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LIST OF SECTIONS
This list is just my choice of prominent Victorians from all the many possibilities. The Victorian age was such a time of innovation and change, and spanning 64 years, provided a great number of people to select from. I have included those born before the Victorian era, and those who died afterwards: the main selection criteria being that they lived part of their life between 1837 and 1901. The list is far from complete and will be added to as time goes on, but if you have any burning nominations, then drop an email.
He lived the last four years of his life, putting his affairs in order. he bequeathed a large part of his library of books to start a library in Wales. A suspected attack of facial neuralgia turned out to be cancer and soon after diagnosis he died.
In his private life he was considered to be something of a womaniser. He married his mistress Emily, Lady Cowper, but they had no legitimate children, although it was rumoured that one of Lady Cowper's children, born before the death of her first husband, was his. Although of the same party, he had very different views to Gladstone, and although polite to each other in public it was clear that they did not agree. He was also not much liked by Queen Victoria, who regarded him as a strong and determined man with much worldly ambition.
He died at the age of 80 following a chill, which developed into a fever. He is attributed, according to folklaw, the final words: Die, my dear doctor? That is the last thing I shall do. He was the fourth person not of royal descent to be given a state funeral.
Peel entered politics at the age of 21 as MP for Cashel, Tipperary, a so-called Rotten Borough, a constituency with a very small electorate, in this case just 24 people. As early as 1813, while Chief Secretary in Dublin, he proposed the establishment of a police force, and in 1814 the Royal Irish Constabulary was founded.
In 1822 he was elected to the Cabinet as Home Secretary but resigned in 1827 because of political differences with the Prime Minister over Catholic Emancipation, a proposal to reduce some of the restrictions placed on Roman Catholics, of which Peel was an ardent opponent. However, when the Duke of Wellington was appointed Prime Minister in 1828 Peel, standing for another rotten borough, Westbury, became Home Secretary again. He established the Metropolitan Police Force in 1829, and by 1857 all the cities of the UK were required to have a police force. Peel introduced ethical requirements of police officers which defined their conduct. These were known as the Peelian Princiiples.
After a brief period when the Tories were in opposition they gained power again in 1834 with a minority government, and Peel was appointed Prime Minister. It was a turbulent period, and little was achieved before a general election in 1835 gave power to the Whigs led by Lord Melbourne. After another election and change of government, Peel resumed as Prime Minister in 1841. It was a difficult time economically and the Peel government reintroduced Income Tax to fund the deficit in the budget. He introduced the Factory Act in 1844, which restricted working hours and introduced elementary safety laws. His other notable act was the repeal of the Corn Laws which had a bumpy passage through Parliament. It was in part a reaction to the Great Irish Famine (1844 - 1849) and sought to lift restrictions of grain imports. It took away the protection of wealthy landowners revenues, and allowed free trade.
The Corn Laws were unpopular in some quarters and the Conservatives did not get another term.
During the latter part of his life he still maintained some political influence. He had survived an assassination attempt in 1843, but in 1850 he became the victim of a horse accident. He was riding up Constitution Hill when his horse stumbled and fell on top of him. He died three days later at the age of 62. Queen Victoria paid tribute when she wrote of Peel, ‘Everyone seems to have lost a personal friend’.
He became involved in Politics and was elected as Member of the Cape Parliament in 1880, and in 1890 was elected as Prime Minister. However after a disastrous incident in the Transvaal, he was forced to resign. Over the next few years Rhodes worked on his dream of creating an outpost of the British Empire in the northern territories of Africa. He acquired mineral concessions and then organised them to become British Protectorates. He wanted these areas to be self-governing, not controlled by bureaucrats in the Colonial Office in London, an idea that was not popular with some people. Nevertheless in 1889 Rhodes gained a charter for his British South Africa Company (BSAC) to rule the area. The area expanded to include Matabeleland and Mashonaland. By the end of 1894 it was over 1m km2and in 1895 the name of this territory was changed to Rhodesia. Rhodes died in 1902, aged 48, and was buried in Africa. At his death he was one of the richest men in the world.
Rhodes was every bit an Imperialist believing that the Anglo-Saxon race was destined to greatness. He wanted to make the British Empire a superpower in which all of the British-dominated countries in the empire, including Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and Cape Colony, would be represented in the British Parliament. He is particularly remembered today for his educational programme, Rhodes scholarships, which help students from territories under British rule, formerly under British rule, and from Germany, to study at the University of Oxford.
He was considered to be a conservative (small "C") politician who was a man of great intellect. He was a true stateman combining realism and clarity of view with an ethical approach to diplomacy. He always sought to conciliate and pacify while maintaining important national interests.
In 1826 he entered politics as Tory MP for Woodstock. He became involved in many acts of social reform such as the the reform of the Lunacy laws. Lunatics in London were kept in madhouses where they were chained to their beds, sleeping naked on straw, and having to lay in their own excrement. Occasionally they would be washed down in feezing cold water with no soap. Eventually commissioners were appointed to inspect Assylums, and a number of Acts passed which led to better conditions for the lunatics and less likely that sane people would be sectioned wrongly.
Another early bill on which he worked was the Ten Hours Act (1833) designed to limit employing children under 9 in factories and cotton mills. It also sought limit the working day for those under 18 to no more than ten hours. He went on to further bills of social importance and great personal benefit to a lot of poor people.
The Mines and Collieries Act (1842) sought to prevent the employment of children and women underground. From 1840 he tried to get a bill passed to prohibit the employment of climing boys as chimney sweeps. The boys were affected with scorched and lacerated skin and they sometimes suffocated. They also suffered cancer caused by the sooty conditions. It took Shaftesbury most of his politically life to get the practice banned, but he finally succeeded after the enactment of the Chimney Sweepers Act (1875).
In 1844 Shaftesbury became the president of the Ragged School Union, which ran schools for poor children. He was also an advocate of the restoration of the Jews to the Holy Land. He also served for many years as President of the British and Foreign Bible Society.
He married Lady Emily Caroline Cowper (who was possibly the illegitimate daughter of Lord Palmerston) and they had a happy marriage with ten children.
After his death, aged 84, a memorial service was held in Westminster Abbey, and the streets along the funeral route were thronged with costermongers, factory hands, chimney sweeps, flower girls and many others who had come to pay respects to the man who had done so much to help the poorer classes. A statue was erected in Piccadilly Circus in his honour, The Angel of Christian Charity, widely known - and an iconic symbol of London - as Eros.