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William Lamb, 2nd Viscount Melbourne, (15 March 177924 November 1848), in some sources called Henry William Lamb, was a
British Whig The Whigs were a political faction Politics (from , ) is the set of activities that are associated with making decisions in groups, or other forms of power relations between individuals, such as the distribution of resources or statu ...
politician who served as
Home Secretary The home secretary, officially the secretary of state for the Home Department, is a Secretary of State (United Kingdom), secretary of state in the Government of the United Kingdom, with overall responsibility for all Home Office business. The ...
(1830–1834) and
Prime Minister A prime minister or a premier is the head of the cabinet Cabinet or The Cabinet may refer to: Furniture * Cabinetry, a box-shaped piece of furniture with doors and/or drawers * Display cabinet, a piece of furniture with one or more transpa ...
(1834 and 1835–1841). His first premiership ended when he was dismissed by
King William IV William IV (William Henry; 21 August 1765 – 20 June 1837) was King of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland There have been 12 British monarchs There have been 12 British monarchs since the political union A political un ...

King William IV
in 1834, the last British prime minister to be dismissed by a monarch. Five months later he was re-appointed and served for six more years, into the reign of
Queen Victoria Victoria (Alexandrina Victoria; 24 May 1819 – 22 January 1901) was Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland There have been 12 British monarchs since the political union of the Kingdom of England The Kingdom of En ...

Queen Victoria
. He is best known for coaching the Queen in the ways of politics, acting almost as her private secretary. Historians have concluded that Melbourne does not rank highly as a Prime Minister, for there were no great foreign wars or domestic issues to handle, he lacked major achievements, he enunciated no grand principles, and he was involved in several political scandals in the early years of Victoria's reign.


Early life

Born in London in 1779 to an aristocratic
Whig Whig or Whigs may refer to: Parties and factions In the British Isles * A pejorative nickname for the Kirk Party The Kirk Party were a radical Presbyterian faction of the Scotland, Scottish Covenanters during the Wars of the Three Kingdoms. ...
family, William Lamb was the son of the 1st Viscount Melbourne and Elizabeth, Viscountess Melbourne (1751–1818). However, his paternity was questioned, being attributed to
George Wyndham, 3rd Earl of Egremont George O'Brien Wyndham, 3rd Earl of Egremont Royal Society#Fellows, FRS (18 December 1751 – 11 November 1837) of Petworth House in Sussex and Orchard Wyndham in Somerset, was a British Peerage of Great Britain, peer, a major landowner and a g ...
, to whom it was considered he bore a considerable resemblance, and at whose residence,
Petworth Petworth is a small town and civil parishes in England, civil parish in the Chichester (district), Chichester District of West Sussex, England. It is located at the junction of the A272 road, A272 east–west road from Heathfield, East Sussex ...
, Lamb was a visitor until the Earl's death; Lamb was called to Egremont's bedside when Egremont was dying. Lamb nevertheless stated that Egremont being his father was 'all a lie'. He was educated at ,
Trinity College, Cambridge Trinity College is a constituent college A collegiate university is a university A university ( la, universitas, 'a whole') is an educational institution, institution of higher education, higher (or Tertiary education, tertiary) education ...
(admitted 1796, graduated
M.A. A Master of Arts ( la, Magister Artium or ''Artium Magister''; abbreviated MA or AM) is the holder of a master's degree A master's degree (from Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch ...
1799) and the
University of Glasgow The University of Glasgow (abbreviated as ''Glas.'' in Post-nominal letters, post-nominals; ) is a Public university, public research university in Glasgow, Scotland. Founded by papal bull in 1451, it is the List of oldest universities in continuous ...

University of Glasgow
(1799–1801), as a resident pupil of Professor John Millar alongside his younger brother
FrederickFrederick may refer to: People * Frederick (given name), the name Nobility Anhalt-Harzgerode *Frederick, Prince of Anhalt-Harzgerode (1613–1670) Austria * Frederick I, Duke of Austria (Babenberg), Duke of Austria from 1195 to 1198 * Frederick ...
. Admitted to
Lincoln's Inn The Honourable Society of Lincoln's Inn is one of the four Inns of Court The Inns of Court in London are the professional associations for barristers A barrister is a type of lawyer A lawyer or attorney is a person who practices ...

Lincoln's Inn
in 1797, he was
called to the bar The call to the bar (rarely, call to bar) is a legal term of art in most common law jurisdictions where persons must be qualified to be allowed to argue in court on behalf of another party and are then said to have been "called to the bar" or to ...
in 1804. Against the background of the
Napoleonic Wars The Napoleonic Wars (1803–1815) were a series of major World war, global conflicts pitting the First French Empire, French Empire and its allies, led by Napoleon, Napoleon I, against a fluctuating array of Coalition forces of the Napoleonic W ...
, Lamb served at home as
captain Captain is a title for the commander of a military unit, the commander of a ship, aeroplane, spacecraft, or other vessel, or the commander of a port, fire department or police department, election precinct, etc. The captain is a military rank in a ...
(1803) and
major Major is a military rank Military ranks are a system of hierarchical A hierarchy (from the Greek: , from , 'president of sacred rites') is an arrangement of items (objects, names, values, categories, etc.) in which the items are repre ...
(1804) in the Hertfordshire Volunteer Infantry. He succeeded his elder brother as heir to his father's title in 1805, and married Lady Caroline Ponsonby, an
Anglo-Irish Anglo-Irish () is a term which was more commonly used in the 19th and early 20th centuries to identify an ethnic group An ethnic group or ethnicity is a grouping of people A people is any plurality of person A person (plural people ...
aristocrat. The following year, he was elected to the
British House of Commons The House of Commons (domestically known as the Commons) is the lower house A lower house is one of two chambers Chambers may refer to: Places Canada: *Chambers Township, Ontario United States: *Chambers County, Alabama *Chambers, Arizon ...

British House of Commons
as the Whig MP for
Leominster Leominster ( ) is a market town A market town is a European that obtained by custom or royal charter, in the , a market right, which allowed it to host a regular ; this distinguished it from a or . In Britain, small rural towns with a ...
. For the election in 1806 he moved to the seat of Haddington Burghs, and for the 1807 election he successfully stood for Portarlington (a seat he held until 1812).Peter Mandler,
Lamb, William, second Viscount Melbourne (1779–1848)
, ''Oxford Dictionary of National Biography'', Oxford University Press, Sept 2004; online edn, Jan 2008, accessed 27 December 2009.
Lamb first came to general notice for reasons he would rather have avoided: his wife had a public affair with
Lord Byron George Gordon Byron, 6th Baron Byron, ( el, Λόρδος Βύρωνας, translit=Lórdos Výronas, translit-std=ISO; 22 January 1788 – 19 April 1824), simply known as Lord Byron, was an English poet and peer Peer may refer to: Socio ...
—she coined the famous characterisation of Byron as "mad, bad and dangerous to know". The resulting scandal was the talk of Britain in 1812. Lady Caroline published a Gothic novel, ''
Glenarvon ''Glenarvon'' was Lady Caroline Lamb's first novel. It created a sensation when published on 9 May 1816. Set in the Irish rebellion of 1798, the book satirized the Whig Holland House circle, while casting a sceptical eye on left-wing politicking. I ...
'', in 1816; this portrayed both the marriage and her affair with Byron in a lurid fashion, which caused William even greater embarrassment, while the spiteful caricatures of leading society figures made them several influential enemies. Eventually the two were reconciled, and, though they separated in 1825, her death in 1828 affected him considerably.


Early politics


Member of Parliament

In 1816, Lamb was returned for
Peterborough Peterborough () is a City status in the United Kingdom, cathedral city and unitary authority#United Kingdom, unitary authority area in Cambridgeshire, England, with a population of 202,110 in 2017. Originally part of Northamptonshire, it became ...
by Whig grandee Lord Fitzwilliam. He told Lord Holland that he was committed to the Whig principles of the
Glorious Revolution The Glorious Revolution of November 1688 ( ga, An Réabhlóid Ghlórmhar; gd, Rèabhlaid Ghlòrmhor; cy, Chwyldro Gogoneddus), the invasion also known as the ''Glorieuze Overtocht'' or Glorious Crossing by the Dutch, was the deposition of ...
but not to "a heap of modern additions, interpolations, facts and fictions". He therefore spoke against parliamentary reform, and voted for the suspension of ''
habeas corpus (; from Medieval Latin Medieval Latin was the form of Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language A classical language is a language A language is a structured system of communication Communication (from Latin '' ...
'' in 1817 when
sedition Sedition is overt conduct, such as speech Speech is human vocal communication Communication (from Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin ...

sedition
was rife. Lamb's hallmark was finding the middle ground. Though a Whig, he accepted (29 April 1827) the post of
Chief Secretary for Ireland The Chief Secretary for Ireland was a key political office in the British administration in Ireland. Nominally subordinate to the Lord Lieutenant A lord-lieutenant () is the British monarch's personal representative in each lieutenancy ...
in the moderate Tory governments of
George Canning George Canning (11 April 17708 August 1827) was a British Tory A Tory () is a person who holds a political philosophy Political philosophy or political theory is the philosophical Philosophy (from , ) is the study of gener ...

George Canning
and
Lord Goderich Frederick John Robinson, 1st Earl of Ripon, (1 November 1782 – 28 January 1859), styled The Honourable F. J. Robinson until 1827 and known between 1827 and 1833 as The Viscount Goderich (pronounced ), the name by which he is best known to ...
. Upon the death of his father in 1828 and his becoming the 2nd
Viscount Melbourne Viscount Melbourne, of Kilmore in the County Cavan, County of Cavan, was a title in the Peerage of Ireland held by the Lamb family. This family descended from Sir Matthew Lamb, 1st Baronet, Matthew Lamb, who represented Stockbridge (UK Parlia ...
, of Kilmore in the
County of Cavan County Cavan (; gle, Contae an Chabháin) is a county A county is a geographical region of a country used for administrative or other purposesChambers Dictionary, L. Brookes (ed.), 2005, Chambers Harrap Publishers Ltd, Edinburgh in certain ...
, he moved to the
House of Lords The House of Lords, formally The Right Honourable the Lords Spiritual and Temporal of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland in Parliament assembled, is the of the . Membership is by , or . Like the , it meets in the . ar ...

House of Lords
. He had spent 25 years in the Commons, largely as a backbencher, and was not politically well known.


Home Secretary: 1830–1834

In November 1830, the Whigs came to power under Lord Grey. Melbourne was Home Secretary. During the disturbances of 1830–32 he "acted both vigorously and sensitively, and it was for this function that his reforming brethren thanked him heartily". In the aftermath of the
Swing Riots The Swing Riots were a widespread uprising in 1830 by agricultural workers in southern and eastern England, in protest at agricultural mechanisation and harsh working conditions. It began with the destruction of threshing machines A threshing m ...
of 1830–31, he countered the Tory magistrates' alarmism by refusing to resort to military force; instead, he advocated magistrates' usual powers be fully enforced, along with special constables and financial rewards for the arrest of rioters and rabble-rousers. He appointed a special commission to try approximately 1,000 of those arrested, and ensured that justice was strictly adhered to: one-third were acquitted and most of the one-fifth sentenced to death were instead transported. There remains controversy regarding the hanging of
Dic Penderyn Richard Lewis (1807/8 – 13 August 1831), known as Dic Penderyn, was a Welsh labourer and coal miner who lived in Merthyr Tydfil and was involved with the Merthyr Rising of 3 June 1831. In the course of the riot he was arrested alongside Lewis Le ...
, a protester in the
Merthyr Rising The Merthyr Rising, also referred to as the Merthyr Riots, of 1831 was the violent climax to many years of simmering unrest among the large working class population of Merthyr Tydfil in Wales and the surrounding area. Beginnings Throughout Ma ...

Merthyr Rising
who was then, and is now, widely judged to have been innocent. He appears to have been executed solely on the word of Melbourne, who sought a victim in order to 'set an example'. The disturbances over reform in 1831–32 were countered with the enforcement of the usual laws; again, Melbourne refused to pass emergency legislation against sedition.


Prime Minister: 1834, 1835–1841

After Lord Grey resigned as Prime Minister in July 1834, William IV was forced to appoint another Whig to replace him, as the Tories were not strong enough to support a government. Melbourne was the man most likely to be both acceptable to the King and hold the Whig party together. Melbourne hesitated after receiving from Grey the letter from the King requesting him to visit him to discuss the formation of a government. Melbourne thought he would not enjoy the extra work that accompanied the office of Premier, but he did not want to let his friends and party down. According to Charles Greville, Melbourne said to his secretary, Tom Young: "I think it's a damned bore. I am in many minds as to what to do". Young replied: "Why, damn it all, such a position was never held by any Greek or Roman: and if it only lasts three months, it will be worth while to have been Prime Minister of England." "By God, that's true," Melbourne said, "I'll go!" Compromise was the key to many of Melbourne's actions. He was opposed to the
Reform Act 1832 The Representation of the People Act 1832 (also known as the 1832 Reform Act, Great Reform Act or First Reform Act) was an Act of Parliament of the United Kingdom The Parliament of the United Kingdom is the supreme legislative body ...
proposed by the Whigs, arguing that
Catholic emancipation #REDIRECT Catholic emancipation Catholic emancipation or Catholic relief was a process in the kingdoms of Great Britain Great Britain is an island in the North Atlantic Ocean off the northwest coast of continental Europe. With an area of ...
had not ended in the tranquility expected of it,Cecil, David, ''Melbourne'', (Indianapolis, 1954), p.422 but reluctantly agreed that it was necessary to forestall the threat of revolution. Later he opposed the repeal of the
Corn Laws The Corn Laws were tariff A tariff is a tax A tax is a compulsory financial charge or some other type of levy imposed on a taxpayer (an individual or legal entity In law Law is a system A system is a group of Interaction, ...
, arguing not only that Catholic emancipation had failed, but also that the Reform Act had not improved the condition of the people. Melbourne was also a strong supporter of slavery, calling Britain's abolition of slavery a "great folly" and if he had had his own way (as opposed to what many Whigs wanted), he would "have done nothing at all!"
King William IV William IV (William Henry; 21 August 1765 – 20 June 1837) was King of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland There have been 12 British monarchs There have been 12 British monarchs since the political union A political un ...

King William IV
's opposition to the Whigs' reforming ways led him to dismiss Melbourne in November. He then gave the Tories under
Sir Robert Peel Sir Robert Peel, 2nd Baronet, (5 February 1788 – 2 July 1850) was a British Conservative Conservatism is an aesthetic Aesthetics, or esthetics (), is a branch of philosophy that deals with the nature of beauty and taste (soci ...

Sir Robert Peel
an opportunity to form a government. Peel's failure to win a House of Commons majority in the resulting
general election A general election is a political voting election where generally all or most members of a given political body are chosen. These are usually held for a nation, state, or territory's primary legislative body, and are different from by-election ...
(January 1835) made it impossible for him to govern, and the Whigs returned to power under Melbourne that April. This was the last time a British monarch attempted to appoint a government to suit his own preferences.


Blackmail

The next year, Melbourne was once again involved in a sex scandal. This time he was the victim of attempted blackmail from the husband of a close friend, society beauty and author
Caroline Norton Caroline Elizabeth Sarah Norton, Lady Stirling-Maxwell (''née'' Sheridan; 22 March 1808 – 15 June 1877) was an English social reformer and author active in the early and mid-19th century.Perkin pp. 26–28 Norton left her husband in 1836, f ...
. The husband demanded £1,400, and when he was turned down he accused Melbourne of having an affair with his wife. At that time such a scandal would have been enough to derail a major politician, so it is a measure of the respect contemporaries had for his integrity that Melbourne's government did not fall. The king and the
Duke of Wellington Field Marshal Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington, (1 May 1769 – 14 September 1852) was an Anglo-Irish people, Anglo-Irish soldier and Tories (British political party), Tory statesman who was one of the leading military and political f ...

Duke of Wellington
urged him to stay on as prime minister. After Norton failed in court, Melbourne was vindicated, but he did stop seeing Norton. Nonetheless, as historian
Boyd Hilton Andrew John Boyd Hilton, FBAFBA may refer to: * Federation of British Artists * Federal Bar Association * Fellow of the British Academy * Filsports Basketball Association * First Baptist Academy (Houston, Texas), United States * First Baptist Aca ...
concludes, "it is irrefutable that Melbourne's personal life was problematic. Spanking sessions with aristocratic ladies were harmless, not so the whippings administered to orphan girls taken into his household as objects of charity."


Queen Victoria

Melbourne was Prime Minister when
Queen Victoria Victoria (Alexandrina Victoria; 24 May 1819 – 22 January 1901) was Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland There have been 12 British monarchs since the political union of the Kingdom of England The Kingdom of En ...

Queen Victoria
came to the throne (June 1837). Barely eighteen, she was only just breaking free from the domineering influence of her mother, the
Duchess of Kent Duchess of Kent is the principal Courtesy titles in the United Kingdom, courtesy title held by the wife of the Duke of Kent. There have been four Duchesses of Kent since the title's creation. The current duchess is Katharine, Duchess of Kent, Kat ...

Duchess of Kent
, and her mother's adviser, Sir
John Conroy Sir John Ponsonby Conroy, 1st Baronet, KCH (21 October 1786 – 2 March 1854) was a British Army The British Army is the principal land warfare force of the United Kingdom The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Irelan ...
. Over the next four years Melbourne trained her in the art of politics, and the two became friends: Victoria was quoted as saying she considered him like a father (her own had died when she was only eight months old), and Melbourne's son had died at a young age. Melbourne was given a private apartment at
Windsor Castle Windsor Castle is a at in the English county of . It is strongly associated with the and succeeding , and embodies almost a millennium of . The original castle was built in the 11th century after the by . Since the time of (who re ...

Windsor Castle
, and unfounded rumours circulated for a time that Victoria would marry Melbourne, 40 years her senior. Tutoring Victoria was the climax of Melbourne's career: the prime minister spent four to five hours a day visiting and writing to her, and she responded with enthusiasm. Lord Melbourne's tutoring of Victoria reached two points of serious political damage: first, the
Lady Flora Hastings Lady Flora Elizabeth Rawdon-Hastings (11 February 1806 – 5 July 1839) was a British aristocrat and lady-in-waiting to Queen Victoria's mother, the Princess Victoria of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld, Duchess of Kent. Her death in 1839 was the subject of ...
affair, followed not long after by the
Bedchamber Crisis The Bedchamber crisis occurred on 7 May 1839 after Whig Whig or Whigs may refer to: Parties and factions In the British Isles * A pejorative nickname for the Kirk Party The Kirk Party were a radical Presbyterian faction of the Scotland, Sco ...
. Victoria's reputation suffered in an 1839 court intrigue when Hastings, one of her mother's ladies-in-waiting, developed an abdominal growth that was widely rumoured to be an out-of-wedlock pregnancy by
Sir John Conroy Sir John Ponsonby Conroy, 1st Baronet, Royal Guelphic Order, KCH (21 October 1786 – 2 March 1854) was a British Army officer who served as comptroller to the Princess Victoria of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld, Duchess of Kent and her young daughter, ...
.Hibbert, p. 77-78; Weintraub, 119-121 Victoria believed the rumours, as did Lord Melbourne. When Victoria told Melbourne of her suspicions, he planted in her head that Victoria's mother, , was jealous of Hasting's closeness to Conroy, which made Victoria excited and more resolute on the matter.Weintraub, 119 Initially, Melbourne "suggested quiet watchfulness" over Hastings's body changes. But after the court physician, Sir James Clarke, had examined Hastings and generally concluded she wasn't pregnant, Melbourne was wholly persuaded Hastings must be pregnant from a throwaway comment that Clarke made about the appearance of virginity in spite of pregnancy. Melbourne immediately informed the queen. When Victoria observed to him that Hastings had not been seen in public for a while because "she was so sick," Melbourne "repeated, 'Sick?' with what the queen described as 'a significant laugh.
Chartism Chartism was a movement for political reform in Britain that existed from 1838 to 1857. It took its name from the People's Charter of 1838 and was a national protest movement, with particular strongholds of support in Northern England North ...
took its name from the People's Charter of 1838 and was a working-class movement for parliamentary reform. The Chartists also fought against the New Poor Law of 1834. In June 1839, the petition, signed by 1.3 million working people, was presented to the House of Commons, but MPs voted not to hear the petitioners. The
Rebellions of 1837–1838 The Rebellions of 1837–1838 (french: Les rébellions de 1837), were two armed uprisings that took place in Lower Lower may refer to: *Lower (surname)Lower is a surname. Notable people with the surname include: * Arthur R. M. Lower (1889 ...
led directly to
Lord Durham Earl of Durham is a title in the Peerage of the United Kingdom. It was created in 1833 for the British Whig Party, Whig politician and colonial official John Lambton, 1st Earl of Durham, John Lambton, 1st Baron Durham. Known as "Radical Jack", ...
's ''
Report on the Affairs of British North America The ''Report on the Affairs of British North America'', (1839) commonly known as the ''Durham Report'' or ''Lord Durham's Report'', is an important document in the history of Quebec ) , image_shield=Armoiries du Québec.svg , image_flag= ...
'' and to The British North America Act, 1840 which established a new political entity, the
Province of Canada The Province of Canada (or the United Province of Canada or the United Canadas) (french: link=no, Province du Canada) was a British colony Within the British Empire, a Crown colony or royal colony was a colony In political science, ...
. The Whig cabinet under Melbourne decided on 1 October 1839 to send an expeditionary force to China to protect British interests. The
First Opium War The First Opium War (), also known as the Opium War or the Anglo-Chinese War, was a series of military engagements fought between Britain and the Qing dynasty The Qing dynasty, officially the Great Qing (), was the last Dynasties ...
was fought between China and the United Kingdom from 1839 to 1842, one of the outcomes of the war was that
Hong Kong Hong Kong (; , ), officially the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People's Republic of China (HKSAR), is a city A city is a large human settlement.Goodall, B. (1987) ''The Penguin Dictionary of Human Geography''. London: Pe ...

Hong Kong
would be ceded to the UK and become a British crown colony. The
First Anglo-Afghan War The First Anglo-Afghan War ( fa, جنگ اول افغان و انگلیس), also known by the British as the Disaster in Afghanistan, was fought between the British Empire The British Empire was composed of the dominions, Crown colony, c ...
occurred between 1839 and 1842. At the beginning of the conflict, the
East India Company The East India Company (EIC), also known as the Honourable East India Company (HEIC), East India Trading Company (EITC), the English East India Company or (after 1707) the British East India Company, and informally known as John Company, Com ...
troops had defeated the forces of Afghan Emir and in 1839 occupied
Kabul Kabul (; ps, , translit=Kābəl, ; prs, , translit=Kābol, ) is the capital Capital most commonly refers to: * Capital letter Letter case (or just case) is the distinction between the letters that are in larger uppercase or capital ...

Kabul
. The
Treaty of Waitangi The Treaty of Waitangi ( mi, Te Tiriti o Waitangi) is a treaty A treaty is a formal, legally binding written agreement between actors in international law International law, also known as public international law and law of nations, ...
was signed on 6 February 1840 by representatives of the British Crown and Māori chiefs. In November 1840 a royal charter was signed by Queen Victoria, establishing
New Zealand New Zealand ( mi, Aotearoa ''Aotearoa'' (; commonly pronounced by English English usually refers to: * English language English is a West Germanic languages, West Germanic language first spoken in History of Anglo-Saxon Engl ...

New Zealand
as a
Crown colony A Crown colony or royal colony was a colony In political science, a colony is a territory subject to a form of foreign rule. Though dominated by the foreign colonizers, colonies remain separate from the administration of the original coun ...
.


Rule and resign

On 7 May 1839, Melbourne announced his intention to resign. This led to the
Bedchamber Crisis The Bedchamber crisis occurred on 7 May 1839 after Whig Whig or Whigs may refer to: Parties and factions In the British Isles * A pejorative nickname for the Kirk Party The Kirk Party were a radical Presbyterian faction of the Scotland, Sco ...
. Prospective prime minister
Robert Peel Sir Robert Peel, 2nd Baronet, (5 February 1788 – 2 July 1850) was a British Conservative Party (UK), Conservative statesman who served twice as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom (1834–1835 and 1841–1846) simultaneously serving as Cha ...

Robert Peel
requested that Victoria dismiss some of the wives and daughters of Whig MPs who made up her personal entourage, arguing that the monarch should avoid any hint of favouritism to a party out of power. The Queen refused to comply—supported by Melbourne, although he was unaware that Peel had not requested the resignation of all the Queen's ladies as she had led him to believe—and hence, Peel refused to form a new government, and Melbourne was persuaded to stay on as Prime Minister. Among his government's acts were a reduction in the number of capital offences, reforms of local government, and the reform of the Poor laws. This restricted the terms on which the poor were allowed relief and established compulsory admission to
workhouse In Britain, a workhouse () was a total institution where those unable to support themselves financially were offered accommodation and employment. (In Scotland, they were usually known as poorhouses.) The earliest known use of the term ''workho ...

workhouse
s for the impoverished. On 25 February 1841, Melbourne was admitted as a
Fellow of the Royal Society Fellowship of the Royal Society (FRS, ForMemRS and HonFRS) is an award granted by the judges of the Royal Society The Royal Society, formally The Royal Society of London for Improving Natural Knowledge, is a and the 's national . Found ...
. Following a vote of no confidence initiated by Conservative MP John Stuart-Wortley, Melbourne's government fell, and he resigned as Prime Minister on 30 August 1841.


Later life: 1841–1848

After Melbourne resigned permanently in August 1841, Victoria continued to write to him about political matters, but as it was deemed inappropriate after a time their letters became cordial and non-political without issue. It has been observed that Melbourne's role faded as Victoria increasingly relied on her new husband
Prince Albert Prince Albert most commonly refers to: *Albert, Prince Consort german: link=no, Franz Albert August Karl Emanuel , house = , father = Ernest I, Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha , mother = Princess Louise of Saxe-Gotha-Altenbu ...

Prince Albert
. Though weakened, Melbourne survived a stroke on October 23, 1842, fourteen months after his departure from politics. In retirement, he lived at
Brocket Hall Brocket Hall is a classical country house An English country house is a large house or mansion A mansion is a large dwelling house. The word itself derives through Old French Old French (, , ; Modern French French ( or ...

Brocket Hall
, Hertfordshire. He died at home on 24 November 1848 and was buried nearby at
St Etheldreda's Church, Hatfield St Etheldreda's is the Anglican Anglicanism is a Western Christianity, Western Christian tradition that has developed from the practices, liturgy, and identity of the Church of England following the English Reformation. Adherents of Angli ...
,
Hertfordshire Hertfordshire (; often abbreviated Herts) is one of the home counties in southern England England is a that is part of the . It shares land borders with to its west and to its north. The lies northwest of England and the to the s ...

Hertfordshire
. There is a memorial to him in
St Paul's Cathedral St Paul's Cathedral is an Anglican Anglicanism is a Western Western may refer to: Places *Western, Nebraska, a village in the US *Western, New York, a town in the US *Western Creek, Tasmania, a locality in Australia *Western Jun ...

St Paul's Cathedral
. On his death, his titles passed to his brother
FrederickFrederick may refer to: People * Frederick (given name), the name Nobility Anhalt-Harzgerode *Frederick, Prince of Anhalt-Harzgerode (1613–1670) Austria * Frederick I, Duke of Austria (Babenberg), Duke of Austria from 1195 to 1198 * Frederick ...
, as both of his children—a son, George Augustus Frederick (1807–1836) and a premature daughter (born 1809, died at birth)—had predeceased him.


Legacy

*
Melbourne Melbourne ( ) is the capital Capital most commonly refers to: * Capital letter Letter case (or just case) is the distinction between the letters that are in larger uppercase or capitals (or more formally ''majuscule'') and smaller ...

Melbourne
, the capital city of
Victoria, Australia Victoria (abbreviated as Vic) is a States and territories of Australia, state in southeastern Australia. It is the second-smallest state with a land area of and the most densely populated state in Australia (28 per km2). Victoria is bord ...
, was named in his honour in March 1837. He was the
Prime Minister of the United Kingdom The prime minister of the United Kingdom is the head of government The head of government is either the highest or second-highest official in the Executive (government), executive branch of a sovereign state, a federated state, or a ...
at the time. *
Mount Melbourne Mount Melbourne is a ice-covered stratovolcano in Victoria Land, Antarctica, between the Wood Bay and Terra Nova Bay. It is an elongated mountain with a summit caldera filled with ice with numerous parasitic vents; a volcanic field surrounds the ...
, a
stratovolcano A stratovolcano, also known as a composite volcano, is a conical A cone is a three-dimensional space, three-dimensional geometric shape that tapers smoothly from a flat base (frequently, though not necessarily, circular) to a point called th ...

stratovolcano
in
Antarctica Antarctica ( or ) is Earth's southernmost continent. It contains the geographic South Pole and is situated in the Antarctic region of the Southern Hemisphere, almost entirely south of the Antarctic Circle, and is surrounded by the Southern Oc ...

Antarctica
, was also named in his honour by the British
naval officer An officer is a person who holds a position of authority as a member of an armed force A military, also known collectively as armed forces, is a heavily armed, highly organized force primarily intended for warfare War is an i ...
and
explorer Exploration is the act of searching for the purpose of discovery Discovery may refer to: * Discovery (observation) Discovery is the act of detecting something new, or something previously unrecognized as meaningful. With reference to scien ...
James Clark Ross Sir James Clark Ross (15 April 1800 – 3 April 1862) was a British Royal Navy The Royal Navy (RN) is the United Kingdom's naval warfare Naval warfare is combat Combat ( French for ''fight'') is a purposeful violent conflict ...

James Clark Ross
, in 1841.


In literature

Letitia Elizabeth Landon Letitia Elizabeth Landon (14 August 1802 – 15 October 1838) was an English poet and novelist, better known by her initials L.E.L. The writings of Landon are transitional between Romanticism and the Victorian Age. Her first major breakthrough ...

Letitia Elizabeth Landon
's poem ''Lord Melbourne'', which was published in 1836, is one of the rare instances in which she allowed herself any political comment.


In popular culture

*On screen, Lord Melbourne has been portrayed by several actors: **
Rufus Sewell Rufus Frederik Sewell (; born 29 October 1967) is a British film and stage actor. In film, he has appeared in ''Carrington (film), Carrington'' (1995), ''Hamlet (1996 film), ''Hamlet' (1996), ''Dangerous Beauty'' (1998), ''Dark City (1998 fi ...

Rufus Sewell
in the UK TV series ''
Victoria Victoria most commonly refers to: * Victoria (Australia) Victoria (abbreviated as Vic) is a in southeastern . It is the second-smallest state with a of and the most densely populated state in Australia (28 per km2). Victoria is bord ...
''. **
Paul Bettany Paul Bettany (born 27 May 1971) is an English actor. He is best known for portraying J.A.R.V.I.S. J.A.R.V.I.S. (Just A Rather Very Intelligent System) is a fictional artificial intelligence Artificial intelligence (AI) is intelligence ...
in ''
The Young Victoria ''The Young Victoria'' is a 2009 British period drama, period drama film directed by Jean-Marc Vallée and written by Julian Fellowes, based on the early life and reign of Queen Victoria, and her marriage to Albert, Prince Consort, Prince Albert ...
(2009) **
Nigel Hawthorne Sir Nigel Barnard Hawthorne (5 April 1929 – 26 December 2001) was an English actor. He is most known for his stage acting and his portrayal of Humphrey Appleby, Sir Humphrey Appleby, the permanent secretary in the 1980s sitcom ''Yes Minister ...

Nigel Hawthorne
in '' Victoria & Albert'' (2001) **
Joseph O'Conor Joseph O'Conor (14 February 1910 – 21 January 2001) was an Irish actor and playwright. Early years O'Conor was born in DublinAlan Strachan ''The Independent'', 2 February 2001Stephen GilbertObituary ''The Guardian'', 25 January 2001 on ...
in ''
Edward the Seventh ''Edward the Seventh'' is a 1975 British television drama series, made by Associated Television, ATV in 13 episodes. Based on the biography of Edward VII, King Edward VII by Sir Philip Magnus-Allcroft, 2nd Baronet, Philip Magnus, it starred T ...
'' (1975) **
Jon Finch Jon Finch (2 March 1942 – 28 December 2012) was an English people, English stage and film actor who became well known for his William Shakespeare, Shakespearean roles. Most notably, he starred in films for directors Roman Polanski (''Macbeth ...
in the film ''
Lady Caroline Lamb Lady Caroline Lamb (née Ponsonby; 13 November 1785 – 25 January 1828) was an Anglo-Irish Anglo-Irish () is a term which was more commonly used in the 19th and early 20th centuries to identify an ethnic group An ethnic group or ethn ...
'' (1972) **
Karl Ludwig Diehl Karl Ludwig Diehl (14 August 1896 – 8 March 1958) was a German film actor. He appeared in 66 films between 1924 and 1957. His father was Karl Diehl (economist), Karl Diehl, the German professor of Anarchism. Filmography * ''Die Tragödie ...
in the Austrian film '' Victoria in Dover'' (1954)


Notes


Collected papers

*


Bibliography

* major biography focused on his psychology * * * Hibbert, Christopher (2000) ''Queen Victoria: A Personal History'', London: HarperCollins, * * * * * * * *


Further reading

* * * Cecil, David. "Melbourne and the Years of Reform." ''History Today'' (Aug 1954) 4#8 pp 529–536.


External links

* *
More about William Lamb, Viscount Melbourne
on the Downing Street website
Historica's Heritage Minute video docudrama "Responsible Government"
(
Adobe Flash Player Adobe Flash Player (also called Shockwave Flash in Internet Explorer Internet Explorer (formerly Microsoft Internet Explorer and Windows Internet Explorer, (from August 16, 1995 to March 30, 2021) commonly abbreviated IE or MSIE) is a disc ...
) * *
About William's Notorious Wife, Lady Caroline
{{DEFAULTSORT:Melbourne, William Lamb, 2nd Viscount 1779 births 1848 deaths 19th-century prime ministers of the United Kingdom Alumni of Trinity College, Cambridge Burials in Hertfordshire
Fellows of the Royal Society {{CatAutoTOC People associated with the Royal Society United Kingdom The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known as the United Kingdom (UK) or Britain,Usage is mixed. The Guardian' and Telegraph' use Britain as ...
Members of the Privy Council of the United Kingdom Members of the Privy Council of Ireland Members of the Parliament of the United Kingdom for Hertfordshire Members of the Parliament of the United Kingdom for Portarlington People educated at Eton College People of the Victorian era Prime Ministers of the United Kingdom Secretaries of State for the Home Department UK MPs 1806–1807 UK MPs 1807–1812 UK MPs 1812–1818 UK MPs 1818–1820 UK MPs 1820–1826 UK MPs 1826–1830 UK MPs who inherited peerages Viscounts Melbourne Younger sons of viscounts Whig (British political party) MPs for English constituencies Chief Secretaries for Ireland Whig prime ministers of the United Kingdom British monarchists Leaders of the House of Lords Whig (British political party) MPs for Irish constituencies