Clerk of the Privy Council (United Kingdom)
The Clerk of the Privy Council is a civil servant in the government of the United Kingdom. He or she is the most senior civil servant in the Privy Council Office
Privy Council Office (United Kingdom)
The Privy Council Office provides secretarial and administrative support to the Lord President of the Council in his or her capacity of president of Her Majesty's Most Honourable Privy Council. The head of the Office is the Clerk of the Privy Council...


The office is less powerful than its Canadian equivalent
Clerk of the Privy Council (Canada)
The Clerk of the Privy Council is the senior civil servant in the Canadian government. The Title and Office is in fact "Clerk of the Privy Council and the Secretary to the Cabinet"...

; unlike the Canadian Clerk of the Privy Council, the British Clerk is not the ex officio head of the Civil Service
Civil service
The term civil service has two distinct meanings:* A branch of governmental service in which individuals are employed on the basis of professional merit as proven by competitive examinations....

 (these functions are performed by a separate Cabinet Secretary
Cabinet Secretary
A Cabinet Secretary is almost always a senior official who provides services and advice to a Cabinet of Ministers. In many countries, the position can have considerably wider functions and powers, including general responsibility for the entire civil service...


Clerks in Ordinary 1540–present

10 August 1540 William Paget
William Paget, 1st Baron Paget
William Paget, 1st Baron Paget of Beaudesert , was an English statesman and accountant who held prominent positions in the service of Henry VIII, Edward VI and Mary I.-Early life:...

23 April 1543 John Mason  William Honnyng
William Honnyng
William Honnyng was an English Member of Parliament and Tudor Court official who served as Clerk of the Signet and Clerk of the Privy Council under Henry VIII and Edward VI.-Early life:...

17 November 1545 William Honnyng
William Honnyng
William Honnyng was an English Member of Parliament and Tudor Court official who served as Clerk of the Signet and Clerk of the Privy Council under Henry VIII and Edward VI.-Early life:...

18 December 1545 Sir Thomas Chaloner
Thomas Chaloner (statesman)
Sir Thomas Chaloner was an English statesman and poet.-Life:He was the son of Roger Chaloner, mercer of London, a descendant of the Denbighshire Chaloners...

March 1547 Thomas Smith
Thomas Smith (diplomat)
Sir Thomas Smith was an English scholar and diplomat.He was born at Saffron Walden in Essex. He was educated at Queens' College, Cambridge, where he became a fellow in 1530, and in 1533 was appointed a public reader or professor. He lectured in the schools on natural philosophy, and on Greek in...

10 May 1548 Armagil Wade
20 May 1550 Armagil Wade  William Thomas
William Thomas (scholar)
William Thomas , probably a Welshman, was an Italian scholar and clerk of the council to Edward VI, who was executed for treason after the death of Edward.-Early years:...

24 September 1551 Bernard Hampton
12 May 1552 William Thomas
William Thomas (scholar)
William Thomas , probably a Welshman, was an Italian scholar and clerk of the council to Edward VI, who was executed for treason after the death of Edward.-Early years:...

Bernard Hampton
19 July 1553 vacant vacant
30 July 1553 Francis Allen William Smith
1567 vacant
29 April 1571 Edmund Tremayne
6 July 1572 Robert Beale
Robert Beale (diplomat)
Robert Beale was an English diplomat, administrator, and antiquary in the reign of Elizabeth I. As Clerk of the Privy Council, Beale wrote the official record of the execution of Mary, Queen of Scots, to which he was an eyewitness.-Early life:...

12 October 1576 Sir Thomas Wilkes
7 October 1584 Sir William Wade
2 January 1594 Sir Anthony Ashley
Anthony Ashley, 1st Baronet of Wimborne St Giles
Anthony Ashley, 1st Baronet, PC was Clerk of the Privy Council , which was the most senior civil servant in the Privy Council Office. Ashley accompanied the fleet to Cádiz as a representative of the Queen...

21 April 1598 Sir Thomas Smith
18 June 1601 Sir Thomas Edmondes
Thomas Edmondes
Sir Thomas Edmonds was a diplomat and politician.Edmonds was the fifth son of another Thomas Edmonds, who was the Customer of the ports of Plymouth and Fowey, and of Joan daughter of Anthony Delbere of Sherborne in Dorset...

25 May 1608 Sir Ralph Winwood
Ralph Winwood
Sir Ralph Winwood was an English diplomat and politician.-Life:He was born at Aynhoe in Northamptonshire and educated at St John's College, Oxford....

John Corbett
7 September 1609 Sir Clement Edmondes
Clement Edmondes
Sir Clement Edmondes was an English government official and politician who sat in the House of Commons at various times between 1609 and 1622.-Background and education:...

27 November 1609 vacant
22 July 1610 Sir George Calvert
George Calvert, 1st Baron Baltimore
Sir George Calvert, 1st Baron Baltimore, 8th Proprietary Governor of Newfoundland was an English politician and colonizer. He achieved domestic political success as a Member of Parliament and later Secretary of State under King James I...

7 December 1611
24 September 1613 Francis Cottington
24 February 1614 William Trumbull
William Trumbull (diplomat)
William Trumbull was an English diplomat, administrator and politician.-Life:He was son of John Trumbull of Craven, Yorkshire, and his wife, Elizabeth Brogden or Briggden. He seems to have been introduced at court by Sir Thomas Edmondes...

February 1619 Albertus Morton
Albertus Morton
Sir Albertus Morton was an English diplomat and Secretary of State.-Life:Born about 1584, he was youngest of the three sons of George Morton of Eshere in Chilham, Kent, by Mary, daughter of Robert Honywood of Charing in the same county...

7 November 1622 John Dickenson
11 December 1622 Sir Thomas Meautys
24 January 1623 Sir William Beecher
9 October 1635 Edward Nicholas
Edward Nicholas
Sir Edward Nicholas was an English statesman.-Life:He was the eldest son of John Nicholas, a member of an old Wiltshire family.He was educated at Salisbury grammar school, Winchester College and Queen's College, Oxford...

26 May 1636 Sir Dudley Carleton
Dudley Carleton (diplomat)
Sir Dudley Carleton was a minor diplomat and Clerk of the Council. He was the younger son of George and Catharine Carleton née Harrison of Huntercombe Oxfordshire and lived at Clerkenwell and Holcombe, Oxfordshire.-Career:...

27 January 1641 Richard Browne

14 May 1649 Sir Edward Walker
Edward Walker (officer of arms)
Sir Edward Walker was an officer of arms and antiquarian who served as Garter King of Arms.-Early life:Walker was born in 1611 at Roobers in Nether Stowey, Somerset, and entered the household of the great Earl Marshal Thomas Howard in 1633.-Charles I:Walker was in almost constant attendance on...

vacant vacant vacant
18 November 1656 Sir George Lane
George Lane, 1st Viscount Lanesborough
George Lane, 1st Viscount Lanesborough was an Irish politician.He was the son of Sir Richard Lane, 1st Baronet, of Tulsk, by his wife Mabel Fitzgerald....

27 October 1658 Sir John Nicholas
22 June 1660 Sir Richard Browne
23 September 1664 Sir Robert Southwell
Robert Southwell (diplomat)
Sir Robert Southwell was an English diplomat. He was Secretary of State for Ireland and President of the Royal Society from 1690.-Background and education:...

24 January 1672 Sir Joseph Williamson
Joseph Williamson (politician)
Sir Joseph Williamson, FRS was an English civil servant, diplomat and politician who sat in the House of Commons of England variously between 1665 and 1701 and in the Irish House of Commons between 1692 and 1699....

16 September 1674 Sir Philip Lloyd
21 February 1677 Sir Thomas Doleman
5 December 1679 Francis Gwyn
Francis Gwyn
Francis Gwyn PC , was a Welsh politician and official.-Background:Gwyn was the son and heir of Edward Gwyn of Llansannor, Glamorganshire, who married Eleanor, youngest daughter of Sir Francis Popham of Littlecott, Wiltshire; he was born at Combe Florey in Somerset about 1648...

16 January 1685 William Bridgeman
William Bridgeman (MP for Bramber)
William Bridgeman FRS was a senior English civil servant and MP.He was born in Amsterdam, Netherlands, the son of Richard Bridgeman, a merchant for the East India Company and was the cousin of Sir Orlando Bridgeman, 1st Baronet, of Ridley. He entered Queen's College, Oxford, matriculating in 1662...

Philip Musgrave
Philip Musgrave
Philip Musgrave may refer to:*Sir Philip Musgrave, 2nd Baronet *Sir Philip Musgrave, 6th Baronet *Sir Philip Musgrave, 8th Baronet , MP for Carlisle and Petersfield...

6 February 1685 vacant
22 October 1686 William Bridgeman William Blathwayt
William Blathwayt
William Blathwayt was a civil servant and politician who established the War Office as a department of the British Government and played an important part in administering the Thirteen Colonies of North America....

11 December 1688 vacant vacant
21 February 1689 Charles Montagu
Charles Montagu, 1st Earl of Halifax
Charles Montagu, 1st Earl of Halifax, KG, PC, FRS was an English poet and statesman.-Early life:Charles Montagu was born in Horton, Northamptonshire, the son of George Montagu, fifth son of 1st Earl of Manchester...

Richard Coling
24 March 1692 John Dyves
12 January 1693 William Bridgeman
27 July 1697 John Povey
18 May 1699 Edward Southwell
11 January 1705 Christopher Musgrave
2 November 1710 Sir Christopher Musgrave
12 May 1715 James Vernon
James Vernon the younger
James Vernon the younger was a British diplomat and civil servant, briefly a Member of ParliamentHe was the son of James Vernon, who was Secretary of State under William III....

26 March 1716 Robert Hales
23 October 1717 Abraham Stanyan
Abraham Stanyan
Abraham Stanyan was an English politician and diplomat.After becoming a student in the Middle Temple, he served as secretary to Sir William Trumbull as Ambassador to the Ottoman Empire, and later to the Earl of Manchester as Ambassador to the Venice in 1697–1698 and then in France in 1699–1700. ...

3 February 1720 Temple Stanyan
22 May 1729 Walter Carey
11 February 1731 William Sharpe
21 April 1752 Gilbert West
Gilbert West
Gilbert West was a minor English poet, translator and Christian apologist in the early and middle eighteenth century. Samuel Johnson included him in his Lives of the Most Eminent English Poets.-Biography:...

14 April 1756 Henry Fane
6 May 1756 William Blair
19 May 1757 Francis Vernon
22 April 1762 Philip Sharpe
23 June 1764 Hon. Robert Walpole
Robert Walpole (ambassador)
Robert Walpole , from 1756 styled The Hon. Robert Walpole, was the 4th son of the 1st Baron Walpole, the younger brother of Robert Walpole, the Prime Minister. He served as an extra clerk of the Privy Council from 1749 until 1764, when he replaced Henry Fane as one of the Clerks in Ordinary...

11 September 1767 Sir Stephen Cotterell
4 December 1772 Sir George Chetwynd
1 January 1779 William Fawkener
William Augustus Fawkener
-Background:William Fawkener was one of the sons of Sir Everard Fawkener, a merchant and then British Ambassador to the Ottoman Empire, who did not marry until he was aged 53, and thus died in 1758 while William was still young. His mother was Harriet daughter of General Charles Churchill...

25 August 1786 Grey Elliott
June 1787
19 April 1810 abolished
8 August 1810 The Viscount Chetwynd
19 August 1811 James Buller
20 March 1821 Charles Greville
24 March 1824 abolished
15 December 1830 Hon. William Bathurst
May 1859 abolished

  • June 1860: Sir Arthur Helps
    Arthur Helps
    Sir Arthur Helps, KCB, DCL , English writer and dean of the Privy Council, youngest son of Thomas Helps, a London merchant, was born in Streatham in South London....

  • 17 March 1875: Charles Lennox Peel
  • 9 August 1898: Sir Almeric FitzRoy
  • 31 May 1923: Sir Maurice Hankey
    Maurice Hankey, 1st Baron Hankey
    Maurice Pascal Alers Hankey, 1st Baron Hankey, GCB, GCMG, GCVO, PC was a British civil servant who gained prominence as the first Cabinet Secretary and who later made the rare transition from the civil service to ministerial office.-Life and career:The third son of R. A...

  • 1 August 1938: Sir Rupert Howorth
  • 1942: Sir Eric Leadbitter
  • 30 June 1951: Francis Ford Fernau
  • 1953: Sir Godfrey Agnew
  • 1974: Sir Neville Leigh
  • c.1984: Sir Geoffrey de Deney
  • 1992: Sir Nigel Nicholls
  • 1996: Robert Bulling (acting)
  • 1998: Alex Galloway
  • 2006–present: Judith Simpson
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