World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

John Spencer, Viscount Althorp

Article Id: WHEBN0000310510
Reproduction Date:

Title: John Spencer, Viscount Althorp  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: William Vernon Harcourt (politician), Bonar Law, Stanley Baldwin, Monroe Edwards, Chancellors of the Exchequer of England
Collection: 1782 Births, 1845 Deaths, Alumni of Trinity College, Cambridge, Chancellors of the Exchequer of the United Kingdom, Earls in the Peerage of Great Britain, Earls Spencer, Fellows of the Royal Society, Leaders of the House of Commons, Members of the Parliament of the United Kingdom for English Constituencies, People Educated at Harrow School, Spencer-Churchill Family, Uk Mps 1806–07, Uk Mps 1807–12, Uk Mps 1820–26, Uk Mps 1826–30, Uk Mps 1830–31, Uk Mps 1831–32, Uk Mps 1832–35
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

John Spencer, Viscount Althorp

The Right Honourable
The Earl Spencer
Lord Spencer as Chancellor of the Exchequer by Henry Pierce Bone.
Chancellor of the Exchequer
In office
22 November 1830 – 14 November 1834
Monarch William IV
Prime Minister

The Earl Grey

The Viscount Melbourne
Preceded by Henry Goulburn
Succeeded by Sir Robert Peel, Bt
Personal details
Born 30 May 1782 (2016-06-27T22:59:19)
St James's, Middlesex, England
Died 1 October 1845(1845-10-01) (aged 63)
Wiseton, Nottinghamshire, England
Nationality British
Political party Whig
Spouse(s) Esther Acklom (1788–1818)
Alma mater Trinity College, Cambridge

John Charles Spencer, 3rd Earl Spencer PC, FRS (30 May 1782 – 1 October 1845), styled Viscount Althorp from 1783 to 1834, was a British statesman. He was notably Chancellor of the Exchequer under Lord Grey and Lord Melbourne from 1830 to 1834.


  • Early years 1
  • Leader of the Commons 2
  • The Lords 3
  • Reputation and legacy 4
  • Marriage 5
  • Arms 6
  • Ancestry 7
  • References 8
    • Citations 8.1
    • Bibliography 8.2
  • Further reading 9
  • External links 10

Early years

His father Pitt the Younger, Charles James Fox and Lord Grenville, and was First Lord of the Admiralty (1794–1801). He was married to the eldest daughter of Lord Lucan. Their eldest son, John Charles, was born at Spencer House, London, on 30 May 1782. In 1800, after Harrow, he took up his residence at Trinity College, Cambridge,[1] and for some time applied himself energetically to mathematical studies; but he spent most of his time in hunting and racing.

In 1804, he entered parliament as a member for Okehampton in Devon. He vacated his seat in 1806, to contest the University of Cambridge against Lord Henry Petty and Lord Palmerston (when he was hopelessly beaten), but he was elected that same year for St Albans, and appointed a lord of the treasury. At the general election in November 1806, he was elected for Northamptonshire, and he continued to sit for the county until he succeeded to the peerage. For the next few years after this speech Lord Althorp occasionally spoke in debate and always on the side of Liberalism, but from 1813 to 1818 he was only rarely in the House of Commons. His absence was partly due to a feeling that it was hopeless to struggle against the will of the Tory ministry, but more particularly because of the death of his wife.

Leader of the Commons

In 1819, on his return to political life, he pressed for establishing a more efficient bankruptcy court, and of expediting the recovery of small debts; and he saw both these reforms accomplished before 1825. During the greater part of the reign of Whigs lost their influence in the state from their want of cohesion, but this defect was soon remedied in 1830 when Lord Althorp was chosen their leader in the lower house, and his capacity for the position was proved by experience. In Lord Grey's government Althorp was both Leader of the House of Commons and Chancellor of the Exchequer. He was instrumental in success of the government measures. Along with Lord John Russell, he led the fight to pass the Reform Bill of 1832, making more than twenty speeches, and is generally considered the architect of its victory.

The Lords

After the dissolution of 1833 the Whig government had been slowly dying, and was further weakened by Althorp's promotion to the House of Lords following the death of his father in 1834. The new Lord Spencer abandoned the cares of office and returned to country life with unalloyed delight. Henceforth agriculture, not politics, was his principal interest. He was the first president of the Royal Agricultural Society (founded 1838), and a notable cattle-breeder. Often as he was urged by his political friends to come to their assistance, he rarely quit the peaceful pleasures which he loved. He died without issue at Wiseton on 1 October 1845, and was succeeded by his brother Frederick (d. 1857).

Reputation and legacy

The Whigs required, to carry the Reform Bill, a leader above party spirit: he has been called "the most decent man who ever held high Government office ". Henry Hardinge, 1st Viscount Hardinge said that one of John Wilson Croker's speeches was demolished by the simple statement of Lord Althorp that he "had collected some figures which entirely refuted it, but had lost them."

Spencer Street in Melbourne, is named in his honour.


Spencer married on 13 April 1814 to Ether Acklom (September 1788 – 11 June 1818) at Upper Brook Street, Mayfair, London. Cokayne quotes from the Farington Diaries, "in marrying He complied with the wishes of Lord and Lady Spencer, it was not of His own seeking" and from Letter Bag of Lady Elizabeth Spencer Stanhope, "since Jack Althorp would not propose to her, she proposed to him; and such an unusual proceeding was fraught with happy consequences ... his devotion after marriage amply compensated for his lack of ardour before." Esther died on 11 June 1818 at age 29 at Halkin Street, Belgravia, London, England, from childbirth and she was buried on 18 June 1818 in Brington, Northampshire, England. John was said to be deeply upset by his wife's death and continued a devotion to her following.


Arms of John Spencer, Viscount Althorp
A Coronet of an Earl
Out of a Ducal Coronet Or a Griffin's Head Azure gorged with a Bar Gemelle Gules between two Wings expanded of the second
Quarterly Argent and Gules in the 2nd and 3rd quarters a Fret Or over all on a Bend Sable three Escallops of the first
Dexter: A Griffin per fess Ermine and Erminois gorged with a Collar Sable the edges flory-counterflory and chained of the last and on the Collar three Escallops Argent; Sinister: A Wyvern Erect on his tail Ermine similarly collared and chained
Dieu Defend Le Droit (God defend the right)




  1. ^ "Spencer, John Charles, Viscount Althorp (SPNR800JC)". A Cambridge Alumni Database. University of Cambridge. 
  2. ^ Burke, (1931), p. 2202
  3. ^ Cokayne (1896), p. 202 ; who was a younger brother of Charles Spencer, fifth Earl of Sunderland, who later became third Duke of Marlborough.
  4. ^ Burke (1931), p. 2202 ; daughter of the Duke of Marlborough.
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h Cokayne (1896), p. 203.
  6. ^ Cokayne (1896), p. 202
  7. ^ Cokayne (1892), p. 82 ; son of Rt. Hon. George Carteret, Baron Carteret of Hawnes, Bedfordshire, and his wife Grace Carteret (née Granville), Countess Granville.
  8. ^ Cokayne (1896), p. 202.
  9. ^ Burke and Burke (1844), p. 104
  10. ^ Cokayne (1892), p. 83 ; daughter of Sir Robert Worsley, fourth Baronet, and his wife Frances, daughter of Thomas Thynne, 1st Viscount Weymouth.
  11. ^ Burke (1836), p. 539 ; of London; son of Newdigate Poyntz
  12. ^ Burke (1836), p. 539 ; daughter of Joseph Morteage
  13. ^ Cokayne (1896), p. 203 ; daughter and coheir of her father.
  14. ^ Banks (1837), p. 24 ; daughter of "Lieutenant-Colonel Collyer".
  15. ^ Brydges (1812), p. 329
  16. ^ a b Cokayne (1902), p. 399
  17. ^ Cokayne (1893), p. 170
  18. ^ Cokayne (1893), p. 170 ; of Lucan, county Dublin.
  19. ^ Cokayne (1893), p. 170 ; coheir of her father.
  20. ^ Cokayne (1893), p. 170 ; daughter and heiress of William Sarsfield, elder brother of General Patrick Sarsfield.
  21. ^ a b Does not seem to be named in published material ; see also Weaver and Mayo (1895), p. 182.
  22. ^ Cokayne (1896), p. 203 ; of Canons Leigh, Devon, and of St. Andries/Audries, Somerset ; very often spelt "James Smyth".
  23. ^ Chadwyck-Healey (1901), p. 317 ; his will granted administration in 1740 ; of Pixton.
  24. ^ Cokayne (1893), p. 170 ; Bartlett (1865), p. 87, transcribes a monument thus: "Margaret Countess of Lucan, widow of Charles Earl of Lucan, and daughter and co-heiress of James Smyth, of St. Audries, in the county of Somerset, Esqr., and of Grace Dyke, of Pixton, in the county of Devon, his wife".
  25. ^ Chadwyck-Healey (1901), p. 317 ; her will proved 1737 ; daughter of Richard Blackford, of Dunster, a Master in Chancery, d. c. 1689, and his wife, Elizabeth ; her will mentions Grace Dyke and her husband James Smyth.


  • T.C. Banks (1837). The Dormant and Extinct Baronage of England, volume 4.
  • W.A. Bartlett (1865). The History and Antiquities of the Parish of Wimbledon, Surrey.
  • E. Brydges (1812). Collin's Peerage of England, volume 3.
  • A.P. Burke (1931). A Heraldic and Genealogical History of the Peerage.
  • J. Burke (1836). A Genealogical and Heraldic History of the Commoners of Great Britain and Ireland, volume 3.
  • C.E.H. Chadwyck-Healey (1901). The History of the Part of West Somerset Comprising the Parishes of Luccombe, Selworthy, Stoke Pero, Porlock, Culbone and Ore.
  • J. Burke and J.B. Burke (1841). A Genealogical and Heraldic History of the Extinct and Dormant Baronetcies of England, Ireland, and Scotland.
  • G.E. Cokayne (1892). Complete Peerage, 1st edition, volume 4.
  • G.E. Cokayne (1893). Complete Peerage, 1st edition, volume 5.
  • G.E. Cokayne (1896). Complete Peerage, 1st edition, volume 7.
  • G.E. Cokayne (1902). Complete Baronetage, volume 2.
  • F.W. Weaver and C.H. Mayo (eds.) (1895). Notes and Queries for Somerset and Dorset, volume 4.
  • G.E. Cokayne (1892). "Complete Peerage", volume 13. page 156.
  • Ellis Archer Wasson (2004). "Spencer, John Charles, Viscount Althorp and third Earl Spencer (1782–1845)". (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)  

Further reading

  • Myers, Ernest (1890) Lord Althorp. 240 p. London: R. Bentley
  • Wasson, Ellis Archer (1987) Whig Rennaisance: Lord Althorp and the Whig Party 1782–1845. 439 p.; London: Garland.

External links

  • Hansard 1803–2005: contributions in Parliament by John Spencer, 3rd Earl Spencer
Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Francis Dickins
Member of Parliament for Northamptonshire
Succeeded by
constituency abolished
Preceded by
new constituency
Member of Parliament for South Northamptonshire
Succeeded by
Sir Charles Knightley
Political offices
Preceded by
Henry Goulburn
Chancellor of the Exchequer
Succeeded by
Sir Robert Peel, Bt
Preceded by
Sir Robert Peel
Leader of the House of Commons
Succeeded by
Lord John Russell
Party political offices
None recognised before

Succeeded by
Lord John Russell
Peerage of Great Britain
Preceded by
George John Spencer
Earl Spencer
Succeeded by
Frederick Spencer
This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from Project Gutenberg are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.