Grafton ministry

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The Grafton ministry was the British government headed by Augustus FitzRoy, 3rd Duke of Grafton which served between 14 October 1768 – 28 January 1770.

The Grafton ministry arose from the gradual decay of its predecessor, the Chatham ministry, which Grafton had effectively been leading for some time due to the illness and withdrawal from public affairs of its nominal head William Pitt, 1st Earl of Chatham. In order to maintain a comfortable parliamentary majority, Grafton had drawn the Bedford Whigs (Earl Gower, Viscount Weymouth, and the Earl of Hillsborough) into the ministry at the end of 1767. Although Grafton himself and many of the previous members of the government (including Chatham) supported a conciliatory policy towards Britain's restless American colonies, the Bedfords were in favor of stronger, more coercive measures, and the ministry, in spite of Grafton's own views, drifted towards the Bedford position. When this led to an attempt to replace the conciliatory Southern Secretary, Lord Shelburne, Chatham finally roused himself enough to resign from his position as Lord Privy Seal, leaving Grafton as the nominal as well as real head of a ministry in which the Bedford faction was now stronger than ever.

The government was widely criticised for its handling of foreign affairs, particularly for allowing the Republic of Corsica, a British ally, to fall to the French during the Corsican Crisis. It was subject to a series of attacks in what became known as the Junius Letters. With the resignation in January 1770 of Grafton himself, Lord Camden, and Lord Granby, Chatham's remaining adherents in the cabinet, the ministry was replaced by the ministry of Lord North, previously Chancellor of the Exchequer, which was to last until 1782.


Office Holder Tenure
First Lord of the Treasury The Duke of Grafton 1768–1770
Secretary of State for the Southern Department The Viscount Weymouth 1768–1770
Secretary of State for the Northern Department The Earl of Rochford 1768–1770
Secretary of State for the Colonies The Earl of Hillsborough 1768–1770
Lord Chancellor The Lord Camden 1768–1770
Lord President of the Council The Earl Gower 1768–1770
Chancellor of the Exchequer Lord North 1768–1770
First Lord of the Admiralty Sir Edward Hawke 1768–1770
Master-General of the Ordnance Marquess of Granby 1768–1770
Minister without Portfolio Henry Seymour Conway 1768–1770



  • Black, Jeremy (1992). William Pitt. Cambridge University Press. 
  • Whiteley, Peter (1996). Lord North: The Prime Minister who lost America. The Hambledon Press. 
Preceded by
Chatham ministry
Government of Great Britain
Succeeded by
North ministry