University of Cambridge > Talks.cam > Violence and Conflict Graduate Workshop, Faculty of History > Earl Temple at the Admiralty: Naval Administration and Politics under the Pitt-Devonshire Ministry, 1756-7

Earl Temple at the Admiralty: Naval Administration and Politics under the Pitt-Devonshire Ministry, 1756-7

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This paper examines naval administration under William Pitt the Elder’s abortive first ministry in the opening months of the Seven Years’ War. Pitt’s brother-in-law and financial benefactor, the Earl Temple, held the position of first lord of the Admiralty from mid November 1756 until early April 1757, when his dismissal by George II precipitated the fall of the ministry. Commonly regarded as one of the least distinguished holders of the office, Temple’s term at the Admiralty was marked by frequent conflict with the king, tension with the professional officers of the navy, bungled attempts to meddle in naval patronage and mockery from the press opponents of the new ministry. This paper reassesses Temple’s tenure, examining the political circumstances of his rise and his conduct in office. Drawing on state papers, private manuscripts and press accounts of the ministry, the paper argues that the case of Temple is emblematic of the recurrent tension throughout the eighteenth century between career naval officers and political appointees at the Admiralty, and offers some broader observations on the political culture of the mid-Hanoverian British navy.

This talk is part of the Violence and Conflict Graduate Workshop, Faculty of History series.

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