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Thursday, 19 January 2017

Robert Peel

Robert Peel was born at Chamber Hall, Bury, Lancashire on February 5, 1788.

On hearing the news of the birth of his son, the cotton industrialist, Sir Robert Peel fell on his knees and, returning thanks to God, vowed that he would give his son to his country. The younger Robert Peel grew up to be one of Britain's leading politicians of the nineteenth century.


Thanks to the patronage of his father, Peel became MP for the Irish seat of Cashel City, Co. Tipperary, a borough with only twenty-four voters, in 1809. No contest was held for the seat.

Robert Peel had been an MP for 283 days before he made his maiden speech in the House of Commons in 1810.

When Robert Peel became Home Secretary, he organised a paid and trained police force for day and night duty called the Metropolitan Police of London. The people nicknamed the police Bobbies, after Peel, a name that has stuck ever since.

Sir Robert Peel

As Home Secretary, Robert Peel carried through the Catholic Emancipation Act in 1829, which repealed the penal laws against the 200,000 British and Irish Catholics. Despite this he was derisively nicknamed "Orange Peel", by Irish Roman Catholics as the Irish police force he'd created 14 years earlier was made up mainly of Protestants.


After successive election defeats, leadership of the Conservative Party gradually passed from Wellington to Peel, and when King William IV asked Wellington to become Prime Minister in November 1834, he recommended that the King choose Peel instead.

By 1834, Robert Peel was representing the family seat at Tamworth, Staffordshire. On December 18, 1834, after become Prime Minister, he issued the Tamworth Manifesto, which pledged that the Tories would support modest reform. The political manifesto is widely credited by historians as having laid down the principles upon which the modern British Conservative Party is based.

He served two terms as Prime Minister: December 10, 1834 – April 8, 1835 and August 30, 1841 – June 29, 1846.

Detail of Sir Robert Peel, 2nd Bt, by Henry William Pickersgill

When Robert Peel re-introduced Income Tax on incomes over £150 in 1842, it was portrayed as a temporary measure but it has been remained to this day.

His repealing of the Corn Laws in 1846 split the Conservative Party and they were not able to win a majority for another 28 years.


Peel was thrown from his horse while riding on Constitution Hill in London and the horse stumbled on top of him. He died three days later on July 2, 1850 at the age of 62 due to a clavicular fracture rupturing his subclavian vessels.

Charles Dickens said on Sir Robert Peel's death: "He was a man of merit who could ill be spared from the Great Dust Heap down at Westminster."

Statue by Edward Hodges Baily in Bury

In 1949, Peel's family home, Drayton Manor in Tamworth, Staffordshire, became one of Britain’s first theme parks.

Peel is one of the famous people who appears on the cover of The Beatles' Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band album.

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