He studied at the University of Edinburgh and matriculated at Leiden University in 1742. He settled a pension on his friend Mark Akenside, the poet and physician, and later defended Akenside's The Pleasures of the Imagination against William Warburton[why?]. He was a friend of Samuel Richardson.
He purchased the clerkship of House of Commons in 1748, and became a Tory after George III's accession. He discontinued the practice of selling the clerkships subordinate to his office. He was Member of Parliament for Yarmouth, Isle of Wight 1762–8, for Weymouth and Melcombe Regis, 1768–74, and for Horsham, 1774. He was appointed a commissioner for the Board of Trade, 1764–8; a Lord of the Treasury, 1768–74; and a Privy Counsellor in 1774.
He supported Lord North's treatment of the American colonies. Isaac Barré nicknamed him "Mungo" (the black slave in Isaac Bickerstaffe's The Padlock), for his noted attention to parliamentary business.
| Cofferer of the Household
|Parliament of Great Britain|
The Lord Holmes
| Member of Parliament for Yarmouth (Isle of Wight)
With: The Lord Holmes 1762–1764
John Eames 1765–1768
| Member of Parliament for Weymouth and Melcombe Regis
With: John Tucker
The Lord Waltham
Sir Charles Davers, Bt
William Chaffin Grove
| Member of Parliament for Horsham
With: James Wallace
The Earl of Drogheda
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