Aretas Akers, afterwards Akers-Douglas, 1st Viscount Chilston, GBE

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About Aretas Akers, afterwards Akers-Douglas, 1st Viscount Chilston, GBE

Member of Parliament (Conservative) for East Kent 1880-85 and for St Augustine;s, Kent 1885-1911; Privy Councillor 1891; First Commissioner of Works 1895-1902; Secretary of State for Home Affairs 1902-05; GBE 1920


Aretas Akers-Douglas, 1st Viscount Chilston GBE PC (21 October 1851 – 15 January 1926), born Aretas Akers and known as Aretas Akers-Douglas between 1875 and 1911, was a British Conservative statesman and politician who sat in the House of Commons from 1880 until he was raised to the peerage in 1911. He notably served as Home Secretary under Arthur Balfour between 1902 and 1905.

Background and education

Akers-Douglas was born in West Malling, Kent, the son of Reverend Aretas Akers, parson of West Malling, and his wife Frances Maria, daughter of Francis Holles Brandram. He was educated at Eton and University College, Oxford, before being called to the Bar, Inner Temple, in 1875. That same year he took the additional surname of Douglas under royal licence in accordance with a relative's will.

Political career

As depicted by "Ape" (Carlo Pellegrini) in Vanity Fair, 26 September 1885 In 1880, Akers-Douglas was elected as Conservative Member of Parliament for East Kent and held it until it was divided under the Redistribution of Seats Act 1885. In 1883, Akers-Douglas was appointed whip to the Conservatives. In the 1885 general election, he was elected MP for St Augustine's in the county of Kent. He became Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasury, and retained this post (with a short interval in 1886 when Gladstone returned to power) for the next seven years. He became a Privy Counsellor in 1891.

In 1895, Akers-Douglas was appointed First Commissioner of Works, with a seat in the Cabinet. Seven years later, when Arthur Balfour became Prime Minister, he became Home Secretary, and resigned three and a half years later when the Liberals took power.

In 1911, Akers-Douglas was created Viscount Chilston, of Boughton Malherbe in the County of Kent, and Baron Douglas of Baads, in the County of Midlothian.[3] The viscountcy was named for his country house at Chilston Park. During the First World War, Lord Chilston was Chief County Director for the British Red Cross Society and St John Ambulance, in recognition of which he was appointed Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the British Empire (GBE) in the 1920 civilian war honours.[4] Apart from his political career he was a Deputy Lieutenant and Justice of the Peace for Kent, Edinburgh and Dumfries and a lieutenant in the East Kent Yeoman Cavalry.


Lord Chilston married Adeline Mary, daughter of Horatio Austen-Smith, in 1875. They had two sons and five daughters. He died at his London home in January 1926, aged 74, and was buried at Boughton Malherbe, Kent. He was succeeded in his titles by his eldest son, Aretas, who became British Ambassador to Russia. Lady Chilston died in February 1929.