Wills Hill Downshire - Encyclopedia




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WILLS HILL DOWNSHIRE, 1ST Marquess Of (1718-1793), son of Trevor Hill, 1st Viscount Hillsborough, was born at Fairford in Gloucestershire on the 30th of May 1718. He became an English member of parliament in 1741, and an Irish viscount on his father's death in the following year, thus sitting in both the English and Irish parliaments. In 1751 he was created earl of Hillsborough in the Irish peerage; in 1754 he was made comptroller of the royal household and an English privy councillor; and in 1756 he became a peer of Great Britain as baron of Harwich. For nearly two years he was president of the board of trade and plantations under George Grenville, and after a brief period of retirement he filled the same position, and then that of joint postmaster-general, under the earl of Chatham. From 1768 to 1772 Hillsborough was secretary of state for the colonies and also president of the board of trade, becoming an English earl on his retirement; in 1779 he was made secretary of state for the northern department, and he was created marquess of Downshire seven years after his final retirement in 1782. Both in and out of office he opposed all concessions to the American colonists, but he favoured the project for a union between England and Ireland. Reversing an earlier opinion Horace Walpole says Downshire was "a pompous composition of ignorance and want of judgment." He died on the 7th of October 1793 and was succeeded by his son Arthur (1753-1801), from whom the present marquess is descended.

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