Birth of Charles Townshend, Whig statesman and agricultural pioneer

Charles Townshend succeeded his father as 2nd Viscount Townshend in 1687. Initially a Tory, he soon adhered to the Whigs and gained office with the fall of the Tories following the accession of King George I. Townshend served as Secretary of State under Robert Walpole for 10 years and the two men formed an effective partnership which was central to the early success of the government. This political alliance became a personal one when Townshend married Walpole’s sister Dorothy. Differences arose over foreign policy in particular Britain’s relations with Austria which led to Townshend’s resignation in May 1730. This led to a second career in agriculture which earned him the nickname of ‘Turnip Townshend’ by which he is often remembered. His work saw him pioneer a number of important and lasting farming reforms.