Death of Lord Palmerston, Prime Minister 1855-58 & 1859-65
Henry John Temple, 3rd Viscount Palmerston was one of the great political figures of the nineteenth century. He was first elected to parliament as a Tory and served in the governments of Spencer Perceval and Lord Liverpool as Secretary at War. However, his support for Catholic emancipation and parliamentary reform led him in 1830 to join Earl Grey’s Whig government as Foreign Secretary. He laid down the tenets of British foreign policy which lasted into the twentieth century. Palmerston was an immensely popular politician and a major electoral asset to the newly created Liberal Party in the 1850s and 60s. His rather carefree approach to politics belied a serious purpose. He was a passionate opponent of slavery and during his two periods as Prime Minister he ended the Crimean War, reformed the divorce laws and regulated company law. On his death Palmerston was given a state funeral – one of only four Prime Ministers to be granted such an honour.