History and duties


The office of Lord-Lieutenant dates from the military reign of Henry VIII when its holder was made responsible for the maintenance of order and for all military measures necessary locally for defence. By 1569 there was provision for the appointment of deputies.

In 1871 the militia was removed from the Lord-Lieutenant’s direct control, followed in 1921 with the loss of power to call on men of the county to fight in case of need.

The first Lord-Lieutenant of Devon was John Lord Russell, appointed in 1549. Since then there have been a further 26Lord-Lieutenants appointed for the County of Devon.


1549           John Lord Russell

1558           Francis 2nd Earl of Bedford

1585           William Bouchier 3rd Earl of Bath

1608           Edward 3rd Earl of Bedford

1620           Edward Bouchier 4th Earl of Bath

1623           Francis 2nd Baron Russell of Thornhaugh

1661           Sir John Grenville Earl of Bath

1690           Sir William Courtenay of Powderham

1714           John 4th Baron and 1st Earl Poulett of Hinton St.George

1716           John Lord Carteret

1721           Hugh Fortescue 14th Baron Clinton

1733           Robert Lord Walpole

1751           John 4th Duke of Bedford

1771           Vere 3rd Earl Poulett

1788           Hugh 1st Earl Fortescue

1839           Hugh 2nd Earl Fortescue

1861           Edward 12th Duke of Somerset

1887           Sir Stafford Northcote 1st Earl of Iddesleigh

1888           Lord Clinton 20th Baron

1905           Hugh 4th Earl Fortescue

1929           Lord Mildmay of Flete

1937           Hugh 5th Earl Fortescue

1958           Lord Roborough 2nd Baron

1978           Field Marshal Sir Richard Hull

1982           John St.Aubyn Parker 6th Earl of Morley

1998           Sir Eric Dancer

2015           David Fursdon Esq


The principal duties (unpaid) of the Lord-Lieutenant are as follows:

  • arranging visits of Members of the Royal Family and escorting Royal visitors as appropriate
  • participation in civic and social activity within the Lieutenancy: this includes encouragement of a wide range of voluntary activity
  • liaison with local units of the Royal Navy, Army and Royal Air Force
  • presentation of medals and awards on behalf of Her Majesty
  • leadership of the local magistracy as Chairman of the Advisory Committee on Justices of the Peace, in liaison with the Ministry of Justice, and carrying out the duties of the Keeper of the Rolls

In addition to the above the Lord-Lieutenant is asked to comment on the validity of nominations for honours, submits lists of names of those he recommends for invitations to Her Majesty’s Garden Parties at Buckingham Palace. The Lord-Lieutenant is also expected to promote a good atmosphere and spirit of co-operation by the encouragement he gives to voluntary service and benevolent organisations, and by the interest he takes in the industrial and social life of his county. He is also encouraged to take an interest in local projects funded from the National Lottery and should consider lending support to those which he feels to be of particular importance.