William Ewart Gladstone

William Ewart Gladstone FRS FSS (/ˈɡlædstən/; 29 December 1809 – 19 May 1898) was a British statesman and Liberal politician. In a career lasting over 60 years, he served for 12 years as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, spread over four terms beginning in 1868 and ending in 1894. He also served as Chancellor of the Exchequer four times, serving over 12 years.


William Ewart Gladstone

Gladstone in 1892
Prime Minister of the United Kingdom
In office
3 December 1868  17 February 1874
MonarchVictoria
Preceded byBenjamin Disraeli
Succeeded byBenjamin Disraeli
In office
23 April 1880  9 June 1885
MonarchVictoria
Preceded byBenjamin Disraeli
Succeeded byThe Marquess of Salisbury
In office
1 February 1886  20 July 1886
MonarchVictoria
Preceded byThe Marquess of Salisbury
Succeeded byThe Marquess of Salisbury
In office
15 August 1892  2 March 1894
MonarchVictoria
Preceded byThe Marquess of Salisbury
Succeeded byThe Earl of Rosebery
Chancellor of the Exchequer
In office
28 December 1852  28 February 1855
MonarchVictoria
Prime MinisterThe Earl of Aberdeen
Preceded byBenjamin Disraeli
Succeeded byGeorge Cornewall Lewis
In office
18 June 1859  26 June 1866
MonarchVictoria
Prime MinisterThe Viscount Palmerston
The Earl Russell
Preceded byBenjamin Disraeli
Succeeded byBenjamin Disraeli
In office
11 August 1873  17 February 1874
MonarchVictoria
Prime MinisterHimself
Preceded byRobert Lowe
Succeeded byStafford Northcote
In office
28 April 1880  16 December 1882
MonarchVictoria
Prime MinisterHimself
Preceded byStafford Northcote
Succeeded byHugh Childers
Further cabinet offices
Secretary of State for War and the Colonies
In office
23 December 1845  27 June 1846
Prime MinisterRobert Peel
Preceded byThe Baron Stanley of Bickerstaffe
Succeeded byThe Earl Grey
President of the Board of Trade
In office
15 May 1843  5 February 1845
Prime MinisterRobert Peel
Preceded byThe Earl of Ripon
Succeeded byThe Earl of Dalhousie
Parliamentary offices
Leader of the Liberal Party
In office
3 December 1868  3 February 1875
Preceded byThe Earl Russell
Succeeded byThe Earl Granville (in Lords)
Spencer Cavendish (in Commons)
In office
23 April 1880  2 March 1894
Preceded byThe Earl Granville (in Lords)
Spencer Cavendish (in Commons)
Succeeded byThe Earl of Rosebery
Member of Parliament
In office
1832–1845
Preceded byThomas Wilde
Succeeded byJohn Stuart
ConstituencyNewark
In office
1847–1895
Preceded byThomas Grimston Estcourt
Succeeded bySir Thomas Gibson-Carmichael
ConstituencyOxford University (1847–1865)
South Lancashire (1865–1868)
Greenwich (1868–1880)
Midlothian (1880–1895)
Colonial posts
Lord High Commissioner of the Ionian Islands
In office
25 January 1859  17 February 1859
Preceded bySir John Young
Succeeded byHenry Knight Storks
Personal details
Born(1809-12-29)29 December 1809
62 Rodney Street, Liverpool, Lancashire, England
Died19 May 1898(1898-05-19) (aged 88)
Hawarden Castle, Flintshire, Wales
Resting placeWestminster Abbey
NationalityBritish
Political partyLiberal (1859–1898)
Other political
affiliations
Spouse(s)
(m. 1839)
Children8; including William, Helen, Henry and Herbert
Parents
Alma materChrist Church, Oxford
Signature

Gladstone was born in Liverpool to Scottish parents. He first entered the House of Commons in 1832, beginning his political career as a High Tory, a grouping which became the Conservative Party under Robert Peel in 1834. Gladstone served as a minister in both of Peel's governments, and in 1846 joined the breakaway Peelite faction, which eventually merged into the new Liberal Party in 1859. He was chancellor under Lord Aberdeen (1852–1855), Lord Palmerston (1859–1865) and Lord Russell (1865–1866). Gladstone's own political doctrine—which emphasised equality of opportunity and opposition to trade protectionism—came to be known as Gladstonian liberalism. His popularity amongst the working-class earned him the sobriquet "The People's William".

In 1868, Gladstone became prime minister for the first time. Many reforms were passed during his first ministry, including the disestablishment of the Church of Ireland and the introduction of secret voting. After electoral defeat in 1874, Gladstone resigned as leader of the Liberal Party. From 1876 he began a comeback based on opposition to the Ottoman Empire reaction to the Bulgarian April Uprising. His Midlothian Campaign of 1879–80 was an early example of many modern political campaigning techniques.[1][2] After the 1880 general election, Gladstone formed his second ministry (1880–1885), which saw the passage of the Third Reform Act as well as crises in Egypt (culminating in the Fall of Khartoum) and Ireland, where his government passed repressive measures but also improved the legal rights of Irish tenant farmers.

Back in office in early 1886, Gladstone proposed home rule for Ireland but was defeated in the House of Commons. The resulting split in the Liberal Party helped keep them out of office – with one short break – for 20 years. Gladstone formed his last government in 1892, at the age of 82. The Government of Ireland Bill 1893 passed through the Commons but was defeated in the House of Lords in 1893. Gladstone left office in March 1894, aged 84, as both the oldest person to serve as Prime Minister and the only prime minister to have served four terms. He left Parliament in 1895 and died three years later.

Gladstone was known affectionately by his supporters as "The People's William" or the "G.O.M." ("Grand Old Man", or, to political rivals "God's Only Mistake").[3] Historians often call him one of Britain's greatest leaders.[4][5][6][7] He was elected a member to the American Philosophical Society in 1881.[8]