William, 3rd Duke of Portland

1783, 1807 - 1809

Portland (1738-1809) was the figurehead leader of two very different governments, the Fox-North coalition of 1783 and his own collection of bickering young Tory statesmen with a great future in 1807-09, a total period of just over 3 years in office. In between, he led a faction of conservative Whigs frightened by the French Revolution to join Pitt’s government in 1794 and was a highly effective Home Secretary in the difficult years of 1794-1801. His most notable achievement as prime minister came in 1807, when he discovered the electoral appeal of opposition to Catholic Emancipation and gained a massive majority, the first election victory generated largely by popular opinion. Since he notably failed to control both his governments, he should rank close to Shelburne, not too distinguished but above the dregs.

© 2020 Martin Hutchinson