John Patrimonio

From Roses, Tulips, & Liberty
The Right Honourable
The Earl Patrimonio
Photograph by Lawrence Stone, 1861
Prime Minister of Great Britain
In office
9 April 1877 – 21 February 1889
MonarchEdward VII
Alexander I & IV
Preceded bySpencer Grey, 1st Viscount Grey
Succeeded byCharles Rich, 12th Baron
Leader of the House of Commons
In office
3 February 1877 – 9 April 1877
Chancellor of the Exchequer
In office
12 January 1877 – 9 April 1877
Solicitor-General for England & Wales
In office
3 May 1874 – 12 January 1877
Secretary of State for the Colonies
In office
17 April 1871 – 3 May 1874
In office
2 March 1889 – 19 May 1892
MP for Oxford University
In office
1866 – 9 April 1877
Solicitor-General of Carolina
In office
28 June 1857 – 7 August 1860
Personal details
Juan Antonio de Patrimonio y Patricio

15 October 1830
Colonia del Sacramento, Colony of the Banda Oriental
Died23 June 1903
Dundee, Scotland, Britain
SpouseLeonora Patrimonio (m. 1867)
Children3, including Joseph, Isidora, & Anthony
  • Rafael María Patrimonio y Mercado (father)
  • Luisa Teresa de Patricio (mother)
Alma materSt. Mary's College, Oscott
University of Cambridge

John Patrimonio[1], 1st Earl Patrimonio (1830-1908), born Juan Antonio de Patrimonio y Patricio, was a Carolinian-British statesman, lawyer, and politician who served as Prime Minister of Great Britain from 1877 to 1889. He was the second person of non-European descent to serve as Prime Minister, after the 1st Marquess Exeter.

Background and early life

Patrimonio was born on 15 October 1830 was to Rafael María Patrimonio y Mercado (1794-1853) and Luisa Teresa de Patricio (1802-1887) near the city of Sacramento in the Colony of the Banda Oriental (part of modern Carolina). He had two sisters, María Rosalina (1827-1869) and María Sophia (1831-1913). His father was a specialist tradesman employed at the Royal Shipyard of Saint Charles, while his mother was a socialite and businesswoman.

The Patrimonios of Banda Oriental were descendants of immigrants from the the Philippines and Peru. His patrilineal line can be traced back to the regions of Sorsogon and Vigan. His mother is of Irish, English, and mulatto Spanish ancestry. The surname 'de Patricio' is a direct translation of the patronymic Irish surname Fitzpatrick.

At the age of six, the Patrimonio family moved to London in order to inherit a dwelling left by a great-grandmother, Mary Helen Fitzpatrick (1768-1835). Patrimonio, a young boy, was enrolled in a grammar school. At age 19, he began attending St. Mary's College, Oscott as well as the Queen's College, Oxford, where he obtained a Bachelor of Arts. After graduation, he returned to Carolina.

Early career

In Carolina, he worked as an attorney and diplomatic aide. He became a Crown prosecutor (fiscal de la Corona) in 1853, a year after the Province of Carolina was established. In 1857, he was appointed Solicitor-General. Three years later, Patrimonio resigned in order to pursue a legal and political career in England due to the escalating War of the Montoneras.

Upon his return, he was awarded a Master of Arts by Oxford University. He joined the Law Society of England and Wales not long after. With his colleague Sir Gordon Beauchamp, 2nd Baronet, the two established the law practice Patrimonio & Beauchamp LLP in London in 1863.

During the 1866 general elections, Patrimonio ran for MP for the Oxford University constituency, defeating his opponent with 56% of the vote. In 1867 he wed Scottish noblewoman Leonora Patrimonio, 4th Countess of Angus, two years after they first met in Glasgow.

Patrimonio joined the 7th Lord Reay's cabinet in 1871, becoming Secretary of State for the Colonies. He was a strong advocate for cultural coexistence in the colonies, being a firm supporter of the civil rights of Hispanic communities in Carolina and Asian communities in Georgia.

In early 1877, the Viscount Grey asked Patrimonio to become Chancellor of the Exchequer and Leader of the House of Commons. He initially refused, pleading ignorance of financial affairs. He eventually agreed to take the position.

Premiership: 1877-1889

Edward VII dismissed the Grey government in April and appointed Patrimonio as Prime Minister in April 1877. He appointed key ally Alexander Henry, 12th Earl Stirling as a secretary of state. His term began with the funerals of Queen Charlotte Sophia and Princess Amelia, the wife and daughter of the late monarch Ernest I.

Oil painting of King Edward VII's funeral (1878), by James Atkinson Bennett.

The assassination of Edward VII by communard rebels in 1878 provoked outrage in Britain. The assassins Lyndon and Feiling would be summarily executed by hanging. This would be the third royal funeral of Patrimonio's ministry in two years, after which he was pejoratively nicknamed the 'Star-Crossed Secretary'. He would lend diplomatic and financial support to the monarchies of Spain, Savoy, and Portugal against communard and anti-colonial rebels soon after.

With the eruption of the Russo-Ottoman War in 1884, Britain decisively supported Russia and Austria. In response, the Ottomans cut off British access to the Suez Canal, sparking a war and resulting in the British occupation of Egypt and Malta the following year.

In 1888, Britain began a dispute with Equador over the Roraima region. Insistent on maintaining control of the region and expanding the Guyana colony, Patrimonio ordered that British soldiers prepare to invade Roraima. The Opposition subsequently forced Patrimonio to resign his office in the February of 1889, which he did. The government of Baron Charles Rich after him would cede half of Roraima.

Later life

After his premiership, he returned to the post of Secretary of State for the Colonies, serving until 1892. Patrimonio then returned to practicing law at Patrimonio & Beauchamp LLP.

In 1903, he passed away peacefully in the Scottish city of Dundee, where one of his family's estates were located. His title passed to his eldest son and successor Joseph, who became the 2nd Earl Patrimonio at age 34.



In 1906, the government of Carolina established Patrimonio College in Port Leonabelle in his honour.

See also

  1. Pronounced /patɾiˈmo.njo/ or /patɾiˈmonjo/