Robert Peel

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Robert Peel
Sir Robert Peel, 2nd Bt by Henry William Pickersgill-detail.jpg
Prime Minister of the United Kingdom
In office
30 August 1841 29 June 1846
Spouse
(m. 1820)
Children7, including Robert, Frederick, William and Arthur
Parent
Education Harrow School
Alma mater
Signature Robert Peel Signature.svg
Military service
Years of service1820
Rank Lieutenant
Unit Staffordshire Yeomanry

Sir Robert Peel, 2nd Baronet, FRS (5 February 1788 – 2 July 1850), was a British Conservative statesman who twice was Prime Minister of the United Kingdom (1834–1835, 1841–1846), and simultaneously was Chancellor of the Exchequer (1834–1835). He previously was Home Secretary twice (1822–1827, 1828–1830). He is regarded as the father of modern British policing, owing to his founding of the Metropolitan Police Service while he was Home Secretary. Peel was one of the founders of the modern Conservative Party.

Contents

The son of a wealthy textile manufacturer and politician, Peel was the first prime minister from an industrial business background. He earned a double first in classics and mathematics from Christ Church, Oxford. He entered the House of Commons in 1809 and became a rising star in the Tory Party. Peel entered the Cabinet as home secretary (1822–1827), where he reformed and liberalised the criminal law and created the modern police force, leading to a new type of officer known in tribute to him as " bobbies " and "peelers". After a brief period out of office he returned as home secretary under his political mentor the Duke of Wellington (1828–1830), also serving as Leader of the House of Commons. Initially, a supporter of continued legal discrimination against Catholics, Peel reversed himself and supported the Roman Catholic Relief Act 1829 and the 1828 repeal of the Test Act, claiming that "though emancipation was a great danger, civil strife was a greater danger". [1]

After being in opposition from 1830 to 1834, he became prime minister in November 1834. Peel issued the Tamworth Manifesto (December 1834), laying down the principles upon which the modern British Conservative Party is based. His first ministry was a minority government, dependent on Whig support and with Peel serving as his own chancellor of the Exchequer. After only four months, his government collapsed and he was Leader of the Opposition during Melbourne's second government (1835–1841). Peel became prime minister again after the 1841 general election. His second government ruled for five years. He cut tariffs to stimulate trade, replacing the lost revenue with a 3% income tax. He played a central role in making free trade a reality and set up a modern banking system. His government's major legislation included the Mines and Collieries Act 1842, the Income Tax Act 1842, the Factories Act 1844 and the Railway Regulation Act 1844. Peel's government was weakened by anti-Catholic sentiment following the controversial increase in the Maynooth Grant of 1845. After the outbreak of the Great Irish Famine, his decision to join with Whigs and Radicals to repeal the Corn Laws led to his resignation as prime minister in 1846. Peel remained an influential MP and leader of the Peelite faction until his death in 1850.

Peel often started from a traditional Tory position in opposition to a measure, then reversed his stance and became the leader in supporting liberal legislation. This happened with the Test Act, Catholic emancipation, the Reform Act, income tax and, most notably, the repeal of the Corn Laws. Historian A. J. P. Taylor wrote: "Peel was in the first rank of 19th-century statesmen. He carried Catholic Emancipation; he repealed the Corn Laws; he created the modern Conservative Party on the ruins of the old Toryism." [2]

Early life

Peel was born at Chamber Hall, Bury, Lancashire, to the industrialist and parliamentarian Sir Robert Peel, 1st Baronet, and his wife Ellen Yates. His father was one of the richest textile manufacturers of the early Industrial Revolution. [3] The family moved from Lancashire to Drayton Manor near Tamworth, Staffordshire; the manor house has since been demolished, and the site occupied by Drayton Manor Theme Park. [4]

Peel received his early education from a clergyman tutor in Bury and at a clergyman's local school in Tamworth. [1] He may also have attended Bury Grammar School or Hipperholme Grammar School, though evidence for either is anecdotal rather than textual. [5] He started at Harrow School in February 1800. [6]

At Harrow, he was a contemporary of Lord Byron, who recalled of Peel that "we were on good terms" and that "I was always in scrapes, and he never". [7] On Harrow's Speech Day in 1804, Peel and Byron acted part of Virgil's Aeneid , Peel playing Turnus and Byron playing Latinus. [1] [8]

Christ Church, Oxford, which Peel attended 1805-1808, graduating with a double first. He was later MP for the university, 1817-1829. Tom quad Tom tower by Pavel Kliuiev.jpg
Christ Church, Oxford, which Peel attended 1805–1808, graduating with a double first. He was later MP for the university, 1817–1829.

In 1805, Peel matriculated at Christ Church, Oxford. [9] His tutor was Charles Lloyd, later Regius Professor of Divinity, [10] on Peel's recommendation appointed bishop of Oxford. [11] In 1808 Peel became the first Oxford student to take a double first in Classics and Mathematics. [12]

Peel was a law student at Lincoln's Inn in 1809. [13] He also held military commissions as a captain in the Manchester Regiment of Militia in 1808, [14] and later as lieutenant in the Staffordshire Yeomanry Cavalry in 1820. [15]

Early political career: 1809–1822

Member of Parliament

Peel entered politics in 1809 at the age of 21, as MP for the Irish rotten borough of Cashel, Tipperary. [16] With a scant 24 electors on the rolls, he was elected unopposed. His sponsor for the election (besides his father) was the chief secretary for Ireland, Sir Arthur Wellesley, the future Duke of Wellington, with whom Peel's political career would be entwined for the next 25 years. Peel made his maiden speech at the start of the 1810 session, when he was chosen by prime minister Spencer Perceval to second the reply to the king's speech. [17] His speech was a sensation, famously described by the Speaker, Charles Abbot, as "the best first speech since that of William Pitt". [18]

Peel changed constituency twice, becoming one of the two Members for Chippenham in 1812, and then one of those for Oxford University in 1817. [19]

Junior minister

In 1810, Peel was appointed an Under-Secretary of State for War and the Colonies; his secretary of state was Lord Liverpool. When Lord Liverpool formed a government in 1812, Peel was appointed chief secretary for Ireland. [1] The Peace Preservation Act of 1814 authorised the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland to appoint additional magistrates in a county in a state of disturbance, who were authorised to appoint paid special constables (later called "peelers" [20] ). Peel thus laid the basis for the Royal Irish Constabulary. [21]

Peel was firmly opposed to Catholic emancipation, believing that Catholics could not be admitted to Parliament as they refused to swear the Oath of Allegiance to the Crown. [22] In May 1817, Peel delivered the closing speech in opposition to Henry Grattan's Catholic emancipation bill; the bill was defeated by 245 votes to 221. [23] Peel resigned as chief secretary and left Ireland in August 1818. [1]

In 1819, the House of Commons appointed a Select Committee, the Bullion Committee, charged with stabilising British finances after the end of the Napoleonic Wars, and Peel was chosen as its chairman. [24] Peel's Bill planned to return British currency to the gold standard, reversing the Bank Restriction Act 1797, within four years (it was actually accomplished by 1821). [25]

Home Secretary: 1822–1830

Senior minister

The Duke of Wellington, prime minister 1828-1830, with Peel The Duke of Wellington and Sir Robert Peel 1844.jpg
The Duke of Wellington, prime minister 1828–1830, with Peel

Peel was considered one of the rising stars of the Tory party, first entering the cabinet in 1822 as home secretary. [26] As home secretary, he introduced a large number of important reforms to British criminal law. [27]

Reforms and policies

In one of his policies, he reduced the number of crimes punishable by death, and simplified the law by repealing a large number of criminal statutes and consolidating their provisions into what are known as Peel's Acts. He reformed the gaol system, introducing payment for gaolers and education for the inmates in the Gaols Act 1823. [28]

In 1827 the prime minister Lord Liverpool became incapacitated and was replaced by George Canning. Peel resigned as home secretary. [29] Canning favoured Catholic emancipation, while Peel had been one of its most outspoken opponents (earning the nickname "Orange Peel", with Orange the colour of the Protestant Orange Order). [30] George Canning himself died less than four months later and, after the brief premiership of Lord Goderich, Peel returned to the post of home secretary under the premiership of his long-time ally the Duke of Wellington. [31] During this time he was widely perceived as the number-two in the Tory Party, after Wellington himself. [32]

The Test and Corporation Acts required many officials to be communicants in the Anglican Church and penalised both nonconformists and Catholics. They were no longer enforced but were a matter of humiliation. Peel at first opposed the repeal, but reversed himself and led the repeal on behalf of the government, after consultation with Anglican Church leaders. [33] The Sacramental Test Act 1828 passed into law in May 1828. In future religious issues he made it a point to consult with church leaders from the major denominations. [34]

The 1828 Clare by-election returned the Catholic Irish nationalist leader Daniel O'Connell. By autumn 1828, the Chief Secretary for Ireland was alarmed by the extent of civil disorder and the prospect of a rebellion [35] if O'Connell were barred from Parliament. Wellington and Peel now conceded the necessity of Catholic emancipation, Peel writing to Wellington that "though emancipation was a great danger, civil strife was a greater danger". [1]

Peel drew up the Catholic Relief bill. He felt compelled to stand for re-election to his seat in Oxford, as he was representing the graduates of Oxford University (many of whom were Anglican clergymen), and had previously stood on a platform of opposition to Catholic Emancipation. [36] Peel lost his seat in a by-election in February 1829 to Ultra-Tory Robert Inglis, but soon found another by moving to a rotten borough, Westbury, retaining his Cabinet position. [37] He stood for Tamworth in the general election of 1830, representing Tamworth until his death.

Peel guided the Catholic Relief (Emancipation) bill through the House of Commons, Wellington through the House of Lords. With many Ultra-Tories vehemently opposed to emancipation, the bill could pass only with Whig support. [38]

Wellington threatened to resign if King George IV did not give Royal assent; [39] the King finally relented. The Roman Catholic Relief Act 1829 passed into law in April 1829. Peel's U-turn cost him the trust of many Tories: [40] according to Norman Gash, Peel had been "the idolized champion of the Protestant party; that party now regarded him as an outcast". [41] [42]

This satirical 1829 cartoon by William Heath depicted the Duke of Wellington and Peel in the roles of the body-snatchers Burke and Hare suffocating Mrs Docherty for sale to Dr. Knox; representing the extinguishing by Wellington and Peel of the 141-year-old Constitution of 1688 by Catholic Emancipation. Burking Poor Old Mrs Constitution. Wellcome L0019663.jpg
This satirical 1829 cartoon by William Heath depicted the Duke of Wellington and Peel in the roles of the body-snatchers Burke and Hare suffocating Mrs Docherty for sale to Dr. Knox; representing the extinguishing by Wellington and Peel of the 141-year-old Constitution of 1688 by Catholic Emancipation.

Founding the Metropolitan Police

It was in 1829 that Peel established the Metropolitan Police Force for London based at Scotland Yard. [43] The 1,000 constables employed were affectionately nicknamed 'bobbies' or, somewhat less affectionately, 'peelers'. Although unpopular at first, they proved very successful in cutting crime in London, [44] and, by 1857, all cities in Britain were obliged to form their own police forces. [45] Known as the father of modern policing, Peel is thought to have contributed to the Metropolitan Police's first set of "Instructions to Police Officers", emphasising the importance of its civilian nature and policing by consent. However, what are now commonly known as the Peelian Principles were not written by him but were instead produced by Charles Reith in his 1948 book, A Short History of the British Police, as a nine-point summary of the 1829 "Instructions". [46]

Opposition: 1830–1834

The middle and working classes in England at that time, however, were clamouring for reform, and Catholic Emancipation was only one of the ideas in the air. [47] The Tory ministry refused to bend on other issues and were swept out of office in 1830 in favour of the Whigs. [48] The following few years were extremely turbulent, but eventually enough reforms were passed that King William IV felt confident enough to invite the Tories to form a ministry again in succession to those of Lord Grey and Lord Melbourne in December 1834. [49] Peel was selected as prime minister but was in Italy at the time, so Wellington acted as a caretaker for three weeks until Peel's return. [50]

Prime Minister: 1834–1835

Appointment

Following the resignation of former prime minister Charles Grey, because an issue regarding Ireland's conciliatory reform and at the invitation of King William IV, Peel became prime minister in early December 1834. Peel formed his own government, though it was a Tory government that was a minority government and depended on Whig goodwill for its continued existence. Parliament was dissolved in late December 1834 and a general election was called. Voting took place in January and February 1835, and Peel's supporters gained around 100 seats, but this was not enough to give them a majority. [51]

Tamworth Manifesto

As his statement of policy at the general election of January 1835, Peel issued the Tamworth Manifesto. [52] This document was the basis on which the modern Conservative Party was founded. In it, Peel pledged that the Conservatives would endorse modest reform such as reforms concerning economic and financial affairs, free trade and factory workers' rights. [53]

The Whigs formed a compact with Daniel O'Connell's Irish Radical members to repeatedly defeat the government on various bills. [54] Eventually, after only about 100 days in government, Peel's ministry resigned out of frustration and the Whigs under Lord Melbourne returned to power. [55] The only real achievement of Peel's first administration was a commission to review the governance of the Church of England. This ecclesiastical commission was the forerunner of the Church Commissioners. [56]

Confidence vote and resignation

Despite the January 1835 general election, from which Peel attempted consolidate his party's majority in Parliament, the Conservatives still remained a minority. This made Peel's position in the Commons precarious from the start. [57]

The immediate cause of Peel's downfall was a debate over the Church of Ireland. On 7 April 1835, Whig MP Ralph Bernal brought forward a report critical of Peel's administration of the Church of Ireland's revenues and proposed reforms. The report was passed in the House of Commons by a vote of 285 to 258, signifying a lack of confidence in Peel's government. This defeat underscored the government's inability to secure enough support to govern effectively. [58] [59]

This loss led to Peel's resignation the following day, on 8 April 1835. The passing of the vote of no confidence highlighted the conditions in British politics at the time in a parliamentary system. After Peel's resignation, King William IV invited Lord Melbourne to form a new government, allowing the Whigs to return to power. [58]

Leader of the Opposition: 1835–1841

Peel's party was bolstered by the adherence of a number of dissident Whigs associated with the Derby Dilly. These self-described 'moderate Whigs' were lead by former cabinet ministers Edward Smith-Stanley, 14th Earl of Derby, and Sir James Graham, 2nd Baronet.

In May 1839, Peel was offered another chance to form a government, this time by the new monarch, Queen Victoria. [60] However, this too would have been a minority government, and Peel felt he needed a further sign of confidence from his Queen. Lord Melbourne had been Victoria's confidant since her accession in 1837, and many of the higher posts in Victoria's household were held by the wives and female relatives of Whigs; [61] there was some feeling that Victoria had allowed herself to be too closely associated with the Whig party. Peel, therefore, asked that some of this entourage be dismissed and replaced with their Conservative counterparts, provoking the so-called Bedchamber Crisis. [62] Victoria refused to change her household, and despite pleadings from the Duke of Wellington, relied on assurances of support from Whig leaders. Peel refused to form a government, and the Whigs returned to power. [63]

Prime Minister: 1841–1846

Economic reforms

Peel finally had a chance to head a majority government following the election of July 1841. [64] Peel came to office during an economic recession which had seen a slump in world trade and a budget deficit of £7.5 million run up by the Whigs. Confidence in banks and businesses was low, and a trade deficit existed.

To raise revenue Peel's 1842 budget saw the re-introduction of the income tax, [65] removed previously at the end of the Napoleonic Wars. The rate was 7d in the pound, or just under 3 per cent. The money raised was more than expected and allowed for the removal and reduction of over 1,200 tariffs on imports including the controversial sugar duties. [66] It was also in the 1842 budget that the repeal of the corn laws was first proposed. [67] It was defeated in a Commons vote by a margin of 4:1.

The economic historian Charles Read has analysed Peel's economic policies as:

(i) Fixing the value of British currency to a gold standard, with the paper pound currency freely convertible to gold.

(ii) A limited banknote supply based on a fixed relationship to the gold reserve.

(iii) Free movement of bullion flows from 1819 and lower import tariffs on food and raw materials from 1842 (often loosely referred to as free trade).

(iv) Control of interest rates and a balanced budget in order to reduce the national debt. [68]

Domestic policy

Health

A Board of Supervision was established, and two measures passed, under which county asylums were erected and prompt medical treatment was ensured. In addition, it was provided "that a certificate of insanity, signed by two disinterested doctors, had to be presented before any person was confined to an asylum." According to one study, "the whole treatment of lunacy was humanised and lifted out of the atmosphere of profits into that of curative effort and civic responsibility." [69]

Factory Act

Peel's promise of modest reform was held to, and the second most famous bill of this ministry, while "reforming" in 21st-century eyes, was in fact aimed at the reformers themselves, with their constituency among the new industrial rich. The Factory Act 1844 acted more against these industrialists than it did against the traditional stronghold of the Conservatives, the landed gentry, by restricting the number of hours that children and women could work in a factory and setting rudimentary safety standards for machinery. [70] This was a continuation of his own father's work as an MP, as the elder Robert Peel was most noted for the reform of working conditions during the first part of the 19th century. Helping him was Lord Shaftesbury, a British MP who also established the coal mines act.

Assassination attempt

In 1843 Peel was the target of a failed assassination attempt; a criminally insane Scottish woodturner named Daniel M'Naghten stalked him for several days before, on 20 January, killing Peel's personal secretary Edward Drummond thinking he was Peel, [71] which led to the formation of the controversial criminal defence of insanity. [72]

Corn Laws

The 1815 Corn Laws, first introduced by the Tory government of Lord Liverpool, the then-prime minister. This law was made to amend the laws for regulating the importation of corn. This act was still in effect by the time Peel became prime minister himself in 1841. 1815 Corn Law, An Act to amend the Laws now in force for regulating the Importation of Corn.jpg
The 1815 Corn Laws, first introduced by the Tory government of Lord Liverpool, the then–prime minister. This law was made to amend the laws for regulating the importation of corn. This act was still in effect by the time Peel became prime minister himself in 1841.

The most notable act of Peel's second ministry, however, was the one that would bring it down. [73] Peel moved against the landholders by repealing the Corn Laws, which supported agricultural revenues by restricting grain imports. [74] This radical break with Conservative protectionism was triggered by the Great Irish Famine (1845–1849). [75] Tory agriculturalists were sceptical of the extent of the problem, [76] and Peel reacted slowly to the famine, famously stating in October 1846 (already in opposition): "There is such a tendency to exaggeration and inaccuracy in Irish reports that delay in acting on them is always desirable". [77]

His own party failed to support the bill, but it passed with Whig and Radical support. On the third reading of Peel's Bill of Repeal (Importation Act 1846) on 15 May, MPs voted 327 votes to 229 (a majority of 98) to repeal the Corn Laws. On 25 June the Duke of Wellington persuaded the House of Lords to pass it. On that same night Peel's Irish Coercion Bill was defeated in the Commons by 292 to 219 by "a combination of Whigs, Radicals, and Tory protectionists". [78] Following this, on 29 June 1846, Peel resigned as prime minister. [79]

Famine in Ireland

Though he knew repealing the laws would mean the end of his ministry, Peel decided to do so. [80] It is possible that Peel merely used the Irish Famine as an excuse to repeal the Corn Laws as he had been an intellectual convert to free trade since the 1820s. Blake points out that if Peel had been convinced that total repeal was necessary to stave off the famine, he would have enacted a bill that brought about immediate temporary repeal, not permanent repeal over a three-year period of gradual tapering-off of duties. [81] Peel's support for free trade could already be seen in his 1842 and 1845 budgets; [82] in late 1842 Graham wrote to Peel that "the next change in the Corn Laws must be to an open trade" while arguing that the government should not tackle the issue. [83] Speaking to the cabinet in 1844, Peel argued that the choice was the maintenance of the 1842 Corn Law or total repeal. [84] The historian Boyd Hilton argued that Peel knew from 1844 he was going to be deposed as the Conservative leader. Many of his MPs had taken to voting against him, and the rupture within the party between liberals and paternalists, which had been so damaging in the 1820s but masked by the issue of parliamentary reform in the 1830s, was brought to the surface over the Corn Laws. Hilton's hypothesis is that Peel wished to be deposed on a liberal issue so that he might later lead a Peelite/Whig/Liberal alliance. Peel was magnanimous towards Irish famine and permitted quick settlements of disputes at frontiers in India and America ( Treaty of Amritsar (1846) on 16 March 1846 and Oregon Treaty on 15 June 1846) in order to repeal Corn Laws on 29 June 1846. [85] [86] As an aside in reference to the repeal of the Corn Laws, Peel managed to keep minimum casualties of Irish Famine in its first year, Peel did make some moves to subsidise the purchase of food for the Irish, but this attempt was small and had little tangible effect. In the age of laissez-faire, [87] government taxes were small, and subsidies or direct economic interference was almost nonexistent. That subsidies were actually given was very much out of character for the political times; his successor, Lord John Russell, received more criticism than Peel on Irish policy, the worst year being 1847, despite all of Peel's efforts, his reform programmes had little effect on the situation in Ireland. [88] Russell could not manage public distribution system during Irish Famine even though subsidized food from USA was made available in Ireland. The repeal of the Corn Laws became more political than humanitarian. [89]

Later career and death

Peel did, however, retain a hard core of supporters, known as Peelites, [90] and at one point in 1849 was actively courted by the Whig/Radical coalition. He continued to stand on his conservative principles, however, and refused. Nevertheless, he was influential on several important issues, including the furtherance of British free trade with the repeal of the Navigation Acts. [91] Peel was a member of the committee which controlled the House of Commons Library, and on 16 April 1850 was responsible for passing the motion that controlled its scope and collection policy for the rest of the century.

St Peter Church, Drayton Bassett, where Sir Robert Peel is buried in the churchyard St. Peter's Church, Drayton Bassett - geograph.org.uk - 967399.jpg
St Peter Church, Drayton Bassett, where Sir Robert Peel is buried in the churchyard

Peel was thrown from his horse while riding on Constitution Hill in London on 29 June 1850. The horse stumbled on top of him, and he died three days later on 2 July at the age of 62 due to a broken collarbone rupturing his subclavian vessels. [92]

His body was buried in the churchyard of St Peter Church, Drayton Bassett. Inside the church is a memorial tablet which reads "In Memory of / The Rt Hon Sir Robert Peel, Bart. / to whome the People / have raised Monuments /in many places. / His Children / erect this in the place / where his body / has been buried".

His Peelite followers, led by Lord Aberdeen and William Gladstone, went on to fuse with the Whigs as the Liberal Party. [93]

Family

Thomas Lawrence's Portrait of Julia, Lady Peel (1827), now in the Frick Collection Julia, Lady Peel - Lawrence 1827.jpg
Thomas Lawrence's Portrait of Julia, Lady Peel (1827), now in the Frick Collection

Peel became engaged to Julia Floyd (1795–1859) (daughter of General Sir John Floyd, 1st Baronet, and his first wife Rebecca Darke) in March 1820; they married on 8 June 1820. [95] They had seven children: [96]

Lady Peel died in 1859. Some of their direct descendants now reside in South Africa, the Australian states of New South Wales, Queensland, Victoria and Tasmania, and in various parts of the United States and Canada.

Legacy

Portrait of Robert Peel by Thomas Lawrence Thomas Lawrence - Sir Robert Peel, Bart - 1957-15-2 - Auckland Art Gallery.jpg
Portrait of Robert Peel by Thomas Lawrence

Memory and recognition

In his lifetime many critics called him a traitor to the Tory cause, or as "a Liberal wolf in sheep's clothing", because his final position reflected liberal ideas. [97] Others idealised Peel in heroic terms; Thomas Carlyle referred to him as a "reforming Hercules" in Latter-Day Pamphlets (1850). [98]

The latter would become the consensus view of scholars for much of the 20th century. Historian Boyd Hilton wrote that he was portrayed as:

The great Conservative patriot: a pragmatic gradualist, as superb in his grasp of fundamental issues as he was adroit in handling administrative detail, intelligent enough to see through abstract theories, a conciliator who put nation before party and established consensus politics. [99]

Biographer Norman Gash wrote that Peel "looked first, not to party, but to the state; not to programmes, but to national expediency". [100] Gash added that among his personal qualities were, "administrative skill, capacity for work, personal integrity, high standards, a sense of duty [and] an outstanding intellect". [101]

Gash emphasised the role of personality in Peel's political career:

Peel was endowed with great intelligence and integrity, and an immense capacity for hard work. A proud, stubborn, and quick-tempered man he had a passion for creative achievement; and the latter part of his life was dominated by his deep concern for the social condition of the country. Though his great debating and administrative talents secured him an outstanding position in Parliament, his abnormal sensitivity and coldness of manner debarred him from popularity among his political followers, except for the small circle of his intimate friends. As an administrator he was one of the greatest public servants in British history; in politics he was a principal architect of the modern conservative tradition. By insisting on changes unpalatable to many of his party, he helped to preserve the flexibility of the parliamentary system and the survival of aristocratic influence. The repeal of the Corn Laws in 1846 won him immense prestige in the country, and his death in 1850 caused a national demonstration of sorrow unprecedented since the death of William Pitt in 1806. [102]

Peel was the first British Prime Minister to have been photographed while in office. [103] Peel is featured on the cover of The Beatles' Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band album.

A 2021 study in The Economic Journal found that the repeal of the corn laws adversely affected the welfare of the top 10% of income earners in Britain, whereas the bottom 90% of income earners gained. [104]

Memorials

Statues

Statues of Sir Robert Peel are found in the following British and Australian locations:

Public houses and hotels

The following public houses, bars or hotels are named after Peel: [106]

United Kingdom

Sir Robert Peel pub, Leicester Sir Robert Peel pub Leicester.jpg
Sir Robert Peel pub, Leicester
  • Sir Robert Peel pub Bury, behind his statue Former Wetherspoon.
  • Sir Robert Peel public house, Tamworth. [107]
  • Peel Hotel, Tamworth. [108]
  • Sir Robert Peel public house, Edgeley, Stockport, Cheshire.
  • Sir Robert Peel public house, Heckmondwike, West Yorkshire.
  • Sir Robert Peel public house, [109] Leicester.
  • Sir Robert Peel public house, Malden Road, London NW5.
  • Sir Robert Peel public house, Peel Precinct, Kilburn, London NW6.
  • Sir Robert Peel public house, London SE17.
  • Sir Robert Peel Hotel, Preston.
  • Peel Park Hotel, Accrington, Lancashire.
  • Sir Robert Peel public house Rowley Regis.
  • Sir Robert Peel public house, Southsea.
  • Sir Robert Peel public house, [110] Stoke-on-Trent.
  • Sir Robert Peel public house, Kingston upon Thames, Surrey.
  • Sir Robert Peel public house, Bloxwich, Walsall. [111]

Elsewhere

  • The Sir Robert Peel Hotel (colloquially known as "The Peel"), a gay bar and nightclub located at the corner of Peel and Wellington Streets in the Melbourne suburb of Collingwood, in Australia.
  • The Sir Robert Peel Hotel on the corner of Queensberry Street and Peel Street in the Melbourne suburb of North Melbourne, Victoria, in Australia.
  • The Sir Robert Peel Motor Lodge Hotel, Alexandria Bay, New York.

Other memorials

In literature

Letitia Elizabeth Landon gave her tribute to Sir Robert in her poetical illustration Sir Robert Peel to Thomas Lawrence's portrait in Fisher's Drawing Room Scrap Book, 1837. [115]

Robert Peel is a secondary character in the novel Dodger by Terry Pratchett.

Peel is an unseen nemesis of Harry Flashman in the humorous Flashman novels by George MacDonald Fraser. A young Flashman regularly battled with Peel's nascent London police force.

Arms

Coat of arms of Robert Peel
Robert Peel Coat of Arms.svg
Crest
A demi lion rampant Argent gorged with a collar Azure charged with three bezants, holding between the paws a shuttle Or.
Escutcheon
Argent three sheaves of as many arrows Proper banded Gules; on a chief Azure a bee volant, Or.
Motto
INDUSTRIA [116]

See also

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<span class="mw-page-title-main">United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland</span> Historical sovereign state (1801–1922)

The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland was a sovereign state in Northwestern Europe that was established by the union in 1801 of the Kingdom of Great Britain and the Kingdom of Ireland. The establishment of the Irish Free State in 1922 led to the remainder later being renamed the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland in 1927.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">John Russell, 1st Earl Russell</span> Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, 1846–1852 and 1865–1866

John Russell, 1st Earl Russell,, known by his courtesy title Lord John Russell before 1861, was a British Whig and Liberal statesman who was Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1846 to 1852 and again from 1865 to 1866.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Edward Smith-Stanley, 14th Earl of Derby</span> British statesman (1799–1869)

Edward George Geoffrey Smith-Stanley, 14th Earl of Derby,, known as Lord Stanley from 1834 to 1851, was a British statesman and Conservative politician who served three times as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. To date, he is the longest-serving leader of the Conservative Party. He is one of only four British prime ministers to have three or more separate periods in office. However, his ministries each lasted less than two years and totalled three years and 280 days. Derby introduced the state education system in Ireland, and reformed Parliament.

The Tamworth Manifesto was a political manifesto issued by Sir Robert Peel in 1834 in Tamworth, which is widely credited by historians as having laid down the principles upon which the modern British Conservative Party is based.

The Tories were a loosely organised political faction and later a political party, in the Parliaments of England, Scotland, Ireland, Great Britain and the United Kingdom. They first emerged during the 1679 Exclusion Crisis, when they opposed Whig efforts to exclude James, Duke of York from the succession on the grounds of his Catholicism. Despite their fervent opposition to state-sponsored Catholicism, Tories opposed his exclusion because of their belief that inheritance based on birth was the foundation of a stable society.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">1852 United Kingdom general election</span>

The 1852 United Kingdom general election was a watershed in the formation of the modern political parties of Britain. Following 1852, the Tory/Conservative party became, more completely, the party of the rural aristocracy, while the Whig/Liberal party became the party of the rising urban bourgeoisie in Britain. The results of the election were extremely close in terms of the numbers of seats won by the two main parties.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">1841 United Kingdom general election</span>

In the 1841 United Kingdom general election, there was a big swing as Sir Robert Peel's Conservatives took control of the House of Commons. Melbourne's Whigs had seen their support in the Commons erode over the previous years. Whilst Melbourne enjoyed the firm support of the young Queen Victoria, his ministry had seen increasing defeats in the Commons, culminating in the defeat of the government's budget in May 1841 by 36 votes, and by 1 vote in a 4 June 1841 vote of no confidence put forward by Peel. According to precedent, Melbourne's defeat required his resignation. However, the cabinet decided to ask for a dissolution, which was opposed by Melbourne personally, but he came to accept the wishes of the ministers. Melbourne requested the Queen dissolve Parliament, leading to an election. The Queen thus prorogued Parliament on 22 June.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">1832 United Kingdom general election</span>

The 1832 United Kingdom general election was the first United Kingdom general election held in the Reformed House of Commons following the Reform Act. The election saw the Whigs win an overall majority of 224 seats, with the Tories winning less than 30% of the vote.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Sir James Graham, 2nd Baronet</span> British statesman (1792–1861)

Sir James Robert George Graham, 2nd Baronet was a British statesman, who notably served as Home Secretary and First Lord of the Admiralty. He was the eldest son of Sir James Graham, 1st Baronet, by Lady Catherine, eldest daughter of the 7th Earl of Galloway.

The Peelites were a breakaway political faction of the British Conservative Party from 1846 to 1859. Initially led by Robert Peel, the former Prime Minister and Conservative Party leader in 1846, the Peelites supported free trade whilst the bulk of the Conservative Party remained protectionist. The Peelites later merged with the Whigs and Radicals to form the Liberal Party in 1859.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Second Peel ministry</span> Government of the United Kingdom

The second Peel ministry was formed by Sir Robert Peel in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland in 1841.

The Maynooth Grant was a cash grant from the British government to a Catholic seminary in Ireland. In 1845, the Conservative Prime Minister, Sir Robert Peel, sought to improve the relationship between Catholic Ireland and Protestant Britain by increasing the annual grant from the British government to St Patrick's College, Maynooth, a Catholic seminary in Ireland in dilapidated condition. It aroused a major political controversy in the 1840s, reflecting the anti-Irish and anti-Catholic feelings of many British Protestants.

The Derby Dilly was a name given to a group of dissident Whigs who split from the main party under the leadership of Edward, Lord Stanley on the issue of the reorganisation of the Church of Ireland in 1834. Stanley and three others resigned from the cabinet of Lord Grey on this particular issue but other factors included their fear that the Whigs were appeasing their radical and Irish allies with further reforms.

The Ultra-Tories were an Anglican faction of British and Irish politics that appeared in the 1820s in opposition to Catholic emancipation. The faction was later called the "extreme right-wing" of British and Irish politics.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Norman Gash</span> British historian

Norman Gash was a British historian, best remembered for a two-volume biography of British prime minister Sir Robert Peel. He was professor of modern history at the University of St Andrews from 1955 to 1980 and specialised in the 19th century.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Maynooth College Act 1845</span> United Kingdom legislation for Ireland

The Maynooth College Act 1845 was an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom.

References

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Further reading

Historiography

Primary sources

Political offices
Preceded by Chief Secretary for Ireland
1812–1818
Succeeded by
Preceded by Home Secretary
1822–1827
Succeeded by
Preceded by Leader of the House of Commons
1828–1830
Succeeded by
Preceded by Home Secretary
1828–1830
Succeeded by
Preceded by Prime Minister of the United Kingdom
10 December 1834 – 8 April 1835
Preceded by Chancellor of the Exchequer
1834–1835
Succeeded by
Preceded by Leader of the House of Commons
1834–1835
Succeeded by
Preceded by Prime Minister of the United Kingdom
30 August 1841 – 29 June 1846
Preceded by Leader of the House of Commons
1841–1846
Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by Member of Parliament for Cashel
1809–1812
Succeeded by
Sir Charles Saxton, Bt
Preceded by
John Maitland
James Dawkins
Member of Parliament for Chippenham
1812–1817
With: Charles Brooke
Succeeded by
Charles Brooke
John Maitland
Preceded by Member of Parliament for Oxford University
1817–1829
With: William Scott 1817–1821
Richard Heber 1821–1826
Thomas Grimston Estcourt 1826–1829
Succeeded by
Preceded by Member of Parliament for Westbury
1829–1830
With: Sir George Warrender
Succeeded by
Preceded by Member of Parliament for Tamworth
1830–1850
With: Lord Charles Townshend 1830–1835
William Yates Peel 1835–1837, 1847
Edward Henry A'Court 1837–1847
John Townshend 1847–1850
Succeeded by
Party political offices
Preceded by Leader of the British Conservative Party
1834–1846
Succeeded by
First
None recognised before
Conservative Leader in the Commons
1834–1846
Succeeded by
Academic offices
Preceded by Rector of the University of Glasgow
1836–1838
Succeeded by
Baronetage of Great Britain
Preceded by Baronet
of Drayton Manor and Bury
1830–1850
Succeeded by