Death of Sir Charles Dilke

On the radical wing of the Liberal Party, Dilke’s tenure at the Local Government Board during Gladstone’s second ministry, when he piloted the Third Reform Act through parliament and supported legislation giving women the vote in local elections and legalising labour unions, looked to have launched Dilke on a glittering parliamentary career. However in June 1885, Dilke was cited in a divorce case brought by a fellow Liberal MP, Donald Crawford, and accused of seducing Crawford’s wife Virginia. Although not known at the time Dilke had also had an affair with Virginia’s mother. The verdict which declared that Virginia Crawford had committed adultery but there was no evidence that Dilke had was unsatisfactory but Dilke’s attempts to clear his name were disastrously misjudged and effectively ended his political career. At the 1886 election he lost Chelsea which he had represented since 1868, and although he returned to parliament as MP for the Forest of Dean in 1892, he was never to hold ministerial office again.