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William Huskisson


HUSKISSON, WILLIAM (177o--183o), English statesman and financier, was descended from an old Staffordshire family of moderate fortune, and was born at Birch Moreton, Worcester shire, on March 177o. He went to Paris at 14 to the care of his uncle, Dr. Gem, physician to the British embassy in Paris, and witnessed the French revolution. In Jan. 1793 he was em ployed by Dundas in the carrying out of the Aliens Act; and in he was appointed under-secretary for war. Huskisson sat in parliament for Morpeth (1796-1802), Liskeard (1804-07), Har wich Chichester (1812-23), and Liverpool (1823-30). He was secretary to the Treasury under Pitt (1804-05), and Port land (1807-09) . He took a prominent part in the corn-law debates of 1814 and 1815; and in 1819 he presented a memorandum to Lord Liverpool advocating a large reduction in the unfunded debt, and explaining a method for the resumption of cash payments, which was embodied in the act passed the same year. In 1821 he was a member of the committee appointed to inquire into the causes of the agricultural distress then prevailing, and the pro posed relaxation of the corn laws embodied in the report was un derstood to have been chiefly due to his strenuous advocacy. In 1823 he was appointed president of the board of trade and treas urer of the navy, and shortly afterwards he received a seat in the cabinet. In the same year he was returned for Liverpool as suc cessor to Canning, and as the only man who could reconcile the Tory merchants to a free trade policy. Among the more important legislative changes with which he was principally connected were a reform of the Navigation Acts, admitting other nations to a full equality and reciprocity of shipping duties; the repeal of the la bour laws ; the introduction of a new sinking fund ; the reduction of the duties on manufactures and on the importation of foreign goods ; and the repeal of the quarantine duties. In accordance with his suggestion Canning in 1827 introduced a measure on the corn laws proposing the adoption of a sliding scale to regulate the amount of duty. A misapprehension between Huskisson and the duke of Wellington led to the duke proposing an amendment, the success of which caused the abandonment of the measure by the government. After the death of Canning in the same year Huskisson accepted the secretaryship of the colonies under Lord Goderich, an office which he continued to hold in the new cabi net formed by the duke of Wellington in the following year. After succeeding with great difficulty in inducing the cabinet to agree to a compromise on the corn laws, Huskisson finally re signed office in May 1829 on account of a difference with his colleagues in regard to the disfranchisement of East Retford. On Sept. 15, 1830, he was accidentally killed by a locomotive engine while present at the opening of the Liverpool and Manchester railway.

See the Life of Huskisson, by J. Wright (1831).

laws, liverpool, canning, duties and appointed