William Henry Cavendish-Bentinck, 3rd Duke of Portland

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William Henry Cavendish-Bentinck, 3rd Duke of Portland

Born 04/14/1738

Died 10/30/1809 Bulstrode, Buckinghamshire

Major Acts:

Treaty of Paris 1783-End of the American War of Independence

First Ministry


    The Duke of Portland — First Lord of the Treasury

    Lord Stormont — Lord President of the Council

    Lord Carlisle — Lord Privy Seal

    Lord North — Secretary of State for the Home Department

    Charles James Fox — Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs

    Lord Keppel — First Lord of the Admiralty

    Lord John Cavendish — Chancellor of the Exchequer

    Lord Townshend — Master-General of the Ordnance

    Lord Northington — Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland

    The Great Seal is in Commission

Second Ministry


    The Duke of Portland — First Lord of the Treasury

    Lord Eldon — Lord Chancellor

    Lord Camden — Lord President of the Council

    Lord Westmorland — Lord Privy Seal

    Lord Hawkesbury, after 1808, Lord Liverpool - Secretary of State for the Home Department

    George Canning — Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs

    Lord Castlereagh — Secretary of State for War and the Colonies

    Lord Mulgrave — First Lord of the Admiralty

    Spencer Perceval — Chancellor of the Exchequer and of the Duchy of Lancaster

    Lord Chatham — Master-General of the Ordnance

    Lord Bathurst — President of the Board of Trade

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

In April 1783, Portland was brought forward as titular head of a coalition government as Prime Minister, whose real leaders were Charles James Fox and Lord North. He served as First Lord of the Treasury in this ministry until its fall in December of the same year. During his tenure the Treaty of Paris was signed formally ending the American Revolutionary War. In 1783 Charles Fox attempted to persuade Parliament to pass a bill that would replace the company’s directors with a board of commissioners. 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.

In 1789, Portland became one of several vice presidents of London's Foundling Hospital. This charity had become one of the most fashionable of the time, with several notables serving on its board. At its creation, fifty years earlier, Portland's father, William Bentinck, 2nd Duke of Portland, had been one of the founding governors, listed on the charity's royal charter granted by George II. The hospital's mission was to care for the abandoned children in London; and it achieved rapid fame through its poignant mission, its art collection donated from supporting artists, and popular benefit concerts put on by George Frideric Handel. In 1793, Portland took over the presidency of the charity from Lord North.

Portland served in the governments of other Whig leaders until his second government, over 20 years later. Along with many such conservative Whigs as Edmund Burke, Portland was deeply uncomfortable with the French Revolution and broke with Fox over this issue, joining Pitt's government as Home Secretary in 1794. He continued to serve in the cabinet until Pitt's death in 1806—from 1801 to 1805 as Lord President of the Council and then as a Minister without Portfolio.

In 1807 Portland became PM, insisting that he was still a Whig, despite heading a Tory government. In March 1807, after the collapse of the Ministry of all the Talents, Pitt's supporters returned to power; and Portland was, once again, an acceptable figurehead for a fractious group of ministers that included George Canning, Lord Castlereagh, Lord Hawkesbury, and Spencer Perceval.

Portland's second government saw the United Kingdom's complete isolation on the continent but also the beginning of recovery, with the start of the Peninsular War. In late 1809, with Portland's health poor and the ministry rocked by the scandalous duel between Canning and Castlereagh, Portland resigned, dying shortly thereafter.

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.

A tall, dignified and handsome man, Portland was prime minister for two short periods separated by over 20 years, 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. Chancellor of the University of Oxford. In 1783, he was appointed Prime Minister of the Whig administration by King George III and again from 1807 to 1809. The 24 years between his two terms as Prime Minister is the longest gap between terms of office of any Prime Minister. He was known before 1762 by the courtesy title Marquess of Titchfield. He held a title of every degree of British nobility—Duke, Marquess, Earl, Viscount, and Baron.

Lord Titchfield was the eldest son of William Bentinck, 2nd Duke of Portland and Margaret Cavendish-Harley and inherited many lands from his mother and his maternal grandmother. He was educated at

Westminster and Christ Church, Oxford, and was elected to sit in the Parliament for Weobley in 1761 before entering the Lords when he succeeded his father as Duke of Portland the next year. Associated with the aristocratic Whig party of Lord Rockingham, Portland served as Lord Chamberlain of the Household in Rockingham's first Government (1765–1766) and then as Lord Lieutenant of Ireland in Rockingham's second ministry (April–August 1782); he resigned from Lord Shelburne's ministry along with other supporters of Charles James Fox following Rockingham's death.

Prime Minister                                                                                    Date Takes Office    Date Leaves Office

William Henry Cavendish-Bentinck, 3rd Duke of Portland     04/02/1783            12/19/1783

William Pitt the Younger                                                                 12/19/1783             03/14/1801

Henry Addington 1st Viscount Sidmouth                                   03/14/1801             05/10/1804

William Pitt the Younger                                                                 05/10/1804             01/23/1806

William Wyndham Grenville, 1st Baron Grenville                     02/11/1806            03/31/1807

William Henry Cavendish-Bentinck, 3rd Duke of Portland     03/31/1807            10/04/1809

Spencer Perceval                                                                             04/10/1809            05/11/1812

Robert Banks Jenkinson, 2nd Earl of Liverpool                        06/08/1812            04/09/1827

George Canning                                                                               04/10/1827            08/08/1827

Frederick John Robinson, 1st Viscount Goderich                    08/31/1827            01/21/1828

Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington                                   01/22/1828            11/16/1830

Charles Grey, 2nd Earl Grey                                                         11/22/1830            07/16/1834

William Lamb, 2nd Viscount Melbourne                                     07/16/1834            11/14/1834

Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington                                   11/14/1834            12/10/1834

Sir Robert Peel, 2nd Baronet                                                        12/10/1834            04/08/1835

William Lamb, 2nd Viscount Melbourne                                     04/18/1835            08/30/1841

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