Past Prime Ministers

William Petty, 2nd Earl of Shelburne

Whig 1782 to 1783

“The sun of Great Britain will set whenever she acknowledges the independence of America – the independence of America would end in the ruin of England.”

William Petty, 2nd Earl of Shelburne


2 May 1737, Dublin, Ireland


7 May 1805, London

Dates in office

1782 to 1783

Political party


Interesting facts

In power at the time of the treaty of Paris which ended the American Revolutionary War/American War of Independence.


The Earl of Shelburne was unfairly branded ‘the Jesuit of Berkeley Square’ on account of his reputation as a dissembler. His reformist inclinations, political independence and vituperative speeches certainly made him a difficult colleague, with more appeal to posterity than to his contemporary politicians.

Read more about William Petty, 2nd Earl of Shelburne on the History of government blog.