmond (Surrey, England) 15 February, 1844
MP for Devizes 1784-1805
Created Viscount Sidmouth in 1805
Speaker in the House of Commons 1789-1801
Prime Minister and Chancellor of the Exchequer 1801-04
Lord President of the Council 1805
Lord Privy Seal 1806
Lord President of the Council 1806-7 and 1812
Home secretary 1812-22
Member of the cabinet without ministerial office 1822-24

Whilst an able administrator, (remembered particularly as a great Speaker of the House) he was considered but a poor prime minister – although he was particularly popular in 1802 with the British victory at Copenhagen and with the signing of the Peace of Amiens. At that time he undertook certain reforms which included, annual analysis of the country's accounts, revision of the civil list and the paying off of the national debt. Out-manoeuvred by Pitt in 1804, Addington was made viscount in 1805 and played a significant political role up until the end of his life. An increasingly strict conservative, he opposed both the emancipation of Catholics in 1829 and the Great Reform Act of 1832. During his period as home secretary he was efficient but repressive (one of his most notable actions as home secretary in Lord Liverpool's government was the drawing up and passing in 1819 of the Six Acts which limited rights to hold political meetings and to distribute political tracts in attempt to limit Luddite action). A symbol of the success of the middle classes, from whose ranks Addington rose.

Further reading

Ziegler, P., Addington: A life of Henry Addington, First Viscount Sidmouth, Collins, London, 1965
Christie, R., Wars and Revolutions: Britain 1760-1815, Edward Arnold, London, 1982
The Encyclopedia Britannica Online, Henry Addington


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