The Peel Society
Return To The Home page

Sir Robert Peel


   

Sir Robert Peel

Born: 5 February 1788 (Bury, Lancashire)
Died: 2 July 1850 (Whitehall Gardens, London)
Nickname: "Orange Peel"
Education: Harrow and Christ Church, Oxford.
Family: Peel was the eldest son and the third of 11 children. He was married to Julia Floyd, and had 5 sons and 2 daughters.
Age at appointment: 46 years, 308 days and 53 years, 206 days.
First entered Parliament: 15 April 1809
Maiden Speech: 23 January 1810 seconding the reply to the King's Speech at the opening of Parliament.
Total time as PM: 5 years, 57 days.
   

Sir Robert Peel, the Second Baronet, twice Prime Minister, was born in 1788 into the world of Joshua Reynolds, of stage-coaches and highwaymen, and died in 1850 in the age of Darwin, of Punch, railway excursions, trade unions and income-tax.

He is remembered for many notable Acts of Parliament and policies, such as the founding of the Metropolitan Police in 1829 and in the same year, Catholic Emancipation. In 1834, he issued the first party political manifesto, known as the "Tamworth Manifesto". This accepted the Reform Act of 1832, thus establishing the precedent that a new party in power accepts its predecessors' legislation. In his great administration of 1841-1846, he repealed the Corn Laws, which enabled the growing working class to enjoy cheaper food. This almost certainly lead to the relative social stability of the UK in the 19th century compared to the continental power and the United States of America.

He is remembered in our daily life by policemen being called "Bobbies", a nickname for the new police in London in 1829, which has stuck.

His statue stands in the Market Place at Tamworth, the town that both he, his father and his son represented in Parliament.

The Peel Family originated in Yorkshire and moved to Lancashire, where they had farming and textile interests and where they did so much to found the great Lancashire calico-printing trade. In the 1790's the father of Sir Robert migrated south to Staffordshire where he acquired the Manor of Drayton and realised his ambitions to achieve "rank and consequence" in society, first entering Parliament as the Member for Tamworth in 1790 and earning his baronetcy in 1800.

Drayton Manor was built for the Prime Minister by Robert Smirke, the fashionable architect, and William Gilpin, the great landscape gardener of that time, and it was in the little parish church at Drayton that Sir Robert was buried following a fall from his horse on Constitution Hill, London. There were six baronets, all named Sir Robert Peel, until the direct line ended in 1942. The title transferred to a younger branch of the family and the present Earl Peel is the third Earl, fourth Viscount and eighth Baronet.