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John Poyntz Spencer, 5th Earl Spencer (1835-1910), Politician, Lord President of the Council and Lord Lieutenant of Ireland

Sitter in 37 portraits
A Whig politician who played a prominent role in Liberal politics for almost forty years. Elected MP in 1857, he came to the fore in 1867 during the Second Reform Act which, unlike many in his party, he supported. He was a member of successive Liberal governments, and a member of the cabinet in all except the first. Irish politics came to be a major preoccupation of his political career. As Lord Lieutenant (Viceroy) of Ireland, Spencer was given the difficult task of carrying out the provisions of the Irish Land Acts. In 1892 he was appointed First Lord of the Admiralty. His shipbuilding programme and steps to improve naval defences were of immense value when the First World War broke out.