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Sir Robert Peel, 2nd Baronet, (5 February 1788 – 2 July 1850) was a British
Conservative Conservatism is an aesthetic Aesthetics, or esthetics (), is a branch of philosophy that deals with the nature of beauty and taste (sociology), taste, as well as the philosophy of art (its own area of philosophy that comes out of aest ...

Conservative
statesman who served twice as
Prime Minister of the United Kingdom The prime minister of the United Kingdom is the head of government The head of government is either the highest or second-highest official in the Executive (government), executive branch of a sovereign state, a federated state, or a ...
(1834–1835 and 1841–1846) simultaneously serving as
Chancellor of the Exchequer The chancellor of the Exchequer, often abbreviated to the chancellor, is a senior minister of the Crown within the Government of the United Kingdom, and the chief executive officer of HM Treasury, Her Majesty's Treasury. As one of the four Grea ...
(1834-1835) and twice as
Home Secretary The home secretary, officially the secretary of state for the Home Department, is a Secretary of State (United Kingdom), secretary of state in the Government of the United Kingdom, with overall responsibility for all Home Office business. The ...
(1822–1827 and 1828–1830). He is regarded as the father of modern British policing, owing to his founding of the
Metropolitan Police Service The Metropolitan Police Service (MPS), formerly and still commonly known as the Metropolitan Police and informally as the Met Police, the Met, Scotland Yard, or the Yard, is the territorial police force responsible for law enforcement in the ...
. Peel was one of the founders of the modern
Conservative Party Conservative Party may refer to: Europe Current *Croatian Conservative Party, *Conservative Party (Czech Republic) *Conservative People's Party (Denmark) *Conservative Party of Georgia *Conservative Party (Norway) *Conservative Party (UK) Histor ...

Conservative Party
. 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 The British undergraduate degree classification system is a grading structure for undergraduate degree An undergraduate degree (also called first degree or simply degree) is a colloquial term for an academic degree An academic degree is a qu ...
in classics and mathematics from
Christ Church, Oxford Christ Church ( la, Ædes Christi, the temple or house, ''wikt:aedes, ædēs'', of Christ, and thus sometimes known as "The House") is a Colleges of the University of Oxford, constituent college of the University of Oxford in England. Christ C ...

Christ Church, Oxford
. He entered the
House of Commons The House of Commons is the name for the elected lower house A lower house is one of two chambers Chambers may refer to: Places Canada: *Chambers Township, Ontario United States: *Chambers County, Alabama *Chambers, Arizona, an unincorpor ...

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 The Leader of the House of Commons is generally a member or attendee of the cabinet of the United Kingdom. The House of Commons devotes approximately three-quarters of its time to debating and explaining government business, such as Bill (law), b ...
. Initially a supporter of continued legal discrimination against Catholics, Peel reversed himself and supported the
Roman Catholic Relief Act 1829 The Catholic Relief Act 1829, also known as the Catholic Emancipation Act 1829, was passed by the Parliament of the United Kingdom The Parliament of the United Kingdom is the supreme legislative body A legislature is an assembly As ...
and the 1828 repeal of the
Test Act The Test Acts were a series of English penal laws In English history, the penal laws were a series of laws that sought to uphold the establishment of the Church of England against Protestant Protestantism is a form of Christianity that orig ...
, claiming that "though emancipation was a great danger, civil strife was a greater danger". After being in Opposition from 1830 to 1834, he became Prime Minister in November 1834. Peel issued the
Tamworth ManifestoThe 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 (UK), Conservative Party is ba ...
(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 The chancellor of the Exchequer, often abbreviated to the chancellor, is a senior minister of the Crown within the Government of the United Kingdom, and the chief executive officer of HM Treasury, Her Majesty's Treasury. As one of the four Grea ...
. After only four months, his government collapsed and he served as
Leader of the Opposition The leader of the opposition is a title traditionally held by the leader of the Opposition (parliamentary), largest party not in government in a parliamentary democracy. The leader of the opposition is seen as the alternative prime minister, premi ...
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 An income tax is a tax A tax is a compulsory financial charge or some other type of levy imposed on a taxpayer (an individual or legal entity In law Law is a system A system is a group of Interaction, interacting or interrelate ...
. He played a central role in making
free trade Free trade is a trade policy A commercial policy (also referred to as a trade policy or international trade policy) is a government's policy governing international trade International trade is the exchange of capital, goods, and servic ...
a reality and set up a modern banking system. His government's major legislation included the
Mines and Collieries Act 1842 A hurrier and two thrusters heaving a corf full of coal as depicted in the 1853 book ''The White Slaves of England'' by J Cobden. Mines and Collieries Act 1842 (c. 99), commonly known as the Mines Act 1842, was an act of the Parliament of the ...
, the
Income Tax Act 1842 The Income Tax Act 1842The citation of this Act by this short title was authorised by the Short Titles Act 1896 The Short Titles Act 1896 (59 & 60 Vict c 14) is an Acts of Parliament in the United Kingdom, Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdo ...
, the Factories Act 1844 and the
Railway Regulation Act 1844 The Railway Regulation Act 1844 was an Act of Parliament, Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom providing a minimum standard for Rail transport, rail passenger travel. It provided compulsory services at a price affordable to poorer people to ...
. 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 The Great Famine ( ga, an Gorta Mór ), also known as the Great Hunger, the Famine (mostly within Ireland) or the Irish Potato Famine (mostly outside Ireland), was a period of mass starvation and disease A disease is a particular abn ...
, his decision to join with Whigs and Radicals to repeal the
Corn Laws The Corn Laws were tariff A tariff is a tax A tax is a compulsory financial charge or some other type of levy imposed on a taxpayer (an individual or legal entity In law Law is a system A system is a group of Interaction, ...
led to his resignation as Prime Minister in 1846. Peel remained an influential MP and leader of the
Peelite The Peelites were a breakaway dissident political faction of the British Conservative Party from 1846 to 1859. Initially led by Robert Peel Sir Robert Peel, 2nd Baronet, (5 February 1788 – 2 July 1850) was twice Prime Minister of the Uni ...
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 Alan John Percivale Taylor (25 March 1906 – 7 September 1990) was a British historian ( 484– 425 BC) was a Greek historian who lived in the 5th century BC and one of the earliest historians whose work survives. A historian is a pers ...
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."


Early life

Peel was born at Chamber Hall, Bury,
Lancashire Lancashire ( , ; abbreviated Lancs.) is a non-metropolitan and ceremonial county The counties and areas for the purposes of the lieutenancies, also referred to as the lieutenancy areas of England and informally known as ceremonial co ...

Lancashire
, to the industrialist and parliamentarian
Sir Robert Peel, 1st Baronet Sir Robert Peel, 1st Baronet (25 April 1750 – 3 May 1830) was a British politician and industrialist and one of early textile manufacturers of the Industrial Revolution The Industrial Revolution was the transition to new manufacturing pro ...
, and his wife Ellen Yates. His father was one of the richest textile manufacturers of the early
Industrial Revolution The Industrial Revolution was the transition to new manufacturing processes in Great Britain, continental Europe Continental Europe or mainland Europe is the contiguous continent A continent is any of several large landmasse ...
. The family moved from Lancashire to
Drayton Manor Image:Drayton Manor.jpg, 300px , Drayton Manor in 1842 Drayton Manor, one of Destruction of country houses in 20th century Britain, Britain's lost houses, was a United Kingdom, British stately home at Drayton Bassett, since its formation in the Lich ...

Drayton Manor
near
Tamworth, Staffordshire Tamworth () is a market town and Borough status in the United Kingdom, borough in Staffordshire, England, north-east of Birmingham and on the West Coast Main Line. The town borders North Warwickshire to the east and north, Lichfield District, ...
; the manor house has since been demolished, the site occupied by
Drayton Manor Theme Park Drayton Manor Theme Park is a theme park, zoo and Lodging, accommodation in the grounds of the former Drayton Manor, in Drayton Bassett, Staffordshire, England, UK. It covers , of which about are in use, and hosts about 1.5 million people each ...
. Peel received his early education from a clergyman tutor in Bury and at a clergyman's local school in Tamworth. He may also have attended
Bury Grammar School (The key that opens sacred doors) , established = , type = Independent school (UK), Independent day school , religion = Church of England , head_label = Headmaster , head ...
or
Hipperholme Grammar School ) , established = , closed = , type = Independent school File:Share enrolled in private institutions at the tertiary education level, OWID.svg, Share enrolled in private institutions at the tertiary education level (2015) ...

Hipperholme Grammar School
, though evidence for either is anecdotal rather than textual. He started at
Harrow School (The Faithful Dispensation of the Gifts of God) , established = (Royal Charter A royal charter is a formal grant issued by a monarch under royal prerogative The royal prerogative is a body of customary authority, privilege ...
in February 1800. At Harrow he was a contemporary of
Lord Byron George Gordon Byron, 6th Baron Byron, ( el, Λόρδος Βύρωνας, translit=Lórdos Výronas, translit-std=ISO; 22 January 1788 – 19 April 1824), simply known as Lord Byron, was an English poet and peer Peer may refer to: Socio ...

Lord Byron
, who recalled of Peel that "we were on good terms" and that "I was always in scrapes, and he never". On Harrow's Speech Day in 1804, Peel and Byron acted part of
Virgil Publius Vergilius Maro (; traditional dates 15 October 7021 September 19 BC), usually called Virgil or Vergil ( ) in English, was an ancient Rome, ancient Roman poet of the Augustan literature (ancient Rome), Augustan period. He composed three ...

Virgil
's ''
Aeneid The ''Aeneid'' ( ; la, Aenē̆is ) is a Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the p ...
'', Peel playing
Turnus Turnus ( grc, Τυρρηνός, Tyrrhênós) was the legendary King of the Rutuli The Rutuli or Rutulians were an ancient people in Italy. The Rutuli were located in a territory whose capital was the ancient town of , located about 35 k ...

Turnus
and Byron playing
Latinus Latinus ( la, Latinus; grc, Λατῖνος) was a figure in both Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country loc ...

Latinus
. In 1805 Peel matriculated at
Christ Church, Oxford Christ Church ( la, Ædes Christi, the temple or house, ''wikt:aedes, ædēs'', of Christ, and thus sometimes known as "The House") is a Colleges of the University of Oxford, constituent college of the University of Oxford in England. Christ C ...

Christ Church, Oxford
. His tutor was Charles Lloyd, later
Regius Professor of Divinity The Regius Professorships of Divinity are amongst the oldest professorships at the University of Oxford , mottoeng = Psalm 27, The Lord is my light , established = , endowment = £6.1 billion (including colleges) (as of 31 July 2019 ...
, on Peel's recommendation appointed
Bishop of Oxford The Bishop of Oxford is the diocesan bishop of the Church of England Diocese of Oxford in the Province of Canterbury; his seat is at Christ Church Cathedral, Oxford. The current bishop is Steven Croft, following the confirmation of his electio ...
. In 1808 Peel became the first Oxford student to take a double first in Classics and Mathematics. Peel was a law student at
Lincoln's Inn The Honourable Society of Lincoln's Inn is one of the four Inns of Court The Inns of Court in London are the professional associations for barristers A barrister is a type of lawyer A lawyer or attorney is a person who practices ...

Lincoln's Inn
in 1809. He also held military commissions as a captain in the Manchester Regiment of
Militia A militia () is generally an army An army (from Latin ''arma'' "arms, weapons" via Old French ''armée'', "armed" eminine, ground force or land force is a fighting force that fights primarily on land. In the broadest sense, it is the land-b ...
in 1808, and later as lieutenant in the Staffordshire Yeomanry Cavalry in 1820.


Early political career

Peel entered politics in 1809 at the age of 21, as MP for the Irish
rotten borough A rotten or pocket borough, also known as a nomination borough or proprietorial borough, was a parliamentary borough In the United Kingdom The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known as the United Kingdom (UK ...
of Cashel, . 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 The Chief Secretary for Ireland was a key political office in the British administration in Ireland. Nominally subordinate to the Lord Lieutenant A lord-lieutenant () is the British monarch's personal representative in each lieutenancy ...
, Sir , the future Duke of Wellington, with whom Peel's political career would be entwined for the next 25 years. Peel made his
maiden speech A maiden speech is the first speech given by a newly elected or appointed member of a legislature A legislature is a deliberative assembly with the authority In the fields of sociology Sociology is the study of society, human social beh ...
at the start of the 1810 session, when he was chosen by Prime Minister
Spencer Perceval Spencer Perceval (1 November 1762 – 11 May 1812) was a British statesman and barrister. He was Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from October 1809 until Assassination of Spencer Perceval, his assassination in May 1812. Perceval is the onl ...

Spencer Perceval
to second the reply to the king's speech. His speech was a sensation, famously described by the
Speaker Speaker may refer to: Roles * Speaker (politics), the presiding officer in a legislative assembly * Public speaker, one who gives a speech or lecture * A person producing speech, sometimes also called a speaker-hearer Electronics * Loudspeaker, a ...
, Charles Abbot, as "the best first speech since that of ". Peel changed constituency twice, becoming one of the two Members for
Chippenham Chippenham is a market town in northwest Wiltshire, England. It lies northeast of Bath, Somerset, Bath, west of London, and is near the Cotswolds Area of Natural Beauty. The town was established on a crossing of the River Avon, Bristol, River ...
in 1812, and then one of those for
Oxford University Oxford () is a city in England. It is the county town and only city of Oxfordshire. In 2017, its population was estimated at 152,450. It is northwest of London, southeast of Birmingham, and northeast of Bristol. The city is home to the Unive ...
in 1817. In 1810, Peel was appointed an
Under-Secretary of State for War and the Colonies The Under-Secretary of State for War and the Colonies was a junior Ministerial post in the United Kingdom government, subordinate to the Secretary of State for War and the Colonies. In 1801 the offices of Under-Secretary of State for War The posi ...
; his Secretary of State was
Lord Liverpool Robert Banks Jenkinson, 2nd Earl of Liverpool, (7 June 1770 – 4 December 1828) was a British Tory The Tories were a political faction Politics (from , ) is the set of activities that are associated with making decisions in gro ...
. When Lord Liverpool formed a government in 1812, Peel was appointed
Chief Secretary for Ireland The Chief Secretary for Ireland was a key political office in the British administration in Ireland. Nominally subordinate to the Lord Lieutenant A lord-lieutenant () is the British monarch's personal representative in each lieutenancy ...
. 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"). Peel thus laid the basis for the
Royal Irish Constabulary The Royal Irish Constabulary (RIC, ga, Constáblacht Ríoga na hÉireann; simply called the Irish Constabulary 1836–67) was the police force in Ireland from 1822 until 1922, when the country was part of the United Kingdom of Great Britain an ...
. Peel was firmly opposed to
Catholic emancipation #REDIRECT Catholic emancipation Catholic emancipation or Catholic relief was a process in the kingdoms of Great Britain Great Britain is an island in the North Atlantic Ocean off the northwest coast of continental Europe. With an area of ...
, believing that Catholics could not be admitted to Parliament as they refused to swear the
Oath of Allegiance An oath of allegiance is an oath Traditionally an oath (from Anglo-Saxon The Anglo-Saxons were a cultural group who inhabited England England is a Countries of the United Kingdom, country that is part of the United Kingdom. It sha ...
to the Crown. In May 1817, Peel delivered the closing speech in opposition to
Henry Grattan Henry Grattan (3 July 1746 – 4 June 1820) was an Irish politician and lawyer who campaigned for legislative freedom for the Irish Parliament in the late 18th century from Britain Britain usually refers to: * United Kingdom, a sovereign state ...

Henry Grattan
's Catholic emancipation bill; the bill was defeated by 245 votes to 221. Peel resigned as Chief Secretary and left Ireland in August 1818. 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 The Napoleonic Wars (1803–1815) were a series of major World war, global conflicts pitting the First French Empire, French Empire and its allies, led by Napoleon, Napoleon I, against a fluctuating array of Coalition forces of the Napoleonic W ...
, and Peel was chosen as its chairman.
Peel's BillPeel's Bill, or the 1819 Act for the Resumption of Cash Payments (59 Geo. III, cap. 49), marked the return of the British currency to the gold standard, after the Bank Restriction Act 1797 saw paper money replacing convertibility to gold and silver u ...
planned to return British currency to the
gold standard A gold standard is a monetary system A monetary system is a system by which a government provides money in a country's economy. Modern monetary systems usually consist of the national treasury, the mint (facility), mint, central bank, the cen ...
, reversing the Bank Restriction Act 1797, within four years (it was actually accomplished by 1821).


Home Secretary

Peel was considered one of the rising stars of the Tory party, first entering the cabinet in 1822 as
Home Secretary The home secretary, officially the secretary of state for the Home Department, is a Secretary of State (United Kingdom), secretary of state in the Government of the United Kingdom, with overall responsibility for all Home Office business. The ...
. As Home Secretary, he introduced a number of important reforms of British criminal law. 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 Peel's Acts (as they are commonly known) were Act of Parliament, Acts of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. They consolidated provisions from a large number of earlier statutes which were then repealed. Their purpose was to simplify the criminal ...
. He reformed the gaol system, introducing payment for gaolers and education for the inmates in the
Gaols Act 1823 The Gaols Act 1823 (4 Geo IV c 64) was an Act of the United Kingdom Parliament to reform prisons. Overview The idea of prison reform was promoted in the early 19th century by Elizabeth Fry and her brother Joseph John Gurney. In particular, Fry was ...
. In 1827 the Prime Minister
Lord Liverpool Robert Banks Jenkinson, 2nd Earl of Liverpool, (7 June 1770 – 4 December 1828) was a British Tory The Tories were a political faction Politics (from , ) is the set of activities that are associated with making decisions in gro ...
became incapacitated and was replaced by
George Canning George Canning (11 April 17708 August 1827) was a British Tory A Tory () is a person who holds a political philosophy Political philosophy or political theory is the philosophical Philosophy (from , ) is the study of gener ...

George Canning
. Peel resigned as home secretary. Canning favoured
Catholic emancipation #REDIRECT Catholic emancipation Catholic emancipation or Catholic relief was a process in the kingdoms of Great Britain Great Britain is an island in the North Atlantic Ocean off the northwest coast of continental Europe. With an area of ...
, while Peel had been one of its most outspoken opponents (earning the nickname "Orange Peel", with Orange the colour of the anti-Catholic
Orange Order The Loyal Orange Institution, commonly known as the Orange Order, is an international Protestant Protestantism is a form of that originated with the 16th-century , a movement against what its followers perceived to be in the . Protesta ...
). 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 Field Marshal Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington, (1 May 1769 – 14 September 1852) was an Anglo-Irish people, Anglo-Irish soldier and Tories (British political party), Tory statesman who was one of the leading military and political f ...

Duke of Wellington
. During this time he was widely perceived as the number-two in the Tory Party, after Wellington himself. The
Test and Corporation Acts The Test Acts were a series of English penal laws In English history, the penal laws were a series of laws that sought to uphold the establishment of the Church of England against Protestant Protestantism is a form of Christianity that origi ...
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. The
Sacramental Test Act 1828 The Sacramental Test Act 1828 (9 Geo. IV, c. 17) was an Act of Parliament, Act passed by the Parliament of the United Kingdom, British Parliament. It repealed the requirement that government officials take communion in the Church of England. Sir Ro ...
passed into law in May 1828. In future religious issues he made it a point to consult with church leaders from the major denominations. The 1828 Clare by-election returned the Catholic Irish nationalist leader
Daniel O'Connell Daniel O'Connell ( ga, Dónall Ó Conaill; 6 August 1775 – 15 May 1847), hailed in his time as The Liberator, was the acknowledged political leader of Ireland's Roman Catholic majority in the first half of the 19th century. His mobilisa ...

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 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". Peel drew up the Catholic Relief bill. Peel 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. Peel lost his seat in a by-election in February 1829, but soon found another, moving to a
rotten borough A rotten or pocket borough, also known as a nomination borough or proprietorial borough, was a parliamentary borough In the United Kingdom The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known as the United Kingdom (UK ...
,
WestburyWestbury may refer to: Places United Kingdom *Westbury, Buckinghamshire *Westbury, Shropshire *Westbury, Wiltshire *Westbury-on-Severn, Gloucestershire *Westbury-on-Trym, Bristol *Westbury-sub-Mendip, Somerset United States *Westbury, Connecti ...
, retaining his Cabinet position. He stood for Tamworth in the general election of 1830, representing Tamworth until his death. Peel guided the Catholic relief bill through the House of Commons, Wellington through the House of Lords. With many
Ultra-Tories 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 "Far-right politics, extreme right-wing" of British and Irish politics.Jam ...
vehemently opposed to emancipation, the bill could pass only with Whig support. Wellington threatened to resign if
King George IV George IV (George Augustus Frederick; 12 August 1762 – 26 June 1830) was King of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland There have been 12 British monarchs since the political union of the Kingdom of England The Kingdom of ...

King George IV
did not give Royal assent; the King finally relented, the
Roman Catholic Relief Act 1829 The Catholic Relief Act 1829, also known as the Catholic Emancipation Act 1829, was passed by the Parliament of the United Kingdom The Parliament of the United Kingdom is the supreme legislative body A legislature is an assembly As ...
passing into law in April 1829. Peel's U-turn cost him the trust of many Tories: according to
Norman Gash Norman Gash (16 January 1912 in Meerut, British Raj – 1 May 2009 in Somerset) was a British historian, best remembered for a two-volume biography of British prime minister Robert Peel, Sir Robert Peel. He was professor of modern history at the ...
, Peel had been "the idolized champion of the Protestant party; that party now regarded him as an outcast".


Police reform

It was in 1829 that Peel established the
Metropolitan Police Force The Metropolitan Police Service (MPS), formerly and still commonly known as the Metropolitan Police (and informally as the Met Police, the Met, Scotland Yard, or the Yard), is the territorial police force A territorial police force is a poli ...
for London based at
Scotland Yard Scotland Yard (officially New Scotland Yard) is a metonym Metonymy () is a figure of speech in which a thing or concept is referred to by the name of something closely associated with that thing or concept. Etymology The words ''metonymy'' ...

Scotland Yard
. 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, and by 1857 all cities in Britain were obliged to form their own police forces. 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 The Peelian principles summarise the ideas that Sir Robert Peel Sir Robert Peel, 2nd Baronet, (5 February 1788 – 2 July 1850) was a British Conservative Conservatism is an aesthetic Aesthetics, or esthetics (), is a branch of ...
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".


Whigs in power (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. The Tory ministry refused to bend on other issues and were swept out of office in 1830 in favour of the Whigs. The following few years were extremely turbulent, but eventually enough reforms were passed that
King William IV William IV (William Henry; 21 August 1765 – 20 June 1837) was King of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland There have been 12 British monarchs There have been 12 British monarchs since the political union A political un ...

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 William Lamb, 2nd Viscount Melbourne, (15 March 177924 November 1848), in some sources called Henry William Lamb, was a British Whig The Whigs were a political faction Politics (from , ) is the set of activities that are associated ...

Lord Melbourne
in 1834. 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.


First term as prime minister (1834–1835)

The Tory Ministry was a minority government and depended on Whig goodwill for its continued existence. Parliament was dissolved in December 1834 and a general election 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. As his statement of policy at the general election of January 1835, Peel issued the
Tamworth ManifestoThe 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 (UK), Conservative Party is ba ...
. This document was the basis on which the modern
Conservative Party Conservative Party may refer to: Europe Current *Croatian Conservative Party, *Conservative Party (Czech Republic) *Conservative People's Party (Denmark) *Conservative Party of Georgia *Conservative Party (Norway) *Conservative Party (UK) Histor ...

Conservative Party
was founded. In it Peel pledged that the Conservatives would endorse reform. The Whigs formed a compact with
Daniel O'Connell Daniel O'Connell ( ga, Dónall Ó Conaill; 6 August 1775 – 15 May 1847), hailed in his time as The Liberator, was the acknowledged political leader of Ireland's Roman Catholic majority in the first half of the 19th century. His mobilisa ...

Daniel O'Connell
's Irish Radical members to repeatedly defeat the government on various bills. Eventually, after only about 100 days in government, Peel's ministry resigned out of frustration and the Whigs under Lord Melbourne returned to power. The only real achievement of Peel's first administration was a commission to review the governance of the
Church of England The Church of England (C of E) is a Christian church Christian Church is a Protestant Protestantism is a form of Christianity that originated with the 16th-century Reformation, a movement against what its followers perceived to be Critic ...
. This ecclesiastical commission was the forerunner of the
Church Commissioners The Church Commissioners is a body which administers the property assets of the Church of England. It was established in 1948 and combined the assets of Queen Anne's Bounty, a fund dating from 1704 for the relief of poor clergy, and of the Eccle ...
.


Leader of the Opposition (1835–1841)

In May 1839 he was offered another chance to form a government, this time by the new monarch,
Queen Victoria Victoria (Alexandrina Victoria; 24 May 1819 – 22 January 1901) was Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland There have been 12 British monarchs since the political union of the Kingdom of England The Kingdom of En ...

Queen Victoria
. 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; 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 CrisisThe Bedchamber crisis occurred on 7 May 1839 after Whig politician William Lamb, 2nd Viscount Melbourne William Lamb, 2nd Viscount Melbourne, (15 March 177924 November 1848), in some sources called Henry William Lamb, was a British Whig Home S ...
. 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.


Second term as prime minister (1841–1846)


Economic and financial reforms

Peel finally had a chance to head a majority government following the election of July 1841. 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 An income tax is a tax A tax is a compulsory financial charge or some other type of levy imposed on a taxpayer (an individual or legal entity In law Law is a system A system is a group of Interaction, interacting or interrelate ...

income tax
, removed previously at the end of the
Napoleonic War The Napoleonic Wars (1803–1815) were a series of major global conflicts pitting the French Empire#REDIRECT French Empire {{Redirect shell , {{R from ambiguous page {{R from other capitalisation ... and its allies, led by Napoleon I ...
. 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. It was also in the 1842 budget that the repeal of the
corn laws The Corn Laws were tariff A tariff is a tax A tax is a compulsory financial charge or some other type of levy imposed on a taxpayer (an individual or legal entity In law Law is a system A system is a group of Interaction, ...
was first proposed. It was defeated in a Commons vote by a margin of 4:1.


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 The landed gentry, or the ''gentry'', is a largely historical British social class of landowners who could live entirely from rental income Renting, also known as hiring or letting, is an agreement where a payment is made for the temp ...
, by restricting the number of hours that children and women could work in a factory and setting rudimentary safety standards for machinery. This was a continuation of his own father's work as an MP, as the elder Robert Peel was most noted for reform of working conditions during the first part of the 19th century. Helping him was
Lord Shaftesbury Earl of Shaftesbury is a title in the Peerage of England. It was created in 1672 for Anthony Ashley Cooper, 1st Earl of Shaftesbury, Anthony Ashley-Cooper, 1st Baron Ashley, a prominent politician in the Cabal Ministry, Cabal then dominating th ...
, 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 wood turner named
Daniel M'Naghten Daniel M'Naghten (sometimes spelled McNaughtan or McNaughton) (1813–3 May 1865) was a Scottish woodturner who assassinated English civil servant Edward Drummond while suffering from paranoid delusion A delusion is a fixed belief that is ...
stalked him for several days before, on 20 January, killing Peel's personal secretary
Edward Drummond Edward Drummond (30 March 1792 – 25 January 1843) was a British civil servant, and was Personal Secretary to several British Prime Ministers. He was fatally shot by Daniel McNaughton, whose subsequent trial gave rise to the McNaughton rules ...
thinking he was Peel, which led to the formation of the controversial criminal defense of
insanity Insanity, madness, and craziness are terms that describe a spectrum A spectrum (plural ''spectra'' or ''spectrums'') is a condition that is not limited to a specific set of values but can vary, without gaps, across a continuum Continuum ma ...
.


Corn Laws and after

The most notable act of Peel's second ministry, however, was the one that would bring it down. Peel moved against the landholders by repealing the
Corn Laws The Corn Laws were tariff A tariff is a tax A tax is a compulsory financial charge or some other type of levy imposed on a taxpayer (an individual or legal entity In law Law is a system A system is a group of Interaction, ...
, which supported agricultural revenues by restricting grain imports. This radical break with Conservative protectionism was triggered by the Great Irish Famine, Great Irish Famine (1845–1849). Tory agriculturalists were sceptical of the extent of the problem, 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". His own party failed to support the bill, but it passed with Whig and Radical support. On the Reading (legislature), third reading of Peel's Bill of Repeal (Importation Act 1846) on 15 May, Member of Parliament (United Kingdom), 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". Following this, on 29 June 1846, Peel resigned as prime minister. Though he knew repealing the laws would mean the end of his ministry, Peel decided to do so. 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. 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. As an aside in reference to the repeal of the Corn Laws, 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, 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; Peel's successor, John Russell, 1st Earl Russell, Lord John Russell, received more criticism than Peel on Irish policy. The repeal of the Corn Laws was more political than humanitarian. Peel's support for free trade could already be seen in his 1842 and 1845 budgets; in late 1842 Sir James Graham, 2nd Baronet, 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. Speaking to the cabinet in 1844, Peel argued that the choice was maintenance of the 1842 Corn Law or total repeal. Despite all of Peel's efforts, his reform programs had little effect on the situation in Ireland.


Later career and death

Peel did, however, retain a hard core of supporters, known as
Peelite The Peelites were a breakaway dissident political faction of the British Conservative Party from 1846 to 1859. Initially led by Robert Peel Sir Robert Peel, 2nd Baronet, (5 February 1788 – 2 July 1850) was twice Prime Minister of the Uni ...
s, 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. 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. Peel was thrown from his horse while riding on Constitution Hill, London, 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 clavicle fracture, broken collarbone rupturing his subclavian vessels. His Peelite followers, led by George Hamilton-Gordon, 4th Earl of Aberdeen, Lord Aberdeen and William Ewart Gladstone, William Gladstone, went on to fuse with the Whigs as the Liberal Party (UK), Liberal Party.


Family

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 and was married on 8 June 1820. They had seven children: *Julia Peel (30 April 1821 – 14 August 1893). She married George Child Villiers, 6th Earl of Jersey, on 12 July 1841. They had five children. She married her second husband, Charles Brandling, on 12 September 1865. *Sir Robert Peel, 3rd Baronet (4 May 1822 – 9 May 1895). He married Emily, Lady Peel, Lady Emily Hay on 17 June 1856. They had five children. *Frederick Peel, Sir Frederick Peel (26 October 1823 – 6 June 1906). He married Elizabeth Shelley (niece of the poet Percy Bysshe Shelley, Percy Shelley through his brother John: died 30 July 1865) on 12 August 1857. He was remarried to Janet Pleydell-Bouverie on 3 September 1879. *William Peel (Royal Navy officer), Sir William Peel (2 November 1824 – 27 April 1858). *John Floyd Peel (24 May 1827 – 21 April 1910). He married Annie Jenny in 1851. *Arthur Peel, 1st Viscount Peel, Arthur Wellesley Peel (3 August 1829 – 24 October 1912). He married Adelaide Dugdale, daughter of William Stratford Dugdale and Harriet Ella Portman, on 14 August 1862. They had seven children. *Eliza Peel ( – April 1883). She married Hon. Francis Stonor (son of Thomas Stonor, 3rd Baron Camoys) on 25 September 1855. They had four children. Julia, Lady Peel, died in 1859. Some of her 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.


Memory and legacy

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. The consensus view of scholars for much of the 20th century idealised Peel in heroic terms. Historian Boyd Hilton wrote that he was portrayed as: Biographer
Norman Gash Norman Gash (16 January 1912 in Meerut, British Raj – 1 May 2009 in Somerset) was a British historian, best remembered for a two-volume biography of British prime minister Robert Peel, Sir Robert Peel. He was professor of modern history at the ...
wrote that Peel "looked first, not to party, but to the state; not to programmes, but to national expediency". 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". Gash emphasised the role of personality on Peel's political career:Peel was the first serving British Prime Minister to have his photograph taken. Peel is also featured on the cover of The Beatles' Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (album), 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.


Memorials


Statues

Statues of Sir Robert Peel are found in the following British and Australian locations: File:Robert Peel statue, Bury.jpg, Statue by Edward Hodges Baily in Bury File:Robert Peel statue.jpg, Statue of Robert Peel, Parliament Square, Statue in Parliament Square, London File:Statue of Sir Robert Peel, Piccadilly Gardens - geograph.org.uk - 1278311.jpg, Statue in Piccadilly Gardens, Manchester File:Peel Statue Leeds.jpg, Statue in Woodhouse Moor, Leeds File:Robert Peel statue, Glasgow.JPG, Statue in George Square, Glasgow File:Robert Peel statue, Peel Pk, Bradford-800.jpg, Statue in Peel Park, Bradford File:Sir Robert Peel, Gawsworth, East Cheshire.JPG, Statue near Gawsworth Old Hall File:Statue of Robert Peel in Edgbaston, Birmingham.jpg, Statue in Edgbaston, Birmingham


Public houses and hotels

The following public houses, bars or hotels are named after Peel:The UK-based Peel Hotels group are named after their founders Robert and Charles Peel, not Sir Robert Peel


United Kingdom

* Robert Peel public house in Bury town centre, his birthplace. * Sir Robert Peel public house, Tamworth, Staffordshire, Tamworth. * Peel Hotel, Tamworth, Staffordshire, Tamworth. * Sir Robert Peel public house, Edgeley, Stockport, Cheshire. * Sir Robert Peel public house, Heckmondwike, West Yorkshire. * Sir Robert Peel public house, 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, Lancashire, Preston. * Peel Park Hotel, Accrington, Lancashire. * Sir Robert Peel public house Rowley Regis. * Sir Robert Peel public house, Southsea. * Sir Robert Peel public house, Stoke-on-Trent. * Sir Robert Peel public house, Kingston upon Thames, Surrey. * Sir Robert Peel public house, Bloxwich, Walsall.


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, Victoria, 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

* Peel Park, Bradford is named after Sir Robert Peel. It is one of the largest parks in the city, and indeed Yorkshire. * Peel Monument, Peel Tower Monument, built on top of Holcombe Hill in Ramsbottom, Metropolitan Borough of Bury, Bury. * The Sir Robert Peel Hospital in Tamworth, Staffordshire, Tamworth. * A small monument in the centre of the town of Dronfield in Derbyshire. Nearby is the Peel Centre, a community centre in a former Methodist church. * Peel Streets in the CBD of Melbourne, and in Collingwood, Victoria, Collingwood, both in Victoria (Australia), Victoria, Australia. * Peel Street in the CBD, Adelaide, South Australia. * Peel Street, Montreal and its Peel (Montreal Metro), Peel Metro station. The street also features a high-rise residential building named Sir-Robert-Peel. * The Peel River (New South Wales), Peel River in Tamworth, New South Wales, Australia. * Peel High School in Tamworth, New South Wales, Australia. * Robert Peel Primary School in Sandy, Bedfordshire. * A British steamer named ''SS Sir Robert Peel'', based in Canada, was burned by American forces on 29 May 1838, at the height of American-Canadian tensions over the Caroline Affair. * Tamworth, Staffordshire, Tamworth-raised musician Julian Cope sings "the king and queen have offered me the estate of Robert Peel" on the song 'Laughing Boy', from his 1984 LP ''Fried (album), Fried''. * The right wing of the Trafford Centre is called Peel Avenue, named after Robert Peel. * The official mascot of Bury Football Club is Robbie the Bobby, in honour of Sir Robert Peel. * One of the buildings which make up the Home Office headquarters, 2 Marsham Street, 2 Marsham St, is named Peel. * The Peel building, situated on Peel Campus of the University of Salford. * The Sir Robert Peel monument, Cnr George & High Streets, Montrose, Scotland * Peel Crescent in Mansfield, Nottinghamshire, UK. * Peel St and Peel station (Montreal Metro), Peel Metro Station in Montreal. The street is the main north–south axis, downtown. * Peel Street, Hong Kong a small street in Hong Kong. * Peel Street in Simcoe, Ontario, Canada is named in his honour. * The Regional Municipality of Peel (originally Peel County) in Ontario, Canada. ** 10 Peel Centre Drive and Peel Centre. ** Peel Regional Police. ** Peel Regional Paramedic Services. ** Dufferin-Peel Catholic District School Board. ** Peel District School Board. ** former Peel Memorial Hospital (closed 2007) in Brampton, Ontario. * New Zealand pioneer Francis Jollie settled in Canterbury, New Zealand, Canterbury in 1853 and named Peel Forest Park, Peel Forest after the former prime minister, as he had died in the year that Canterbury was founded. The Mount Peel, adjacent mountain and the Peel Forest, settlement that formed also took Peel's name. * The names "bobbies" and "peelers" for British police officers.


In literature

Letitia Elizabeth Landon gave her tribute to Sir Robert in her poem ''Sir Robert Peel'', published in Fisher's Drawing Room Scrap Book, 1837. Robert Peel is a secondary character in the novel ''Dodger'' by Terry Pratchett.


See also

* List of Acts of the Parliament of the United Kingdom, 1820–39, List of Acts of Parliament during the first Peel ministry * List of Acts of the Parliament of the United Kingdom, 1840–59, List of Acts of Parliament during the second Peel ministry * Peelian principles * Benjamin Hick


References


Further reading

* * * * * * * * , vol 1 of the standard scholarly biography ** ; vol. 2 of the standard scholarly biography * * * * * * * * * *


Historiography

* * * *


Primary sources

* *


External links

*
More about Sir Robert Peel
on the Downing Street website.

at www.victorianweb.org

at www.victorianweb.org

For A-level History students
''Sir Robert Peel''
a memorial biography by H. Morse Stephens * * * * , - {{DEFAULTSORT:Peel, Robert Robert Peel, 1788 births 1850 deaths 19th-century prime ministers of the United Kingdom Accidental deaths in London Baronets in the Baronetage of Great Britain Burials in Staffordshire Chancellors of the Exchequer of the United Kingdom Conservative Party (UK) MPs for English constituencies Alumni of Christ Church, Oxford Deaths by horse-riding accident in England Fellows of the Royal Society Leaders of the House of Commons of the United Kingdom Leaders of the Conservative Party (UK) Members of the Privy Council of the United Kingdom Members of the Privy Council of Ireland Members of the Parliament of the United Kingdom for County Tipperary constituencies (1801–1922) Members of the Parliament of the United Kingdom for the University of Oxford History of the Metropolitan Police People educated at Harrow School People educated at Bury Grammar School People from Bury, Greater Manchester People from Ramsbottom Prime Ministers of the United Kingdom People of the Victorian era Rectors of the University of Glasgow Secretaries of State for the Home Department Tory MPs (pre-1834) UK MPs 1807–1812 UK MPs 1812–1818 UK MPs 1818–1820 UK MPs 1820–1826 UK MPs 1826–1830 UK MPs 1830–1831 UK MPs 1831–1832 UK MPs 1832–1835 UK MPs 1835–1837 UK MPs 1837–1841 UK MPs 1841–1847 UK MPs 1847–1852 Peel family, Robert Staffordshire Yeomanry officers Commissioners of the Treasury for Ireland Chief Secretaries for Ireland Conservative Party prime ministers of the United Kingdom People educated at Hipperholme Grammar School Irish Conservative Party MPs MPs for rotten boroughs British political party founders British duellists