North, Frederick North, 8th Baron, 1732–92, British statesman, best known as Lord North. He entered Parliament in 1754 and became a junior lord of the treasury (1759), privy councilor (1766), and chancellor of the exchequer (1767). In 1770, North, who had proved himself an able parliamentarian, was appointed prime minister; the support of George III kept him in that office for 12 years. North was a capable administrator, who introduced financial reforms and began reform of the East India Company with the Regulating Act of 1772. However, he is chiefly remembered for his incompetent colonial policies. His stern response to the Boston Tea Party (see Intolerable Acts) helped unite the American colonists against England. After the outbreak of the American Revolution, North offered to resign, but since no acceptable replacement could be found, he remained in office until after news of the British surrender at Yorktown. In 1783 he formed a coalition with his former opponent, the Whig Charles James Fox, but George III secured its collapse by the defeat of Fox's East India bill. For the remainder of his career North supported the opposition against William Pitt, but he was forced to retire from active political life when his sight failed. He succeeded his father to the earldom of Guilford two years before his death.
See biography by A. C. Valentine (2 vol., 1967); C. R. Ritcheson, British Politics and the American Revolution (1954); C. D. Smith, The Early Career of Lord North the Prime Minister, 1754–1770 (1979).
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.