Silver From the the service of George John, 2nd Earl Spencer
The Spencers were one of the wealthiest families in England, the Hon. John Spencer (1708-1783) having inherited not only the estates of his father, the eminent statesman the 3rd Earl of Sunderland, but also a considerable fortune from his maternal grandmother, Sarah, Duchess of Marlborough. George John Spencer, Viscount Althorp and later 2nd Earl Spencer, K.G. (1758-1834) was educated at Cambridge and, following a Grand Tour, he was returned as Member of Parliament for Northampton and later, in 1782, for Surrey. He was affiliated to the Whig party by birth and also by the marriage of his sisters respectively to the Duke of Devonshire and the Earl of Bessborough, and during the short Rockingham ministry he was one of the junior Lords of the Treasury. He married Lavinia Bingham on 6 March, 1781. At the time she was described as 'the most beautiful girl in fashionable life.' Her mother, Margaret, Countess of Lucan, was a well regarded painter of fashionable miniatures who counted Horace Walpole among her admirers. The couple, leading figures in London society, were painted by Sir Joshua Reynolds.
George John succeeded his father as Earl Spencer in 1783. After the French Revolution and the declaration of war between England and France he joined with Edmund Burke and supported the policy of Pitt. In 1794 he was nominated a Privy Councillor, Lord Keeper of the Privy Seal, and then First Lord of the Admiralty for six years from 1794. It was under his direction that the battles of St. Vincent and Camperdown were fought and won, and he was largely responsible for Nelson being singled out for independent command and sent to the Mediterranean where he won the battle of the Nile. With the resignation of Pitt in February 1801 Spencer left office. He was later Home Secretary during Fox's administration but increasingly devoted himself to literary and scientific pursuits at Althorp, his home in Northamptonshire. Lavinia died on 8 June, 1831 and Spencer in 1834.