Spencer, Charles, 3rd Earl of Sunderland (1674 -1722)
Charles Spencer, 3rd Earl of Sunderland was the second, but only surviving, son of Robert, 2nd Earl of Sunderland, and Anne, youngest daughter of George Digby, Earl of Bristol. When his father fled to Holland in 1688, Charles went with him, and remained some time at Utrecht with his tutor to study the customs and laws of the Dutch. He was back at Althorp by 1691, and two years later was already a book collector. On coming of age in 1695 he was elected Member of Parliament for Tiverton. In 1702 his father died and he took his seat in the Upper House, was one of the Commissioners for the Union with Scotland, and Envoy Extraordinary to the Court of Vienna on the accession of Josef I. On 3 September 1706 he became Secretary of State for the Southern Department, and appointed Joseph Addison one of his under secretaries. Young and rash, he sometimes embarrassed his whig colleagues. His dismissal by the Queen in 1710, brought on a sharp disagreement between the Queen and the Whigs, and at the subsequent general election, the Tories were returned with a large majority. At the accession of George I, he was made Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, but never crossed the Irish Sea, and in 1715 exchanged the post for that of Lord Privy Seal with a seat in the cabinet. On 15 April 1717 Sunderland was made Secretary of State for the Northern Department, on 16 March 1718, he was made Lord President of the Council, and four days later First Lord of the Treasury. His proposal that the South Sea Company should take over the National Debt was responsible for the financial crash known as the South Sea Bubble, and with its collapse in 1721 his government fell. He did not enrich himself from the speculation, but was discredited and never after held office, though as Groom of the Stole and Gentleman of the Bedchamber he continued to have influence over George I. Sunderland married, on 12 January 1695, Arabella Cavendish, daughter and coheir of Henry, 2nd Duke of Newcastle. She died 4 June 1698, leaving an only daughter. He married again, 14 September 1699, Anne, 2nd daughter of John Churchill, Duke of Marlborough, and by her had three sons and two daughters. She died on 29 April 1716 aged only 28, and he married a third time, 5 December 1717, Judith, daughter and coheir of Benjamin Tichborne. His second son by his second wife, Charles, 5th Earl of Sunderland, inherited the Dukedom of Marlborough. The library at Althorp was divided in 1749, one portion going to Blenheim, and the other remaining at Althorp, which descended through the younger branch of the family, among the descendants of the third son, John Spencer, whose son was created Earl Spencer in 1765. The library at Blenheim was increased by Charles, 3rd Duke of Marlborough, a catalogue printed in 1872, and the collection dispersed at auction in 1881 83. The larger part of the Althorp Library passed to the John Rylands Library in Manchester on its foundation.