Before the Act of Union, 1707, the Secretary of State's responsibilities were in relation to the English government, not the British. Even after the Union, there was still a separate Secretary of State for Scotland until 1746, though the post was sometimes vacant. This continued the previous Scottish government post of Secretary of State.
Before 1782, the responsibilities of the two Secretaries of State for the Northern and the Southern Departments were not divided up in terms of area of authority, but rather geographically. Both were responsible for England and Wales. The Secretary of State for the Northern Department, the more junior of the two, was responsible for foreign relations with the Protestant states of Northern Europe. The more senior Secretary of State for the Southern Department was responsible for relations with the Catholic and Muslim states of Europe. In 1782, the two Secretaries of State were reformed as the Secretary of State for the Home Department and the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs.
Secretaries of State for the Northern Department, 1660–1782