illiam Huskisson was born in Worcestershire in 1770. In the period 1783-92 he was in Paris where his uncle was doctor to the British Embassy, and saw the French Revolution at first hand. In 1795 was appointed as Under-secretary in the colonial Department. In 1793 he entered parliament as MP for Morpeth, Northumberland, as a supporter of Pitt the Younger. In 1804 he was elected for the constituency of Liskeard and became Secretary of the Treasury. He held the same appointment in Portland's ministry of 1804-09. In 1811 he became a Commissioner of the Woods and Forests He was prominent in the Corn Law Debates (about the regulation of import and export of grain) of 1814-1815, and in 1821 was appointed to a committee to investigate distressed farming communities. Subsequently, Huskisson proposed a relaxation of the law. In 1823 he was appointed as President of the Board of Trade and Treasurer of the Navy in Liverpool's ministry. He sat as a member of the Bullion Committee which was chaired by Peel. Under Wellington he was Colonial Secretary but resigned in 1828 after a disagreement with Wellington over the sliding scale on the Corn Laws.
He obtained the removal of restrictions on the trade of the colonies with foreign countries, the removal or reduction of many import duties and the relaxation of the Navigation Laws. He was an active leader in the movement towards Free Trade.
He has the misfortune to be remembered most for being the victim of the first fatal railway accident. He died on 15 September 1830 following the incident at the official opening of the Liverpool-Manchester railway line.
Last modified April 1997; links last added 20 February 2000