George Montagu-Dunk, 2nd Earl of Halifax

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The Right Honourable
The Earl of Halifax
The 2nd Earl of Halifax by Joshua Reynolds (1764)
President of the Board of Trade
In office
Monarch George II
Preceded by The Lord Monson
Succeeded by The Lord Sandys
Lord Lieutenant of Ireland
In office
Monarch George III
Preceded by The Duke of Bedford
Succeeded by The Earl of Northumberland
Lord Privy Seal
In office
Monarch George III
Prime Minister Frederick North, Lord North
Preceded by The Earl of Bristol
Succeeded by The Earl of Suffolk and Berkshire
Personal details
Born 6 October 1716 (1716-10-06)
Died 8 June 1771(1771-06-08) (aged 54)
Nationality British
Political party Tory
Alma mater Trinity College, Cambridge

George Montagu-Dunk, 2nd Earl of Halifax, KG, PC (6 October 1716 – 8 June 1771) was a British statesman of the Georgian era. Due to his success in extending American commerce he became known as "father of the colonies".[1] President of the Board of Trade 1748-61, he aided the foundation of Nova Scotia, 1749, the capital Halifax being named after him.

Early life[edit]

The son of the 1st Earl of Halifax, he was styled Viscount Sunbury until succeeding his father as 2nd Earl of Halifax in 1739. Educated at Eton College and at Trinity College, Cambridge,[2] he was married in 1741 to Anne Richards (died 1753), who had inherited a great fortune from Sir Thomas Dunk, whose name Halifax took.


The Earl of Halifax and his secretaries

After having been an official in the household of Frederick, Prince of Wales, Lord Halifax was made Master of the Buckhounds, and in 1748 he became President of the Board of Trade. While filling this position he helped to found Halifax, the capital of Nova Scotia, which was named after him, and he helped foster trade, especially with North America.

About this time he attempted, unsuccessfully, to become a Secretary of State, but was only allowed to enter the Cabinet in 1757. In March 1761, Halifax was appointed Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, and during part of the time which he held this office he was also First Lord of the Admiralty.

He became Secretary of State for the Northern Department under Lord Bute in October 1762, switching to the Southern Department in 1763 and was one of the three ministers to whom King George III entrusted the direction of affairs during the premiership of George Grenville. In 1762, in search of evidence of sedition, he authorised a raid on the home of John Entick, declared unlawful in the case of Entick v. Carrington.

In 1763, he signed the general warrant for the "authors, printers and publishers" of The North Briton number 45, under which John Wilkes and 48 others were arrested, and for which, six years later, the courts of law made Halifax pay damages. He was also mainly responsible for the exclusion of the name of the King's mother, Augusta, Princess of Wales, from the Regency Bill of 1765.

Together with his colleagues, Lord Halifax left office in July 1765, returning to the Cabinet as Lord Privy Seal under his nephew, Lord North, in January 1770. He had just been restored to his former position of Secretary of State when he died.


Halifax, who was Lord-Lieutenant of Northamptonshire and a Lieutenant-General in the Army, was very extravagant. He left no children, and his titles became extinct on his death. Lord Orford speaks slightingly of Halifax, and says he and his mistress, Mary Anne Faulkner,[3] had sold every employment in his gift.

There is an obelisk at Chicksands Wood, near Haynes, Bedfordshire, with an inscription to his memory.

The municipality of Halifax and Halifax County, Nova Scotia are named in his honour, as are the Halifax River in Central Florida; the town of Halifax and Halifax County, North Carolina; Halifax, Virginia in the United States; and Dunk Island in Queensland.

Halifax served as a political patron of the playwright and civil servant Richard Cumberland.


External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
Ralph Jenison
Master of the Buckhounds
1744 – 1746
Succeeded by
Ralph Jenison
Preceded by
The Lord Monson
First Lord of Trade
1748 – 1761
Succeeded by
The Lord Sandys
Preceded by
The Duke of Bedford
Lord Lieutenant of Ireland
1761 – 1763
Succeeded by
The Earl of Northumberland
Preceded by
The Lord Anson
First Lord of the Admiralty
Succeeded by
George Grenville
Preceded by
George Grenville
Secretary of State for the Northern Department
1762 – 1763
Succeeded by
The Earl of Sandwich
Preceded by
The Earl of Egremont
Secretary of State for the Southern Department
1763 – 1765
Succeeded by
Henry Seymour Conway
Preceded by
The Earl of Bristol
Lord Privy Seal
1770 – 1771
Succeeded by
The Earl of Suffolk and Berkshire
Preceded by
The Earl of Sandwich
Northern Secretary
Legal offices
Preceded by
The Earl of Jersey
Justice in Eyre
south of the Trent

1746 – 1748
Succeeded by
The Duke of Leeds
Honorary titles
Preceded by
The Duke of Montagu
Lord Lieutenant of Northamptonshire
1749 – 1771
Succeeded by
The Earl of Northampton
Peerage of Great Britain
Preceded by
George Montagu
Earl of Halifax
1739 – 1771