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Later Stuart Portraits Catalogue

Charles Townshend, 2nd Viscount Townshend (1675-1738), Statesman and agriculturalist

Statesman; b. at Raynham, Norfolk; succeeded as 2nd Viscount Townshend 1687; King’s College, Cambridge, 1691; FRS 1706; ambassador to the Netherlands 1709-11, negotiating the Barrier Treaty of 1709 (modified in 1715); married 2) 1713 Dorothy Walpole (1686-1726, sister of Robert Walpole); secretary of state (north) 1714-16 and 1721-30; lord president of the council 1720-21; KG 1724; with his brother-in-law a leader of the Whig party 1720-30; retired from public life 1730, to devote himself to the improvement of agriculture (for which he became known as ‘Turnip’ Townshend).

‘slow in his parts, rough in his manner, impatient of contradiction’, wrote Lord Chesterfield, but also ‘humane, generous, and benevolent’.

‘a Gentleman of great Learning, attended with a sweet Disposition; … tall and handsome, about thirty Years old’ (J. Macky, Characters of the Court of Great Britain, 1733).

This extended catalogue entry is from the National Portrait Gallery collection catalogue: John Ingamells, National Portrait Gallery: Later Stuart Portraits 1685-1714, National Portrait Gallery, 2009, and is as published then. For the most up-to-date details on individual Collection works, we recommend reading the information provided in the Search the Collection results on this website in parallel with this text.