Barrington, William Wildman, second Viscount Barrington 1717-1793, was the eldest son of John Shute, first Viscount Barrington [qv.], by his wife Anne, the daughter and co-heiress of Sir William Daines, and was born 15 Jan. 1717. After receiving the rudiments of education under Mr. Graham, father of Sir Robert Graham, one of the barons of the court of exchequer, he proceeded at eighteen years of age to Geneva, and, after a short residence there, made the grand tour. He arrived in England on his return, 21 Feb. 1738; and two years afterwards, 13 March 1740, was unanimously elected M.P. for Berwick-upon-Tweed, the constituency which had twice returned his father to the House of Commons. Barrington's politics were opposed to those of Sir Robert Walpole, whose political power terminated with the first session of the new parliament in 1741. In 1745 Barrington brought forward a plan for forming and training a national militia, of which the parish was to be the basis and unit; and in the autumn of the same year visited Dublin in order to take his seat in the Irish House of Lords. His father had never taken his seat as a peer of Ireland. He was appointed one of the lords commissioners of the admiralty 22 Feb. 1746, and on 14 Dec. following acted as a member of the committee of twelve appointed to manage the impeachment of Simon, Lord Lovat, for high treason, which ended in Lovat's conviction and execution. In the year 1747 he wrote a vindication of the conduct of the admiralty board, of which he still continued a member; and his paper on Quarantine, written in 1751, when a bill for introducing a general system of quarantine was before parliament, became an important object of attention (Bishop Barrington's Political Life, &c., 1814, pp. 12 and 13). In 1754 he was appointed master of the great wardrobe, and in the same year was returned to parliament as member for Plymouth. He was sworn a member of the privy council 11 March 1755, and was again returned for Plymouth to the House of Commons after his acceptance of office as secretary at war on 21 Nov. following. On 21 March 1761 he was appointed chancellor of the exchequer, in succession to Mr. Legge, and continued to hold this office until his acceptance of the treasurership of the navy, 8 May 1762, in the place of George Grenville, then appointed secretary of state. This office Barrington held, not without being the object of jealousy and intrigue, until 19 July 1765, when he kissed hands on reassuming, at the king's express wish, the post of secretary at war. In that office he continued until 16 Dec. 1778, when, in consideration of his long public and personal services, a pension of 2,000l. was granted him. The civil list was temporarily relieved of this pension, however, by the appointment of Barrington to be joint postmaster-general 9 Jan. 1782, an office from which he was removed in April following in order to serve a friend of Lord Rockingham's administration. The pension was renewed and continued at the direct instance of the king, and Barrington enjoyed it until his death, which took place at Becket 1 Feb. 1793. A monument in the chancel of Shrivenham church, Berkshire, where he was buried, was erected to his memory by his three surviving brothers, to whom he was the best of fathers and of friends (Nichols, Literary Anecdotes, &c., vol. vi. part i. pp. 643-4). Sir John Dalrymple accused him of crippling and starving the British army, and disgracing the flag of his country by sending out under it the untrained mercenaries of the continent. Barrington married, 16 Sept. 1740, Mary, daughter and heiress to Henry Lovell, Esq., and widow of Samuel Grimston, Esq., eldest son of William, Viscount Grimston, who died 24 Sept. 1764, leaving no surviving issue. A eulogistic life of Lord Barrington was written by his brother, Shute Barrington [qv.], and was published in 1814.
The Peerage of Ireland, 1768, ii. 88
Archdall's Lodge's Peerage of Ireland, 1789, v. 205-6
Bishop Barrington's Political Life of William Wildman, Viscount Barrington, 1814
Journal of the [Irish] House of Lords, 1779-86, iii. 588, &c
Gent. Mag. February 1793, and passim
Nichols's Literary Anecdotes, vol. vi. pp. 450-1 and 643-4
Sir John Dalrymple's Three Letters to Lord Barrington, 1778, and second edition, with a fourth letter, 1779.
Contributor: A. H. G. [Arthur Henry Grant]