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The Right Honourable Lord Viscount Melbourne
, 1839

by Charles Turner (engraver) after Sir George Hayter

mezzotint (plate-mark: 55.5 cm x 41.0 cm, image: 40.5 cm x 31.7 cm)

William Lamb, second Viscount Melbourne (1779–1848), statesman, was Prime Minister of Britain in 1834 and from 1835 to 1841. Eton and Cambridge-educated, Lamb entered parliament in 1806 as a Whig member of the House of Commons. He married Caroline Ponsonby,

a poet, in 1805, although the marriage was unhappy, Lady Caroline’s various affairs – including one with Lord Byron – being common knowledge. The marriage ended in 1825. In 1827, Lamb was appointed Chief Secretary for Ireland; the following year, on the death

of his father, he inherited the title Viscount Melbourne and took up his seat in the House of Lords. Home Secretary under Lord Grey from 1830, he became Prime Minister when Grey resigned in July 1834 and was re-elected the following year. Melbourne became an important mentor and adviser to Queen Victoria on her coming to the throne in 1837 despite the scandal of his failed marriage and other indiscretions. Melbourne resigned as Prime Minister in 1841. In March 1837, almost two years after its establishment by Tasmanian pastoralists, the Port Phillip Bay settlement was officially named Melbourne, in honour of the then Prime Minister, by the Governor of New South Wales, Richard Bourke.

Collection: National Portrait Gallery
Purchased 2013
Accession number: 2013.85