SMITH STANLEY, Edward, Lord Stanley (1775-1851), of Upper Grovsenor Street, Mdx.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1820-1832, ed. D.R. Fisher, 2009
Available from Cambridge University Press



1796 - 1812
1812 - 1832

Family and Education

b. 21 Apr. 1775, 1st s. of Edward Smith Stanley†, 12th earl of Derby, and 1st w. Lady Elizabeth Hamilton, da. of James, 6th duke of Hamilton [S]. educ. Eton 1789-92; Trinity Coll. Camb. 1792. m. 30 June 1798, his cos. Charlotte Margaret, da. of Rev. Geoffrey Hornby, rect. of Winwick, Lancs. 3s. 4da. (2 d.v.p.). cr. Bar. Stanley 22 Dec. 1832; suc. fa. as 13th earl of Derby 21 Oct. 1834; KG 2 Apr. 1839. d. 30 June 1851.

Offices Held

Ld. lt. Lancs. 1834-d.

Col. 2 R. Lancs. militia 1797; brevet col. 1797-1802.


Stanley, a staunch but inconspicuous Whig, was better known as a natural historian and collector than as a politician. In this he was hampered by his increasing deafness, poor looks and long period as heir apparent. His father, whose electoral interests he oversaw, was the head of the most powerful family in Lancashire, where he was lord lieutenant, influenced elections at Lancaster and Liverpool and returned one Preston and one county Member. Referred to affably by colleagues as ‘Tongs’ on account of his extreme thinness, large head and long limbs (a nickname deliberately misconstrued when publicized by Henry Hunt*), Stanley was a shrewd, fairly conscientious Member, who shared Derby’s pro-Catholic sympathies and reservations on reform and took pride in select committee work and dealing with family and constituency business in Parliament. After the Peterloo massacre, radicals and Tories alike criticized his measured defence of the Manchester magistrates, the Lancashire grand jury (of which he was foreman at the summer assizes) and the Lancaster gaoler Higgins; and he also courted controversy by refusing to condemn outright the Liverpool ministry’s repressive ‘Six Acts’.1 With Peterloo prosecutions, including that of Hunt, pending, and his eldest son, the future prime minister Edward George Geoffrey Smith Stanley*, too young to contest Preston as intended, the 1820 general election came at a difficult time for Stanley. He did not intervene at Lancaster or Liverpool, secured his third return for Lancashire with the eccentric Tory John Blackburne after a token poll, and assisted his brother-in-law Edmund Hornby* at Preston, where their interest prevailed in a severe contest involving Hunt.2

Stanley adhered to the main Whig opposition in the 1820 Parliament. A regular speaker on Lancashire issues, he occasionally challenged ministers in debate, but he was not a good orator and was eclipsed in this period by Edward. They were frequently confused in reports of parliamentary proceedings following the latter’s return for Stockbridge on the Grosvenor interest in 1822. Stanley’s support for the 1820 and 1821 parliamentary campaigns on behalf of Queen Caroline was unstinting although, like his father, who kept him informed of developments in the Lords, he privately admitted the ‘impropriety of the queen’s conduct’.3 He pressed for the restoration of her name to the liturgy, 26 Jan., and effectively quizzed the leader of the House, Lord Castlereagh, over her £50,000 civil list award, 31 Jan. 1821. He divided for Catholic relief, 28 Feb. 1821, 1 Mar., 21 Apr., 10 May 1825. Bringing up a 10,000-signature Manchester pro-Catholic petition, 10 May 1825, he contradicted the claim made by the home secretary Peel, on presenting a rival petition, that Lancashire was predominantly anti-Catholic. He voted to make Leeds a scot and lot borough under the Grampound disfranchisement bill, 2 Mar. 1821, knowing that the cotton towns of Manchester and Salford, who also coveted Grampound’s seats, would accept a franchise more agreeable to the Lords.4 He divided for Lord John Russell’s reform proposal, 9 May 1821 (but not Lambton’s, 18 Apr.), and again for reform, 25 Apr. 1822, 24 Apr., 2 June 1823, 26 Feb. 1824, 27 Apr. 1826. He attached ‘great importance’ to candidates’ presence at elections and hated the notion of polling counties by districts, 20 Apr. 1826.5 He voted in condemnation of electoral bribery, 26 May 1826.

Stanley was a principal speaker and majority teller for taking the printer Robert Thomas Weaver into custody after inquiry confirmed the involvement of Lord Londonderry (Castlereagh) in John Bull’s libel on Henry Grey Bennet, 11 May. 1821. Following his service on the 1817 and 1818 select committees, he had developed a keen interest in the poor laws and associated issues, and he presented and endorsed petitions from Lancashire and elsewhere against the 1821 and 1822 poor bills, 4, 6 June 1821, 13, 20, 31 May 1822, when, as in 1824 and subsequently, he was a member of the select committee and planned legislation on vagrancy.6 Canning scotched his attempt to embarrass government over apparent omissions and inconsistencies in diplomatic correspondence presented to the House, 24 Apr. He denied suggestions that the 30,000-signature Manchester petition for the abolition of colonial slavery (one of many he brought up in 1824 and 1826) was a forgery, 31 Mar. 1824.7 He avoided declaring his views on abolition that day, but endorsed similar petitions, 24, 27 May, 1 June, and paired in condemnation of the indictment in Demerara of the Methodist missionary John Smith, 11 June 1824.8

Stanley undertook by far the greater share of constituency business and presented over 120 Lancashire petitions in the 1820 Parliament.9 The revival in 1820 of the parliamentary campaign on behalf of the Peterloo radicals brought renewed criticism of Derby’s county administration and his own conduct, but he easily refuted the radical George Dewhurst’s allegations of ill-treatment at Lancaster gaol, 31 May 1820. He was unable to prevent the gaoler’s failure to deliver letters to the convict Nathaniel Broadhurst that summer under the frank of William James from spawning breach of privilege motions, which, although defeated (by 86-33), 7 Mar. 1821, and (by 167-60), 25 Feb. 1822, tested him severely. He conceded on both occasions that there ‘might be a breach of moral justice involved, but not one of law’. The Tory Preston Sentinel praised his 1822 speech.10 Petitions brought up on behalf of the Peterloo veterans, 15 May 1821, also challenged his competence and, certain it would be defeated, he voted to concede inquiry to ‘draw a line under the issue’, 16 May. He reiterated his defence of the grand jury when a Liverpool petition cited its selection and oligarchic composition as factors in the ‘failure to bring the Manchester yeomanry to justice’, 12 June 1823. Accepting the sheriff Thomas Greene’s* invitation to preside at the summer assizes, he wrote afterwards:

I hardly know how to answer you, as I cannot suppose that you will be so hardy, when you recollect the anathemas that have lately been thrown out against the grand jury monopoly for this county, to persist in sanctioning so wicked a plan, by taking for your foreman one who must be of the fatal number of 38 monopolists. If, however, your courage carries you so far, I think I have already come in for so large a share of the censure, that it will make little difference whether I add another year to the score.11

He thwarted Liverpool’s bids (1822-34) to replace Lancaster as Lancashire’s assize town and consolidated his success in 1822-3 by carrying the 1824 Judges’ Lodging Act, which ensured that facilities at Lancaster remained adequate.12 Yet he remained a hostage to criticism by political rivals and aggrieved promoters of local bills that he opposed or otherwise failed to carry. When a partisan petition entrusted to Sir James Mackintosh from the Manchester attorney William Walker charged him with incompetence as chairman of the select committee on the Manchester gas light bill, it took the ingenuity of Edward, in his maiden speech, to spare him the embarrassment of seeing it accepted, 30 Mar. 1824. He fared better when Edward Curteis, who he pointed out had rarely attended the committee, renewed the attempt, 8 Apr. 1824.13 He also had difficulty handling the Salford hundred court bill, which Bootle Wilbraham opposed for government, 13 May 1822; the Manchester and Salford loan company bill, which the president of the board of trade Huskisson condemned, 10 May 1824, and the Rochdale roads bill, 1 Mar. 1825. The Lowthers made him the scapegoat for the failure of the 1825 Liverpool-Manchester railway bill, which Derby opposed in the Lords, and he had to endure severe criticism in the press for failing to promote it when it was enacted in 1826.14 He also had trouble in proving that his speech supporting the Lancashire grand jury’s petition for revision of the game laws, 20 Apr., in which he allegedly criticized the authorities by stating that Lancashire was becoming increasingly lawless, had been misreported, even though he raised the matter in the House, where Bootle Wilbraham rallied to his assistance, 9 May 1826.15

Stanley’s ‘liberal’ statements on trade were generally attuned to constituency interests and frequently endorsed by Huskisson, following his election for Liverpool in 1823. He echoed the Manchester Chamber of Commerce’s pleas for easing commercial restrictions, 19 May 1820, 1 Mar. 1821, 20 May 1822; likewise their objections to increasing the duty on East Indian sugars, which, ignoring the chancellor of the exchequer Vansittart’s denials, he insisted was a ploy to assist West Indian interests, 4 May 1821. He ordered papers to prove this, 7 May 1821, supported similar petitions, 3 May 1822, 9 May, and voted for inquiry, 22 May 1823.16 He could be depended on to support the calico printers’ campaign for lower duties, 29 June 1820,17 and to oppose the truck system, which he equated with serfdom, 17 June 1822; but he would not endorse the prayer of the Manchester cotton workers’ petition attributing their distress to new machinery, 25 Apr. He made it clear that he did not consider repealing the combination laws a suitable subject for a private Member’s bill, 27 May 1823, called for ‘caution’ on bringing up petitions urging it, 15 Mar., 14 Apr. 1824, and warned Joseph Hume, who carried the 1824 repeal bill, of the ‘personal risks to manufacturers testifying on combinations and the danger to which they would be exposed by the repeal of the existing laws’. He declined to approve petitions against their partial re-enactment, 25 Apr. 1825.18 Dissatisfied with the government’s policy, he presented petitions for repeal or revision of the corn laws, 22 Apr. 1825, 23, 27 Feb., 7 Apr., and voted for inquiry, 18 Apr. 1826. Endorsing a favourable petition from Bury, 5 May, he said he saw no point in releasing bonded corn untaxed, as dealers would be the sole beneficiaries, and suggested levying the duty in full and drawing on the revenue so generated to finance the work of the Committee for the Relief of the Distressed Manufacturers.19 Canvassing and its cost preoccupied him at the general election of 1826, when lay-offs in manufacturing, corn law reform and Catholic relief were the main issues. He narrowly avoided a serious contest promoted by the Lowthers in the county, and Edward topped a 15-day poll at Preston, where their coalition with the corporation Tories had collapsed.20

Between January and April 1827 Stanley, who divided as hitherto for Catholic relief, 6 Mar. 1827 (and again, 12 May 1828), corresponded regularly with his constituents and colleagues on assistance for the depressed areas, corn, the East India Company’s trading monopoly, local legislation, patronage and the projected transfer of Penryn’s seats to Manchester. He attributed his infrequent attendance at this time to his father’s gout and family problems.21 His remarks on presenting petitions for corn law revision, 19, 26 Feb., 6 Mar. 1827, went unreported.22 He voted against increased protection for barley, 12 Mar., and to delay supplies pending resolution of the succession to Lord Liverpool as premier, 30 Mar., and went over to government with his family after Canning took office, 1 May.23 Anticipating concessions on Penryn, he pressed Manchester’s case for enfranchisement, 8 May, when he candidly acknowledged local differences on the preferred voter qualification threshold, urged the prosecution of those guilty of bribery at Penryn and expressed unease at the prospect of sluicing the franchise there. Writing on 27 Apr. to the Manchester barrister George William Wood, he suggested a householder qualification of

£15 or £20. I certainly feel that if higher than the last mentioned rate, there would be great risk of making the election too much like a close borough, and on the other hand, possibly, lower than £15 (though elsewhere than in Manchester I should incline to £10) might let in too large a proportion of the lower orders. I certainly hope with you that some precautions will be taken against excesses, but can you suggest any? For I fear it would be impossible to close all the public houses, as you have suggested. I should think it very probable that some endeavour may be made to limit the duration of any poll that might arise. Could you furnish me with any statement of the numbers of probable electors at each of the rates suggested either within the town of Manchester alone, or within the united towns of Manchester and Salford? For I think it would be hardly possible to separate them, though I do not think this idea should be admitted (which has been started) of including any of the adjoining townships, for it would be wholly impossible to draw any line, so as to include one, and exclude another.24

He presented and endorsed Manchester’s petition for enfranchising ‘populous towns’ before voting to disfranchise Penryn, 28 May, and liaised with the Manchester delegation subsequently.25 He brought up and endorsed further petitions for concessions in the India trade, 15 May, equal tariffs on East and West Indian produce, 21 May, and repeal of the Test Acts, 28, 30, 31 May, 6 June,26 and introduced others for wage regulation, 18 May, and assisted emigration, 21 May 1827.27 Representing the Lancashire colliery owners, he called for amendment of the Weights and Measures Act and suggested that government should sponsor legislation to relieve the county of the high cost of the Irish poor, 22 June 1827.28 The prospect of Edward joining the junior ranks of Canning’s administration and his own elevation to the Lords were broached in July but they held little attraction for Stanley. To his father, who saw it similarly, he explained:

As a Member for the county of Lancaster ... my present situation gives me a sufficiently respectable political character, with employment, which, if called up ... I must necessarily relinquish without obtaining any equivalent. I mean in the occupation of my time, and particularly with the possibility of Edward (who would, I conclude, probably succeed me for the county) having his time pretty well taken up in other ways, the business of the county would be thrown entirely upon the shoulders of the other Member ... Added to which is to be considered the pecuniary inconvenience of a simultaneous election both for the county and for Preston ... which might possibly occasion a failure there, and thus rather cause a loss than a gain to the very administration for the support of which the proposed measure is intended.

He refused to authorize Canning to move the Preston writ before the recess and dissuaded Edward from rushing to accept a seat on the treasury board.29 Following Canning’s death and after consulting Lord Lansdowne, he sanctioned Edward’s appointment as under-secretary to Huskisson at the colonial office in Lord Goderich’s coalition ministry.30 Toeing the family line, he did not adhere to the incoming Wellington ministry in January 1828; but he delayed going into outright opposition until Penryn’s fate had been decided, which coincided with the Huskissonite secession.31

He presented favourable petitions, 15, 22, 25 Feb., and voted to repeal the Test Acts, 26 Feb. 1828. He brought up petitions for Catholic relief 22 Apr., 9 May 1828. He was directed to bring in the abortive Penryn disfranchisement bill with Lord John Russell and the Manchester cotton manufacturer Sir George Philips, 31 Jan., and vainly opposed the attendant indemnity bill, 2, 3 Apr. He voted against sluicing the franchise at East Retford, 21 Mar., and recommitting the disfranchisement bill, 27 June. He brought up petitions for repeal of the Malt Act, 31 Mar., against the friendly societies bill, 18 Apr., 9 May, for permitting anatomical dissection, 22 Apr., 13 May, and urging the abolition of colonial slavery, 20 May. He delegated the contentious Manchester police bill, by which a £20 local franchise was established, to the Preston Member John Wood, who carried it, but handled the Manchester and Salford improvement bills himself.32 He suggested minor changes to John Stuart Wortley’s game bill, but conceded it was ‘the best ... yet ... on the subject’, 24, 26, 28 June. He divided against the archbishop of Canterbury’s registrar bill, 12 June, and the proposed Buckingham House expenditure, 23 June, and voted for inquiry into the Irish church, 24 June. He made its late introduction and the government’s refusal to hold it over his excuse for opposing the new churches bill, 30 June. He divided against them for ordnance reductions, 4 July. After reporting on the 7th from the committee on ‘laws relating to Irish vagrants’ (conceded to him, 12 Mar. 1828), he informed Edward:

I think the committee generally understood and agreed with me, that till the Catholic question was over it was best not to stir in our question and, as our committee is pretty sure to take some time in discussion, for several have discordant propositions that they would wish to tack to the simple measure, I felt there was no chance of getting through this session.33

He also expressed misgivings lest his bill should be pre-empted by one proposing to introduce the English poor laws to Ireland.34

His soldier son Henry’s gambling debts (which Derby agreed to assist with) and his stepmother’s terminal illness preoccupied Stanley in 1829.35 He divided for Catholic emancipation, 6, 30 Mar., and applauded its concession when presenting favourable petitions, 9, 16 Mar. Disparaging remarks he made on the 10th on the means by which anti-Catholic petitions had been procured, especially one from the Lonsdale hundred ‘hawked about from house to house’ and ‘sent to the slate quarries to obtain the signatures of the miners’, provoked damaging quarrels with its instigator Thomas Braddyll† of Conishead Priory, and presenter Greene, which Stanley rightly perceived presaged a bid by the Ultras to unseat him at the next election.36 He criticized the proposed disbanding of his old militia regiment, 16 Mar., brought up petitions against ‘huckshops’ and for tax reductions that day, and several against altering the route of the Liverpool-Manchester railway, 23, 27 Mar. Illness prevented him from returning after the Easter recess, and he abandoned his Irish and Scottish poor bill for that session.37 In August Edward made it known in Liverpool that he had a county seat in mind.38 By December 1829 Stanley was fit for a long day’s shooting and wrote waggishly to Edward of a family visit with his daughters and their families to Eaton Hall, where the Grosvenors’ guests included ‘Sir Foster Cunliffe* and Lady Cunliffe with two portentous misses, the younger the most horrible animal of the manly womankind that I ever had the misfortune to meet’.39

Stanley’s minority votes for restricting the estimates to six months, 19 Feb., and the enfranchisement of Birmingham, Leeds and Manchester, 23 Feb., allayed but failed to silence speculation that the Derbys (and Grosvenors) would go over to government in 1830.40 Making pressure of business their excuse, he and Edward boycotted the Whig meeting on 3 Mar., which invited Lord Althorp to become Commons leader.41 Breaking his silence on distress when presenting a 13,000-signature petition from Manchester, 22 Mar., he acknowledged the severity of the economic downturn, but disputed the petitioners’ claims that it was caused by ‘currency change, military and naval expenditure and high public salaries’, and said that although he welcomed Wellington’s recent concessions, they did not go far enough. He added that he would vote for neither the radical Whig Edward Davenport’s state of the nation motion nor the Ultra Curteis’s amendment to it, ‘because I do not think that their adoption is calculated to remove the evils complained of; but that on the contrary they will give rise to erroneous impressions and to unfounded hopes and expectations’. He divided against the navy estimates that day and sparingly with the revived Whig opposition (for tax revision, 25 Mar., against the Bathurst and Dundas pensions, 26 Mar., on Terceira, 28 Apr., the assistant treasury secretary’s salary, 10 May, privy councillors’ emoluments, 14 May, and Canada, 25 May). He endorsed the petitions he presented against the East India Company’s trading monopoly, 22 Feb., 10, 15, 16, 22, 29 Mar., 12 May, and supported Littleton’s truck bill, 3 17 May. He divided for Jewish emancipation that day and voted to abolish the death penalty for forgery, 7 June, for which he had paired, 24 May, and brought up favourable petitions 22 Mar., 26 Apr., 10, 17 May. He endorsed petitions against the sale of beer bill, 23, 29 Mar., 29 Apr., 4, 12, 17 May, criticized it as counter-productive, 29 Apr., 3 May, and voted to restrict its provisions for on-consumption, 21 June. He deemed petitions for temperance and Sunday closing ‘laudable’ in their general objective but not viable, 4 June. He praised the motives of the Cheshire, Derbyshire, Lancashire and Yorkshire calico printers in seeking to regulate their trade by limiting apprentice numbers and taxing machinery, 24 May. He cautioned against rushing through the ‘half-pay apprentices’ bill that Parliament, 11 June. Introducing his Irish and Scottish vagrants bill, 11 June, he portrayed it as a ‘gradual’ measure, calculated to relieve parishes through which the vagrants passed, 24 May, and conceded on the 26th that he had no prospect of carrying it that session. On 4 June he acknowledged that although he had anticipated hostility in London, he had been taken aback by Lancashire’s opposition, for it had never been his intention, as his opponents maintained, to make removals compulsory. Blackburne’s forthcoming retirement and the candidature of the Ultra John Wilson Patten had been announced in November 1829, and with other contenders manoeuvring Stanley attended closely to county business before the 1830 dissolution. He took charge of the Wigan-Newton, Warrington-Newton, St. Helens-Runcorn Gap and Stockport junction railway bills (succeeding with the first two). He also assisted with the Sankey Navigation and Liverpool Docks bills, and carried improvement bills for Bolton, Manchester and Salford in the teeth of strong opposition. He intended making way for Edward in the county in the event of a contest, but none ensued, so he came in with Wilson Patten, leaving Edward to defeat Hunt at Preston. On the hustings he praised Wellington for conceding emancipation, hoped he would promote reform and declared against the ballot and the East India Company’s monopoly.42 Discussing the election results with Henry Brougham* before the opening of the Liverpool-Manchester railway in September 1830, he wrote: ‘I fear Wellington trembles, but what is to be the result if he fall? I see no one fit to seize the staff and to wield it properly’.43

Ministers naturally listed Stanley among their ‘foes’ and he voted to bring them down on the civil list, 15 Nov. 1830. He estimated that he presented over 120 Lancashire anti-slavery petitions that month. He and Derby corresponded closely on the November 1830 Liverpool by-election, unrest in the manufacturing districts, on which government sought their advice, Edward’s appointment as the Grey ministry’s Irish secretary and his subsequent defeat by Hunt at Preston.44 Edward’s office made Stanley an easy target for criticism by the Tory opposition. He presented petitions and lobbied against the truck system, 11 Dec., and the calico duties with Wilson Patten, 8, 9, 28 Feb. Differing from him, he endorsed the drawback on calicoes that the government proposed, 28 Feb. He presented favourable petitions but opposed the Preston-Manchester railway bill on behalf of the promoters of the rival Preston-Wigan scheme, 9, 25 Feb., 18, 21, 24 Mar. Opposition denounced the amendment he carried at its third that day reading as a ‘job’. He handled the Leeds-Liverpool and Leeds-Manchester railway bills, 25 Feb., 18, 28 Mar., and reported from the committee on the bill to provide additional funding for the Liverpool-Manchester railway, 28 Mar.45 Contradicting Hunt, he testified to the increasing groundswell for reform in Lancashire and denounced the ballot as a ploy to ‘open the door to deceit and hypocrisy, occasioning the smiling to faces and the stabbing behind backs’, 26 Feb. He declined to endorse a request for it in the Liverpool petition he presented that day and refused to comment on the recent bribery there or discuss the petitioners’ demand for the enfranchisement of ‘substantial’ householders. He expressed full confidence in the ministerial reform bill, including its provisions for Lancashire, 9 Mar., brought up favourable petitions, 17, 18, 19, 22 Mar., and divided for its second reading, 22 Mar. He countered the anti-reformers’ criticism of its ‘generous provision’ for county Durham and Lancashire, 25 Mar. He introduced favourable petitions from Broughton and Denton and elsewhere, 14 Apr. Unable to pre-empt or interrupt Hunt’s tirade against the bill, 18 Apr., he retaliated by condemning the conduct of the radicals at recent mass meetings which Hunt had addressed, and criticized him severely for neglecting Lancashire business in the House, especially select committees. He voted against Gascoyne’s wrecking amendment, 19 Apr. 1831. At the ensuing general election he dissuaded Edward from attempting Preston, supported his nephew Patrick Maxwell Stewart* at Lancaster and proposed a coalition between John Evelyn Denison* and William Ewart* at Liverpool. Wilson Patten’s late decision to stand down dismayed him, but he acquiesced in the return of the Unitarian banker and reformer Benjamin Heywood as his colleague for the county.46 An editorial in the Tory Manchester Herald quipped:

Whatever may be said of the other candidates, Lord Stanley has had an easy time of it. His readiness to lop off thirty or forty English Members has saved him a world of trouble. If he has canvassed at all, it was within a very limited or a very select circle.47

Privately, he considered the bill’s passage vital to allay unrest, but hoped for alterations in its details. Writing to Lord Holland from Liverpool, 8 June, he confided his misgivings:

The rate of qualification which as it now stands will entail upon our large towns such as this and Manchester so enormous a host of voters. What think you of the agitation of a contest in either, with from 18,000 to 25,000, and some say, from 20 to 40,000 voters? And consider the class of voter! I hope the division of counties is not to be, as it at present appears ... I am very anxious it [Lancashire] should not be divided, and I think such is the general feeling. I fear that the result will be to throw the county representation too much out of the landed scale.48

Before returning to suffer ‘the process of boiling in that human cauldron, London’, he attended a calico printers’ dinner in Manchester with Wilson Patten, 17 June 1831, and promoted the candidature of Lord Sandon* as Denison’s Liverpool replacement.49

Stanley used Lancashire evidence to counter the former chancellor of the exchequer Goulburn’s claims that the 1830 Sale of Beer Act had only caused problems in agricultural districts, and called on government to introduce remedial legislation, 30 June 1831. He divided for the reintroduced reform bill at its second reading, 6 July, and generally for its details. However, he cast wayward votes for the total disfranchisement of Saltash, which ministers no longer pressed, 26 July, and to award Stoke-on-Trent a second Member (for which he also spoke), 4 Aug., and voted ‘without apology’ against the proposed division of counties, 11 Aug.50 He ably contradicted Hunt’s assertions that Heywood was pledged to support universal suffrage, 8 July, and he upheld the right of English Members to comment on the bill’s proposals for Scottish and Irish constituencies and vice versa, 4 Aug. He countered Wason’s case for the separate enfranchisement of Toxteth Park by presenting another for a third Liverpool seat, which he neither pursued nor forced to a division, 6 Aug. He defended the bill’s provisions for Lancashire, but acknowledged that the county sought additional representation, 10 Aug. He divided for the bill’s passage, 21 Sept., and the second reading of the Scottish bill, 23 Sept. He was absent from the division on Lord Ebrington’s confidence motion, 10 Oct. He voted for the second reading of the revised reform bill, 17 Dec. 1831, against introducing a £10 poor rate franchise, 3 Feb., and for its provisions for Tower Hamlets, 28 Feb., and Gateshead, 5 Mar. 1832. He divided for its third reading, 22 Mar., and the address calling on the king to appoint only ministers who would carry it unimpaired, 10 May. He declined next day to present a hurriedly adopted Manchester petition requesting that supplies be withheld pending its passage.51 According to the Mirror of Parliament, 11 May, he explained (after John Wood introduced the petition) that he considered this action too extreme, although he regretted the bill’s mutilation in the Lords, and regarded its loss as a ‘national calamity’. Appealing for calm and firmness, he added that should a ministry headed by Wellington ‘bring forward a measure of equal extent and efficiency ... I should not be able to place confidence in them, nor do I believe that they would be able to give satisfaction out of doors’. Other reporters noted that he confirmed that the sentiments of the petition were those ‘of the great majority of the people of Lancashire and the northern counties’.52 He divided for the Irish reform bill at its second reading, 25 May, and against a Conservative amendment to the Scottish measure, 1 June. Justifying an amendment to the boundary bill substituting Newton for Wigan as the election venue for Lancashire South, he pointed out that ‘all the railways go through Newton before getting to Wigan’, 7 June 1832.

He voted in the minority for appointing 11 of its original members to the reconstituted Dublin election committee, 29 July, but divided with government on the election controversy, 23 Aug. 1831, against the Irish union of parishes bill, 19 Aug., on the Russian-Dutch loan, 26 Jan., 12, 16 July (paired), Portugal, 9 Feb., and the navy civil departments bill, 6 Apr. 1832. Bringing up a petition for a new Liverpool writ, 29 Aug. 1831, he criticized Benett’s franchise bill as unfair to Liverpool freemen like himself who had not voted in November 1830 and those subsequently admitted, and warned that ‘conjointly with the ... reform bill’ it would throw ‘the representation into the hands of the winning parties’. As usual, he brought up petitions on many local bills and issues, including flour imports, combinations and savings banks, 14 July 1831, and the unpopular general register bill, 13 Feb. 1832. His conduct as chairman of the committee on the Manchester-Leeds railway bill was severely criticized on the floor of the House, when a committee of appeal was conceded, 18 July, and again, 28 July 1831. He was also called on to justify his handling of legislation for the Warrington-Newton railway, 4, 9 Aug. He quizzed its instigator Hobhouse, 30 July 1831, and presented petitions in favour of the factory regulation bill, 13 Feb., 13, 14 Mar. 1832. He presented hostile petitions, 9, 10 Apr., and reported from the committee on the Manchester-Bolton-Bury railway bill, 11 May, and brought up petitions for the Birmingham-Leeds scheme, 22 May. He defended his conduct as a member of the committee on the Manchester improvement bill and as grand jury foreman, when they were criticized on 23, 26 Feb., 27 Mar. 1832 by Hunt, who used the October 1831 Preston riots to revive the campaign against the Peterloo magistrates and the grand jury.

Pleading increasing deafness, Stanley announced in July 1832 that he was standing down at the dissolution. The Manchester Guardian praised his ‘constant accessibility’ and ‘devotion of time and talents to his constituents’.53 As agreed in April 1831, he was raised to the peerage after the general election in December, when Edward came in for Lancashire North and Henry for Preston, where the Whig-Tory coalition was restored.54 He succeeded as 13th earl in October 1834 and became a knight of the garter in 1839, but was denied (1837, 1839) the dukedom he coveted. He recovered from a stroke which cost him ‘the use of the left side leg and arm’, and died at Knowsley following another in June 1851. He was buried alongside his wife in the old family vault at Ormskirk. He was recalled as a president of the Linnaean Society (1828-34) and London Zoological Society (1834-d.) and as the founder at Knowlsey of a museum and private zoo of 1,293 birds and 345 mammals, whose upkeep (£15,000 a year) severely encumbered his estates.55 Although his will was proved under £12,000 in the province of York and £12,000 in Canterbury, 22 Oct. 1851, he was deemed insolvent. Edward, as 14th earl, executed his instructions for the disposal of his collections (by gift to the queen and to London Zoo and by sale), raising £7,000.56

Ref Volumes: 1820-1832

Author: Margaret Escott


  • 1. Lancs. RO HS3, grand jury minutes, 1800-33.
  • 2. J. Belchem, ‘Orator’ Hunt, 114-8; Cowdroy’s Manchester Gazette, 19 Feb.; Lancaster Gazette, 18 Mar.; Manchester Mercury, 21 Mar. 1820.
  • 3. Derby mss 920 Der (13) 1/161/19, 20.
  • 4. Lancs. RO, Hulton mss DDHu/53/62.
  • 5. The Times, 21 Apr. 1826.
  • 6. Ibid. 5, 7 June 1821, 14, 21 May, 1 June 1822.
  • 7. Ibid. 13, 23, 26 Mar. 1824, 28 Feb., 17 Mar., 20 May 1826.
  • 8. Ibid. 25, 28 May, 2 June 1824.
  • 9. Ibid. 17 May 1820, 27 Jan., 2, 29 Mar., 5, 7 June 1821, 16 Feb., 9 Mar., 1, 4, 11, 21, 31 May, 1, 4 June 1822, 26 Mar., 23 Apr., 10 May 1823, 6, 13, 16, 23, 26 Mar., 1, 6 Apr., 8, 12, 14, 22, 25, 28 May, 2 June 1824, 16, 22, 23, 30 Apr., 21 May, 1 June 1825, 24, 28 Feb. 17 Mar., 8, 13, 29 Apr., 6, 13, 20 May 1826.
  • 10. Hulton mss 53/59; The Times, 8 Mar. 1821; Preston Sentinel, 2 Mar. 1822.
  • 11. HLRO, Greene mss GRE4/6, 7.
  • 12. Ibid. GRE4/1-5. The Times, 23 Mar., 1, 3 Apr. 1824.
  • 13. The Times, 9 Apr. 1824.
  • 14. Ibid. 14 May 1822; Blackburn Mail, 12 Apr. 1826.
  • 15. Blackburn Mail, 3 May 1826.
  • 16. The Times, 2 Mar., 8 May 1821, 4, 21 May 1822, 10 May 1823.
  • 17. The Times, 22, 30 June 1820.
  • 18. Ibid. 16 Mar. 1824.
  • 19. Ibid. 23 Apr. 1825, 24, 28 Feb., 8 Apr. 1826.
  • 20. Ibid. 2, 10, 19 June; Manchester Mercury, 20 June 1826; Lancs. RO, Derby [of Knowsley] mss DDK 1740/3.
  • 21. Derby mss (13) 2, Stanley’s letterbks. vols. i and iii, passim.
  • 22. The Times, 20, 27 Feb., 7 Mar. 1827.
  • 23. Stanley’s letterbk. i, f. 39.
  • 24. Ibid. f. 36.
  • 25. Ibid. iii, ff. 97 et seq.; The Times, 29 May 1827; M.J. Turner, ‘Manchester Reformers and the Penryn Seats’, Northern Hist. xxx (1994), 152-4.
  • 26. Stanley’s letterbk. i, f. 42; 3, ff. 93-97; The Times, 16, 19, 22, 29, 31 May, 1, 7 June 1827.
  • 27. The Times, 19, 22 May 1827.
  • 28. Ibid. 23 June 1827.
  • 29. Derby mss (12), Stanley to Derby [n.d. July]; Add. 51566, Derby to Holland, 14 July, Stanley to same, 14 July 1827.
  • 30. Add. 38750, f. 22.
  • 31. A. Mitchell, Whigs in Opposition, 209.
  • 32. LSE Lib. Archives Division, Coll. Misc. 0146, Potter mss, letterbk. xii, Brotherton to R. Potter, 23 Apr., Baxter to W. Harvey, 2 May 1828.
  • 33. Derby mss (14), Stanley to Smith Stanley [n.d.]
  • 34. Ibid. Stanley to Smith Stanley, [n.d.].
  • 35. Ibid. (13) 1/161/23.
  • 36. Greene mss 4/16; Derby mss (13) 1/161/24.
  • 37. Derby mss (14) 63, Derby to Smith Stanley, 23, 27 May 1829.
  • 38. Albion, 31 Aug. 1829.
  • 39. Derby mss (14) 63, Stanley to Smith Stanley, 30 Dec. 1829.
  • 40. Mitchell, 236.
  • 41. Castle Howard mss, Graham to Morpeth [3 Mar.] 1830; Mitchell, 227.
  • 42. Manchester Guardian, 7 Aug. 1830.
  • 43. Brougham mss.
  • 44. Derby mss (13) 1/161/25-28; Add. 51835, Arbuthnot to Holland, 7 Dec. 1830.
  • 45. St. Deiniol’s Lib. Glynne-Gladstone mss 197, T. to J. Gladstone, 18 Mar. 1831.
  • 46. Derby mss (14) 116/6, Winstanley to Smith Stanley, 25 Apr.; Brougham mss, Shepherd to Brougham [n.d.]; Lancaster Herald, 30 Apr., 7, 14 May 1831.
  • 47. Manchester Herald, 11 May 1831.
  • 48. Add. 51836.
  • 49. Ibid.; Manchester Guardian, 18 June 1831.
  • 50. Lancaster Gazette, 20 Aug. 1831.
  • 51. Manchester Guardian, 12 May; Manchester Herald, 14 May 1832.
  • 52. Parl. Deb. (ser. 3), xii. 893; The Times, 12 May 1832.
  • 53. Manchester Guardian, 7 July; Manchester Herald, 11 July 1832.
  • 54. PRO NI, Anglesey mss D619/27A/114; Devon RO, Earl Fortescue mss 1261M/FC88, Grey to Ebrington, 19 Aug. 1832.
  • 55. Manchester Guardian, 25 Oct. 1834, 2 July 1851; Derby [of Knowsley] mss DDK 33/8; Brougham mss, Smith Stanley to Brougham, 9 Sept. 1838.
  • 56. PROB 11/2140/780; IR26/1895/724; Lancs. RO, Lancs. Evening Post deposit DDPr 138/76; P.E. Stanley, House of Stanley, 284-6, 289; Oxford DNB.