1788        Born on 5 February at Chamber Hall, Bury, he was the first son and third child of Robert Peel.

1800        Attends Harrow School.

1804-5     Upon leaving school, Peel went to the House of Commons with his father during the winter months to listen to the speeches. He witnessed the final battles between Fox and Pitt who was now back in office.

1805        Peel became an undergraduate at Christ Church, Oxford, where he studied for a double degree in Literae Humaniores, which included Greek, Latin, Logic, Rhetoric, and Moral Philosophy; and Mathematics and Physics. He achieved academic distinction.

1809        Thanks to the patronage of his father (an MP) and on the recommendation of Sir Arthur Wellesley (later the Duke of Wellington), who did not even know Peel's first name, he became MP for the Irish seat of Cashel City, Co. Tipperary, a borough with only twenty-four voters. No contest was held for the seat.

1810        Peel became Under-Secretary for War and the Colonies in the Tory government of Spencer Perceval, at the age of 22.

1812        Peel became the Chief Secretary for Ireland in the new government of Lord Liverpool. He also became MP for another "rotten" borough, Chippenham (Wilts).

1817        Peel made a strong speech in Parliament opposing Catholic Emancipation. This position made him attractive to Oxford University and he subsequently becomes its MP.

1818        Peel resigned his post as Chief Secretary for Ireland.

1819        Peel was appointed as Chairman of the parliamentary committee enquiring into state of finances-the Bullion Committee. His report was influential in the passing of the Currency Act.

1820        Peel married Julia Floyd.

1822        He became a Cabinet minister for the first time as Home Secretary at the age of 34.

1823-5        Peel reformed the gaols and reduced the number of offences that carried the death penalty.

1826        He supervised the response to the outbreak of industrial unrest especially on Lancashire and Yorkshire.

1826-7     Further reforms were made to the Criminal Law.

1827        Liverpool resigned because of ill health and was replaced by Canning who supported Catholic Emancipation. Peel resigned because of Cannings' views.

1828        Peel became Home Secretary and leader of the House of Commons in the new Tory ministry headed by the Duke of Wellington.

1829        Peel was forced to support Catholic Emancipation and subsequently resigned his seat at Oxford University. He returned to the Commons for the pocket borough of Westbury (Wilts).

      Peel's Metropolitan Police Act was passed.

1830        A General Election was called because of the death of George IV. Peel was returned for the family seat of Tamworth. Due to the growing call for the reform of Parliament the Government was put on the defensive and resigned over a defeated technical issue in November. Peel left office.

      His father died and Peel inherited the baronetcy.

1831        He opposed the Whigs' call for reform.

1832        After the resignation of the Whigs over reform, Peel refused to serve in a Tory party that pledged reform.

      Peel was beginning to be recognised as the leader of the Tories.

1833        Peel declared that he would support the Whig government when it proposed to defend law and order as well as property.

1834        Peel was installed as Prime Minister in a minority Tory government. He issued the Tamworth Manifesto that pledged that the Tories would support modest reform.

1835        The Tories gained further support at the General Election but was defeated by an alliance of Whigs and Radicals-the Lichfield House Compact.

1836-38    Peel worked further at creating unity within the Conservative party and gained more support from the 1837 General Election.

1839        The Bedchamber Crisis; Peel refused to take office.

1841        The Whigs were defeated on a vote of confidence and in the subsequent General Election, the Conservatives won and Peel became Prime Minister of a majority government.

1842-45    Peel introduced budgets that led towards Free Trade.

1843        Graham's Factory Act was defeated over an education clause which would have extended Anglican influence over factory education.

1844        A Factory Act was passed that reduced the working hours within factories. Peel's threat of resignation over the issue secured a majority for him.

      The Bank Charter Act was passed.

1845        The beginning of the Irish Potato Famine; Peel committed the cabinet to repealing the Corn Laws. Peel failed to persuade Russell to take over as Prime Minister to repeal the Corn Laws.

1846        Disraeli and Bentinck organised Tory opposition against the repeal. On the vital vote, only 112 Tories supported Peel and the repeal of the Corn Laws was carried by Whig/Liberal votes. Peel was defeated on a Coercion Bill for Ireland and resigned. Peel refused to lead a group of Conservatives that supported Free Trade.

1847        The General Election confirmed the majority of Whigs/Liberals. Peel offered advice to the Liberals on Free Trade policies.

1848        Peel supported the Chancellor of the Exchequer on retention of income tax and increased expenditure on the armed forces.

1849        Peel refused to join the Whig/Liberal government and to take part in negotiations about a return to office.

              He made a speech on urging measures to aid the economic recovery of Ireland.

      Navigation Acts repealed with Peelite support.

1850        In his final speech in Parliament Peel criticised Palmerston's foreign policy and urged non-intervention in the affairs of other nations.

      29 June: Peel had a riding accident and died on 2 July.


Victorianism Overview Victorian History Prime Ministers of England

Last modified: 26 September 2000; Thanks to Daniel Alterbaum for catching a broken link.