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The focus in this chapter is primarily on the turbulent and unsatisfying relationship that persisted between Lord Shelburne and his younger brother, the Hon. Thomas Fitzmaurice (1742–93). They illustrate parallel paths in integrating themselves as an ancient Anglo-Irish family, more Irish than English and primarily resident in Ireland, into the British political and cultural establishment, with seats respectively in both British Houses of Parliament. Their dealings towards each other were characterized by a caution and often a distance that had its origins in early life and is symbolized by their different surnames: respectively, Petty and Fitzmaurice. For Thomas was no ordinary younger son: he was made the heir to many of the Fitzmaurice properties in Ireland which came to him in 1761 and 1780, whereas his brother, the 2nd Earl, acquired principally the Petty settled estates from his father. Shelburne's relations with his closest male family members were often awkward and strained and one might say that the multiple misunderstandings between the siblings nicely parallel the 2nd Earl's habitually awkward dealings with other members of the late eighteenth-century British political elite. Though Thomas in life had an equivalent share of disappointments and frustrations to Shelburne's, he was a pioneering gentleman industrialist and his career and character desperately need rescuing from the shadow of his elder brother's. This chapter is an initial attempt at recovery.
The seeds of fraternal disgruntlement were sown while William (the future 2nd Earl) (Figure 1) and Thomas (Figure 2) were boys being brought up in Ireland during the 1740s.
A new assessment of the life and political career of Lord Shelburne, prime minister 1782-83, and of the context in which he lived. Although Lord Shelburne was prime minister for only a short period, 1782-83 - but a key period in which peace with the newly-independent United States was concluded - he was an extremely interesting politician, a supporter of the crown, but also connected to continental philosophers and intellectuals. Lord Shelburne, Prime Minister in 1782-83, was a profoundly important politician, whose achievements included the negotiation of the peace with the newly-independent United States. This book constitutes a major and long overdue reappraisal of the politician considered by Disraeli to be the 'most neglected Prime Minister'. The book indicates, caters for, and leads the revival of interest in high politics, including its gendered aspects. It covers Shelburne's friends, his finances, and his politics, and places him carefully within both an international and a national context. For the first time his complicated but compelling family life, his satisfying relations with women, and his Irish ancestry are presented as essential factors for understanding his public impact overall. Shelburne was a politician, patron, and cultural leader whose relationship to many of the ideas, influences, and individuals of the European Enlightenment are also emphasised. The book is thoroughly up to date, written by leading authorities in the field, and predominantly based on unpublished primary research. Shelburne and his circle constituted one of the most important [and progressive] elements in British and European politics during the second half of the eighteenth century, and the book will appeal to all readers interested in the Enlightenment. NIGEL ASTON is Reader in Early Modern History in the School of Historical Studies at the University of Leicester; CLARISSA CAMPBELL ORR is Reader in Enlightenment, Gender and Court Studies at Anglia Ruskin University.
William Petty, 2nd Earl of Shelburne, created 1st Marquess of Lansdowne in 1784, is the least studied statesman of the reign of George III. The only modern monograph on him was written in 1963 by John Norris, and concentrated on Economical (i.e. administrative) Reform. This dearth is in part a tribute to the longevity of the three-volume biography written by Shelburne's descendant, the minor Liberal politician Lord Edmond Fitzmaurice (later created 1st Baron Fitzmaurice), based securely on the family archives. That there is such an abundance of archival sources makes the omission the more glaring. The William L. Clements Library at Ann Arbor bought a selection of papers when they were sold in the 1920s. Access to what remained at Bowood was, admittedly, for a while problematic despite the papers being xeroxed by the Bodleian Library. After the death of the 6th Marquess, there was a further sale to the British Library with a relatively small residue being left with the family at Bowood. The essays in this book are based squarely on these unpublished sources. They are a contribution toward his systematic reassessment, and reflect new perspectives on political life, gender, and the Enlightenment, that have developed since Norris's work was published. They are intended to provoke new debate and further research. Selected aspects of Shelburne's life and career receive fresh attention in this collection; other avenues for further exploration are also suggested in this introduction. There are several conceptual frames through which the life and career of Lord Shelburne can be examined. The most obvious is his role in high politics.