Michael Hicks Beach, 1st Earl St Aldwyn

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The Right Honourable
The Earl St Aldwyn
Bt PC PC (Ire)
Michael Hicks Beach, Lock & Whitfield woodburytype, 1876-84.jpg
Chancellor of the Exchequer
In office
24 June 1885 – 28 January 1886
Monarch Victoria
Prime Minister The Marquess of Salisbury
Preceded by Hugh Childers
Succeeded by Sir William Vernon Harcourt
In office
29 June 1895 – 11 August 1902
Monarch Victoria
Edward VII
Prime Minister The Marquess of Salisbury
Preceded by Sir William Vernon Harcourt
Succeeded by Charles Ritchie
President of the Board of Trade
In office
21 February 1888 – 11 August 1892
Monarch Victoria
Prime Minister The Marquess of Salisbury
Preceded by The Lord Stanley of Preston
Succeeded by A. J. Mundella
Personal details
Born (1837-10-23)23 October 1837
London
Died 30 April 1916(1916-04-30) (aged 78)
Coln St Aldwyn, Gloucestershire
Nationality British
Political party Conservative
Spouse(s) Lady Lucy Catherine Fortescue
(1851-1940)
Alma mater Christ Church, Oxford

Michael Edward Hicks Beach, 1st Earl St Aldwyn Bt, PC, PC (Ire) (23 October 1837 – 30 April 1916), known as Sir Michael Hicks Beach, Bt, from 1854 to 1906 and subsequently as The Viscount St Aldwyn to 1915, was a British Conservative politician. Known as "Black Michael", he notably served as Chancellor of the Exchequer from 1885 to 1886 and again from 1895 to 1902 and also led the Conservative Party in the House of Commons from 1885 to 1886.

Background and education[edit]

Born at Portugal Street in London, Hicks Beach was the son of Sir Michael Hicks Beach, 8th Baronet, of Beverston, and his wife Harriett Vittoria, second daughter of John Stratton.[1] He was educated at Eton College and Christ Church, Oxford, where he graduated with a first class degree in the School of Law and Modern History in 1858. In 1854 he succeeded his father as ninth Baronet.[1]

Political career, 1864-1888[edit]

In 1864 he was returned to Parliament as a Conservative for East Gloucestershire.[2] During 1868 he acted both as Parliamentary Secretary to the Poor Law Board and as Under-Secretary of State for Home Affairs. In 1874 he was made Chief Secretary for Ireland, and was included in the Cabinet in 1877. From 1878 to 1880 he was Secretary of State for the Colonies. In 1885 he was elected for Bristol West,[3] and became Chancellor of the Exchequer and Leader of the House of Commons. After Gladstone's brief Home Rule Ministry in 1886 Hicks Beach entered Lord Salisbury's next Cabinet again as Irish Secretary, making way for Lord Randolph Churchill as Leader of the House; but troubles with his eyesight compelled him to resign in 1887.

Political career, 1888-1902[edit]

Michael Hicks Beach (centre) with Arthur Balfour (left) and Joseph Chamberlain (right), by Sir Francis Carruthers Gould.

From 1888 to 1892 Hicks Beach returned to active work as President of the Board of Trade, and in 1895, Goschen being transferred to the Admiralty, he again became Chancellor of the Exchequer. In 1899 he lowered the fixed charge for the National Debt from twenty-five to twenty-three million, a reduction imperatively required, apart from other reasons, by the difficulties found in redeeming Consols at their then inflated price. When compelled to find means for financing the war in South Africa, he insisted on combining the raising of loans with the imposition of fresh taxation; and besides raising the income-tax each year, he introduced taxes on sugar and exported coal (1901), and in 1902 reimposed the registration duty on corn and flour which had been abolished in 1869 by Lowe. The sale of his Netheravon estates in Wiltshire to the War Office in 1898 occasioned some acrid criticism concerning the valuation, for which, however, Sir Michael himself was not responsible. On Lord Salisbury's retirement in 1902 Hicks Beach also left the government.

Other public appointments[edit]

Memorial to Sir Michael Edward Hicks Beach in Gloucester Cathedral

He accepted the chairmanship of the Royal Commission on Ritualistic Practices in the Church, and he did valuable work as an arbitrator; and though when the fiscal controversy arose he became the first president of the Unionist Free Food League, his parliamentary loyalty to Balfour did much to prevent the Unionist free-traders from precipitating a rupture. In 1906 he was raised to the peerage as Viscount St Aldwyn, of Coln St Aldwyn, in the County of Gloucester,[4] and in 1915 he was further honoured when he was made Viscount Quenington, of Quenington, in the County of Gloucester, and Earl St Aldwyn, of Coln St Aldwyn, in the County of Gloucester.[5]

Family[edit]

Susan Elwes, aka Lady Hicks Beach.
Part of a letter from St. Aldwyn, 8 January, 1915.

Lord St Aldwyn married firstly (6.1.1864, South Molton, Devon), Caroline Susan Elwes (3 Prior Buildings, Cheltenham 4.4.1845 - 41 Portman Square, Marylebone 14.8.1865), daughter of John Henry Elwes by Mary Bromley, sister of Henry John Elwes, and secondly Lady Lucy Catherine Fortescue, daughter of Hugh Fortescue, 3rd Earl Fortescue, in 1874. They had one son, Viscount Quenington, also a politician, and three daughters. Lord St Aldwyn died in April 1916, aged 78, only a week after his son was killed in action in the First World War, and was succeeded in his titles by his grandson Michael, who also became a Conservative politician. The Countess St Aldwyn died in March 1940. The coastal town of Beachport in the Australian state of South Australia was named after Lord St Aldwyn in 1878.

References[edit]

External links[edit]

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Sir Christopher William Codrington
Marquess of Worcester
Member of Parliament for Gloucestershire East
1864 – 1885
With: Robert Stayner Holford 1864–1872
John Yorke 1872–1885
Constituency abolished
New constituency Member of Parliament for Bristol West
18851906
Succeeded by
George Gibbs
Preceded by
William Wither Beach
Father of the House of Commons
1901–1906
Succeeded by
George Henry Finch
Political offices
Preceded by
George Sclater-Booth
Parliamentary Secretary to the Poor Law Board
February–August 1868
Succeeded by
Arthur Peel
Preceded by
Sir James Fergusson, Bt
Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department
August–December 1868
Succeeded by
Edward Knatchbull-Hugessen
Preceded by
Marquess of Hartington
Chief Secretary for Ireland
1874–1878
Succeeded by
James Lowther
Preceded by
The Earl of Carnarvon
Secretary of State for the Colonies
1878–1880
Succeeded by
The Earl of Kimberley
Preceded by
Hugh Childers
Chancellor of the Exchequer
1885–1886
Succeeded by
Sir William Harcourt
Preceded by
William Ewart Gladstone
Leader of the House of Commons
1885–1886
Succeeded by
William Ewart Gladstone
Preceded by
John Morley
Chief Secretary for Ireland
1886–1887
Succeeded by
Arthur Balfour
Preceded by
Minister without Portfolio
1887–1888
Succeeded by
Preceded by
The Lord Stanley of Preston
President of the Board of Trade
1888–1892
Succeeded by
A. J. Mundella
Preceded by
Sir William Harcourt
Chancellor of the Exchequer
1895–1902
Succeeded by
Charles Ritchie
Party political offices
Preceded by
Earl Percy
Chairman of the National Union of
Conservative and Constitutional Associations

(jointly with Lord Randolph Churchill)

1884
Succeeded by
Lord Claud Hamilton
Peerage of the United Kingdom
New creation Earl St Aldwyn
1915–1916
Succeeded by
Michael Hicks Beach
Viscount St Aldwyn
1906–1916
Baronetage of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Michael Hicks Beach
Baronet
(of Beverston)
1854–1916
Succeeded by
Michael Hicks Beach