Grafton was Whig MP for Boroughbridge 1756 and Bury St Edmunds 1756-57 and first entered government in 1765 as Secretary of State for the Northern Department in Lord Rockingham’s first ministry, later serving as First Lord of the Treasury under the Earl of Chatham. Chatham’s illness in late 1767 resulted in Grafton becoming the government’s effective leader. When Chatham resigned, Grafton became Prime Minister at the age of only 33. His government was not a success. The cabinet largely inherited from the previous ministry lacked a common purpose and had been held together by the force of Chatham’s personality. Grafton was distracted by the activities of John Wilkes, pilloried in the press in the Letters of Junius and his attempts at conciliation with the American colonies overruled by the cabinet. Hit by a series of resignations the government fell apart and Grafton resigned after less than two years. He returned to office as Lord Privy Seal 1771-75 and again in 1782 after which he retired from public life.