Spencer Compton, Earl of Wilmington

Brief History
Walpole's successor, the Earl of Wilmington, served only a brief term in the highest political office. As Spencer Compton, he was first elected MP for Eye, Suffolk in 1698, followed by East Grinstead in 1713. He served as Speaker of the House of Commons and as Paymaster General. He was also Treasurer to the Prince of Wales, and expected to be rewarded by him with the position of prime minister when he acceded as George II. But Walpole outmanoeuvred him and gained the office instead.

As compensation, Spencer Compton was elevated to the House of Lords as Baron Wilmington in 1727, and later made an Earl. He served as Lord Privy Seal and Lord President of the Council under Walpole, but he did not oppose the 1741 censure motion against his leader.

After the failure of King George II to put the opposition in power after Walpole's fall in 1742, Wilmington was finally asked to form a government. His time in office was undistinguished. He was indecisive and a poor leader, and from his position in the House of Lords his direct influence was limited. His brief premiership was dominated by foreign affairs. He chose to keep Britain in the War of the Austrian Succession, fighting the forces of Prussia, France and Spain.

Wilmington died in office in 1743, only a year and a half into his term.

Earl of Wilmington
Date of Birth
James and Mary Compton
St. Paul's
Middle Temple
Trinity College, Oxford
Marital Status
East Grinstead
1705 - 1710 Chairman of the Committees of Privileges and Elections
1708 - 1710 Secretary at War
1707 - 1713 Paymaster of Queen's Pensions
1707 - 1708 Treasurer to Prince George of Denmark
1715 - 1727 Speaker of House of Commons
1715 - 1727 Treasurer to Prince of Wales
1722 - 1730 Paymaster General
1730 Lord Privy Seal
1730 - 1742 Lord President of the Council
1742 - 1743 First Lord of the Treasury
Suggested Reading
Britain in the Age of Walpole
Black, J.
Memoirs of the Life and Administration of Sir Robert Walpole
Coxe, W.
British Politics in the Age of Anne
Holmes, G.
The Trial of Doctor Sacheverell
Holmes, G.
The Rise of the Pelhams
Owen, J.B.
The House of Commons 1715 - 1754
Sedgwick, R.

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by Stephen Luscombe