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History of the Lieutenancy

Historic Origins

The office of Lord-Lieutenant is military in origin and can be said to date from the reign of Henry VIII, with a brief gap during the Commonwealth, until restored by Charles II in 1660.  By 1569, provision was made for the appointment of deputy lieutenants.  Originally, the Lord-Lieutenant was made responsible for the maintenance of order and for all military measures necessary locally for defence.  Although by the Regulation of the Forces Act 1871 the Militia was removed from the Lord-Lieutenant's direct control, it was not until 1921 that the Lord-Lieutenant finally lost the power to call on all able-bodied men of the County to fight in case of need.

The traditional links with the armed forces have been preserved in a modern form in the association of the Lord-Lieutenant with the volunteer Reserve Forces and through links with the local armed forces, police, fire and ambulance services. From the earliest days, the Lord-Lieutenant was closely associated with the magistracy. Until the 19th century the Lord-Lieutenant was appointed the Clerk of Peace. In the English and Welsh shires, the Lord-Lieutenant is often a magistrate, chairman of the Advisory Committee, holding the ancient appointment of Custos Rotulorum (Keeper of the Rolls).

The office of the Lord Lieutenant has been provided for in statue, most recently in the Lieutenancies Act 1997.  The Queen appoints Lord Lieutenants on the recommendation of the Prime Minister and approves the appointments of Vice Lord Lieutenants under these statutes. The Queen may disapprove of the proposed appointment of a Deputy Lieutenant.

  • John Russell, 1st Earl of Bedford 1552–1554
  • John Bourchier, 2nd Earl of Bath 1556–?
  • Francis Russell, 2nd Earl of Bedford 1584 – 28 July 1585
  • Jointly held: 8 August 1586 – 7 December 1587
    • Sir Francis Godolphin
    • Sir William Mohun
    • Peter Edgcumbe
    • Richard Carew
  • Sir Walter Raleigh 7 December 1587 – 24 March 1603
  • William Herbert, 3rd Earl of Pembroke 21 May 1604 – 10 April 1630
  • Philip Herbert, 4th Earl of Pembroke 17 August 1630 – 1642
  • John Robartes, 1st Earl of Radnor 1642 (Parliamentarian)
  • Interregnum 1642 - 1660
  • John Granville, 1st Earl of Bath 1 October 1660 – April 1696 jointly with Charles Granville, 2nd Baron Granville 6 May 1691 – March 1693
  • Charles Robartes, 2nd Earl of Radnor 24 April 1696 – 1702
  • John Granville, 1st Baron Granville 18 June 1702 – 1705
  • Sidney Godolphin, 1st Earl of Godolphin 16 April 1705 – 1710
  • Laurence Hyde, 1st Earl of Rochester 15 April 1710 – 2 May 1711
  • Henry Hyde, 2nd Earl of Rochester 25 October 1711 – September 1714
  • Charles Robartes, 2nd Earl of Radnor 13 November 1714 – 3 August 1723
  • vacant
  • Richard Edgcumbe, 1st Baron Edgcumbe 29 July 1742 – 22 November 1758
  • Richard Edgcumbe, 2nd Baron Edgcumbe 5 March 1759 – 10 May 1761
  • George Edgcumbe, 1st Earl of Mount Edgcumbe 22 June 1761 – 4 February 1795
  • Richard Edgcumbe, 2nd Earl of Mount Edgcumbe 17 April 1795 – 26 September 1839
  • Sir William Salusbury-Trelawny, 8th Baronet 30 December 1839 – 15 November 1856
  • Charles Vivian, 2nd Baron Vivian 17 December 1856 – 1877
  • William Edgcumbe, 4th Earl of Mount Edgcumbe 6 November 1877 – 25 September 1917
  • John Charles Williams 24 January 1918 – 1936
  • Sir Edward Hoblyn Warren Bolitho 17 February 1936 – 1962
  • Sir John Gawen Carew Pole, 12th Baronet 29 August 1962 – 1977
  • George Boscawen, 9th Viscount Falmouth 1977–1994
  • Lady Mary Holborow 10 November 1994 – 19 September 2011
  • Colonel Edward Bolitho 19 September 2011 – present