Spencer Compton, 2nd Marquess of Northampton
A painting of the Marquess of Northampton made by Henry Raeburn in 1821.
|Born||2 January 1790|
|Died||17 January 1851(aged 61)|
|Resting place||Castle Ashby|
|Title||Marquess of Northampton|
|Tenure||1771 - 1841|
Spencer Joshua Alwyne Compton, 2nd Marquess of Northampton PRS FGS (2 January 1790 – 17 January 1851), known as Lord Compton from 1796 to 1812 and as Earl Compton from 1812 to 1828, was a British nobleman and patron of science and the arts.
The second son of the 9th Earl of Northampton (later the First Marquess), Compton studied at Trinity College, Cambridge, receiving an M.A. in 1810. In 1812, following the assassination of his cousin, the prime minister Spencer Perceval, Compton, by now Earl Compton as heir to the Marquessate, took his seat for Northampton in the House of Commons. 
In the Commons, Compton established a reputation as something of a maverick. Despite his family's strong Tory credentials, he often voted against the Tory government of the day. This led to his losing his seat in the general election of 1820.
After 1820 Compton took up residence in Italy, where his house became a centre of attraction, and exercised his influence in favour of many of the unfortunate victims of despotic authority both in Lombardy and in Naples. He returned to England in 1830, and became a prominent figure in political and cultural life. He supported the Reform Bill in the House of Lords, but became more engaged in promoting the arts and sciences.
In 1820–22 he was president of the Geological Society of London. He served as president of the Archaeological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland (1845–46 and 1850–51), and in 1838 became president of the Royal Society, an office he held for ten years. He took a particular interest in geology, especially in fossils, although he was not himself a scientist, but more of an interested amateur. The dinosaur species Regnosaurus northamptoni was named after him. He resigned in 1848, due to his opposition to the Society's increasing professionalization. Compton was elected a Foreign Honorary Member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1846. He held the position of President of the Royal Society of Literature from 1849 until his death.
On 24 July 1815 Compton married Margaret Maclean-Clephane, who was herself a poet admired by Sir Walter Scott and William Wordsworth, although her poetry was not published. The marriage was a happy one, producing six children. The couple lived in Italy for ten years from 1820 to 1830. Compton succeeded his father as Marquess of Northampton in 1828. Following Lady Northampton's death in the latter year, Northampton returned to England. Among their children were:
- Charles Compton, 3rd Marquess of Northampton (1816–1877)
- Lady Marianne Margaret Compton (1817–1888), later Lady Marian Alford
- Admiral William Compton, 4th Marquess of Northampton (1818–1897)
- Lord Alwyne Compton (1825–1906), successively Dean of Worcester and Bishop of Ely
- Lady Margaret Compton, married Frederick Leveson-Gower
This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Boase, George Clement (1887). "Compton, Spencer Joshua Alwyne". In Stephen, Leslie. Dictionary of National Biography. 11. London: Smith, Elder & Co. pp. 451–452.
- "Archival material relating to Spencer Compton, 2nd Marquess of Northampton". UK National Archives.
- Spencer Joshua Alwyne Compton, 2nd Marquess of Northampton (thePeerage.com)
- Hansard 1803–2005: contributions in Parliament by Spencer Compton
|Parliament of the United Kingdom|
William Hanbury Bateman
|Member of Parliament for Northampton
1812 – 1820
With: William Hanbury Bateman 1812–1818
Sir Edward Kerrison 1818–1820
Sir George Robinson
William Leader Maberly
|Peerage of the United Kingdom|
|Marquess of Northampton