Edmund Burke

Edmund Burke (/ˈbɜːrk/; 12 January [NS] 1729[2] – 9 July 1797) was an Irish statesman, economist, and philosopher. Born in Dublin, Burke served as a member of parliament (MP) between 1766 and 1794 in the House of Commons of Great Britain with the Whig Party after moving to London in 1750.


Edmund Burke
Painting of Edmund Burke MP c. 1767, studio of Joshua Reynolds (1723–1792)
Rector of the University of Glasgow
In office
1783–1785
Preceded byHenry Dundas
Succeeded byRobert Bontine
Paymaster of the Forces
In office
16 April 1783  8 January 1784
Prime MinisterThe Duke of Portland
William Pitt the Younger
Preceded byIsaac Barré
Succeeded byWilliam Grenville
In office
10 April 1782  1 August 1782
Prime MinisterThe Marquess of Rockingham
Preceded byRichard Rigby
Succeeded byIsaac Barré
Member of Parliament
for Malton
In office
18 October 1780  20 June 1794
Preceded bySavile Finch
Succeeded byRichard Burke Jr.
Member of Parliament
for Bristol
In office
4 November 1774  6 September 1780
Serving with Henry Cruger
Preceded byMatthew Brickdale
Succeeded byHenry Lippincott
Member of Parliament
for Wendover
In office
December 1765  5 October 1774
Serving with
  • Richard Chandler-Cavendish
  • Robert Darling
  • Joseph Bullock
Preceded byVerney Lovett
Succeeded byJohn Adams
Personal details
Born(1729-01-12)12 January 1729
Dublin, Kingdom of Ireland[1]
Died9 July 1797(1797-07-09) (aged 68)
Beaconsfield, England
Political partyWhig (Rockinghamite)
Spouse(s)
Jane Mary Nugent
(m. 1757)
ChildrenRichard Burke Jr.
Alma materTrinity College Dublin
OccupationWriter, politician, journalist, philosopher

Philosophy career
Notable work
A Vindication of Natural Society

A Philosophical Enquiry into the Origin of Our Ideas of the Sublime and Beautiful

Reflections on the Revolution in France

Era18th-century philosophy
RegionWestern philosophy
SchoolConservatism
Main interests
Social philosophy and political philosophy, aesthetics
Notable ideas
Aesthetic sublime, literary sublime, traditionalist conservatism
Signature

Burke was a proponent of underpinning virtues with manners in society and of the importance of religious institutions for the moral stability and good of the state.[3] These views were expressed in his A Vindication of Natural Society. He criticised the actions of the British government towards the American colonies, including its taxation policies. Burke also supported the rights of the colonists to resist metropolitan authority, although he opposed the attempt to achieve independence. He is remembered for his support for Catholic emancipation, the impeachment of Warren Hastings from the East India Company, and his staunch opposition to the French Revolution.

In his Reflections on the Revolution in France, Burke asserted that the revolution was destroying the fabric of good society and traditional institutions of state and society and condemned the persecution of the Catholic Church that resulted from it. This led to his becoming the leading figure within the conservative faction of the Whig Party which he dubbed the Old Whigs as opposed to the pro–French Revolution New Whigs led by Charles James Fox.[4]

In the 19th century, Burke was praised by both conservatives and liberals.[5] Subsequently in the 20th century, he became widely regarded as the philosophical founder of conservatism.[6][7] Yet he was a lifelong Whig, and his famous refusal to accept directions from his Bristol electors was founded on his conscientious objection to supporting in Parliament their lucrative slave trade.[8]