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Spencer, William Robert

SPENCER, WILLIAM ROBERT (1760-1834), English poet and wit, was the son of Lord Charles Spencer, second son of Charles Spencer, 3rd duke of Marlborough and 5th earl of Sunderland. He was educated at Harrow and Christ Church, Oxford, but left the university without taking a degree. Spencer's wit made him a popular member of society, but he took no part in public life although he numbered among his friends leading statesmen like Pitt, Fox and Sheridan. He was an accomplished writer of " occasional " verse, which was warmly praised by Scott, by Christopher North and by Byron, who placed him in the same rank as Moore, Rogers and Campbell. In 1796 he published an English version of Burger's Leonore, and in 1802 he burlesqued German romance in his Urania, which was produced on the stage at Drury Lane. Among his best-known pieces, which were published in a collection of his poems in 1811, were " Beth Gelert " and " Too Late I Stayed." He died in poverty in Paris in 1834. In 1791 he married Susan, daughter of Count Jenison-Walworth, chamberlain to the elector palatine, by whom he had five sons and two daughters. One son, AUBREY GEORGE SPENCER (1795-1872), became first bishop of Newfoundland in 1839, being afterwards translated to the See of Jamaica. Another son, GEORGE TREVOR SPENCER (1799-1866), was in 1837 consecrated second bishop of Madras. He published several books relating to missionary work in India; on his return to England in 1849 ne was appointed assistant to the bishop of Bath and Wells, and in 1860 became chancellor of St Paul's Cathedral. He married, in 1823, Harriet, daughter of Sir Benjamin Hobhouse and sister of Lord Broughton.

See W. R. Spencer, Poems (London, 1835), containing a biographical memoir; The Annual Register (1834); Alumni Oxonienses 1715-1886, annotated by J. Foster (4 vols., Oxford, 1891).

Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)

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