STANHOPE, William (c.1683-1756).
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Family and Education
b. c.1683, 3rd surv. s. of John Stanhope of Elvaston, Derbys.; bro. of Charles Stanhope. educ. Eton; I. Temple, called 1704. m. c.1718, Anne, da. and h. of Col. Edward Griffith, 2s. cr. Baron Harrington 6 Jan. 1730; Earl of Harrington 9 Feb. 1742.
Lt. and capt. 2 Ft. Gds. 1703, capt. and lt.-col. 3 Ft. Gds. 1710, col. regt. of Ft. 1711-12, regt. of Drags. 1715-18, 13 Drags. 1725-30; maj.-gen. 1735; lt.-gen. 1739; gen. 1747; envoy, Madrid 1717-18, Turin 1718-20, Paris 1719, Madrid 1720; ambassador, Madrid 1721-7, 1729-30, Aix la Chapelle 1727, Soissons Feb. 1730; vice-chamberlain of the Household 1727-30; P.C. 31 May 1727; sec. of state, northern dept. 1730-42, 1744-6; ld. president of the Council 1742-5; one of the lds. justices of the realm 1743, 1745; ld. lt. [I] 1746-51.
William Stanhope, in Horace Walpole’s words, ‘raised himself from a younger brother’s fortune to the first posts in the Government, without either the talent of speaking in Parliament or any interest there’.1 Beginning his career in the army, he was returned on his family’s interest for Derby in 1715, voting with the Government in every recorded division. Appointed envoy and then ambassador to Spain, he did not stand again till 1727, when he returned to England, resuming his seat at the general election, after sitting a few months for Steyning. He was then sent abroad again to take part in the peace negotiations which resulted in the conclusion of the treaty of Seville, for which he was rewarded with a peerage and a secretaryship of state.
There was something very singular [Hervey writes] both in this man’s acquisition of fame and in his loss of it; for when he was at the court of Spain, without doing anything there that might not have been transacted by a common clerk, all parties at home flattered and courted him ... [But] as soon as he came over and was made secretary of state, the sound of his name began to die away. He was forgotten in his eminence, seen every day, and never mentioned.2
He retained his post by the favour of the King, which he lost when he resigned with the Pelhams in 1746. He died 8 Dec. 1756.