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Wilmington, Spencer Compton, 1st earl of

Wilmington, Spencer Compton, 1st earl of (c.1674–1743). A younger son of the earl of Northampton, he entered the Commons in his twenties and became Speaker in 1715. At the accession of George II in 1727 he was expected to become first minister, having served as treasurer to the prince, but was outmanœuvred by Walpole without difficulty. Compensation came in the form of a barony (1728), an earldom (1730), and the lord presidency of the council from 1730 until 1742. A ponderous and formal man, he succeeded Walpole as first minister in 1742, but old, unwell, and with little taste for leadership, he merely presided for a year until his death. Lord Hervey, one of his many critics, dismissed him as a ‘plodding, heavy fellow … a subaltern rather than a commander’.

J. A. Cannon

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Wilmington, Spencer Compton, earl of

Spencer Compton Wilmington, earl of, 1673?–1743, British politician. He was a member of Parliament (1695–1710, 1713–30) and served as speaker of the House of Commons (1715–27). He was paymaster general (1722–30) and in 1730 was created an earl and lord privy seal by Robert Walpole. He turned against Walpole in 1739 and after the latter's fall served briefly (1742–43) as chief minister. He was merely a figurehead, however, and took no active role in the government.

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