History and Tour

Marquess of Rockingham

Charles Wentworth, Marquess of Rockingham Born: 13 May 1730

First entered Parliament: 21 May 1751 (took seat in House of Lords)

Age he became PM: 35 years, 61 days and 51 years, 318 days

Maiden speech: His first recorded speech in the House of Commons was on 28 May 1766 in the debate on the Bill to introduce a window tax

Total time as PM: One year, 113 days

Died: 1 July 1782 at Wimbledon, London

Facts and figures

Education: Westminster School

Family: Rockingham was the fifth son and eighth child in a family of ten. He married Mary Bright, but had no children

Interests: Betting, horseracing and chess


Wealthy but naive

The wealthy but politically-inexperienced Rockingham succeeded George Grenville as Prime Minister in 1765.

He had become leader of the Whigs at an early age, and led them from his seat in the Lords, succeeding in reducing the corruption that was Walpole’s legacy.

His first term as prime minister was short and little praised yet successful in the face of strong opposition. His government was responsible for the repeal of the controversial Stamp Act in February, 1766, inspired by protests in the colonies against the imposition of duties on all official papers used in the colonies.

Facing the sack

However, King George III was not impressed, and sacked him in favour of Pitt the Elder.

Sixteen years later Rockingham formed a second administration. He opened peace negotiations with the Americans, championed independence for the Irish parliament and was beginning a process of political reform when he died suddenly from influenza in 1782, before he could achieve all that he wanted.

Quote unquote

“Englishmen, whatever their local situation may be, know no obedience to any thing but the laws.”

Did you know?

Rockingham County, New Hampshire and Rockingham County, Virginia in the United States are named in his honour.


Mary Bright married the Marquess at 16 but had no children. She acted as her husband’s secretary and political adviser. Lord Newcastle said of her ‘the little woman has her influence’. Mary was also musical, playing the harpsichord. She is buried in York Minster.

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