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Dartmouth, William Legge, 2nd earl of

Dartmouth, William Legge, 2nd earl of (1731–1801). William Legge was the grandson of the 1st earl, a moderate Hanoverian Tory. Succeeding in 1750, he entered politics after doing the grand tour with Frederick North, the future prime minister and his half-brother. Dartmouth served as president of the Board of Trade in the Rockingham ministry of 1765–6. In North's administration he was secretary of state for the colonies and president of the Board of Trade from 1772, lord privy seal from 1775. A deeply devout man, with methodistical sympathies, he was known irreverently as ‘the psalm singer’. Dartmouth College in Hanover (New Hampshire), chartered in 1769, was named after him. Unhappy with coercion of the American colonies, he supported conciliation proposals in the approach to the American Revolution but by 1776 was convinced that force was the only remedy left. American propaganda painted him as unbalanced and remote from reality. He resigned with North in 1782 and left politics after 1783.

Bruce Philip Lenman

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