Home >> Encyclopedia Americana, Volume 8 >> Democratic Party to Or Kurland Courland >> Derby

Derby

reform, successful, bill and house

DERBY, Edward Geoffrey Smith Stanley, 14TH EARL OF, English statesman: b. Knowsley Park, Lancashire, 29 March 1799; d. there, 23 Oct. 1869. He was educated at Christ Church, Oxford, and entered Parliament shortly after leaving that university as member for Stock bridge in Hampshire. His very first speech marked him out as a skilled debater, and he rapidly rose to distinction in the House. His views at first inclined him to side with the Whig party. In 1827 he joined Canning's min istry as Under-Secretary for the colonies, and became Chief Secretary for Ireland and Lord Grey. The opposition, led by O'Connell in the House of Commons, was powerful and violent; but while he firmly resisted the extravagant demands of the opposition and the agitation for the repeal of the union, he succeeded in passing a number of measures which tended to lessen the prevailing discontent. He improved the administration of justice, carried a bill establish ing a system of national education, and after ward, as Secretary of State for the colonies, supported the bill for the reform of the Irish Church, by which two archbishoprics and 10 bishoprics were abolished. He also gave his warm support to the petitions which were pre sented to Parliament for the abolition of slav ery in the British colonies, and was successful in passing the act for this purpose in 1833. He now joined the Tories and accepted office under Sir Robert Peel, being again appointed Colonial Secretary. He distinguished

himself by his wise administration of this department during the four following years. In 1851 he became Earl of Derby, succeed ing his father. In 1852 and 1858 he was commanded by the queen to form a ministry but on both occasions he had to contend against a majority in the House of Commons, and was able to maintain himself in office only for a short period. He was more successful in 1866, when, on the defeat of Lord John Russell's gov ernment on one of the chief clauses of their reform bill, he undertook to form a ministry. His administration on this occasion was signal ized by the reform of the government in India, the successful conduct of the Abyssinian War, and the passing of the reform bill which intro duced household suffrage as the qualification for the electoral franchise. Disraeli (q.v.) was the great force in these ministries, and succeeded him in the premiership. Earl Derby joined to great ability as a statesman and brilliant ora torical powers a high degree of scholarly cul ture and literary ability. Among other works he published a successful translation of Homer's