Lord Shelburne


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Shelburne was intelligent and able, but deemed untrustworthy by most contemporaries. He entered the army in 1757, became an MP in 1760, and went to the Lords in 1761. Initially a follower of Bute, he shifted his allegiance to the elder Pitt (later earl of Chatham) and served under him, from 1766, as southern secretary. Shelburne was frequently at odds with his colleagues and after a disagreement over foreign policy with the de facto premier, Grafton, was marked for dismissal. From his sick‐bed, Chatham misread the situation and, believing Shelburne to have been removed, resigned. The net result was the departure of Shelburne and Chatham. After Chatham's death in 1778, Shelburne was the leader of the Chathamites and consequently mistrusted by the Rockinghamites, who referred to him as Malagrida, an infamous Jesuit schemer. After the fall of Northin 1782, George III played off Shelburne against the Rockinghamites. As home secretary (March–July 1782), he was at variance with the foreign secretary, Charles Fox, over the peace negotiations, which involved both their departments. Rockingham's death in July 1782 precipitated a cabinet crisis, with the king insisting on Shelburne's succession to the premiership. Fox resigned and then coalesced with the Northites to force Shelburne's resignation in February 1783. Although created marquis of Lansdowne in 1784, Shelburne never regained high office.

Subjects: British History.

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