Robert Banks Jenkinson, 2nd Earl of
Liverpool PC (7 June 1770
â€“ 4 December 1828) was a British politician and the longest-serving Prime Minister of the
United Kingdom since the Union
with Ireland in 1801.
During his time as Prime Minister
from 1812 to 1827, Liverpool became known for repressive measures
introduced to maintain order, but also for steering the country
through the period of radicalism and unrest that followed the
. Important events
during his time as Prime Minister included the War of 1812, the Congress of Vienna, the Corn Laws, the Peterloo Massacre, the Trinitarian
Act 1812 and the emerging issue of Catholic Emancipation.
was baptised on 29 June 1770 at St. Margaret's,
Westminster, the son of George III's close adviser
Jenkinson, 1st Earl of Liverpool and his first wife, Amelia
Jenkinson's 19 year old mother, who was part-Indian,
died from the effects of childbirth one month after his birth.
was educated at Charterhouse School and Christ Church, Oxford. In the summer of 1789, Jenkinson spent four
months in Paris to perfect
his French and enlarge his social
Arms of the Earls of Liverpool
He returned to Oxford for three months to
complete his terms of residence and in May 1790 was created master
election to the House of Commons in 1790 for Rye, a seat he would hold
until 1803; at the time, however, he was under the age of assent to
Parliament, so he refrained from taking his seat and spent the
following winter and early spring in an extended tour of the
continent. This tour took in the Netherlands and Italy, whereby he
was old enough to take his seat in Parliament.
It is not
clear exactly when he entered the Commons, but as his twenty-first
birthday was not reached until almost the end of the 1791 session,
it is possible that he waited until the following year.
With the help of his father's influence and his political talent,
he rose relatively fast in the Tory government. In February 1792, he
gave the reply to Samuel Whitbread's
critical motion on the government's Russian
He delivered several other speeches during the
session, including one against the abolition of the slave trade
, which reflected his father's strong
opposition to William
's campaign. He served as a member of the Board of Control
for India from 1793 to
defence movement that followed the outbreak of hostilities with
was one of the first of the ministers of the government to enlist
in the militia.
Lord Hawkesbury in the 1790s.
In 1794 he became a Colonel
in the Cinque
fencibles, and his military duties led to frequent
absences from the Commons. In 1796 his regiment was sent to Scotland and he was quartered for a time in Dumfries.
His parliamentary attendance also suffered
from his reaction when his father angrily opposed his projected
marriage with Lady Louisa Hervey, daughter of the Earl of Bristol
. After Pitt and the
King had intervened on his behalf, the wedding finally took place
at Wimbledon on 25 March 1795.
In May 1796, when his
father was created Earl of
, he took the courtesy title of Lord
in 1796 and remained in the Commons. He became
in his own right and was elevated
to the House of Lords in November 1803, as recognition of his work
as Foreign Secretary. He also served as Master of the Mint
Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs and Home Secretary
In Henry Addington's
entered the cabinet as Secretary of State for
, in which capacity he negotiated the Treaty of Amiens
with France. Most of his time as
Foreign secretary was spent dealing with the nations of France and the
He continued to serve in the cabinet as
in Pitt the Younger's
government. While Pitt was seriously ill, Liverpool was in charge
of the cabinet and drew up the King's Speech for the official
opening of Parliament.When William Pitt died in 1806, the King
asked Liverpool to accept the post of Prime Minister, but he
refused, as he believed he lacked a governing majority. He was then
made leader of the Opposition during Lord
's ministry (the only time that Liverpool did not hold
government office between 1793 and after his retirement). In 1807,
he resumed office as Home Secretary
Duke of Portland's
Secretary of State for War and the Colonies
Lord Liverpool (as Hawkesbury had now become by the death of his
father in December 1808) accepted Secretary of State
for War and the Colonies
's government in 1809. Liverpool's first step on taking up his
new post was to elicit from the Duke of Wellington
a strong enough statement of his ability to resist a French attack
to persuade the cabinet to commit themselves to the maintenance of
his small force in Portugal.
When Perceval was assassinated in May 1812, Lord Liverpool
succeeded him as prime minister. The cabinet proposed Liverpool as
his successor with Lord
as leader in the Commons. But after an adverse vote
in the Lower House, they subsequently gave both their resignations.
The Prince Regent, however, found it impossible to form a different
coalition and confirmed Liverpool as prime minister on 8 June.
Liverpool's government contained some of the future great leaders
of Britain, such as Lord
, George Canning
, Robert Peel
. Liverpool is
considered a skilled politician, and held together the liberal and
reactionary wings of the Tory party, which his successors, Canning,
Goedrich and Wellington, had great difficulty with.
Napoleonic Wars and the Congress of Vienna
Liverpool's ministry was a long and eventful one. The War of 1812
with the United States and the final
campaigns of the Napoleonic Wars were fought during Liverpool's
premiership. It was during his ministry that the Peninsular
Campaigns were fought by the Duke of Wellington. Britain defeated
France in the Napoleonic Wars
Liverpool was awarded the Order of the Garter. At the peace
negotiations that followed, Liverpool's main concern was to obtain
a European settlement that would ensure the independence of the
Netherlands, Spain, and
Portugal and confine France inside her
pre-war frontiers without damaging her national integrity.
To achieve this, he was ready to return all British colonial
conquests. Within this broad framework, he gave Castlereagh a
discretion at the Congress of
, the next most important event of his ministry.
congress, he gave prompt approval for Castlereagh's bold initiative
in making the defensive alliance with Austria and France in January 1815.
aftermath, several years of peace followed.
The Corn Laws and trouble at home
Agriculture remained a problem because good harvests between 1819
and 1822 had brought down prices and evoked a cry for greater
protection. When the powerful agricultural lobby in Parliament
demanded protection in the aftermath, Liverpool gave in to
political necessity. Under governmental supervision the notorious
of 1815 were passed prohibiting
the import of foreign wheat
until the domestic
price reached a minimum accepted level. Liverpool, however, was in
principle a free-trader, but had to accept the bill as a temporary
measure to ease the transition to peacetime conditions. His chief
economic problem during his time as Prime-Minister was that of the
nation's finances. The interest on the national debt
, massively swollen by the
enormous expenditure of the final war years, together with the war
, absorbed the greater part of
normal government revenue. The refusal of the House of
Commons in 1816 to continue the wartime income tax left
ministers with no immediate alternative but to go on with the
ruinous system of borrowing to meet necessary annual
Liverpool eventually facilitated a return to
the gold standard in 1819.
Inevitably taxes rose to compensate for borrowing and to pay off
the debt, which led to widespread disturbance between 1812 and
1822. Around this time, the group known as
Luddites began industrial action, by
smashing industrial machines developed for use in the textile
industries of the West Riding of
Yorkshire, Nottinghamshire, Leicestershire and Derbyshire.
Throughout the period 1811-16, there were a
series of incidents of machine-breaking and many of those convicted
The reports of the secret committees he obtained in 1817 pointed to
the existence of an organised network of disaffected political
societies, especially in the manufacturing areas. Liverpool told
Peel that the disaffection in the country seemed even worse than in
1794. Because of a largely perceived threat to the government,
temporary legislation was introduced. He suspended Habeas Corpus in both Great Britain (1817) and Ireland (1822). Following the Peterloo Massacre in 1819, his government imposed the repressive
Six Acts legislation which limited, among
other things, free speech and the right to gather for peaceful
In 1820, as a result of these measures,
Liverpool and other cabinet ministers were almost assassinated in
the Cato Street
Although Lord Liverpool argued for the abolition of the slave trade
at the Congress of Vienna, he was generally opposed to reform at
home, often embracing repressive measures to ensure the status quo
. He did however support the repeal of
the Combination Laws
from combining into trade unions in 1824, although the powers of
these unions were restricted in 1835 following strikes
During the 19th century, and, in particular, during Liverpool's
time in office, Catholic
was a source of great conflict. In 1805, in his
first important statement of his views on the subject, Liverpool
had argued that the special relationship of the monarch with the
Church of England, and the refusal of Roman Catholics
to take the oath of
supremacy, justified their exclusion from political power.
Throughout his career, he remained opposed to the idea of Catholic
emanicpation, though did see marginal concessions as important to
the stability of the nation.
The decision of 1812 to remove the issue from collective cabinet
policy, followed in 1813 by the defeat of Grattan's Roman Catholic Relief Bill
, brought a period
of calm. Liverpool supported marginal concessions such as the
admittance of English Roman Catholics to the higher ranks of the
armed forces, the magistracy, and the parliamentary franchise; but
he remained opposed to their participation in parliament itself. In
the 1820s, pressure from the liberal wing of the Commons and the
rise of the Catholic Association in Ireland revived the
Liverpool in 1828.
By the date of Sir Francis Burdett's Catholic Relief Bill in 1825,
emancipation looked a likely success. Indeed, the success of the
bill in the Commons in April, followed by Robert Peel
's tender of resignation, finally
persuaded Liverpool that he should retire. When Canning made a
formal proposal that the cabinet should back the bill, Liverpool
was convinced that his administration had come to its end. George Canning
then succeeded him as Prime
Minister. Catholic emancipation however was not fully implemented
until the major changes of the Catholic Relief Act of 1829
the leadership of the Duke of Wellington
and Sir Robert Peel
, and with the
work of the Catholic
established in 1823.
Liverpool's first wife, Louisa, died at 54. He soon married again
to Lady Mary Chester, a long-time friend of Louisa. Their marriage
only lasted three years however, until Liverpool's death.
finally retired on 9 April 1827, when, at Fife House (his riverside
residence in Whitehall since 1810), he suffered a severe cerebral
hemorrhage, and asked the King to seek a successor.
was another minor stroke in July, after which he lingered on at
Coombe until a third and fatal attack on 4 December 1828 when he
died. He had no children and was succeeded in the Earldom of Liverpool
by his younger
Cecil Cope Jenkinson, 3rd Earl of Liverpool
. He was buried in
Hawkesbury parish church, Gloucestershire, beside his father and
his first wife. His personal estate was registered at under
in London is named
after Lord Liverpool.
Lord Liverpool's Administration (1812-1827)
- late 1812 - Lord Camden leaves the Cabinet.
- September, 1814 - William
Wellesley-Pole (Lord Maryborough from 1821), the Master of the Mint, enters the
- February, 1816 - George Canning
succeeds Lord Buckinghamshire at the Board of Control
- January, 1818 - Frederick John
Robinson, the President of the Board of
Trade, enters the Cabinet.
- January, 1819 - The Duke of Wellington
succeeds Lord Mulgrave as Master-General of the Ordnance. Lord
Mulgrave becomes minister without portfolio.
- 1820 - Lord Mulgrave leaves the cabinet.
- January, 1821 - Charles Bathurst succeeds Canning as President
of the Board of Control, remaining also at the Duchy of
- January, 1822 - Robert Peel succeeds
Lord Sidmouth as Home Secretary
- February, 1822 - Charles Watkin
Williams-Wynn succeeds Charles Bathurst at the Board of
Control. Bathurst remains at the Duchy of Lancaster and in the
- September, 1822 - Following the suicide of Lord Londonderry,
George Canning becomes Foreign
Secretary and Leader of the House of Commons.
- January, 1823 - Vansittart, elevated to the peerage as Lord
Bexley, succeeds Charles Bathurst as Chancellor of the Duchy of
Lancaster. F.J. Robinson succeeds Vansittart as Chancellor of the
Exchequer. He is succeeded at the Board of Trade by William Huskisson.
- 1823 - Lord Maryborough, the Master of the Mint, leaves the
Cabinet. His successor in the office is not a Cabinet member.
- 2nd Earl of Liverpool
- Baron Hawkesbury
- Lord Hawkesbury
- Robert Jenkinson
Walpole and William Pitt the Younger held
office for longer, but before the United Kingdom was formed,
although William Pitt, who served two terms was also the Prime
Minister of the United Kingdom from 1804 to 1806.
- D. Leonard 2008 Nineteenth-Century British Premiers: Pitt to
Rosebery. Palgrave Macmillan: p. 82.
- Gash, N. Lord Liverpool: The Life and Political Career of
Robert Banks Jenkinson, Second Earl of Liverpool 1770-1828. London
- Petrie, C. Lord Liverpool and His Times. London, 1954.