Birthday: February 5, 1788
Died At Age: 62
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Also Known As: Sir Robert Peel
Born in: Ramsbottom
Famous as: Prime Minister of the United Kingdom
political ideology: Political party - Tory/Conservative
siblings: William Yates Peel
children: Eliza Peel
Died on: July 2, 1850
place of death: Westminster
Cause of Death: Accident
Founder/Co-Founder: Metropolitan Police Service
education: Christ Church, Oxford, Harrow School, Hipperholme Grammar School, University of Oxford
Who was Robert Peel?
Sir Robert Peel was an English politician who served twice as the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom and founded the ‘Conservative Party’. Born to a wealthy cotton mill owner, Peel attained his education at Harrow and Oxford, and later entered parliament as a Tory. Initially in his political career, he served as under-secretary for war and colonies, and the chief secretary for Ireland. Later, he became the home secretary and introduced far-ranging criminal law and prison reform as well as laid the foundation of the Metropolitan Police. Following the dismissal of Whig Government of Earl Grey, Sir Robert Peel was appointed as the Prime Minister of England. But, he resigned after a year following the Tories’ minority issue in the House of Commons, a situation which he found increasingly intolerable. Later, Peel returned to the office with a Conservative administration and it was during this government that he oversaw the introduction of significant legislation such as the Mines Act of 1842, and the Factory Act of 1844. Later, he attempted to repeal the Corn Laws which had been introduced to protect British agriculture. Although, the issue caused heated debate in the parliament for months, the Corn Laws were eventually repealed with support from the Whigs and the Radicals. Afterwards, Peel was defeated on another bill and resigned from his post. He never held office again. Several years later, Peel was badly injured in a riding accident and subsequently died in London.
Childhood & Early Life
Robert Peel was born on February 5, 1788, at Bury, Lancashire, England, to Sir Robert Peel, 1st Baronet, an industrialist and parliamentarian. His father was one of the wealthiest textile manufacturers of the early Industrial Revolution.
Peel received his early education from the Bury Grammar School, then at Harrow School and finally attended the Christ Church, Oxford, where he earned a double first in classics and mathematics.
In 1808, Peel saw part-time military service as a Captain in the Manchester Regiment of Militia. The following year, while studying as a law student at Lincoln's Inn, he entered Parliament with the influence of his father.
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At the age of 21, Peel entered politics as a Member of Parliament for the Irish rotten borough of Cashel, Tipperary. The next year, in 1810, Peel joined the government as the under-secretary for war and the colonies.
In 1812, when Lord Liverpool became the Prime Minister, he appointed Peel as the chief secretary for Ireland, a post Peel served for the next six years. As chief secretary, he ushered several reforms including the establishment of a permanent Irish police force and laid the foundations for famine relief.
In 1818, upon his retirement from the post of chief secretary, Peel stayed out of office for several years.
In 1821, Peel was recalled and offered the post of home secretary in Lord Liverpool's government, where he served until 1830.
After the Tory ministry refused to bend on other issues, similar to the ones as the Catholic emancipation, they were swept out of office in 1830 in favor of the Whigs. Thereafter, times were extremely turbulent for his party but eventually Tories were asked by the king to form a ministry again in 1834 and Peel was elected to be the Prime Minister of England.
In 1834, Peel issued the Tamworth Manifesto, laying down the principles upon which the modern British Conservative Party is based. In April 1835, Peel’s government was defeated by a combination of Whigs, radicals, and Irish nationalists, and Peel resigned from his office. During the next six years, with help from his smart and watchful tactics, the Conservative Party steadily increased in numbers and confidence.
In the general election of 1841, the Conservative Party gained a majority in the House of Commons and Sir Robert Peel returned to the office of Prime Minister.
In 1844, his government passed ‘The Factory Act’ which restricted the number of hours that children and women could work in a factory, and setting rudimentary safety standards for machinery.
By 1845, the only unresolved difference in the free trade system was the protection of agriculture afforded by the Corn Laws, which supported agricultural revenues by restricting grain imports. Following the Great Irish Famine, Peel moved against the landholders by repealing the Corn Laws, a decision which split his cabinet and ultimately led to his resignation in 1846.
From 1846 onwards, Peel remained an active and influential leader in politics, dedicating himself to the support of free-trade principles of Whigs government.
In the Metropolitan Police Act of 1829, Sir Robert Peel laid the foundations of a modern professional police force. This act established the London police force, whose members were called ‘Peelers’ or ‘Bobbies’, named after him.
The greatest accomplishment of Peel's ministry was the establishment of the principle of free trade. He was also mainly responsible for the repeal of the Corn Laws that had restricted imports, in 1846.
Personal Life & Legacy
In 1820, Sir Robert Peel married Julia Floyd, the youngest daughter of General Sir John Floyd, 1st Baronet. The couple had five sons and two daughters together.
In June 1850, Peel was involved in an accident; he was thrown from his horse while riding on Constitution Hill in London and the horse stumbled on top of him. Three days later, Sir Robert Peel died on July 2, 1950, due to a fracture rupturing his vessels.