William Stanhope, 1st Earl of Harrington
|The Right Honourable
The Earl of Harrington
William Stanhope, 1st Earl of Harrington (Godfrey Kneller, 1646–1723)
|Lord Lieutenant of Ireland|
15 November 1746 – 15 December 1750
|Preceded by||The Earl of Chesterfield|
|Succeeded by||The Duke of Dorset|
|Lord President of the Council|
13 February 1742 – 3 January 1745
|Prime Minister||The Earl of Wilmington
|Preceded by||The Earl of Wilmington|
|Succeeded by||The Duke of Dorset|
8 December 1756|
|Spouse(s)||Anne Griffith (daughter of Colonel Edward Griffith and Elizabeth Lawrence)|
|Occupation||Peer, British statesman and diplomat.|
He was a younger son of John Stanhope of Elvaston, Derbyshire, and a brother of Charles Stanhope (1673–1760), an active politician during the reign of George I. His ancestor, Sir John Stanhope (d. 1638), was a half-brother of Philip Stanhope, 1st Earl of Chesterfield. Educated at Eton, William Stanhope entered the army and served in Spain during the War of the Spanish Succession as Lieutenant and captain in the 2nd Foot Guards (1703), captain and lieutenant-colonel in the 3rd Foot Guards (1710), colonel of the Regiment of Foot (1711–12), Regiment of Dragoons (1715–18) and the 13th Dragoons (1725–30), Major-General (1735), Lieutenant-General (1739) and General (1747). 
He afterwards turned his attention to more peaceful pursuits, went on a mission to Madrid and represented his country at Turin. When peace was made between Britain and Spain in 1720 Stanhope became British ambassador to the latter country, and he retained this position until March 1727, having built up his reputation as a diplomatist during a difficult period. He was appointed Vice-Chamberlain of the Household in 1727–30 and a Privy Councillor on 31 May 1727. In 1729 he had some part in arranging the Treaty of Seville between Britain, France and Spain, and for his services in this matter he was created Baron Harrington in January 1730.
Later in the same year he was appointed Secretary of State for the Northern Department under Sir Robert Walpole, replacing Lord Townshend, but, like George II, he was anxious to assist the emperor Charles VI in his war with France, while Walpole favoured a policy of peace. Although the latter had his way Harrington remained secretary until the great minister's fall in 1742, when he was transferred to the office of Lord President of the Council and was created Earl of Harrington of (Harrington, Northamptonshire) and Viscount Petersham of (Surrey).
In 1744, owing to the influence of his political allies, the Pelhams, he returned to his former post of Secretary of State, but he soon lost the favour of the king, and this was the principal cause why he left office in October 1746. He was Lord Lieutenant of Ireland from 1747 to 1751, and he died in London on 8 December 1756.
He had married Anne, the daughter and heiress of Colonel Edward Griffith, and had twin sons:
- William Stanhope, 2nd Earl of Harrington (1719–1779)
- Capt. Hon. Thomas Stanhope (18 December 1719 – 12 January 1743), aide-de-camp to General George Wade
Styles of address
- 1683–1727: Mr William Stanhope
- 1727–1730: The Right Honourable William Stanhope
- 1730–1741: The Right Honourable The Lord Harrington PC
- 1741–1742: The Right Honourable The Lord Harrington PC FRS
- 1742–1756: The Right Honourable The Earl of Harrington PC FRS
This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: "Stanhope, William". Dictionary of National Biography. London: Smith, Elder & Co. 1885–1900.
This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Harrington, Earls of". Encyclopædia Britannica. 13 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 18.