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William Pulteney, 1st Earl of Bath (22 March 1684 – 7 July 1764) was an English politician, a Whig, created the first Earl of Bath in 1742 by King George II; he is sometimes stated to have been Prime Minister, for the shortest term ever (two days), though most modern sources reckon that he cannot be considered to have held the office.

On 10 February 1746, Pelham's administration resigned en masse, and the king turned to Bath to form an alternative ministry. He accepted the seals of office and made nominations to the most senior posts, but it quickly became clear that he did not have enough support to form a viable government, and after "48 hours, three quarters, seven minutes, and eleven seconds" he abandoned the attempt, forcing the king to accept Pelham's terms for resuming office. As the office of Prime Minister did not then officially exist, it is a matter of controversy whether Bath should be considered to have been Prime Minister by virtue of his two-day ministry.

Bath's failed attempt to form a government brought him much ridicule. Horace Walpole recorded the joke that "Granville and Bath were met going about the streets, calling 'Odd Man', as the hackney chairmen do when they want a partner",[2] and a contemporary pamphlet satirically praised him for "the most wise and honest of all administrations, the minister having ... never transacted one rash thing; and, what is more marvellous, left as much money in the Treasury as he found in it."

Details

  • Title: William Pulteney
  • Creator: Sir Joshua Reynolds, James MacArdell
  • Date Created: 1758
  • Physical Location: UK, London, Downing Street
  • Provenance: Presented to 10 Downing Street by Lord Rothschild, 1909
  • External Link: Government Art Collection
  • Medium: Mezzotint

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