ITV’s Victoria: How did Lord Melbourne die in real life?

Rufus Sewell's former prime minister has started to look a little unwell...

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If you’ve been watching the new series of Victoria, you’ll probably have noticed that the queen’s beloved Lord Melbourne is looking a little peaky.

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Now, it’s no secret that Lord M, played in the ITV drama by Rufus Sewell, retired from public life in his final years, leaving London and politics for his home, Brocket Hall in Hertfordshire. But while dizzy spells and weakness would not necessarily be a cause for concern in the modern age, for the former Prime Minister the symptoms were somewhat more sinister.

Below are some details of the ex-politician’s final years – but a word of warning first. If you don’t want any spoilers, avoid reading beyond this rather lovely picture of the man in question…

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When did Lord Melbourne die?

After leaving parliament in August 1841, Melbourne retreated from public life and suffered a stroke 14 months after his exit from politics.

Weakened, he led a reclusive existence in the following years although continued to exchange letters with Victoria. He passed away on 24th November 1848, nine years after the queen had begun her reign.

How did Lord Melbourne die?

Lord Melbourne is reported to have died from the effects of his stroke. A clip from episode three (below) sees the former statesman trembling and the ITV drama also alludes to “weakness on his left side”, both of which would suggest the aftermath of such a condition.

An article in the Liverpool Albion, announcing his death, reports: “the noble deceased had been attacked about three weeks or a month since by what was considered a bilious complaint” but that a London doctor went on to inform family members of “his fears that his lordship’s illness would prove fatal”. Melbourne died at his beloved Brockett Hall surrounded by family members including his sister, Lady Palmerston.

Was he survived by any family?

Lord Melbourne’s wife (who famously ran off with the poet, Lord Byron) had passed away in 1828, shortly followed by the couple’s only son, George Augustus Frederick. Their daughter, who was born premature, had also predeceased Melbourne, so on his death his titles passed on to his brother, Frederick.

Did Lord Melbourne really attend the queen’s costume ball in aid of Spitalfields’ silk industry?

Episode three of the ITV drama sees Rufus Sewell’s beleaguered statesman attend the party dressed as the poet Dante. However, it is not clear whether Melbourne was actually on the guest list for Victoria’s lavish do. It’s worth bearing in mind that the ball itself was held in 1842 – six years before his real-life death.

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Victoria continues on Sundays at 9pm on ITV