Category Archives: Peel in power 1841-1846

Why was religion so important in Victorian politics?

The religious conflicts of the Victorian period were fought out not only in pulpits and pamphlets but also in the political arena. [1] The churches during much of the period did more to mobilise political feeling than the political parties … Continue reading

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Disraeli and Bentinck: partnership in opposition

  Disraeli’s position had been transformed by the events of late 1845, which brought Peel to the Commons in January 1846 as an advocate of repealing the Corn Laws, in defence of which the vast majority of Tory MPs had … Continue reading

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The Corn Law debates

  Peel was undeterred by protectionist anger and introduced the bill to repeal the Corn Laws on 27th January 1846.  Outlining his new tariff policy, he proceeded ‘on the assumption that protective duties, abstractedly and on principle’ were objectionable. In … Continue reading

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Peel returns

  A revised government The failure of Russell to form a government transformed the prospects for the Peel ministry. Peel was not sorry to be required to carry on and, having been summoned again by his monarch, felt a heightened … Continue reading

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Towards repeal

  In the late summer of 1845, disquieting rumours of the failure of some of the Irish potato crop reached England. The potato blight was not limited to Ireland: the whole of central and Western Europe was threatened by it … Continue reading

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1845-1846: A Crisis of Conservatism

  The crisis of Conservatism began with the dispute over the Maynooth grant in 1845 and ended with the repeal of the Corns Laws in 1846 followed by the end of the Peel government. It is tempting to see the … Continue reading

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Disraeli: a study in opposition 1841-1845

  Disraeli[1] made his maiden speech in parliament on 7th December 1837, in a debate on MPs’ privileges. It was another challenge to Daniel O’Connell, the previous speaker, and was hooted down by jeering O’Connellite Irishmen, though not before its … Continue reading

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The question of Ireland: Seeking conciliation 1844-1845

  With the receding threat of repeal from late 1843, there were now opportunities for a new approach to Irish matters. The government recognised that coercion could not be maintained indefinitely. However, the options available to Peel were limited.  Economic … Continue reading

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The question of Ireland: Peel responds

  The strength of the repeal movement in the summer of 1843 caused growing alarm among its opponents. Opposition was also building in England to Peel’s inactive Irish policy. In May, a deputation of Protestant peers urged on Peel and … Continue reading

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The question of Ireland

  During the 1810s and 1820s Peel was regarded as the champion of the Protestant Constitution and, in many respects the contrast between this and his approach to governing Ireland after 1841 is remarkable. The extraction of Catholic Emancipation from … Continue reading

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Gathering disaffection 1841-1845

  The issue of the growing division between Peel and his supporters and the rest of the Conservative party is made more difficult for historians because they know the end result, the division of the party over the Corn Laws … Continue reading

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Graham as Home Secretary

  Sir James Graham (1792-1861)[1] brought untiring industry and a powerful administrative brain to the Home Office. He was faced with great problems: social unrest, Chartism, the emergence of the ‘condition of England’ problem and a campaign in Ireland for … Continue reading

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Further social reform

  Asylums and the insane Ashley also played a significant role in raising the question of conditions in asylums and madhouses and the treatment of their inmates[1]. In 1842, he had secured legislation that empowered the Metropolitan Commissioners in Lunacy … Continue reading

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Factory reform and the ‘condition of England’ question 1843-46

  The 1843 Factory Bill and the 1844 Factory Act There was an obvious difference between Ashley’s proposals in social legislation and the government’s own initiatives. For Ashley, it was a crusade; the government was far more concerned with the … Continue reading

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Factory reform and the ‘condition of England’ question 1841-1842

  More serious conflict over social legislation occurred between the government and a small group of socially concerned Conservative MPs. These Tory ‘paternalists’ commanded a certain respect for their devout Anglicanism and deeply held conservatism. Motivated by a strong humanitarianism, … Continue reading

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