Birth of John George Lambton, 1st Earl of Durham

A leading reformer in the 1830s, known as ‘Radical Jack’, Lambton was a key member of Earl Grey’s (his father-in-law) government as Lord Privy Seal; where, along with Lord John Russell, he drafted the 1832 Reform Bill. Durham was a difficult colleague with a short temper, exacerbated by frequent bouts of ill-health and he resigned from the cabinet in 1833 following a disagreement over the government’s Irish policy. Durham served as ambassador to Russia (1835-37) and the following year became Governor General of British North America. One of his first tasks was to investigate the reasons behind recent rebellions in both the English and French speaking parts of the province. Durham’s Report on the Affairs of British North America (1839) ultimately led to self-governance for the colony and the creation of modern Canada. His report proved controversial and he lost the support of Prime Minister Melbourne following which he resigned his post. On his return to the UK, Durham retired from public life. He died the following year in July 1840 aged 48.