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William Petty, 2nd Earl of Shelburne

Personal data
Date of birth2 May 1737
Place of birthDublin, County Dublin,
Kingdom of Ireland
Date of death7 May 1805(age 68)
Place of deathBerkeley Square,
Westminster, Middlesex
United Kingdom
Political partyWhig
Alma materChrist Church, Oxford
ReligionDissenter
Prime Minister of Great Britain
In office4 July 1782 - 2 April 1783
MonarchGeorge III
Succeeded byThe Duke of Portland
Preceded byThe Marquess of Rockingham
Leader of the House of Lords
In office4 July 1782 - 2 April 1783
MonarchGeorge III
Succeeded byThe Duke of Portland
Preceded byThe Marquess of Rockingham
Secretary of State for the Home Department
In office27 March 1782 - 10 July 1782
MonarchGeorge III
Prime ministerThe Marquess of Rockingham
Himself
Succeeded byThomas Townshend
Preceded byOffice established
The Viscount Stormont as Northern Secretary
The Earl of Hillsborough as Southern Secretary
Secretary of State for the Southern Department
In office30 July 1766 - 20 October 1768
MonarchGeorge III
Prime ministerThe Duke of Grafton
The Earl of Chatham
Succeeded byThe Viscount Weymouth
Preceded byThe Duke of Richmond

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William Petty-FitzMaurice, 1st Marquess of Lansdowne, KG, PC (2 May 1737 7 May 1805), known as The Earl of Shelburne between 1761 and 1784, by which title he is generally known to history, was an Irish-born British Whig statesman who was the first Home Secretary in 1782 and then Prime Minister 1782 1783 during the final months of the American War of Independence.

Shelburne was born in Dublin in 1737 and spent his formative years in Ireland. He served in the British army during the Seven Years War taking part in the Raid on Rochefort and the Battle of Minden. As a reward for his conduct at the Battle of Kloster Kampen Shelburne was appointed an aide-de-camp to George III. He became involved in politics, becoming a Member of Parliament in 1760. After his father's death in 1761 he inherited his title and was elevated to the House of Lords and took an active role in politics. He served as President of the Board of Trade in the Grenville Ministry but resigned this position after only a few months and began to associate with William Pitt.

When Pitt was made Prime Minister in 1766 Shelburne was appointed as Southern Secretary a position which he held for two years. He departed office during the Corsican Crisis and joined the Opposition. Along with Pitt he was an advocate of a conciliatory policy towards Britain's American Colonies and a long-term critic of the North Government's measures in America.

Following the fall of the North government Shelburne joined its replacement led by Lord Rockingham. Shelburne was made Prime Minister in 1782 following Rockingham's death with the American War still being fought. Shelburne's government was brought down largely due to the terms of the Peace of Paris which brought the conflict to an end.

He was an early advocate of free trade.


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