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By R. Eccleshall

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Devonshire was an aristocrat of the old school. Portraits show him as imperious, smug and steelyeyed. His primary duty was to the House of Hanover which had done so much to forward the power of the Cavendish family. He believed in the superiority of aristocratic government over the threatened anarchy surrounding the activities of populist figures, like Admiral Vernon or William Pitt. His character and career demonstrated ‘a natural balance of judgement, prudence, patriotism, and above all a sense of service without self-seeking’ (Brown and Schweizer 1982:1).

1957) The Rise of the Pelhams, London: Methuen. Dickson (eds) Statesman, Scholars and Merchants, Oxford: Oxford University Press. Sayer MSS (East Sussex Record Office (RO), Lewes), SAY 393, Pelham to John Collier, 1 April 1738. Sedgwick, R. (1970) The History of Parliament: The House of Commons 1715–1754, London: HMSO. Wilkes, J. (1964) A Whig in Power, New York: Northwestern University Press. Andrew Hanham Thomas Pelham-Holles, Duke of Newcastle Born 21 July 1693, eldest son of Thomas, first Lord Pelham, and his second wife, Lady Grace, sister of John Holles, Duke of Newcastle.

Backbenchers received encouraging signs of the direction of his peacetime policy in 1749 when he lowered the burden of direct taxation on the landed classes by reducing the land tax from four shillings in the pound to three, reducing it again to two shillings in 1752, though it still proved necessary to make compensatory increases in indirect taxes. Pelham left the haphazard structure of revenue collection as he found it. Although an administrative shake-up might well have enabled him to introduce further economies, the furore in 1733 over Walpole’s excise scheme had made it compellingly obvious that any major reform entailing an increase of government officialdom ran high political risks both within parliament and in the public domain at large.

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