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George Canning

George Canning (1770-1827) was a politician and, briefly, British Prime Minister.

He was educated at Eton College and Christ Church College, Oxford, at the expense of his banker uncle, Canning's own father having died when he was a baby. He became an MP in 1794, and was a supporter of William Pitt the Younger. In 1807 he was appointed foreign secretary in the Duke of Portland's government, at a time which was crucial to the country's fortunes because of the ongoing Napoleonic Wars. He was known as an abolitionist, a supporter of Catholic emancipation, and a great public speaker. In 1809, Canning got into a duel with the Colonial Secretary, Lord Castlereagh, and both were forced to leave the Cabinet. Although he was offered his old position of Foreign Secretary in 1812, he demanded to also be Leader of the Commons, which was refused him.

In 1816 Canning finally returned to the Cabinet as President of the Board of Control, but in 1820 Canning resigned from government again in support of Queen Caroline, with whom he had almost certainly had a short affair some years before. However, his fortunes turned once more and he returned to office as foreign secretary following Castlereagh's suicide, and he succeeded Lord Liverpool as prime minister in 1827, to the disgust of the more conservative Tories, led by the Duke of Wellington, who refused to join his cabinet, which thus had to include various Whigs. Canning's success was short-lived; he himself died a few months later. He was buried in Westminster Abbey.

George Canning's Government, April - September 1827


  • May, 1827 - Lord Carlisle, the First Commissioner of Woods and Forests[?], enters the Cabinet.
  • July, 1827 - The Duke of Portland becomes a minister without portfolio. Lord Carlisle succeeds him as Lord Privy Seal. W.S. Bourne succeeds Carlisle as First Commissioner of Woods and Forests. Lord Lansdowne succeeds Bourne as Home Secretary. George Tierney, the Master of the Mint[?], enters the cabinet.

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