William Petty Fitzmaurice Shelburne, 2d earl of
Shelburne, William Petty Fitzmaurice, 2d earl of, 1737–1805, British statesman. He served briefly (1763) as president of the Board of Trade in George Grenville's cabinet but then became a supporter of William Pitt, later earl of Chatham. Appointed (1766) secretary of state in Chatham's cabinet, he adopted a policy of conciliation toward the North American colonies, but he was supported neither by his colleagues nor George III, and he resigned in 1768. In 1782 he became secretary of state again under Lord Rockingham and succeeded as head of the ministry on Rockingham's death. Shelburne concluded the Treaty of Paris in 1783, granting independence to the new United States, but he was driven from office (1783) by the coalition of Charles James Fox and Lord North. One of the most consistently liberal statesmen of his day, he was also one of the most consistently unpopular. He was created marquess of Lansdowne in 1784. The Junius letters have been attributed to him.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
See more Encyclopedia articles on: British and Irish History: Biographies