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Dodington, George Bubb, 1st Baron Melcombe Regis

Dodington, George Bubb, 1st Baron Melcombe Regis (1691–1762). Famous to posterity as the archetypal place-hunter, Dodington, though not heroic, was a politician of some note and a patron of the arts. It was customary to sneer at his ancestry, but he was quite well connected. Born George Bubb, he was related to the Temple family, which eventually inherited his enormous mansion at Eastbury, Dorset (and pulled it down), and his father and grandfather had been MPs. Dodington was sent to Winchester and Exeter College, Oxford, entered Parliament in 1715, and remained in the Commons until made a peer in 1761. He inherited large estates and a considerable electoral influence in 1720 from an uncle, George Dodington, another MP, whose name he took. Walpole made him a lord of Treasury 1724–40, but he then went over to Frederick, prince of Wales, who promised to make him a great man in the new reign. Henry Pelham bought him back in 1744 as treasurer of the navy but he rejoined the prince in opposition in 1749. The prince's early death in 1751 left him stranded. When George III came to the throne, Dodington was too old and too fat for active service, but got his peerage: ‘his coronet seems only calculated to adorn his tomb’, wrote Horace Mann, and he was proved right. Dodington's diary, a valuable source, was left to a cousin, whose nephew published it in 1784 with disparaging comments. Dodington summarized his philosophy at the end of his life in his delightful poem ‘Shorten Sail’:Strive thy little bark to steer
With the tide, but near the shore.

J. A. Cannon

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