Encyclopedia > Charles Watson-Wentworth, 2nd Marquess of Rockingham

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Charles Watson-Wentworth, 2nd Marquess of Rockingham

Charles Watson-Wentworth, 2nd Marquess of Rockingham (May 13, 1730 -July 1, 1782), was an English politician, member of the Whig party, and twice Prime Minister of Great Britain.

A descendant of Thomas Wentworth, Charles was brought up at the family home of Wentworth Woodhouse near Rotherham in South Yorkshire. He was educated at Eton College and Cambridge University.

He took his seat in the House of Lords in 1751, following a brief period of military service, and in 1765 was appointed as Prime Minister. During his term of office, he repealed the Stamp Act, and so reduced the tax burden on the colonies. However, internal dissent within the cabinet led to his replacement by the Tory William Pitt the Elder.

Watson-Wentworth spent the next sixteen years in opposition. He was a keen supporter of constitutional rights for colonists, and backed the claim for American independence. In 1782 he was appointed PM for a second time, and on taking office, acknowledged the independence of the United States, initiating an end to British involvement in the American Revolutionary War. He died fourteen weeks later.

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