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William Petty, Lord Shelburne

(b. May 2, 1737, Dublin, Leinster, Ireland – d. May 7, 1805, Berkeley Square, Mayfair, London )

Gender: M

William Petty-FitzMaurice (1737-1805), 2nd Earl of Shelburne and later 1st Marquess of Lansdowne, was the son of John Petty-FitzMaurice, 1st Earl of Shelburne, and his wife and cousin, Mary FitzMaurice. He was born in Dublin and spent his formative years in Ireland, later serving in the British army during the Seven Years War. He held ministerial office during the administrations of William Pitt, Lord Chatham, and the Marquess of Rockingham. Shelburne became Prime Minister in 1782 following Rockingham’s sudden death, but was forced out within a year and never regained power. He married Sophia Carteret (1745-1771), daughter of the 1st Earl Granville and his wife Sophia Fermor, and they had one son, John Henry Petty, 2nd Marquess of Lansdowne (1765-1809), who was MP for Chipping Wycombe for twenty years. Shelburne was grief-stricken on his wife’s death, but in 1779 married Louisa FitzPatrick (1755-789), daughter of John FitzPatrick, 1st Earl of Upper Ossory, and his wife Evelyn Leveson-Gower, and they had two children. Before their marriage, he had been engaged to Frances Molesworth, niece of Lady Lucan, but she broke off the match. In 1771 Shelburne was introduced by Elizabeth Montagu to Rev Richard Price at Price’s home in Newington Green, and as a result Price became part of the Bowood Group, an informal gathering of intellectuals and professional men who met at Shelburne's estate at Bowood in Wiltshire or at his London house in Berkeley Square. This group included John Dunning (later Lord Ashburton), Joseph Priestley, Jonathan Shipley, bishop of St Asaph, and, at later periods, Samuel Romilly and Jeremy Bentham.

Also known as:

  • William Petty
  • Lord Shelburne


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