In 1834 the king, William IV, dismissed the Whig ministry of Lord Melbourne and asked the Duke of Wellington if Peel would form a ministry. When he arrived back from holiday in Italy some three weeks later, Peel felt that he had no alternative but to accept office even though the Conservatives were in a minority in parliament.

There was a general feeling among Conservatives that some public announcement of the principles of the new government should be made to the public at large. Peel decided to make the most of the opportunity afforded by his forthcoming by-election in Tamworth, the rotten borough which was part of his estate at Drayton.

The "Tamworth Manifesto" (text) appeared in the national press on 18 December 1834 and was recognised as an appeal to the whole nation. It was an electioneering document which declared Peel's attitude to current political issues. The Manifesto merely reiterated much of what Peel had said before, in different circumstances. However, it became a landmark in the growth of Conservatism after the passing of the 1832 Reform Act.

Last modified 21 June 2002