Paper on Gladstone at the Colonial Office, 1846

Scope and Content

Paper entitled Gladstone at the Colonial Office, 1846,by Professor Alan Shaw of Monash University, presented at the Institute ofCommonwealth Studies Australian Studies Centre, 1986.

Administrative / Biographical History

William Ewart Gladstone (1809-1898) entered Parliament as a Conservative MP in1832 and remained there until 1895, serving under successive Tory and Liberalgovernments, except for a period spent as Secretaryof State for the Colonies, 1845-1847. He was made President of the Board of Trade,1843, Chancellor of the Exchequer, 1858-1866 and leader of the Liberal Party,1867. In 1868 he was elected Prime Minister.

As Prime Minister he oversaw Cardwell's Army Reform, 1868, which made peacetime flogging illegal,the disestablishment of the Churchof Ireland, 1869, the Irish Land Act, 1870 which protected tenantsfrom arbitrary eviction and provided compensation for improvements, Forester's Education Act, 1870 which provided elementary schooling for childrenbetween the ages of five and thirteen, and the 1872 Ballot Act, which institutedsecret ballots for Parliamentary elections. Gladstone was replaced as PrimeMinister by Disraeli, 1874. He returned to lead the country in 1879 during aperiod which witnessed British military defeat at the hands of the Afrikanersin 1881 and the death of General Gordon at Khartoum, 1885. During his thirdministry, 1886, he supported Irish home rule and resigned when the home rulebill was defeated. His final term as Prime Minister also ended with hisresignation, in 1894, when a further Irish home rule bill was defeated in the Lords.

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Related Material

Papers of Frances Sarah Colenso, including copy of letters, 1884, from B. Jowettand others to W.E. Gladstone, requesting a pension (ref. MSS. Afr. s. 1284);three letters from Gladstone to Francis Fulford, Bishop of Montreal, 1853,concerning the Church in the colonies (ref. (B) MS. Eng. lett. d. 298,ff. 159-165).