Grafton ministry

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Grafton ministry
Augustus Henry Fitzroy, 3rd Duke of Grafton by Pompeo Batoni.jpg
Grafton by Pompeo Batoni
Date formed 14 October 1768 (1768-10-14)
Date dissolved 28 January 1770 (1770-01-28)
People and organisations
Monarch George III
Prime Minister Duke of Grafton
Total no. of ministers 12 appointments
Member parties
Status in legislature Majority (coalition)
Opposition party Grenvillites
Legislature term(s) 13th GB Parliament
Predecessor Chatham ministry
Successor North ministry

The Grafton ministry was the British government headed by Augustus FitzRoy, 3rd Duke of Grafton. It served between October 1768 and 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 Lord 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 favoured 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 Grafton ministry was replaced by the North ministry under the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Lord North, which was to last until 1782.


Portfolio Minister Took office Left office Party
First Lord of the Treasury   The Duke of Grafton* 14 October 1768 (1768-10-14) 28 January 1770 (1770-01-28) Whig
Lord Chancellor   The Lord Camden 30 July 1766 (1766-07-30) 17 January 1770 (1770-01-17) Whig
  Charles Yorke 17 January 1770 (1770-01-17) 20 January 1770 (1770-01-20) Independent
Lord President of the Council   The Earl Gower 22 December 1767 (1767-12-22) 24 November 1779 (1779-11-24) Tory
Lord Privy Seal   The Earl of Bristol 1768 (1768) 1770 (1770) Independent
  Lord North 11 September 1767 (1767-09-11) 27 March 1782 (1782-03-27) Tory
Secretary of State for the Northern Department   The Viscount Weymouth 20 January 1768 (1768-01-20) 21 October 1768 (1768-10-21) Tory
  The Earl of Rochford 21 October 1768 (1768-10-21) 19 December 1770 (1770-12-19) Independent
Secretary of State for the Southern Department   The Earl of Shelburne 30 July 1766 (1766-07-30) 20 October 1768 (1768-10-20) Whig
  The Viscount Weymouth 21 October 1768 (1768-10-21) 12 December 1770 (1770-12-12) Whig
Secretary of State for the Colonies   The Earl of Hillsborough 27 February 1768 (1768-02-27) 27 August 1772 (1772-08-27) Independent
First Lord of the Admiralty   Sir Edward Hawke 1766 (1766) 1771 (1771) Independent
Master-General of the Ordnance   The Marquess of Granby 14 May 1763 (1763-05-14) 18 October 1770 (1770-10-18) Independent
Minister without Portfolio   Henry Seymour Conway 1768 (1768) 1770 (1770) Whig


  • October 1768 – Lord Weymouth is succeeded by Lord Rochford as Northern Secretary. Lord Shelburne is succeeded by Weymouth as Southern Secretary.
  • January 1770 – Lord Camden is succeeded by Charles Yorke as Lord Chancellor. Yorke dies on 20 January and the position is left in commission.


  • Black, Jeremy (27 November 1992). Pitt the Elder. CUP Archive. ISBN 978-0-521-39806-0.
  • Cook, Chris; Stevenson, John (28 February 1980). British Historical Facts: 1760–1830. Palgrave Macmillan UK. ISBN 978-0-333-21512-8.
  • Whiteley, Peter (1996). Lord North: The Prime Minister Who Lost America. A&C Black. ISBN 978-1-85285-145-3.
Preceded by
Chatham ministry
Government of Great Britain
Succeeded by
North ministry
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