George Goschen, 1st Viscount Goschen

George Joachim Goschen, 1st Viscount Goschen, PC, DL, FBA (10 August 1831 – 7 February 1907) was a British statesman and businessman best remembered for being "forgotten" by Lord Randolph Churchill. He was initially a Liberal, then a Liberal Unionist before joining the Conservative Party in 1893.

The Viscount Goschen
George Goschen, 1883
First Lord of the Admiralty
In office
29 June 1895  12 November 1900
Prime MinisterThe Marquess of Salisbury
Preceded byThe Earl Spencer
Succeeded byThe Earl of Selborne
Chancellor of the Exchequer
In office
14 January 1887  11 August 1892
Prime MinisterThe Marquess of Salisbury
Preceded byLord Randolph Churchill
Succeeded bySir William Vernon Harcourt
Ministerial offices
First Lord of the Admiralty
In office
24 March 1871  17 February 1874
Prime MinisterWilliam Ewart Gladstone
Preceded byHugh Childers
Succeeded byGeorge Ward Hunt
President of the Poor Law Board
In office
3 December 1868  24 March 1871
Prime MinisterWilliam Ewart Gladstone
Preceded byThe Earl of Devon
Succeeded byJames Stansfeld
Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster
In office
26 January 1866  26 June 1866
Prime MinisterThe Earl Russell
Preceded byThe Earl of Clarendon
Succeeded byThomas Edward Taylor
Paymaster General
Vice-President of the Board of Trade
In office
29 November 1865  12 March 1866
Prime MinisterThe Earl Russell
Preceded byWilliam Hutt
Succeeded byWilliam Monsell
Parliamentary offices
Member of the House of Lords
Lord Temporal
In office
18 December 1900  7 February 1907
Preceded byPeerage created
Succeeded by2nd Viscount Goschen
Member of Parliament
for Westminster St George's
In office
9 February 1887  25 September 1900
Preceded byLord Algernon Percy
Succeeded byHon. Heneage Legge
Member of Parliament
for Edinburgh East
In office
18 December 1885  26 June 1886
Preceded byConstituency created
Succeeded byRobert Wallace
Member of Parliament
for Ripon
In office
27 April 1880  18 November 1885
Preceded byEarl de Grey
Succeeded byWilliam Harker
Member of Parliament
for City of London
In office
2 June 1863  24 March 1880
Preceded byWestern Wood
Succeeded byWilliam Lawrence
Personal details
Born(1831-08-10)10 August 1831
London, England
Died7 February 1907(1907-02-07) (aged 75)
Political partyLiberal
Liberal Unionist
EducationRugby School
Alma materOriel College, Oxford

While Chancellor of the Exchequer, in 1888, he introduced the Goschen formula to allocate funding for Scotland and Ireland.

Background, education and business career

He was born in London, the son of Wilhelm Heinrich (William Henry) Goschen, who emigrated from Leipzig. His grandfather was the prominent German printer Georg Joachim Göschen. He was educated at Rugby under Tait, and at Oriel College, Oxford, where he took a first in Literae Humaniores.[1] He entered his father's firm of ″Frühling & Göschen″, of Austin Friars, in 1853, and three years later became a director of the Bank of England.[2] From 1874 to 1880, Goschen was Governor (Company chairman) of the Hudson's Bay Company, North America's oldest company (established by English royal charter in 1670).

Political career, 1863–1885

In 1863 he was returned without opposition as one of the four MPs for the City of London in the Liberal interest, and he was reelected in 1865. In November of the same year he was appointed Vice-President of the Board of Trade and Paymaster-General, and in January 1866 he was made Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, with a seat in the cabinet. When Gladstone became prime minister in December 1868, Goschen joined the cabinet as President of the Poor Law Board, until March 1871, when he succeeded Childers as First Lord of the Admiralty. In the 1874 general election he was the only Liberal returned for the City of London, and by a narrow majority. Being sent to Cairo in 1876 as delegate for the British holders of Egyptian bonds in 1876,[1]:50 he concluded an agreement with the Khedive to arrange for the conversion of the debt.[2]

In 1878 his views on the county franchise question prevented him from voting consistently with his party. With the City of London becoming more Conservative, Goschen did not stand there at the 1880 general election, but was instead returned for Ripon in Yorkshire,[1]:82 which he represented until 1885, when he was returned for Edinburgh East. He declined to join Gladstone's government in 1880 and refused the post of Viceroy of India, but he became special ambassador to the Porte, where he settled the Montenegrin and Greek frontier questions in 1880 and 1881. He was made an Ecclesiastical Commissioner in 1882. When Sir Henry Brand was raised to the peerage in 1884, Goschen was offered the role of Speaker of the House of Commons, but he declined. During the parliament of 1880–1885 he frequently found himself at odds with his party, especially over franchise extension and questions of foreign policy. When Gladstone adopted Home Rule for Ireland, Goschen followed Lord Hartington (afterwards 8th Duke of Devonshire) and became one of the most active of the Liberal Unionists. He failed to retain his seat for Edinburgh at the election in July of that year.[1]:127[2]

Political career, 1885–1895

On the resignation of Lord Randolph Churchill in December 1886, Goschen, though a Liberal Unionist, accepted Lord Salisbury's invitation to join his ministry as Chancellor of the Exchequer.[2] Churchill had assumed he could not be replaced and famously commented that he had "forgotten Goschen" was a potential alternative.[1]:131 Goschen needed a seat in Parliament and so stood in a by-election in the Liverpool Exchange constituency but was defeated by seven votes in January 1887. He was then elected for the strongly-Conservative St George's, Hanover Square, in February. His chancellorship was memorable for his successful conversion of the National Debt in 1888.[3] He also introduced the first UK road tax, implemented in the form of two vehicle duties, on locomotives and carts.[4][5][6]

According to Roy Jenkins, a former Chancellor of the Exchequer, "Whether Goschen was a good Chancellor is more problematical. His main and real achievement was the conversion in 1888 of the core of the national debt from a 3 percent to a 2.75 percent and ultimately 2.5 percent basis. For the rest he was a stolid and uninnovating Chancellor." Professor Thomas Skinner wrote, "Yet there remains a feeling that he failed to accomplish much of what needed to be done".[7]

The University of Aberdeen again conferred upon him the honour of the rectorship in 1888, he received an honorary LL.D from the University of Cambridge in the same year,[8] and he received a similar honour from the University of Edinburgh in 1890.[2]

Following the defeat of Salisbury's government in 1892, Goschen moved into opposition. Though he had been a leading Liberal Unionist as Chancellor of the Exchequer, Goschen did not stand against Joseph Chamberlain for the leadership of the party in 1892 following the departure of Hartington to the House of Lords as the Duke of Devonshire. Unable to work with Chamberlain, Goschen left the Liberal Unionists and joined the Conservatives in 1893. One obvious sign of his change of allegiance within the Unionist alliance was when he joined the exclusively Conservative Carlton Club in the same year.

Political career, 1895–1907

Caricature from Punch, 13 August 1881: "This is a Joke-'im Goschen Picture of a Wise Man from the East, at present ascertaining which way the wind blows"

From 1895 to 1900 Goschen was First Lord of the Admiralty. He retired in 1900 and was raised to the peerage as Viscount Goschen of Hawkhurst, Kent. Though retired from active politics he continued to take a great interest in public affairs, and when Chamberlain started his tariff reform movement in 1903, Lord Goschen was one of the weightiest champions of free trade on the Unionist side.[2]

Other public positions

In educational subjects Goschen had always taken the greatest interest, his best known, but by no means his only, contribution to popular culture being his participation in the University Extension Movement. His first efforts in parliament were devoted to advocating the abolition of religious tests and the admission of Dissenters to the universities. His published works indicate how ably he combined the wise study of economics with a practical instinct for business-like progress, without neglecting the more ideal aspects of human life. In addition to his well-known work on The Theory of Foreign Exchanges, he published several financial and political pamphlets and addresses on educational and social subjects, among them being,The Cultivation of the Imagination, Liverpool, 1877, and that on Intellectual Interest, Aberdeen, 1888.[9] He was President of the Royal Statistical Society, 1886–88.

He also wrote a biography of his grandfather, The Life and Times of George Joachim Goschen, publisher and printer of Leipzig (1903). This culminated a long-standing project to refute allegations of Jewish ancestry,[1]:1 giving his earliest ascertainable ancestor as a Lutheran pastor named Joachimus Gosenius, recorded in 1609.[10] (It did not apparently prevent his family being classed as of Jewish origin in the German genealogical work known as The Semi Gotha, first published 1913.)[11]

Private life

Goschen died on 7 February 1907. He had married, in 1857, Lucy, the daughter of John Dalley, and had 6[12] children. He was succeeded by his eldest son George (1866–1952), who was Conservative M.P. for East Grinstead from 1895 to 1906 and married a daughter of Lord Cranbrook.[2]

Cultural references

  • Goschen appears as a minor character in the historical-mystery novel Stone's Fall, by Iain Pears.
  • He is referenced in the poem Away from It All by New Zealand poet A. R. D. Fairburn:

I want to leave behind me all rancid emotion.
I want to be alone. I want to forget Goschen.[13]


  1. Spinner, Thomas J. (26 July 1973). George Joachim Goschen: The Transformation of a Victorian Liberal. Cambridge University Press. p. 4 via Internet Archive. July.
  2. Chisholm 1911, p. 263.
  3. "Tidy up the mess the Goschen way". Financial Times. 20 July 2011. Archived from the original on 10 December 2022.
  4. "The speech of the Chancellor of the Exchequer". The Times. 27 March 1888.
  5. "The Excise Duties (Local)". The Times. 27 March 1888.
  6. "Car tax disc to be axed after 93 years". BBC News. 5 December 2013.
  7. Jenkins, Roy (1998). "George Joachim Goschen". The Chancellors. London: Macmillan. pp. 79–80. ISBN 0333730577.
  8. "Goschen, George Joachim (GSCN888GJ)". A Cambridge Alumni Database. University of Cambridge.
  9. Chisholm 1911, pp. 263–264.
  10. Goschen, George Joachim (1903). The Life and Times of Georg Joachim Goschen, printer of Leipzig 1752–1828, Volume 1. p. 3.
  11. "NOBLE FAMILIES OF JEWISH ANCESTRY". Archived from the original on 9 September 2012. Retrieved 25 September 2012.
  12. 1871 England Census; Class: RG10; Piece: 1047; Folio: 92; Page: 3; GSU roll: 827483 in conjunction with 1891 England Census; Class: RG12; Piece: 779; Folio: 79; Page: 4; GSU roll: 6095889
  13. A. R. D. Fairburn. "Away from It All". Retrieved 11 April 2015.

Further reading

This article is issued from Wikipedia. The text is licensed under Creative Commons - Attribution - Sharealike. Additional terms may apply for the media files.