William Lamb, 2nd Viscount Melbourne

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William Lamb, 2nd Viscount Melbourne


Born 03/15/1779  London

Died 11/24/1848  Brocket, Herts


Major Acts:

Dissenters' Marriage Bill 1836 - legalized civil marriage outside of the Church of England

Cuckolded by Byron

First Ministry

07/16/183411/14/1834


OFFICE NAME TERM

First Lord of the Treasury

Leader of the House of Lords The Viscount Melbourne July–November 1834

Lord Chancellor The Lord Brougham July–November 1834

Lord President of the Council The Marquess of Lansdowne July–November 1834

Lord Privy Seal Earl of Mulgrave July–November 1834

Home Secretary Viscount Duncannon July–November 1834

Foreign Secretary The Viscount Palmerston July–November 1834

Secretary of State for War & the Colonies Thomas Spring Rice July–November 1834

First Lord of the Admiralty The Lord Auckland July–November 1834

Chancellor of the Exchequer

Leader of the House of Commons Viscount Althorp July–November 1834

President of the Board of Trade

Treasurer of the Navy Charles Poulett Thomson July–November 1834

President of the Board of Control Charles Grant July–November 1834

Master of the Mint James Abercromby July–November 1834

First Commissioner of Woods and Forests Sir John Hobhouse, Bt July–November 1834

Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster The Lord Holland July–November 1834

Paymaster of the Forces Lord John Russell July–November 1834

Secretary at War Edward Ellice July–November 1834


Second Ministry

April 1835 – August 1839

OFFICE NAME TERM

First Lord of the Treasury The Viscount Melbourne April 1835–August 1839

Lord Chancellor In Commission April 1835–January 1836

  The Lord Cottenham January 1836–August 1839

Lord President of the Council The Marquess of Lansdowne April 1835–August 1839

Lord Privy Seal Viscount Duncannon April 1835–August 1839

Home Secretary The Lord John Russell April 1835–August 1839

Foreign Secretary The Viscount Palmerston April 1835–August 1839

Secretary of State for War & the Colonies The Lord Glenelg April 1835–February 1839

  The Marquess of Normanby February–August 1839

First Lord of the Admiralty The Lord Auckland April–September 1835

  The Earl of Minto September 1835–August 1839

Chancellor of the Exchequer Thomas Spring Rice April 1835–August 1839

President of the Board of Trade Charles Poulett Thomson April 1835–August 1839

President of the Board of Control Sir John Cam Hobhouse, Bt April 1835–August 1839

First Commissioner of Woods and Forests Viscount Duncannon April 1835–August 1839

Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster The Lord Holland April 1835–August 1839

Secretary at War Viscount Howick April 1835–August 1839


    Viscount Duncannon served concurrently as Lord Privy Seal and First Commissioner of Woods and Forests.


August 1839 – September 1841

OFFICE NAME TERM

First Lord of the Treasury

Leader of the House of Lords The Viscount Melbourne August 1839–September 1841

Lord Chancellor The Lord Cottenham August 1839–September 1841

Lord President of the Council The Marquess of Lansdowne August 1839–September 1841

Lord Privy Seal Viscount Duncannon August 1839–January 1840

  The Lord Clarendon January 1840–September 1841

Home Secretary The Marquess of Normanby August 1839–September 1841

Foreign Secretary The Viscount Palmerston August 1839–September 1841

Secretary of State for War & the Colonies

Leader of the House of Commons The Lord John Russell August 1839–September 1841

First Lord of the Admiralty The Earl of Minto August 1839–September 1841

Chancellor of the Exchequer Sir Francis Thornhill Baring August 1839–September 1841

President of the Board of Trade Henry Labouchere August 1839–September 1841

President of the Board of Control Sir John Cam Hobhouse August 1839–September 1841

First Commissioner of Woods and Forests Viscount Duncannon August 1839–September 1841

Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster The Lord Holland August 1839–October 1840

  The Lord Clarendon October 1840–June 1841

  Sir George Grey, Bt June–September 1841

Secretary at War Thomas Babington Macaulay August 1839–September 1841

Chief Secretary for Ireland Lord Morpeth August 1839–September 1841



The Third Ministry was during the time of Victoria.

British Whig statesman who served as Home Secretary (1830–1834) and Prime Minister (1834 and 1835–1841). He is best known for his intense and successful mentoring of Queen Victoria, at ages 18–21, in the ways of politics. Historians conclude that Melbourne does not rank high as a prime minister, for there were no great foreign wars or domestic issues to handle, he lacked major achievements and enunciated no grand principles. "But he was kind, honest, and not self-seeking.

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

Back to Regency Prime Ministers

“It is impossible that anybody can feel the being out of Parliament more keenly for me than I feel it for myself. It is actually cutting my throat. It is depriving me of the great object of my life.”

Family

Apparently Lamb had a dark side once all the brouhaha with his wife was done. He had married Caronline Ponsonby who stated she did not like Byron’s poetry and then spent her life in an open affair with Lord Byron. A man who had been a friend of Lamb’s when they were at University together.


They had a premature daughter and one son, George Augustus Frederick, born on 11 August 1807, who possibly had severe autism. Until Byron, they had a happy life. Caroline died in 1828, after Byron had died, and had also married Caroline’s cousin, who later separated from him.


Aside from the rumors that circulated about Byron at such time, later in life rumors circulated against the widower Lamb. Rumors suggesting that he may have engaged in spanking of high-born ladies, but whipping of those from the streets.

Early life

Born in London to an aristocratic Whig family, son of Sir Penniston Lamb and Elizabeth Milbanke Lamb, Viscountess Melbourne (1751–1818) and educated at Eton and Trinity College, Cambridge, he fell in with a group of Romantic Radicals that included Percy Bysshe Shelley and Lord Byron. In 1805 he succeeded his elder brother as heir to his father's title and he married Lady Caroline Ponsonby. The next year he was elected to the British House of Commons as the Whig MP for Leominster. For the election in 1806 he was moved to the seat of Haddington burghs and for the 1807 election successfully stood for Portarlington (a seat he held until 1812).

He first came to general notice for reasons he would rather have avoided: his wife had a public affair with Lord Byron—she coined the famous characterisation of him as "mad, bad, and dangerous to know". The resulting scandal was the talk of Britain in 1812. Eventually the two reconciled and though they separated in 1825, her death in 1828 affected him considerably.

In 1816 Lamb was returned for Peterborough by Whig grandee Lord Fitzwilliam. He told Lord Holland that he was committed to the Whig principles of the Glorious Revolution but not to "a heap of modern additions, interpolations, facts and fictions". He therefore spoke against parliamentary reform and voted for the suspension of habeas corpus in 1817 when sedition was rife.

Lamb's hallmark was finding the middle ground. Though a Whig, he accepted (29 April 1827) the post of Chief Secretary for Ireland in the moderate Tory governments of George Canning and Lord Goderich. Upon the death of his father in 1828 and his becoming Viscount Melbourne, he moved to the House of Lords. He had spent 25 years in Commons as a backbencher and politically was not well known.

Home Secretary: 1830–1834

When the Whigs came to power under Lord Grey in November 1830 he became Home Secretary in the new government. During the disturbances of 1830–32 Melbourne "acted both vigorously and sensitively, and it was for this function that his reforming brethren thanked him heartily". In the aftermath of the Swing Riots of 1830–31 he countered the Tory magistrates' alarmism by refusing to resort to military force and instead he advocated magistrates' usual powers be fully enforced along with special constables and financial rewards for the arrest of rioters and rabble-rousers. He appointed a special commission to try approximately one thousand of those arrested and ensured that justice was strictly adhered to: one third were acquitted; and most of the one-fifth sentenced to death were instead transported. The disturbances over reform in 1831–32 were countered with the enforcement of the usual laws and again Melbourne refused to pass emergency legislation against sedition.

Prime Minister: 1834, 1835–1841

After Lord Grey resigned as Prime Minister in July 1834, the King was forced to appoint another Whig to replace him, as the Tories were not strong enough to support a government. Melbourne was the man most likely to be both acceptable to the King and hold the Whig party together. Melbourne hesitated after receiving from Grey the letter from the King requesting him to visit him to discuss the formation of a government. Melbourne thought he would not enjoy the extra work that accompanied the office of Premier but he did not want to let his friends and party down. According to Charles Greville, Melbourne said to his secretary, Tom Young: "I think it's a damned bore. I am in many minds as to what to do". Young replied: "Why, damn it all, such a position was never held by any Greek or Roman: and if it only lasts three months, it will be worth while to have been Prime Minister of England [sic]. "By God, that's true," Melbourne said, "I'll go!"

Compromise was the key to many of Melbourne's actions. He was opposed in theory to the Reform Act 1832 proposed by the Whigs, but reluctantly believed that they were necessary to forestall the threat of revolution. While he was less radical than many, when Lord Grey resigned (July 1834), Melbourne was widely seen as the most acceptable replacement among the Whig leaders, and became Prime Minister.

King William IV's opposition to the Whigs' reforming ways led him to dismiss Melbourne in November. He then gave the Tories under Sir Robert Peel an opportunity to form a government. Peel's failure to win a House of Commons majority in the resulting general election (January 1835) made it impossible for him to govern, and the Whigs returned to power under Melbourne in April 1835. This was the last time a British monarch attempted to appoint a government against parliamentary majority.

Blackmailed

The next year, Melbourne was once again involved in a sex scandal. This time he was the victim of attempted blackmail from the husband of a close friend, society beauty and author Caroline Norton. The husband demanded £1400, and when he was turned down he accused Melbourne of having an affair with his wife. At this time such a scandal would be enough to derail a major politician, so it is a measure of the respect contemporaries had for his integrity that Melbourne's government did not fall. The king and the Duke of Wellington urged him to stay on as prime minister. After Norton failed in court, Melbourne was vindicated, but he did stop seeing Lady Norton.

Nonetheless, as historian Boyd Hilton concludes, "it is irrefutable that Melbourne's personal life was problematic. Spanking sessions with aristocratic ladies were harmless, not so the whippings administered to orphan girls taken into his household as objects of charity."

Queen Victoria

Melbourne was Prime Minister when Queen Victoria came to the throne (June 1837). Barely eighteen, she was only just breaking free from the domineering influence of her mother, the Duchess of Kent, and her mother's advisor, John Conroy. Over the next four years Melbourne trained her in the art of politics and the two became friends: Victoria was quoted as saying she considered him like a father (her own had died when she was only eight months old), and Melbourne's daughter had died at a young age. Melbourne was given a private apartment at Windsor Castle, and unfounded rumours circulated for a time that Victoria would marry Melbourne, forty years her senior. Tutoring Victoria was the climax of Melbourne's career—the prime minister spent four to five hours a day visiting and writing to her, and she responded with enthusiasm, and grew in wisdom.

n May 1839, Melbourne's resignation led to the Bedchamber Crisis. Prospective prime minister Robert Peel requested that Victoria dismiss some of the wives and daughters of Whig MPs who made up her personal entourage, arguing that the monarch should avoid any hint of favouritism to a party out of power. As the Queen refused to comply, supported by Melbourne although unaware that Peel had not requested the resignation of all the Queen's ladies as she had led him to believe, Peel refused to form a new government and Melbourne was persuaded to stay on as Prime Minister.

Melbourne left a considerable list of reforming legislation—not as long as that of Lord Grey, but worthy nonetheless. Among his administration's acts were a reduction in the number of capital offences, reforms of local government, and the reform of the Poor laws. This restricted the terms on which the poor were allowed relief and established compulsory admission to workhouses for the impoverished.

On 25 February 1841, he was admitted a Fellow of the Royal Society.

Later life (1841–1848)

Even after Melbourne resigned permanently in August 1841, Victoria continued writing to him but eventually the correspondence ceased as it was seen as inappropriate. Melbourne's role faded away as Victoria came to rely on her new husband Prince Albert as well as on herself.

On his death his titles passed to his brother Frederick.