|Birth Day:||February 5, 1788|
|Death Date:||2 July 1850(1850-07-02) (aged 62)
Westminster, Middlesex, England
|Birth Place:||Ramsbottom, British|
|#1||Arthur Peel, 1st Viscount Peel||Children||N/A||N/A||N/A|
As per our current Database, Robert Peel died on 2 July 1850(1850-07-02) (aged 62)
Westminster, Middlesex, England.
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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 or Hipperholme Grammar School, though evidence for either is anecdotal rather than textual. He started at Harrow School in February 1800. 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". On Harrow's Speech Day in 1804, Peel and Byron acted part of Virgil's Aeneid, Peel playing Turnus and Byron playing Latinus.
In 1805 Peel matriculated at Christ Church, Oxford. His tutor was Charles Lloyd, later Regius Professor of Divinity, on Peel's recommendation appointed Bishop of Oxford. 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 in 1809. He also held military commissions as a captain in the Manchester Regiment of Militia in 1808, and later as lieutenant in the Staffordshire Yeomanry Cavalry in 1820.
Peel entered politics in 1809 at the age of 21, as MP for the Irish rotten borough of Cashel, Tipperary. 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. His speech was a sensation, famously described by the Speaker, Charles Abbot, as "the best first speech since that of William Pitt."
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. 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.
Peel changed constituency twice, becoming MP for Chippenham in 1812, and then MP for Oxford University in 1817.
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. 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.
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, and Peel was chosen as its chairman. 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).
Peel married Julia Floyd (1795 - 1859) (daughter of General Sir John Floyd, 1st Baronet and his first wife Rebecca Darke) on 8 June 1820. They had seven children:
Peel was considered one of the rising stars of the Tory party, first entering the cabinet in 1822 as Home Secretary. 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. He reformed the gaol system, introducing payment for gaolers and education for the inmates in the Gaols Act 1823.
In 1827 the Prime Minister Lord Liverpool became incapacitated and was replaced by George Canning. Peel resigned as home secretary. 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 anti-Catholic Orange Order). 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. During this time he was widely perceived as the number-two in the Tory Party, after Wellington himself.
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. 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.
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 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, Westbury, 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 vehemently opposed to emancipation, the bill could pass only with Whig support. Wellington threatened to resign if King George IV did not give Royal assent; the King finally relented, the Roman Catholic Relief Act 1829 passing into law in April 1829. Peel's U-turn cost him the trust of many Tories: according to Norman Gash, Peel had been "the idolized champion of the Protestant party; that party now regarded him as an outcast".
It was in 1829 that Peel established the Metropolitan Police Force for London based at 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 developed the Peelian Principles which defined the ethical requirements police officers must follow to be effective. In 1829, when setting forth the principles of policing a democracy, Sir Robert Peel declared: "The police are the public and the public are the police."
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 felt confident enough to invite the Tories to form a ministry again in succession to those of Lord Grey and 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.
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.
In May 1839 he was offered another chance to form a government, this time by the new monarch, 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 Crisis. 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.
To raise revenue Peel's 1842 budget saw the re-introduction of the income tax, removed previously at the end of the Napoleonic War. 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 was first proposed. It was defeated in a Commons vote by a margin of 4:1.
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, 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 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.
In 1843 Peel was the target of a failed assassination attempt; a criminally insane Scottish wood turner named Daniel M'Naghten stalked him for several days before killing Peel's personal secretary Edward Drummond thinking he was Peel, which led to the formation of the criminal defense of insanity.
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, which supported agricultural revenues by restricting grain imports. This radical break with Conservative protectionism was triggered by the 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 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". Following this, on 29 June 1846, Peel resigned as prime minister.
Peel did retain a hard core of supporters however, known as Peelites, 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 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 clavicular fracture rupturing his subclavian vessels.
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.
Currently, Robert Peel is 234 years, 4 months and 23 days old. Robert Peel will celebrate 235th birthday on a Sunday 5th of February 2023.
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