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William Bentinck, Duke of Portland 1783 and 1807-9 Whig

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Born: 14 April 1738First entered Parliament: 28 March 1761Age he became PM: 44 years, 335 days and 69 years, 351 daysMaiden speech: His first recorded spe

Born: 14 April 1738

First entered Parliament: 28 March 1761

Age he became PM: 44 years, 335 days and 69 years, 351 days

Maiden speech: His first recorded speech in Parliament was on 8 April 1783, the date when Lord North was made a Peer

Total time as PM: Three years, 82 days

Died: 30 October 1809 at Bulstrode, Buckinghamshire

Facts and figures

Education: Westminster School and Christ Church College, Oxford

Family: Portland was the eldest son and the third of six children. He was married to Lady Dorothy Cavendish, and had four sons and two daughters

Interests: Art

Biography

Two short periods as PM

A tall, dignified and handsome man, Portland was prime minister for two short periods separated by over 20 years, the Duke of Portland - but was not especially successful in either.

The Duke of Portland entered Parliament via the House of Lords, by virtue of his title, in 1761. In 1783, he was appointed Prime Minister of the Whig administration by King George III.

The Duke of Portland's first government was concerned with the power of the East India Company.

In 1783 Charles Fox attempted to persuade Parliament to pass a bill that would replace the company's directors with a board of commissioners.

Government resignation

George III made it known to the House of Lords that he would consider anyone voting with the Bill an enemy. As a result of this interference, Portland's government resigned.

Portland served in the governments of other Whig leaders until his second government, over 20 years later. In 1807 Portland became PM, insisting that he was still a Whig, despite heading a Tory government.

By now too old and ill to run the government, he mostly left his Cabinet to do what they wanted.

The period was marked by rivalry between two powerful ministers, Castlereagh and Canning, culminating in a duel between the two in 1809 over the running of the Peninsular War.

Portland resigned in 1809, just weeks before his death.

Quote unquote

On accepting office for the second time: "My fears are not that the attempt to perform this duty will shorten my life, but that I shall neither bodily nor mentally perform it as I should."

Did you know?

The Portland Vase in the British Museum was given its name because it was owned by the Duke.

Wife

Lady Dorothy Cavendish married the Duke at 16. And had six children - four sons and two daughters. Educated privately she was called 'cold and particular' and had strict moral standards. She died suddenly of 'mortification of the bowels'.


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