William, the fifth duke of Manchester presided over the destinies of Jamaica longer than any other governor. With intervals, when he went home on leave, he occupied king’s house from 1808 to 1827. These nineteen years were times of great distress and anxiety . . . . . . . (requiring tact on certain topics – DMB) – especially those having reference to the amelioration of the free people of colour, and the preparation for the final emancipation of the slaves – such as the registration of slaves, the abolition of Sunday markets and the exemption of women from flogging – as urged by Canning on the part of the home government.
In 1815 Port Royal was almost destroyed by fire, while hurricanes and floods damaged many plantations. In 1820 the Duke was thrown from his carriage and his skull was fractured: he never fully recovered from the accident. He is said to have been, when young, one of the finest and handsomest men of his time.
In his youthful years he was principally distinguished as a first-rate waterman on the Thames. He was also Colonel of the Huntingdonshire militia, which had been previously commanded by his father.
His Grace was appointed Governor of Jamaica at the beginning of 1808, and sailed thither in the Guerrier frigate on the 23d of January.
Subsequently, in Aug. 1827 he was appointed Postmaster-General. He was Lord Lieutenant and Custos Rotulorum of Huntingdonshire for many years, but resigned, in consequence of his indifferent health, last year, when the Earl of Sandwich was appointed his successor.