Bentinck, Lord George

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Bentinck, Lord George (1802–48). Bentinck personified integrity in politics and sport. A son of the duke of Portland, Bentinck was private secretary to Canning, his uncle by marriage, and an MP from 1828. With other Canningites he abandoned Wellington in the late 1820s, though supporting catholic emancipation, and backed Grey's ministry and, with reservations, the Reform Bill. With the Derby Dilly, he moved back towards the Tories. Declining office from Peel in 1841, as he had from Grey, Bentinck remained silent in the House and devoted his time to sport, above all the turf, where as owner, breeder, rider, and enemy of sharp practice he became a leading figure. In 1845–6 he emerged as an enraged opponent of Peel's policy of Corn Law repeal, which he saw as betrayal: ‘What I cannot bear is being sold!’ His personal and social standing helped to give him the leadership of the protectionist revolt in the Commons and, though failing to prevent repeal, he succeeded in bringing down Peel's government. Bentinck, who had sold his stud and immersed himself in economic statistics, continued to champion protectionism but, liberal in religious matters, he alienated his party by voting for the admission of Jews to Parliament in late 1847 and resigned the leadership. Returning briefly, he died suddenly of a heart attack. Disraeli's Lord George Bentinck (1852) was a notable work of political piety and self-promotion.

Bruce Coleman

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Lord William George Frederick Cavendish Bentinck

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