STANHOPE, Hon. William (1719-79), of Elvaston, Derbys.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1715-1754, ed. R. Sedgwick, 1970
Available from Boydell and Brewer



1741 - 1747
1747 - 8 Dec. 1756

Family and Education

b. 18 Dec. 1719, 1st s. of William Stanhope 1st Earl of Harrington. educ. ?Eton 1732. m. 11 Aug. 1746, Lady Caroline FitzRoy, da. of Charles, 2nd Duke of Grafton, 2s. 5da. styled Visct. Petersham 1742-56. suc. fa. as 2nd Earl 8 Dec. 1756.

Offices Held

Ensign 10 Ft. 1738; capt. 14 Ft. 1739; capt. and lt.-col. 3 Ft. Gds. 1741; col. 2 tp. Horse Grenadier Gds. 1745-d.; maj.-gen. 1755; lt.-gen. 1758; gen. 1770; customer, port of Dublin 1748-d.


Lord Petersham, a professional soldier, was present at Fontenoy, where he was ‘slightly wounded’ and ‘most commended’.1 Returned for Aylesbury in 1741 on the interest of Sir William Stanhope, he voted with the Administration in all three divisions on the Hanoverians but with the opposition minority on 15 Dec. 1743 for George Grenville’s compromise motion in favour of a stricter alliance with the Dutch.2 In 1747 he succeeded his brother-in-law, Lord Euston, at Coventry but elected to sit for Bury St. Edmunds, where he had also been returned by the Duke of Grafton, whose daughter he had married, though

neither he nor his father, Lord Harrington, have a single foot of land to make any settlement with. Lord Harrington’s elder brother, Mr. Charles Stanhope, who is unmarried, has a good estate but will not do anything upon this occasion to oblige his nephew, whose sole subsistence is his commission.3

Two years later Horace Walpole wrote that

Sir William Stanhope has just given a great ball to Lady Caroline Petersham, to whom he takes extremely since his daughter married herself to Mr. [Welbore] Ellis; and as the Petershams are relations, they propose to be his heirs.4

Because of his peculiar gait Lord Petersham was nicknamed ‘Peter Shambles’ and Walpole also refers to ‘his nose and legs twisted to every point of crossness’.5 In later life he took little part in politics and was known chiefly for his libertinism. He died 1 Apr. 1779.

Ref Volumes: 1715-1754

Author: R. S. Lea


  • 1. Walpole to Mann, 11 May 1745.
  • 2. Owen, Pelhams, 205.
  • 3. Malmesbury Letters, i. 39-40.
  • 4. Walpole to Mann, 7 June 1748.
  • 5. Walpole to Montagu, 23 June 1750.