Charles Watson-Wentworth, 2nd Marquess of Rockingham

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The Marquess of Rockingham
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Charles Watson-Wentworth

Terms: 13 July 176530 July 1766
27 March 17821 July 1782
Predecessors: George Grenville
Lord North
Successors: The Earl of Chatham
The Earl of Shelburne
Date of Birth: 13 May 1730
Place of Birth: South Yorkshire
Date of Death: 1 July 1782
Place of Death: Wimbledon, London
Political Party: Whig

Charles Watson-Wentworth, 2nd Marquess of Rockingham (May 13, 1730July 1, 1782) was a British Whig statesman, most notable for his two terms as Whig Prime Minister of Great Britain. He served in only two high offices during his lifetime (Prime Minister and Leader of the House of Lords), but was nonetheless very influential during his one and a half years of service.

A descendant of Thomas Wentworth, Charles was brought up at the family home of Wentworth Woodhouse near Rotherham in South Yorkshire. He was educated at the Westminster School and at St John's College, Cambridge. In 1746, he rode from Wentworth to Carlisle to join the Duke of Cumberland in pursuit of the "Young Pretender." Four years later, he was created Earl of Malton in the Peerage of Ireland, then acceded to his father's marquessate shortly thereafter.

He took his seat in the House of Lords the following year, and was given the Garter in 1761. In 1762, King George III appointed his friend and mentor, Lord Bute, to the position of Prime Minister; however, he was forced to resign due to growing opposition. He was replaced by George Grenville, who again did not attract enough support; following Grenville's resignation in 1765, Lord Rockingham was appointed Prime Minister.

Rockingham appointed his allies Henry Seymour Conway and the Duke of Grafton as secretaries of state. During his term of office, he repealed the Stamp Act, reducing the tax burden on the colonies. However, internal dissent within the cabinet led to his resignation and the appointment of Lord Chatham as Prime Minister (the Duke of Grafton was appointed First Lord of the Treasury, one of the few cases in which those two offices were separate).

Rockingham spent the next sixteen years in opposition. He was a keen supporter of constitutional rights for colonists, and backed the claim for American independence. In 1782 he was appointed Prime Minister for a second time (with Conway and Lord Shelburne as secretaries of state) and, upon taking office, acknowledged the independence of the United States, initiating an end to British involvement in the Revolutionary War. However, this term was short-lived, for Lord Rockingham died 14 weeks later. Rockingham County, New Hampshire and Rockingham County, Virginia in the United States are named in his honour.

Rockingham's First Government, July 1765 - July 1766

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Arms of Charles Watson-Wentworth

Rockingham's Second Government, March - July 1782

Preceded by:
George Grenville
Prime Minister
Succeeded by:
The Earl of Chatham
Preceded by:
Leader of the House of Lords
Succeeded by:
The Duke of Grafton

Template:Succession box two to one Template:End box

Preceded by:
Thomas Watson-Wentworth
Marquess of Rockingham
Succeeded by:

Template:End boxde:Charles Watson-Wentworth, 2. Marquess of Rockingham


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