He was the son of the 1st Earl of Rochester and Lady Henrietta, daughter of the 1st Earl of Burlington. His education started at Eton where he studied from 1683 to 1687 and entered Oxford University in 1700. From 1687 to 1690 saw him travel abroad to Italy, Germany and Holland. He was Tory MP for Launceston November 15, 1692—May 2, 1711 and High Steward of the University of Oxford from 1711. He was appointed to the Privy Council of Great Britain in 1710.
He succeeded his father as 2nd Earl of Rochester on 2 May 1711 and his cousin as 4th Earl of Clarendon on 31 March 1723. His death came six months after that of his only surviving son, resulting in the extinction of both earldoms.