John Spencer, 1st Earl Spencer

John Spencer, 1st Earl Spencer (19 December 1734 – 31 October 1783) was a British peer and politician.

The Earl Spencer
The Earl Spencer, by Thomas Gainsborough
Personal details
John Spencer

(1734-12-19)19 December 1734
Althorp, Northamptonshire, England
Died31 October 1783(1783-10-31) (aged 48)
Bath, Somerset, England
Resting placeGreat Brington, Northamptonshire, England
Political partyWhig
Spouse(s)Georgiana Poyntz (m. 1755–1783; his death)

Early lifeEdit

Spencer was born in 1734, at his family home, Althorp. He was the son of Hon. John Spencer and his wife, the former Georgiana Caroline Carteret (1716–1780), and a grandson of the 3rd Earl of Sunderland.

Political careerEdit

Spencer was MP (Whig) for Warwick from 1756 to 1761. He was also High Steward of St Albans in 1772 and Mayor of St Albans in 1779. On 3 April 1761, he was created Baron Spencer of Althorp and Viscount Spencer by George III, and on 1 November 1765, he was created Viscount Althorp and Earl Spencer.[1]


In 1754, the twenty-year-old Spencer met seventeen-year-old Georgiana Poyntz, who was the daughter of Stephen Poyntz.[2][3] The two were instantly attracted to one another, but Spencer was uncertain if he would have his family's approval for the match and opted to spend several months travelling until his twenty-first birthday, when their approval would no longer be necessary. On his return they recognised their love had persisted, and shortly after his birthday they married in a secret ceremony on 20 December 1755 at Althorp, the Spencer family seat in Northamptonshire.[4][5] The ceremony, held in an upper bedroom, occurred during a ball held in Spencer's honour with five hundred guests in attendance.[6][5] They had five children, three of whom survived infancy:

Spencer died in 1783, aged 48 in Bath, and was buried in the family vault at St Mary's Church, Great Brington, Northamptonshire.

Coat of armsEdit

Coat of arms of John Spencer, 1st Earl Spencer
A Coronet of an Earl
Out of a Ducal Coronet Or a Griffin's Head Azure gorged with a Bar Gemelle Gules between two Wings expanded of the second
Quarterly Argent and Gules in the 2nd and 3rd quarters a Fret Or over all on a Bend Sable three Escallops of the first
Dexter: A Griffin per fess Ermine and Erminois gorged with a Collar Sable the edges flory-counterflory and chained of the last and on the Collar three Escallops Argent; Sinister: A Wyvern Erect on his tail Ermine similarly collared and chained
Dieu Defend Le Droit (God defend the right)


  • Spencer, Charles (1999). Althorp: The Story of an English House. London: Viking. ISBN 978-0-312-20833-2.
  • Battiscombe, Georgina (1984). The Spencers of Althorp. London: Constable. ISBN 978-0-09-465700-7.


  1. ^ Burke, John (1833). A General and Heraldic Dictionary of the Peerage and Baronetage of the British Empire. London: H. Colburn and R. Bentley. p. 466.
  2. ^ Foreman 2008, p. 7.
  3. ^ Gleeson 2008, p. 7.
  4. ^ Andrew 2004.
  5. ^ a b Gleeson 2008, p. 8.
  6. ^ Milward 2004.
Parliament of Great Britain
Preceded by
Henry Archer
Wills Hill
Member of Parliament for Warwick
With: Henry Archer
Succeeded by
Henry Archer
Viscount Dungarvan
Peerage of Great Britain
New creation Earl Spencer,
Viscount Althorp

Succeeded by
George Spencer
New creation Viscount Spencer,
Baron Spencer of Althorp