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Peerage Bill


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3rd earl of Sunderland, Charles Spencer (1674—1722)

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This bill, introduced into the Lords in March 1719 by the Sunderland/*Stanhope ministry and dropped in April, had three aims: to protect the chief ministers against impeachment should the prince of Wales, who opposed them, succeed to the throne; to settle the unsatisfactory Scottish representation in the Lords; and to maintain the existing peerage's social position, by limiting creations. The bill laid down that the king could create only six more peerages, then further peers only on the extinction of titles; the 16 Scottish elected peers were to be replaced by 25 hereditary ones. The bill was reintroduced in December 1719, easily passed the Lords, but was defeated in the Commons largely due to the opposition of Robert Walpole.

Subjects: British History.


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