Melbourne (of Kilmore), William Lamb, 2nd Viscount

Melbourne (of Kilmore), William Lamb, 2nd Viscount

biographical name

(born March 15, 1779, London, Eng.—died Nov. 24, 1848, Brocket, near Hatfield, Hertfordshire) British prime minister (1834, 1835–41). A lawyer, he entered the House of Commons in 1806 and the House of Lords in 1829. Although a Whig, he served in Tory governments as chief secretary for Ireland (1827–28) and advocated political rights for Roman Catholics. He served as home secretary (1830–34) in Earl Grey's Whig government, reluctantly supporting the Reform Bill of 1832. As prime minister (1834), he gained the support of Whigs and moderate Tories and opposed further parliamentary reform and efforts to repeal the Corn Laws. In his second administration (1835–41), he became the young Queen Victoria's valued chief political adviser. His firm stand in foreign policy averted war with France over Syria (1840). His wife, Lady Caroline Lamb (1785–1828), was a minor novelist, famous for her affair with Lord Byron in 1812–13.

This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise.
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