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Viscount Melbourne
William Lamb
Portrait of William Lamb, 2nd Viscount Melbourne, in his early years in Parliament, circa 1810

Full Name

William Lamb

Born

March 15, 1779, London, England, Great Britain

Died

November 1, 1817, London, England, Great Britain

Member of Parliament

1806-1817

Party

Whig Party

Titles

2nd Viscount Melbourne

Spouse

Lady Caroline Lamb

Children

2

Parents

Penniston Lamb, Elizabeth Milbanke

William Lamb, 2nd Viscount Melbourne (March 15, 1779- November 1, 1817) was a British politican killed during the October Revolution of 1817. A member of the Whig Party, Lamb was elected to Parliament in 1806, favoring a negotiated end to the Second Seven Years War (1802-1809). He was a key member of the Grenville and Dunham governments, known as kind, honest, and a moderator between Whigs and Tories. Despite this moderation, Lamb was an initial supporter of the Wellesley government and its crackdown regime, seeing the suspension of civil liberties as a necessary for keeping domestic peace.

On October 24, 1817, Prime Minister Arthur Wellesley (later changed to Arthur Wellington) led a revolution against the British monarchy. George IV was killed, his successor William IV fled Britain, and Wellesley declared himself Chancellor of the new Commonwealth of Great Britain. Lamb, always the moderator, attempted to negotiate a peace with Wellesley the day after. He pleaded with the new Chancellor to change course, and work to put the country back together. After several hours of discussion and arguing, Lamb left thinking he had talked Wellesley into calling off the army and mobs.

Later that night, William Lamb was arrest (most of Parliament was arrested within a 24 hour period after the revolution) and held captive by the revolutionary regime. He was executed by firing squad a week later on November 1st as an enemy of the regime and the proletariat; he was 38. Although he had a relatively short career in politics, William Lamb has become a martyr of the movement to restore the British monarchy. His execution has been used as an example of Wellesley's bloodthirstiness and his lack of care for human life. After his death, Lamb was honored by the governments of multiple countries.