He was educated at Eton College and Street John"s College, Cambridge.
About 1777, he served as a volunteer in North America. A lieutenant in the 7th Regiment of Foot, on 20 January 1778, he was promoted to a captaincy in the 15th Regiment of Foot. On his father"s death on 12 August 1778, he succeeded as 4th Duke of Ancaster and Kesteven, 4th Marquess of Lindsey, 7th Earl of Lindsey, 20th Baron Willoughby de Eresby and Hereditary Lord Great Chamberlain.
He was the last to hold the Lord Great Chamberlainship as an undivided office.
On 12 February 1779 he was invested as Privy Counsellor and was Lord Lieutenant of Lincolnshire. He was buried on 22 July 1779 in Edenham.
An illegitimate daughter of the 4th duke, Susan, was married to Banastre Tarleton. But there were no children.