Death of Spencer Compton, 1st Earl of Wilmington, Prime Minister 1742-43

Born in Compton Wynyates in Warwickshire the son of the 3rd Earl of Northampton. His family were high Tories but a row with his brother led Wilmington to side with the Whigs. Elected unopposed for the Suffolk division of Eye in June 1698, he began a partnership and rivalry with Robert Walpole which lasted for 40 years. Following a series of junior posts, Wilmington was elected Speaker (1715-27). As a favourite of the Prince of Wales, Wilmington was a threat to Walpole who worked to keep Wilmington at the margins of his administration until 1725 when he was appointed Lord Privy Seal. On his accession to the throne, George II sought to promote Wilmington but Walpole bribed the king with a generous allowance and at a meeting of the three men Wilmington was forced to admit that he wasn’t up to the task of running the government. The following year Walpole removed him as a potential rival in the Commons with an elevation to the House of Lords. Wilmington continued in government as Lord President of the Council, formulating plots to overthrow Walpole and threatening resignation. When Walpole finally fell from power in 1742, Wilmington succeeded him but was too old and infirm to be an effective leader.