Earl of Rosebery (Archibald Philip Primrose), 1847-1929

Rosebery is perhaps the least well-known of the Liberal Prime Ministers, having the misfortune to serve in the office for only a short period, immediately after the extended career of the charismatic Gladstone. He had a difficult relationship with the radicals of his parliamentary party, not because of his social policy attitudes (he was a […]

The Age of Russell and Palmerston, 1846-1868

The collapse of Sir Robert Peel's Conservative government, following the 1846 repeal of the Corn Laws, began a complex re-arrangement of British political parties; one that took more than a decade to complete. Paradoxically, by rejecting Peel, the remaining Tories held the advantage of unity in their desire to protect agricultural interests and the established Anglican Church while their foes were divided. Could the more liberal MPs, a majority in the House of Commons, form a cohesive party?

Gladstone’s first government

After an apprenticeship in government under the Conservative Robert Peel, Gladstone served as Chancellor of the Exchequer in Aberdeen’s coalition and Palmerston’s Government of 1859-1865. His energy, administrative and oratorical skills marked him as the Liberal Party’s future leader.

The Liberals in opposition 1875-1880

At the beginning of 1875, following his defeat by Disraeli in the 1874 general election, Gladstone resigned the leadership of the Liberal party, convincing himself that at the age of 65 he deeply desired an interval between parliament and the grave. But he did not resign his seat.

The Midlothian Campaign

A year after the defeat of his government in 1874, William Ewart Gladstone retired as leader of the Liberal Party. At 65, he deeply desired an interval between parliament and the grave to devote to religious affairs. Indeed, it was while engrossed in notes on Future Retribution that he was called away to write the pamphlet on the 1876 Bulgarian atrocities that marked his return to politics. At the beginning of 1879, he accepted an invitation to stand for Midlothian in the general election expected for 1880.

Gladstone’‘s second government

The Liberals won the 1880 election by a greater margin than anticipated, gaining 112 seats and, despite the strength of the Irish nationalist party, a majority of over 50 against all other parties. Despite significant achievements including the 1884 Reform Act the 1880-1885 Gladstonian administration has not been celebrated in the same way as its Liberal predecessor. Most commentary, coloured by hindsight of the schism in the party in 1886, has focussed on its difficulties.

Chamberlain’s Radical Programme

Joseph Chamberlain, the Birmingham manufacturer, took up full time politics in the 1870s. As mayor of Birmingham he built his reputation by successfully importing business methods into local government and the Radical Programme was his attempt to apply his techniques on a national stage.

Remember The Rights of The Savage

Following his electoral defeat in 1874, Gladstone resigned the Liberal leadership and, in his sixties, hoped to spend the rest of his life in retirement. The Balkan Massacres of 1876 drew him back to politics in protest at what he saw as Disraeli’s (Lord Beaconsfield’s) cynical reaction and his own party’s supine response.

The Hawarden Kite

In November 1885 the Irish Nationalist leader, Charles Stewart Parnell proposed an independent constitution for Ireland and although the Liberal leader, William Gladstone, believed in the necessity of Home Rule by this time, he was also convinced that he needed further time to persuade his Party of this.

Joseph Chamberlain and Municipal Liberalism

The reforms in municipal services that Joseph Chamberlain introduced during his three-year mayoralty of Birmingham in the mid-1870s marked a turning point for British Liberalism as well as in the governance of industrial cities.

Journal articles

The long march of British history

Review of Martin Pugh, State and Society. A Social and Political History of Britain since 1870 (Bloomsbury Academic, 2017)

‘Vote for Mr Crum and one other Liberal’

The origin of two 1874 election leaflets.

The long-lived Liberal Party of Canada

An examination of the history of the Canadian Liberal Party.

Transatlantic Gladstone

Review of Stephen J. Peterson, Gladstone’s Influence in America (Palgrave Macmillan, 2018)

The historical Gladstone and the contemporary Gladstone

Gladstone’s library at Hawarden

The general election of 1874

Analysis of the reasons behind the crushing Liberal defeat in 1874

Jogging along by the Parliamentary train?

Gladstone’s first government and the House of Lords

Gladstone’s first ministry and Ireland

The Liberal government’s policy on Ireland

A Chapter of Autobiography as campaign document

Examination of the role played by the publication of Gladstone’s pamphlet during the 1868 election campaign

The general election of 1868

Discussion of the results of the election that brought the Liberals to power

Gladstone’s first government, 1868–74

Introduction to this special issue of the Journal of Liberal History, marking 150 years since William Ewart Gladstone first became prime minister

The Liberal Party and the trade unions in the 1870s

Did the Liberals miss an historical opportunity to become the party of organised labour and the trade unions in the 1870s?

The ‘European mind’ of late Victorian Liberalism

W. E. Gladstone and Joseph Chamberlain

Liberals, free trade and Europe

From Cobden to the Common Market

Radical Joe and Chocolate George

Review of Andrew Reekes, Two Titans, One City: Joseph Chamberlain and George Cadbury (History West Midlands, 2017)

Agents at work

Review of Kathryn Rix, Parties, Agents and Electoral Culture in England 1880–1910 (Boydell Press, 2016)

Saint or devil?

Ian Cawood and Chris Upton (eds.), Joseph Chamberlain: International Statesman, National Leader, Local Icon (Palgrave Macmillan, 2016)

Press, politics and culture in Victorian Britain

A comparative review of W. Sydney Robinson, Muckraker: The Scandalous Life and Times of W. T. Stead – Britain’s first investigative journalist (Robson Press, 2012); P. Brighton, Original Spin: Downing Street and the Press in Victorian Britain (I.B. Tauris, 2016); and G. Cordery and J. S. Meisel (eds.), The Humours of Parliament: Harry Furniss’ View of Late Victorian Political Culture Ohio State UP, 2014)

‘Women who wish for political enfranchisement should say so’

A commemoration the 1866 petition for women’s suffrage, written by the Liberals Helen Taylor and Barbara Bodichon

Autocrat or cipher?

Review of James Murphy, Ireland’s Czar: Gladstonian Government and the Lord Lieutenancies of the Red Earl Spencer, 1868–86 (University College Dublin Press, 2014).

Assessing Edward Grey

Review of Michael Waterhouse, Edwardian Requiem: A Life of Sir Edward Grey (Biteback, 2013)

A history of by-elections

Review of T. G. Otte and Paul Readman (eds.), By-elections in British politics 1832–1914 (Boydell, 2013)

The struggle for political representation

Labour candidates and the Liberal Party, 1868–85

A very distinguished tightrope dancer

Review of James Chambers, Palmerston: ‘The People’s Darling’ (John Murray, 2004).

A hand-to-mouth man?

Review of Patrick Jackson, Harcourt and Son: A Political Biography of Sir William Harcourt, 1827-1904 (Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, 2004).

The diary of a somebody

Review of John Vincent (ed.), The Diaries of Edward Henry Stanley, 15th Earl of Derby (1826-93): A Selection (Leopard’s Head Press, 2003).

The Grand Old Man and Dizzy re-examined

Review of Dick Leonard, The Great Rivalry: Gladstone & Disraeli (I. B. Tauris, 2013).

The man who made the weather: Joseph Chamberlain – imperial standard bearer, national leader, local icon

Party agents 1880-1914

Professionalisation and political culture.

Liberalism and national identity

Liberals in Ulster

Review of Gerald R. Hall, Ulster Liberalism 1778-1876 (Four Courts Press, 2011).

I blame Sir Edward Grey

Review of John Charmley, Splendid Isolation? Britain and the Balance of Power 1874-1914 (Hodder & Stoughton, 1999).

Radical failure

Review of Miles Taylor, The Decline of British Radicalism 1847-1860 (Oxford University Press, 1995).

‘There are things stronger than parliamentary majorities

Review of Alan O’Day, Irish Home Rule 1867-1921 (Manchester University Press, 1998).

The Hawarden Kite

Gladstone and Liverpool: MP for South Lancashire, 1865-68

Gladstone as Chancellor

A squire in the House of Lords

Religion and politics

Gladstone’’s Midlothian Campaign of 1879

How did the Empire strike back?

The farm workers champion

Sir Jerom Murch and the civic gospel in Victorian Bath

Value for money

Gladstone and Ireland: the legacy

An intractable problem? Gladstone and Irish home rule

A ‘sincere, thorough and hearty Liberal’?

The legacy of Gladstone

‘He would not stoop, he did not conquer’

Review of Robert Rhodes James, Rosebery (Phoenix, 1995).

Sir Edward Watkin and the Liberal cause in the nineteenth century

Gladstone 1809-1874

Review of H.C.G. Matthew, Gladstone 1809-1874 (Oxford University Press, 1988).

Origins of the party

Review of John Vincent, The Formation of the British Liberal Party 1857-68 (Constable, 1966).

The high summer of Victorian Liberalism

Review of Ian Bradley, The Optimists: Themes and Personalities in Victorian Liberalism (Faber & Faber, 1980).

‘A dynamic force is a terrible thing’

Review of Martin Pugh, Lloyd George (Longmans, 1988).

‘The representative man’

Reviews of Kenneth Bourne, Palmerston: The Early Years 1783-1841 (Allen Lane, 1982) and Donald Southgate, The Most English Minister (Macmillan, 1966).

A Liberal in power

Review of Roy Jenkins, Asquith (Collins, 1964).

Dizzy and the Grand Old Man

Review of Richard Aldous, The Lion and the Unicorn: Gladstone vs Disraeli (Hutchinson, 2006).

Promoting progress everywhere

Review of Jonathan Parry, The Politics of Patriotism: English Liberalism, National Identity and Europe 1830-1886 (Cambridge University Press, 2006).

British Liberalism and Irish Nationalism

Review of Eugenio Biagini, British Democracy and Irish Nationalism, 1876-1906 (Cambridge University Press, 2007).

The Liberal Party and womens suffrage, 1866-1918

David and Maggie

John Stuart Mill’s ‘On Liberty’ 150 years later

Celebrating 1859: Party, Patriotism and Liberal Values

Land and nation in England

Review of Paul Readman, Patriotism, National Identity, and the Politics of Land, 1880-1914 (Royal Historical Society, 2008).

Out of Chartism, into Liberalism?

John Stuart Mill as politician

Coalition before 1886

Secular intellectuals

Review of William C. Lubenow, Liberal Intellectuals and Public Culture in Modern Britain, 1815-1914: Making Words Flesh (Boydell Press, 2010).