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Lord William Bentinck: Precursor of the Risorgimento

Elizabeth Wiskemann writes that Bentinck’s achievements as British Minister in Sicily, and inspirer of Italian resistance to Napoleon in the years 1811-1814, suggest interesting parallels with recent conflicts.

The third duke of Portland was a Whig who attached himself, after the outbreak of the French Revolution, to the younger Pitt. As Home Secretary from 1794 to 1801, his performance was benevolent rather than distinguished; in 1807, in his old age, he became Prime Minister for a short time. It was in 1766 that he had married Lady Dorothy Cavendish, only daughter of the fourth Duke of Devonshire; their second son was born on September 14, 1774. Thus Lord William Charles Cavendish-Bentinck was barely seventeen when in 1791 he was appointed an ensign in the Coldstream Guards. In 1794 he was promoted Lieutenant-Colonel in the 24th Light Dragoons and served in the Netherlands campaign on the Duke of York’s staff. Two years later he was elected M.P., first for Camel-ford and then for Nottinghamshire, which, in theory at least, he represented in the House of Commons until 1803.

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