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Sir Robert (2nd Bt) Peel, Prime Minister[1]

Male 1788 - 1850  (62 years)

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  • Name Robert (2nd Bt) Peel 
    Prefix Sir 
    Suffix Prime Minister 
    Born 5 Feb 1788  Lancashire Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Gender Male 
    Died 2 Jul 1850 
    Person ID I69314  My Genealogy

    Father Robert (Sir) (1st Bt) Peel,   b. 25 Apr 1750 
    Mother Ellen (of Spring Side) Yates 
    Married 8 Jul 1783 
    Family ID F31028  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

    Family Julia Floyd,   d. 27 Oct 1859 
    Married 8 Jun 1820 
     1. Robert (Sir) (3rd Bt) Peel,   b. 4 May 1822,   d. 9 May 1895  (Age 73 years)
     2. Frederick (Sir) Peel,   b. 26 Oct 1823
     3. William (Sir) Peel,   b. 2 Nov 1824
     4. John Floyd Peel,   b. 24 May 1827
     5. Arthur Wellesley (1st Viscount) Peel,   b. 3 Aug 1829,   d. 24 Oct 1912  (Age 83 years)
     6. Julia Peel,   d. 14 Aug 1893
     7. Eliza Peel,   d. Apr 1883
    Last Modified 24 Jan 2013 
    Family ID F31027  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

  • Notes 
    • From
      A-Level History
      Robert (Sir) Peel (1788-1850)
      Robert Peel was born in Lancashire, the son of a successful cottonmanufacturer. Educated at Harrow and Oxford, he was groomed for politicsby his father, who in 1809 'bought' him the Irish constituency of Cashel,which had only 20 voters. Within a year he had entered government, and hewas Home Secretary under Lord Liverpool from 1822 to 1827 and then underWellington from 1828 to 1830. He persuaded Wellington to pass CatholicEmancipation in Ireland in 1829. He was prime minister in 1834-35 and1841-46. In 1846 he repealed the Corn Laws but in doing so split theConservative party: most of his own party in the Commons voted againstthis measure. It was on this issue that Disraeli made a name for himself.Peel resigned soon after, and a Liberal government took over.

      Who is Robert (Sir) Peel?
      Robert Peel was born into a noble family in the late 1880s, his fatherwas a successful Lancashire businessman who had benefitted greAtly at thestart of the industrial revolution . His youth passed without muchincident and Peel's first post in government was as minister for Irelandduring turbulent times from 1812 to 1820. His devout maintenance of thesupremacy of the protestant Church of Ireland over the more popularnative Catholic Church garnered him a reputation as a strict Tory, theParty of the established British Church, and the nickname 'Orange Peel.'As he was still very young during this spell of upholding Tory values, healso gained a reputation as a potential future leader of the Tory party.His appointment to the position of Home Secretary in 1822 coincided withother changes in the cabinet of the then Prime minister Lord Liverpoolwhich gave the Tory government from this point onwards a more lenientreputation. Peel's main contribution during his tenure until 1829 was toalmost completely reform the judicial system, streamlining the courtprocess, making prisons more humane both for prisoners and gaolers andremoving over 110 death penalty offences.

      However, by the end of his spell as home secretary the questions ofparliamentary reform and catholic emancipation in Ireland were becomingvery prominent and when Daniel O'Connell, the leader of the Irishcampaign for religious freedom, won an election against a Toryrepresentative, it became obvious that the Tories would have to accede tohis demands to prevent a civil war in Ireland. The Tory party at thistime was divided into two sections after the death of Lord Liverpool, theUltras, who were strict Tories, and the Caningites, who were far moreliberal. Peel was an Ultra but as the head of the party it fell tto himto give in to Catholic Emancipation, which contrasted greatly with his'orange peel' years, and led many Tories to view him as a traitor.

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      The party was plunged into disarray, allowing the Whig opposition to takepower. In 1832 when they made to pass the Great Reform Act, Peel wasagain opposed, having become Tory leader once more. However, againBritain was on the brink of civil war, and although Peel did not supportit the Reform Act was passed and the Tory party were at their lowest ebbever.

      The Whig government was not popular, however, and Peel in opposition hada number of opportunities to win back Tory power by damaging the Whigs.His style of opposition was unusual in that he was willing to cooperatewith the party in power to secure what was best for the country as awhole. This approach was rewarded just two years later when he becameprime minister for 100 days between Whig troubles. Although the Toryparty did not achieve anything during this period, it enhanced Peel'sreputation inn the country at large.

      The Tories had had a justified reputation as an oppressive party of theupper clases, but Peel saw that the reason the Whigs were unpopular wasbecause they were more repressive than they said they would be. Peelenacted an image change for the Tories in the mid 1830s which put them ona par with the Whigs for public support. The main tool of this change wasthe Tamworth Manifesto, an election pledge by Peel that outlined hiswillingness to consider minor reforms. The Tory party became known by theless derogatory name of 'conservatives,' and there was a countrywidereorganisation that the Whigs, who were in porwer still, could not keepup with. This is reflected in the shift of voters from Whigs to Toriesthroughout the 1830s, and in 1839 Peel actually turned down the cjance tobecome Prime minister when Queen Victoria refused to restaff her palacewith Tories, forcing an ineffectual Whig government to come back to powerand show how good Peel and the Tories were by comparison.

      In 1841, however, Peel and the conservatives were indeed elected asgovernment, on the back of promises to protect the country farmers bykeeping corn prices high. Peel's six and a half years in power weredistinguished by a free trade policy in economics, and by more troublewith the potato famine in Ireland. Peel's economic focus was maybe alogical extention of his background in industry, but it won him manyenemies who saw it as an all consuming obsession. His troubles were inIreland, however, his attempts to appease the Catholic Church were hatedby his Party and baely acknowledged by the church, and Peel was seen as aPrime Minister rather than aTory, which obviously made him unpopular withTories. Whern he finally decided to repeal the Corn Laws in 1846 hisparty refused to bacjk him because of the damage this would do to thelandowners who were still its primary force, and so Pel resigned fromministry in July 1846.

      He lived on as an advisor and elder statesman to politicains of bothparties over the next four years, earning a reputation as a heroicfigure. However, he died whilst out riding in 1850, and the crowds ofmourners who flocked to his house to pay tribute were testimony to thedevotoin he inspired.

      Author's name omitted by request


  • Sources 
    1. [S883] Hamish Maclaren.