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Northcote, Sir Stafford, 8th baronet, 1st earl of Iddesleigh

Northcote, Sir Stafford, 8th baronet, 1st earl of Iddesleigh (1818–87). Of a Devon gentry family and educated at Eton and Balliol College, Oxford, Northcote, a civil servant in the early 1840s, was Gladstone's secretary at the Board of Trade, then joint secretary to the 1851 Great Exhibition and co-author of the Northcote–Trevelyan Report on the civil service. A Peelite free trader and high churchman, he remained close to Gladstone in the 1850s. An MP from 1855, he was recruited by Disraeli to the Conservative ministry in 1859 and served in the cabinets of 1866–8. He became chairman of the Hudson's Bay Company and helped to negotiate the 1871 Washington treaty with the USA. Chancellor of the Exchequer in 1874–80, Northcote succeeded Disraeli as leader in the Commons in 1876, though his unease with the premier's policy over the Eastern Question became evident. He was joint leader of the Conservatives with Salisbury from 1881, but his emollient centrism, designed to attract moderate Whigs, brought criticism from his own side, particularly the Fourth Party frondeurs. In 1885 Salisbury, now premier, removed Northcote from the Commons leadership and gave him an earldom and the 1st lordship of the Treasury. Briefly foreign secretary in 1886, Iddesleigh died suddenly as Salisbury was replacing him.

Bruce Coleman

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