Lords of Great Britain
Frederick North, Earl of Guildford,
better known as Lord North, was born in 1732. He was educated at Eton, and at Trinity College, Oxford. After having held several less important offices, he was, in 1769, appointed Chancellor of the Exchequer, and, in 1770; First Lord of the Treasury. His administration continued through the whole of the American war, a period of peculiar difficulty and danger, during which he was incessantly assailed by the opposition, and was often threatened with impeachment. On his resignation of office, however, in 1782, instead of instituting against him that impeachment which they had so long threatened, a coalition was formed between him and the Whigs; but this heterogeneous administration lasted only a few months, after which Lord North held no responsible position in the state. He was distinguished for urbanity of manners and a turn for repartee. For several years previous to his death he was afflicted with blindness. Died, 1792.
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William Howard, Viscount Stafford,
the last victim of the 'Popish Plot was born in 1612. He was son of Thomas, Earl of Arundel, and was first known as Sir William Howard. On the death of Henry Howard, Baron Stafford, in 1637, he claimed the peerage, and after the compulsory resignation, two years later, of the real heir, one Roger Stafford, William was created baron, and soon afterwards, Viscount. He was a Roman Catholic, and as such was excluded with other Romish peers, from the House, by act of parliament, in 1673. In October of that year, on the accusation of Titus Oates, Lord Stafford was committed to the Tower. Sir Edmundbury Godfrey, the magistrate who received the charge, was soon after found dead, and was believed to have been murdered by the Roman Catholics. Articles of impeachment for treason were sent up by the Commons in April, 1679, but the proceedings were conducted very dilatorily, and the trial did not take place till the end of November, 1680. It lasted till December 7, and resulted in his condemnation. The king avowed his belief in his innocence, but could do no more than remit the usual severities of execution, and reduce it to simple beheading; and his right to do this was questioned. The execution took place on Tower Hill, December 29, 1680. The attainder of Lord Stafford was not reversed till 1824.
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Charles Watson Wentworth, Marquis of Rockingham,
Prime Minister of Great Britain (England, Scotland and Wales), born in 1730, succeeded his father in his titles and estates in 1750, and in 1765 became First Lord of the Treasury. American affairs formed at that time the leading subject of discussion; and Rockingham took the middle way, by repealing the obnoxious Stamp Act and declaring the right of Great Britain to tax the colonies. He was, therefore, deserted by some of his supporters, and retired from the ministry in 1766. He afterwards acted in concert with Chatham, in opposition to the ministry of Lord North; on the fall of which, in March, 1782, he was again placed at the head of the administration, but died July 1 of the same year, and was succeeded by Lord Shelburne.
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Lord William Russell,
third and eldest surviving son of William Russell, first Duke of Bedford, was a distinguished supporter of constitutional liberty, and was born in 1639. In 1679, when Charles II. found it necessary to ingratiate himself with the Whigs, Lord Russell was appointed a member of the Privy Council. He soon, however, found that his party was not in the king's confidence, and the recall of the Duke of York, without their concurrence, induced him to resign. Although his temper was mild and moderate, his fear of a Catholic succession induced him to take decisive steps for the exclusion of the Duke of York. In June, 1680, he went to Westminster Hall, and, at the court of King's Bench, presented the duke as a recusant; and, in November following, carried up the Exclusion Bill to the House of Lords, at the head of 200 members of parliament. The king dissolved the parliament, resolved to govern thenceforward without one, and arbitrary principles were openly avowed by the partisans of the court. Alarmed at the state of things, many of the Whig leaders favoured strong expedients, and a plan was formed for a simultaneous rising in England and Scotland. Among these leaders, including the Dukes of Monmouth and Argyle, the Lords Russell, Sussex, and Howard, Algernon Sidney and Hampden (grandson of the great Hampden) different views prevailed; but Lord Russell looked only to the exclusion of the Duke of York. He was however, accused of having engaged in the Rye-house Plot,' which had for its object the assassination of the king on his return from Newmarket; and on this pretext he was committed to the Tower, tried condemned, and executed July 21,1683, being then in the 44th year of his age. - After the Revolution the proceedings against him were Annulled. A portrait of Lord W. Russell, by Riley has been added to the National Portrait Gallery.
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George Byng, first Viscount Torrington,
British admiral, was born in Kent in 1668. He entered the navy in 1678 ; served in the fleet sent to oppose the Prince of Orange, but went over to his party; was a commander at the battle off Beachy Head and afterwards served in the Mediterranean under Admirals Rooke and Russell. Rear-admiral in 1703, he served under Sir Cloudesley Shovel, commanded the squadron which attacked Gibraltar in the following year, and distinguished himself at the battle of Malaga. He was then knighted by Queen Anne, and was sent, as vice-admiral, to succour Barcelona, in 1706. The same year he took part in the capture of Alicant. At the accession of George I. he was created a baronet, won a great victory over the Spanish fleet off Cape Passaro in 1719, and two years later was raised to the peerage. He had for some years sat in parliament for Plymouth. The knight-hood of the Bath and other honours were conferred on him, and at the time of his death he was First Lord of the Admiralty. Died, 17th Jan., 1733. The portrait of Viscount Torrington, painted by Kneller, is in the National Portrait Gallery. Another, by Davidson, is in the Naval Gallery, Greenwich Hospital.
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The above information was gleaned from various sources and then put together by Colin Hinson ©1996.
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