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The Right Honourable
The Earl of Halifax
The 2nd Earl of Halifax by Joshua Reynolds (1764)
Lord Privy Seal

In office
Monarch George III
Prime Minister Frederick North, Lord North
Preceded by The Earl of Bristol
Succeeded by The Earl of Suffolk and Berkshire
Lord Lieutenant of Ireland

In office
Monarch George III
Preceded by The Duke of Bedford
Succeeded by The Earl of Northumberland
President of the Board of Trade

In office
Monarch George II
Preceded by The Lord Monson
Succeeded by The Lord Sandys
Personal details
Born 6 October 1716 (1716-10-06)
Died 8 June 1771(1771-06-08) (aged 54)
Nationality British
Political party Tory
Alma mater Trinity College, Cambridge

George Montagu-Dunk, 2nd Earl of Halifax, KG PC (6 October 1716 – 8 June 1771) was a British statesman of the Georgian era. Due to his success in extending American commerce he became known as "father of the colonies".[1] President of the Board of Trade 1748–61, he aided the foundation of Nova Scotia, 1749, the capital Halifax being named after him.

Early life[]

The son of the 1st Earl of Halifax, he was styled Viscount Sunbury until succeeding his father as Earl of Halifax in 1739 (thus also styled in common usage Lord Halifax). Educated at Eton College and at Trinity College, Cambridge,[2] he was married in 1741 to Anne Richards (died 1753), who had inherited a great fortune from Sir Thomas Dunk, whose name Halifax took.


The Earl of Halifax and his secretaries

After having been an official in the household of Frederick, Prince of Wales, Halifax was made Master of the Buckhounds, and in 1748 he became President of the Board of Trade. While filling this position he helped to found Halifax, the capital of Nova Scotia, which was named after him, and he helped foster trade, especially with North America.

About this time he attempted, unsuccessfully, to become a Secretary of State, but was only allowed to enter the Cabinet in 1757. In March 1761, Halifax was appointed Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, and during part of the time which he held this office he was also First Lord of the Admiralty.

He became Secretary of State for the Northern Department under Lord Bute in October 1762, switching to the Southern Department in 1763 and was one of the three ministers to whom King George III entrusted the direction of affairs during the premiership of George Grenville. In 1762, in search of evidence of sedition, he authorised a raid on the home of John Entick, declared unlawful in the case of Entick v. Carrington.

In 1763, he signed the general warrant for the "authors, printers and publishers" of The North Briton number 45, under which John Wilkes and 48 others were arrested, and for which, six years later, the courts of law made Halifax pay damages. He was also mainly responsible for the exclusion of the name of the King's mother, Augusta, Princess of Wales, from the Regency Bill of 1765.

Together with his colleagues, Halifax left office in July 1765, returning to the Cabinet as Lord Privy Seal under his nephew, Lord North, in January 1770. He had just been restored to his former position of Secretary of State when he died.


Like his friends John Russell, 4th Duke of Bedford and John Montagu, 4th Earl of Sandwich, Halifax was keen on cricket. The earliest surviving record of his involvement in the sport comes from 1741 when he led Northamptonshire in a match against Buckinghamshire at Cow Meadow in Northampton. In the same season, Sandwich and Halifax formed the Northamptonshire & Huntingdonshire county team which twice defeated Bedfordshire, first at Woburn Park and then at Cow Meadow.[3][4]

Styles of address[]

  • 1716–1739: Viscount Sunbury
  • 1739–1748: The Right Honourable The Earl of Halifax
  • 1748–1764: The Right Honourable The Earl of Halifax PC
  • 1764–1771: The Right Honourable The Earl of Halifax KG PC


Social, moral and cultural impact

Halifax, who was Lord-Lieutenant of Northamptonshire and a Lieutenant General, was very extravagant.[5] He was a political patron of playwright and civil servant Richard Cumberland. He left no legitimate male children, and his titles became extinct on his death. Horace Walpole, 4th Earl of Orford spoke slightingly of him and his mistress, Anna Maria Faulkner including alleging he had "sold every employment in his gift".[6] His mistress had kept a low profile while he was in Ireland but she was have understood to have sold positions.[5]


Halifax was buried in the parish church of Horton, Northamptonshire; an effigy bust and plaque features in the north transept of Westminster Abbey. An obelisk is erected at Chicksands Wood in the parish of Haynes, Bedfordshire inscribed to his memory.

Related locations

The municipality of Halifax and Halifax County, Nova Scotia are named in his honour, as are the Halifax River in Central Florida; the town of Halifax and Halifax County, North Carolina; Halifax, Virginia in the United States; and Dunk Island in Queensland and Montague Island in New South Wales.


  •  This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911) "Halifax, George Montagu Dunk, 2nd Earl of" Encyclopædia Britannica 12 (11th ed.) Cambridge University Press 


  • Maun, Ian (2009). From Commons to Lord's, Volume One: 1700 to 1750. Roger Heavens. ISBN 978-1-900592-52-9. 
  • Waghorn, H. T. (1899). Cricket Scores, Notes, etc. (1730–1773). Blackwood. 

Further reading[]

  • Andrew D.M. Beaumont, Colonial America and the Earl of Halifax, 1748-1761. Oxford, England: Oxford University Press, 2015.

External links[]