Sir Robert Peel 2nd Baronet
(1788-1850)

Died aged c. 62

Sir Robert Peel, 2nd Baronet (5 February 1788 – 2 July 1850) was a British statesman and member of the Conservative Party, who twice served as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom (1834–1835 and 1841–1846) and twice served as Home Secretary (1822–1827 and 1828–1830). He is regarded as the father of the modern British police and as one of the founders of the modern Conservative Party. The son of wealthy textile manufacturer and politician Sir Robert Peel, 1st Baronet, he was educated at Bury Grammar School, Hipperholme Grammar School and Harrow School and earned a double first in classics and mathematics from Christ Church, Oxford. He entered the House of Commons in 1809 under the tutelage of his father and Sir Arthur Wellesley, the future Duke of Wellington. Peel was widely seen as a "rising star" in the Conservative Party and served in various junior ministerial offices, including Chief Secretary for Ireland (1812–1818) and Chairman of the Bullion Committee. Peel entered the Cabinet for the first time as Home Secretary (1822–1827), where he reformed and liberalised the criminal law and created the modern police force, leading to a new type of officer known in tribute to him as "bobbies" and "peelers". He cut tariffs to stimulate business; to replace the lost revenue he pushed through a 3% income tax. He played a central role in making Free Trade a reality and set up a modern banking system. After the resignation of Prime Minister Robert Jenkinson, The Earl of Liverpool, Peel resigned as Home Secretary but, after a brief period out of office, he returned as Home Secretary under his political mentor the Duke of Wellington (1828–1830), also serving as Leader of the House of Commons. Initially a supporter of legal discrimination against Catholics, Peel eventually supported the repeal of the Test Act (1828) and the Roman Catholic Relief Act 1829, claiming that "though emancipation was a great danger, civil strife was a greater danger". In 1830, the Whigs finally returned to power and Peel became a member of the Opposition for the first time. 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 declined and Peel was selected instead, with Wellington serving as caretaker until Peel took office. Peel then issued the Tamworth Manifesto, laying down the principles upon which the modern British Conservative Party is based. His first ministry was a minority government, dependent on Whig support and with Peel serving as his own Chancellor of the Exchequer. After only four months, his government collapsed and he served as Leader of the Opposition during the second government of The Viscount Melbourne (1835–1841). Peel declined to become Prime Minister of another minority government again in May 1839, prompting a political crisis. He finally became Prime Minister again, after the 1841 general election. His second government ruled for five years and its major legislation included the Mines and Collieries Act 1842, the Income Tax Act 1842, the Factories Act 1844 and the Railway Regulation Act 1844. Peel's government was weakened by anti-Irish and anti-Catholic sentiment following the controversial Maynooth Grant of 1845 and, following the outbreak of the Great Irish Potato Famine, his decision to join with Whigs and Radicals to repeal the Corn Laws led to his resignation as Prime Minister in 1846. Peel remained an influential backbencher and leader of the Peelite faction until his death in 1850. Peel often started from a traditional Tory position in opposition to a measure, then reversed himself and became the leader in supporting liberal legislation. This happened with the Test Act, Catholic Emancipation, the Reform Act, income tax and, most notably, the repeal of the Corn Laws as the first two years of the Irish famine forced this resolution because of the urgent need for new food supplies. Peel, a Conservative, achieved repeal with the support of the Whigs in Parliament, overcoming the opposition of most of his own party. Therefore, many critics said he was a traitor to the Tory cause, or "a Liberal wolf in sheep's clothing" because his final position reflected liberal ideas. Historian A.J.P. Taylor says: "Peel was in the first rank of 19th century statesman. He carried Catholic Emancipation; he repealed the Corn Laws; he created the modern Conservative Party on the ruins of the old Toryism."

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Commemorated on 3 plaques

Nick Harrison on Flickr
gnomonic on Flickr
Elliott Brown on Flickr

Sir Robert Peel 1750-1830 manufacturer and reformer, and his son, Sir Robert Peel 1788-1850 Prime Minister, founder of the Metropolitan Police lived here

16 Upper Grosvenor Street, Westminster, W1, London, United Kingdom where they lived

Portico Library - 1806 Thomas Harrison architect (1744-1829) Richard Cobden John Dalton Elizabeth Gaskell Sir Robert Peel Thomas de Quincey Peter Mark Roget were readers here

Charlotte Street, Manchester, United Kingdom where they read

The right honourable Sir Robert Peel, Bart. Born Feb 5th 1788. Elected in the year 1830. Member of Parliament for Tamworth. Which town he continued to represent until his death July 2nd 1850

Sir Robert Peel statue - outside the Town Hall, Market Street, Tamworth, United Kingdom where they is commemorated (1853)