Spencer, George John, 2nd Earl Spencer (1758 -1834)
George John Spencer was the only son of John Spencer, 1st Earl Spencer, and Margaret Georgiana, elder daughter of the Rt Hon Stephen Poyntz of Midgham in Berkshire. On the elevation of his father to an Earldom in 1765, he was known as Viscount Althorp. He was educated at Harrow, and at Trinity College, Cambridge, where he was admitted as a nobleman 13 February 1776, and graduated M.A. in 1778. He then travelled on the Continent with a tutor for two years, and on his return entered Parliament as Member for Northampton in 1780, and in 1782 was returned as Member for Surrey. He married Lavinia, daughter of Charles Bingham, Earl of Lucan in 1781. He succeeded his father in 1783, and was in succession a Commissioner of the Treasury Board, Lord Privy Seal, First Lord of the Admiralty, and in 1806 Secretary of State for the Home Department. A Fellow of the Royal Society, of the Society of Antiquaries, and President of the Roxburghe Club, he was made a Knight of the Garter 1 March 1799. He added greatly to the fine library made at Althorp by his great grandfather, Charles, 3rd Earl of Sutherland. In particular he was an enthusiastic collector of early printing, and editions of the classics. There were two anonymous auction sales of books from his library, the first at the Great Room, opposite Trinity Chapel, Conduit Street on 22 March 1790, the catalogue is called A catalogue of a valuable collection of books, the property of a nobleman, etc., the second at Leigh and Sotheby's 20 December 1798, the catalogue A catalogue of the duplicates of a nobleman's library. A third sale of duplicates of the Library of the Earl Spencer took place on 26 May 1800, also at Leigh & Sotheby. With some minor exclusions, the Althorp Park Library was bought by Mrs Rylands in 1892 and removed to Manchester to form the core of the library which she set up as a memorial to her husband, Alderman Rylands. The John Rylands Library now forms part of the library of Manchester University.