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Grantham, Thomas Robinson, 1st Baron

Grantham, Thomas Robinson, 1st Baron (1695–1770). Robinson's father was baronet of Newby Hall, east of Ripon. His first parliamentary seat in 1727 was Thirsk. At Westminster School he formed a friendship with Henry Pelham and the duke of Newcastle, who looked after him for the rest of his life. Until the conclusion of the peace of Aix-la-Chapelle in 1748 his career was diplomatic, with seven years in Paris and eighteen at Vienna. From 1749 to 1754 he held minor government posts. He was thrust into prominence in 1754 when Henry Pelham died unexpectedly and Newcastle needed a spokesman in the House of Commons. But his months as secretary of state were a torment, assailed by Fox and Pitt, often in tandem: ‘the Duke might as well send his jackboot to govern us,’ remarked Pitt. In 1755 he was replaced by Fox and held only minor office subsequently. But his compensation as a discard was substantial—a handsome pension and a barony in 1761, when even his minor post was needed for someone else. Fox, while paying tribute to his honesty and good nature, called Robinson ‘an instance of men to whom fortune has been constant … by mere chance made Secretary of State; by mere chance brought out of it with a pension … by mere chance made a peer … He needed all this luck, for he was a very dull man.’

J. A. Cannon

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