Spencer, 1st Earl of Wilmington

1742 - 1743

A former Speaker of the House of Commons (1715-27), Wilmington (Spencer Compton, 1673-1743), a favourite of George II, got his first chance at the top job at the King’s accession, but immediately turned to Walpole to write the accession speech and settle the Civil List, showing himself not up to it. Then, elevated to the Lords by Walpole, he was a compromise First Lord while stronger personalities – Pulteney (now Earl of Bath) Carteret and the Pelhams -- managed the war against Spain and the incipient war against France. Uniquely, Wilmington’s ministry had no Cabinet members in the Commons at all until Henry Pelham as Paymaster-General was elevated to the Cabinet. With no disasters, his King’s victory at the Battle of Dettingen and more than a year in office, Wilmington deserves to be just a little off the bottom of the rankings.

© 2020 Martin Hutchinson