Arthur James Balfour, First Earl of Balfour

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THE RIGHT HONOURABLE Arthur James Balfour, First Earl Balfour, K.G., O.M., F.R.S., P.C. (25 July, 1848 – 19 March, 1930) was a British Unionist statesman and philosopher, who in an unrivalled period of twenty-seven years in Cabinet served as Prime Minister from 1902 to 1905, Foreign Secretary, First Lord of the Admiralty, Lord President of the Council, Leader of the House of Commons, and Chief Secretary for Ireland.

First Lord of the Admiralty

On Monday, 17 May, Bonar Law went to Lloyd George at 11 Downing Street demanding a new Prime Minister: Balfour, Grey, or Lloyd George himself. Agreeing to none of these options, Lloyd George then pressed Asquith to form a Coalition government to which the latter agreed.

Having spoken privately with Asquith on the 18th, on the 19th Balfour wrote to him,

I am quite indifferent as to what office I take except that I do not think I could be usefully responsible for any administrative office, except the Admiralty. On the other hand, I am perfectly ready to join the new Government without a portfolio, or to accept any office (Chancellor of the Duchy, etc.) which would carry with it no heavy Office work. Indeed, personally, I should prefer it.[1]

The same day he wrote to Selborne, "I do not envy the new First Lord, and I hope it won't be me."[2]

At this time Balfour lost the friendship of Jack Sandars.[3] Upon learning that all Cabinet ministers except Asquith were pooling their salaries and taking an equal share, Sandars later damned it as a "Churchill Relief Fund." In 1912 Churchill had forced the resignation of Sandars's friend Admiral Sir Francis Bridgeman as First Sea Lord in acrimonious circumstances. The final straw appears to have been when Balfour allowed the Churchills to continue living in Admiralty House until arrangements could be made.[4]

See Also


  • "Lord Balfour" (Obituaries). The Times. Thursday, 20 March, 1930. Issue 45466, p. 9.
  • Adams, R. J. Q. (2007). Balfour: The Last Grandee. London: John Murray. ISBN 978-0-7195-5424-7.
  • Mackay, Ruddock F. (1985). Balfour: Intellectual Statesman. London: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-212245-2.

Political Appointments
Preceded by
The Rt. Hon. Winston S. Churchill
First Lord of the Admiralty
1915 – 1916
Succeeded by
The Rt. Hon. Sir Edward Carson


  1. Add. MSS. 49692. f. 148. Quoted in Zebel. p. 205.
  2. Add. MSS. 49708. f. 249. Quoted in Adams. p. 436.
  3. This editor has a great liking for Sandars. He gained admission to Magdalen College, Oxford, on the strength of his knowledge of Cicero's Pro Cluentio, a masterpiece of legal oration much loved by the editor. He resolutely maintained his hatred of Churchill at the cost of the friendship of Balfour to the end of his life.
  4. Adams. pp. 300-301.