PEEL, William Yates (1789-1858), of Bonehill, nr. Tamworth, Staffs.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1790-1820, ed. R. Thorne, 1986
Available from Boydell and Brewer



12 June 1817 - 1818
1818 - 1830
1830 - 1831
1835 - 1837
1847 - Dec. 1847

Family and Education

b. 3 Aug. 1789, 2nd s. of (Sir) Robert Peel I*, 1st Bt., and bro. of Robert Peel II*. educ. Harrow 1802; St. John’s, Camb. 1808; L. Inn 1812, called 1816. m. 17 June 1819, Lady Jane Elizabeth Moore, da. of Stephen, 2nd Earl of Mountcashell [I], 4s. 9da.

Offices Held

Commr. Board of Control June 1826-June 1827; under-sec. of state for Home affairs Jan. 1828-July 1830; ld. of Treasury July 1830-Nov. 1830, Dec. 1834-Apr. 1835; PC 30 Dec. 1834.

Maj. central Staffs. militia 1813.


Peel’s father recommended him to the prime minister in October 1812 as he had

lately evinced considerable talent for public speaking. He is free from vice and if he could be employed in government I should procure him a seat in the House of Commons. My fortune is large and the object of trade being already attained a public situation may enable him to fill his time usefully and be gratifying to his ambition.1

Meanwhile at that election he stood in for his father at Chippenham, where his elder brother Robert was a candidate, giving ‘several specimens of public speaking in a style the most elegant and appropriate’.2 It was not until 1817 that he entered Parliament, Lord Liverpool having recommended him on a vacancy to the patron of Bossiney. Lord Mount Edgcumbe, who expected expenses amounting to nearly £1,000 to be paid by his nominee and was not committed to him after the dissolution, was satisfied to be promised ‘a respectable Member capable of attending his duty under all the present circumstances of the country’.3

Peel voted with ministers for the suspension of habeas corpus, 23 June 1817, and on questions arising out of it, 10, 11 Feb., 5 Mar., as well as on the ducal marriage grant, 15 Apr. 1818. He paired in favour of the Irish window tax, 21 Apr. At his brother’s instigation he had been invited by Castlereagh to second the address at the opening of his first full session. His brother-in-law George Robert Dawson* deprecated his readiness to do so, ‘for instead of its being a stimulant to future exertions, it proves a padlock of the very strongest kind’.4 In the event, he did not perform this duty until a year later, 21 Jan. 1819. His brother, whose maiden speech William had heard from the gallery, advised him, ‘Write down every word you mean to say, as I did in 1810’. According to Edward John Littleton* it was a better speech than the mover’s and ‘very modestly delivered—as was becoming, for his brother wrote it’. William Huskisson thought his only fault was ‘that he oped too often and talked of the ouse as we Staffordshire men are apt to do’.5 It was his only speech before 1820.

Peel joined his father in the representation of Tamworth at the election of 1818 after a contest, in the aftermath of which he started a vendetta against William Floyer, a local magistrate who had calumniated his father and himself. He first challenged Floyer to a duel, then threatened to horsewhip him. Both parties were penalized in due course, but Floyer came off worse.6 In the House Peel voted with ministers on the case of Wyndham Quin*, 29 Mar., against Tierney’s censure motion, 18 May, and for the foreign enlistment bill, 10 June 1819. He subsequently carved out a modest career in the wake of his celebrated brother: too modest for their ambitious father’s liking. In 1822 the latter reproached him with having ‘shuffled through life’, having ‘given up the church, the law, and now politics’.7 He died 1 June 1858.

Ref Volumes: 1790-1820

Authors: Arthur Aspinall / R. G. Thorne


  • 1. Add. 38249, f. 294.
  • 2. Add. 40223, f. 142.
  • 3. Add. 38267, f. 3; 40181, f. 107; 40265, f. 328; Parker, Peel , i. 254.
  • 4. Add. 40272, f. 241; 40294, f. 100.
  • 5. Parker, i. 26; Staffs. RO, Hatherton diary, 21 Jan. 1819; Add. 39949, f. 34.
  • 6. N. Gash, Mr Secretary Peel , 296.
  • 7. Add. 40393, f. 121; 40605, f. 121.