Biography of NEWCASTLE, duke of - Archontology
NEWCASTLE, duke of

Thomas Pelham-Holles

b. 21 Jul 1693, London
d. 17 Nov 1768, London

Ministerial offices: Lord Chamberlain (14 Apr 1717 - 14 Apr 1724)
Secretary of State, Southern Department (14 Apr 1724 - 11 Feb 1746, 14 Feb 1746 - 6 Feb 1748)
Secretary of State, Northern Department (6 Feb 1748 - Mar 1754)
Leader of the House of Lords (Feb 1748 - Nov 1756, Jul 1757 - 26 May 1762)
First Lord Commissioner of the Treasury (16 Mar 1754 - 16 Nov 1756, 29 Jun 1757 - 26 May 1762)
Lord Privy Seal (25 Aug 1765 - 30 Jul 1766)
Names/titles: Original name: Thomas Pelham [the name of Holles added in 1711 as required by the will of his uncle John Holles, whose estates he inherited]; Baron Pelham of Laughton [from 23 Feb 1712]; Viscount Haughton of Haughton, Earl of Clare [from 19 Oct 1714]; Marquess of Clare, Duke of Newcastle upon Tyne [from 11 Aug 1715]; Duke of Newcastle under Lyme [from 13/17 Nov 1756]; Baron Pelham of Stanmer [from 4 May 1762]

The elder brother of Henry Pelham, Thomas Pelham studied Classics at Clare Hall, Cambridge, but did not graduate. He became the Duke of Newcastle in 1715 and spent his entire parliamentary career in the Lords, having taken his seat shortly after becoming 21. He was an influential election broker, controlling many constituencies, and his connection by marriage to the Marlboroughs further enhanced his influence. He was part of Robert Walpole's inner group from 1722 and his power grew as Walpole's declined following the death of Queen Caroline in 1737. He championed Britain's entry into the war of the Austrian succession in 1741 despite Walpole's opposition.

Newcastle took over as chief minister on Henry Pelham's death in 1754. His first term was dominated by foreign affairs, including the beginning of a long military conflict around the world with France in the Seven Years' War (1756-1763). Early reverses, such as Braddock's defeat at the Monongahela and the loss of Minorca, led to his resignation in 1756. He returned to office the following year, having secured the support of William Pitt 'the Elder', who became Secretary of State for the Southern Department. Newcastle's influence declined from 1760 with the accession of George III, and Pitt's resignation a year later. His final year as head of government saw parliamentary battles over the financing of the war in Europe. Following his resignation as First Lord of the Treasury on 26 May 1762, his influence declined as his allies deserted him or were purged from the Government, although he joined Marquess of Rockingham's Government in 1765 as Lord Privy Seal. Biography source: [1, pp. 16-21]

[1] Englefield, Dermot; Seaton, Janet; White, Isobel (eds.) Facts About the British Prime Ministers: A Compilation of Biographical and Historical Information. New York: The H.W. Wilson Company, 1995. online
Image: Duke of Newcastle, detail of a portrait by William Hoare, c. 1752.