Eighteenth-Century British Premiers: Walpole to the Younger by D. Leonard

By D. Leonard

Following his previous surveys of nineteenth and twentieth Century British best Ministers, Dick Leonard turns his awareness to their 18th Century predecessors, together with such significant figures as Robert Walpole, the Elder Pitt (Lord Chatham), Lord North and the more youthful Pitt. In a chain of 14 biographical essays, he recounts the relevant occasions in their political careers, the situations which introduced them to the head of 'the greasy pole', assesses their functionality as major Ministers, and asks what lasting impression they've got had. He additionally recounts attention-grabbing and sometimes little-known proof from either their inner most and public lives, for instance, on which major Minister used to be the nursery rhyme Who killed Cock Robin established? Which brothers succeeded one another within the best place of work? Who stated: 'I be aware of that i will be able to shop this nation and that no-one else can'? Who used to be the 1st Tory best Minister? And who was once suspected of being the illegitimate half-brother of George III?

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So the young Spencer grew up in a family with strong Tory roots, but with some at least of his close relatives now having Whig connections. Very little is known of Spencer’s childhood and youth. He was educated at St Paul’s School, and Trinity College, Oxford, and enrolled at the Middle Temple, becoming a barrister. Aged 22, he contested the 1695 general election, as a Tory, at East Grinstead, but came bottom of the poll. Three years later, while travelling on the Continent, in an early version of the ‘Grand Tour’, he was elected unopposed, still as a Tory, in a by-election in the Suffolk constituency of Eye.

Meanwhile, Spencer’s brother, George Compton, the fourth Earl, had married into a leading Whig family, becoming the brother-inlaw of Henry Fox (later the first Lord Holland, and the father of Charles James Fox). So the young Spencer grew up in a family with strong Tory roots, but with some at least of his close relatives now having Whig connections. Very little is known of Spencer’s childhood and youth. He was educated at St Paul’s School, and Trinity College, Oxford, and enrolled at the Middle Temple, becoming a barrister.

He had besides the highest qualities of a parliamentary leader ... he had dauntless courage and imperturbable temper. 144–6) Works consulted Black, Jeremy (2001), Walpole in Power, London, Sutton Publishing. Cannon, John (2004), ‘George II (1683–1760)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford, OUP. Hill, Brian W. (1989) Sir Robert Walpole: ‘Sole and Prime Minister’, London, Hamish Hamilton. Holmes, Geoffrey (1967), British Politics in the Reign of Anne, London, Palgrave Macmillan. ), The Prime Ministers, Volume I, London, Allen & Unwin.

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