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Bedford, John Russell, 4th duke of

Bedford, John Russell, 4th duke of (1710–71). Succeeding to one of the wealthiest dukedoms in Britain in 1732, Bedford developed a political following which made him a valuable catch for any ministry. He served as 1st lord of the Admiralty (1744–8) and as southern secretary (1748–51), resigning after lengthy bickering with Newcastle. Bedford returned to office in 1757 and was lord-lieutenant of Ireland until 1761. In September 1762 he went to Paris as ambassador responsible for the peace negotiations and signed the resultant treaty in February 1763. After a brief estrangement from administration, he joined the Grenville ministry as lord president in September 1763. Thereafter his followers often acted with those of Grenville, fully supporting a hard-line attitude towards the American colonies. Following protracted negotiations in 1767 the Bedfordites entered the Grafton ministry; the duke himself, though approving the junction, was in poor health and chose not to accept office. Bedford's life was conterminous with the era of ‘personal parties’ and the office-hungry Bedfordites were criticized, even by contemporaries, as a faction motivated principally by self-interest.

David Wilkinson

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