Viscount Melbourne

Viscount Melbourne was to overcome serious obstacles to become an influential Prime Minister. He had become famous in 1812 when his wife (Lady Caroline Ponsonby- Lamb) had an affair with the notorious Lord Byron which caused quite a scandal. Despite the infamy of this scandal he still rose to high office. He was Secretary for Ireland 1827-28, and then Home Secretary 1830-34. He succeeded Charles Grey's tenureship when he resigned in 1834.

Despite governing over a fractious coalition of Whigs, Radicals and Irish MPs, he did manage to hold together a remarkably strong government for all but five months of the next seven years. He was generally efficient at keeping order and keeping the peace in Foreign Affairs. He pushed through the fairly substantial Municipal Corporations Act of 1835 which ensured that the growing middle classes secured control of local government.

It was to be his close relationship to the new monarch of Queen Victoria from 1837 that was to be his real lasting legacy. She came to trust him implicitly and Melbourne became something of a mentor and tutor to the young Queen. He was even given a private apartment at Windsor Castle. However this close relationship to the monarch would not protect his premiership and a series of scandals and parliamentary defeats saw him resign in 1841.

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by Stephen Luscombe