Stafford Henry Northcote, 1st Earl of Iddesleigh (1818-1887), British statesman, was born in London on 27 October 1818. His ancestors had long been settled in Devonshire, their pedigree, according to Burke, being traceable to the beginning of the 12th century. After a successful career at Balliol College, Oxford, he became in 1843 private secretary to William Ewart Gladstone at the board of trade. He was afterwards legal secretary to the board; and after acting as one of the secretaries to the Great Exhibition of 1851, co-operated with Sir Charles Trevelyan in framing the report which revolutionized the conditions of appointment to the Civil Service. He succeeded his grandfather, Sir Stafford Henry Northcote, as 8th baronet in 1851. He entered Parliament in 1855 as Conservative M.P. for Dudley, and was elected for Stamford in 1858, a seat which he exchanged in 1866 for North Devon.
Steadily supporting his party, he became President of the Board of Trade in 1866, Secretary of State for India in 1867, and Chancellor of the Exchequer in 1874. In the interval between these last two appointments he had been one of the commissioners for the settlement of the Alabama difficulty with the United States, and on Disraeli's elevation to the House of Lords in 1876 he became leader of the Conservative party in the Commons. As a finance minister he was largely dominated by the lines of policy laid down by Gladstone; but he distinguished himself by his dealings with the Debt, especially his introduction of the New Sinking Fund (1876), by which he fixed the annual charge for the Debt in such a way as to provide for a regular series of payments off the capital. His temper as leader was, however, too gentle to satisfy the more ardent spirits among his own followers, and party cabals (in which Lord Randolph Churchill , who had made a dead set at the "old gang," and especially Sir Stafford Northcote, took a leading part) led to Sir Stafford's transfer to the Lords in 1885, when Lord Salisbury became prime minister. Taking the titles of Earl of Iddesleigh and Viscount St Cyres, he was included in the cabinet as First Lord of the Treasury. In Lord Salisbury's 1886 ministry he became Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, but the arrangement was not a comfortable one, and his resignation had just been decided upon when on 12 January 1887 he died very suddenly at Lord Salisbury's official residence in Downing Street.
Lord Iddesleigh was elected lord rector of Edinburgh University in 1883, in which capacity he addressed the students on the subject of "Desultory Reading." He had little leisure for letters, but amongst his works were Twenty Years of Financial Policy (1862), a valuable study of Gladstonian finance, and Lectures and Essays (1887). His Life by Andrew Lang appeared in 1890. Lord Iddesleigh married in 1843 Cecilia Frances Farrer (d. 1910) (sister of Thomas, 1st Lord Farrer), by whom he had seven sons and three daughters. His second son, Henry, 1st Baron Northcote, was Governor-General of Australia 1904-1908.
Text originally from 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica