William Petty
Earl of Shelburne

Rather under-rated and oft-forgotten, the Earl of Shelburne presided over some significant reforms and tied up some important strands that needed dealing with. He concluded peace with America, France and Spain. He presided over public service reforms and kick started British trade after it had been disrupted by the almost constant warfare of the Eighteenth Century. He also promoted the 23 year old Pitt 'the younger' to the Chancellor of Exchequer. All of this was achieved in just 266 days as PM. It is no wonder that no less a person than Disraeli spoke of Shelburne as one of the suppressed characters of English history.

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by Stephen Luscombe