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William Petty

Irish politician

Died when: 68 years 5 days (816 months)
Star Sign: Taurus


William Petty

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 was generally known to history), was an Irish-born British Whig statesman who was the first home secretary in 1782 and then prime minister from 1782 to 1783 during the final months of the American War of Independence.

He succeeded in securing peace with America and this feat remains his most notable legacy.Lord Shelburne was born in Dublin and spent his formative years in Ireland.

After attending Oxford University he served in the British Army during the Seven Years' War.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 entered the House of Lords.

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.

Following the fall of the North government, Shelburne joined its replacement under Lord Rockingham.Shelburne was made Prime Minister in 1782 following Rockingham's death, with the American War still being fought.

He lost his authority and influence after being driven out of office at the age of 45 in 1783.Shelburne lamented that his career had been a failure, despite the many high offices he held over 17 years, and his undoubted abilities as a debater.

He blamed his poor education—although it was as good as that of most peers—and said the real problem was that "it has been my fate through life to fall in with clever but unpopular connections".

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