Sunderland, a town and parliamentary borough of Durham, England, at the mouth of the river Wear in the North sea, 12 m. N. E. of the city of Durham and 240 m. N. by W. of London; pop. of the town in 1871, 98,335. The Wear passes through the borough, and is crossed by an iron bridge, high enough for large sailing vessels to pass, which connects Monk Wearmouth with the S. side of the river. The harbor is formed by the mouth of the river, and is protected by piers. The docks on the S. side of the river have an independent entrance to the sea. Ship building amounts in seasons of ordinary prosperity to more than 70,000 tons. The entrances in 1873 were 8,091 British vessels, tonnage 1,705,925, and 1,257 foreign vessels, tonnage 268,511; clearances, 8,140 British vessels, tonnage 1,828,094, and 1,299 foreign vessels, tonnage 296,602. The value of exports was £1,615,190. The chief manufactures consist of earthenware and glass, and all kinds of articles required for fitting out vessels. Window glass and glass bottles are very largely manufactured.
Robert Spencer, second earl of, an English statesman, born in Paris about 1641, died at Althorp, Sept. 28, 1702. After serving as ambassador to Spain and France, he became in 1679 secretary of state. In 1681 he went out of office, but was recalled in 1682, and exercised a controlling influence during the remainder of the reign of Charles II. Under James II. he remained secretary, and was also made president of the council. In 1687 he became a Roman Catholic; but he carried on a secret intrigue with the prince of Orange, and in October, 1688, was dismissed by James. On the arrival of the prince of Orange, Sunderland went to Rotterdam, where he was thrown into prison, but was released by order of William. He then went to Amsterdam, turned Protestant again, and after residing about two years at Utrecht returned to England, although excepted in the act of indemnity. On April 19, 1697, William appointed him lord chamberlain and one of the lords justices; but on Dec. 25 he resigned.
Charles Spencer, third earl of, an English minister, son of the preceding, born in 1674, died April 19, 1722. Professing republican principles, he entered the house of commons in 1695 as member for Tiverton, and continued in the next three parliaments. In 1705 he was sent to Vienna as envoy extraordinary and plenipotentiary, and in 1707 became secretary of state, but was dismissed in 1710. He was generally regarded as the head of the whig party, and on the accession of George I. he was made lord lieutenant of Ireland, in 1715 lord privy seal, and in April, 1717, secretary of state. The house of commons implicated him in the criminal transactions of the South sea scheme; but he was acquitted by a vote of 233 to 172, though with loss of his office. He spent his remaining days in intrigues to effect the downfall of Walpole. By his marriage with the second daughter of the great duke he became progenitor of the present house of Marlborough, their son succeeding as second duke.