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William Huskisson

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Subject: George Canning, Nicholas Vansittart, 1st Baron Bexley, Charles Arbuthnot, Liverpool and Manchester Railway, Canningite
Collection: 1770 Births, 1830 Deaths, Accidental Deaths in England, British Secretaries of State, Leaders of the House of Commons, Members of the Parliament of Great Britain for English Constituencies, Members of the Parliament of the United Kingdom for Constituencies in Cornwall, Members of the Parliament of the United Kingdom for English Constituencies, Members of the Privy Council of the United Kingdom, People from Eccles, Greater Manchester, People from Liverpool, People from Malvern, Worcestershire, Railway Accident Deaths in England, Railway Accidents in 1830, Railway Accidents in England, Uk Mps 1801–02, Uk Mps 1802–06, Uk Mps 1806–07, Uk Mps 1807–12, Uk Mps 1812–18, Uk Mps 1818–20, Uk Mps 1820–26, Uk Mps 1826–30
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William Huskisson

The Right Honourable
William Huskisson
President of the Board of Trade
In office
21 February 1823 – 3 September 1827
Monarch George IV
Prime Minister The Earl of Liverpool
George Canning
Preceded by Frederick John Robinson
Succeeded by Charles Grant
Secretary of State for War and the Colonies
In office
3 September 1827 – 30 May 1828
Monarch George IV
Prime Minister The Viscount Goderich
The Duke of Wellington
Preceded by The Viscount Goderich
Succeeded by Sir George Murray
Leader of the House of Commons
In office
3 September 1827 – 26 January 1828
Monarch George IV
Prime Minister The Viscount Goderich
Preceded by George Canning
Succeeded by Robert Peel
Personal details
Born 11 March 1770 (1770-03-11)
Birtsmorton Court, Malvern, Worcestershire
Died 15 September 1830(1830-09-15) (aged 60)
Eccles, Lancashire
Nationality British
Spouse(s) Emily Milbanke (d. 1856)

William Huskisson Rocket.

Contents

  • Background and education 1
  • Early life 2
  • Political career 3
  • Death 4
  • Family and commemorations 5
  • See also 6
  • References 7
  • Bibliography 8
  • External links 9

Background and education

Huskisson was born at Royal Marines before taking up his appointment as Collector of Customs at Saint Vincent.

Early life

Huskisson was a student at Appleby Grammar School (later renamed Marquess of Stafford was the British ambassador to Paris. Huskisson became a protégé of the Marquess, and returned to London with him.

Political career

Question concerning the depreciation of our currency, 1810

Once in London, Huskisson quickly gained an additional two powerful political patrons: Henry Dundas, the Home Secretary, and William Pitt the Younger, the Prime Minister. Because of Huskisson's fluency in French, Dundas appointed him in January 1793 to oversee the execution of the Aliens Act, which mostly dealt with French refugees. In the discharge of his delicate duties, he manifested such ability that in 1795 he was appointed Under-Secretary at War (the Secretary at War's deputy).

In the following year he entered parliament as member for Morpeth, but for a considerable period he took scarcely any part in the debates. In 1800 he inherited a fortune from Dr Gem. On the retirement of Pitt in 1801 he resigned office, and after contesting Dover unsuccessfully he withdrew for a time into private life. Having in 1804 been chosen to represent Liskeard, he was on the restoration of the Pitt ministry appointed secretary of the treasury, holding office till the dissolution of the ministry after the death of Pitt in January 1806.

After being elected for Canning in 1809. In the following year he published a pamphlet on the currency system, which confirmed his reputation as the ablest financier of his time; but his free-trade principles did not accord with those of his party. In 1812 he was returned for Chichester.

When in 1814 he re-entered the public service, it was only as First Commissioner of Woods and Forests, but his influence was from this time very great in the commercial and financial legislation of the country. 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 proposed relaxation of the corn laws embodied in the report was understood to have been chiefly due to his strenuous advocacy.

In 1823 he was appointed President of the Board of Trade and Treasurer of the Navy, and shortly afterwards he received a seat in the cabinet. In the same year he was returned for Liverpool as successor 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 labour 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.

As a pro-planter Secretary for Colonies in 1826, he proposed the revised Consolidated Slave Law which was accepted by Parliament.

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 cabinet 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 resigned office in May 1828 on account of a difference with his colleagues in regard to the disfranchisement of East Retford.

He was followed out of the government by other Tories who are usually described as Canningites including Lord Palmerston, Charles Grant, Lord Dudley, and Lord Melbourne.

Death

Page 1 of the last will of William Huskisson.
Unveiling of the Huskisson Memorial, 1913

While attending the opening of the Liverpool and Manchester Railway, on 15 September 1830, Huskisson rode down the line in the same train as the Duke of Wellington, on the first of several trains moving in procession. At Parkside railway station, near the midpoint of the line, the locomotives made a scheduled stop to take on water. Although the railway staff had advised passengers to remain on the trains while this took place, around fifty of the dignitaries on board alighted when the Duke of Wellington's special train stopped. One of those who got off was William Huskisson, former cabinet minister and Member of Parliament for Liverpool.

Huskisson had been a highly influential figure in the creation of the British Empire and an architect of the doctrine of free trade, but had fallen out with Wellington in 1828 over the issue of parliamentary reform (Wellington was not in favour of reform) and had resigned from the cabinet. His political supporters hoped he might be reconciled with Wellington, and he approached the Duke's railway carriage at the Duke's invitation and shook his hand. Distracted by Wellington, he did not notice the approaching locomotive Rocket on the adjacent track.

On realising his danger he panicked and tried to clamber into the Duke's carriage, but the door of the carriage swung open leaving him hanging directly in the path of the oncoming Rocket. He fell onto the tracks in front of the train. There was a suggestion that "Huskisson was feeble in his legs" and that his "long confinement in St George's Chapel at the king's funeral brought on a complaint that ... the effect of which had been, according to what he told Calcraft, to paralyse, as it were one leg and thigh."[1]

His leg was horrifically mangled by the locomotive. The wounded Huskisson was taken by a train (driven by Eccles. When he reached hospital he was given a massive dose of laudanum. After being told his death was imminent he made his will, and died a few hours later.[2]

The Duke of Wellington felt that the remainder of the day's events should be cancelled following the accident at Parkside, and proposed to return to Liverpool. However, a large crowd had gathered in Manchester to see the trains arrive, and was beginning to become unruly. Wellington was persuaded to continue to Manchester, despite the advance of the trains being slow as they were now short of an engine. By the time the trains reached the outskirts of Manchester the crowd had become hostile and was spilling onto the tracks. With local authorities unable to clear the tracks, the trains were obliged to drive at low speed into the crowd, using their own momentum to push people out of the way.

Eventually they arrived at Liverpool Road railway station in Manchester to be met by a hostile crowd, who waved banners and flags against the Duke and pelted him with vegetables. Wellington refused to get off the train, and ordered that the trains return to Liverpool. Mechanical failures and an inability to turn the locomotives meant that most of the trains were unable to leave Manchester. While the Duke of Wellington's train left successfully, only three of the remaining seven locomotives were usable due to shortages of water. These three locomotives slowly hauled a single long train of 24 carriages back to Liverpool, eventually arriving 6½ hours late after having been pelted with objects thrown from bridges by the drunken crowds lining the track.

The death and funeral of William Huskisson caused the opening of the railway to be widely reported, and people around the world became aware for the first time that cheap and rapid long-distance transport was now possible.

The L&M became extremely successful, and within a month of its opening plans were put forward to connect Liverpool and Manchester with the other major cities of England. Within ten years, 1,775 miles (2,857 km) of railways had been built in Britain, and within 20 years of the L&M's opening over 6,200 miles (10,000 km) were in place. The L&M remains in operation, and its opening is now considered the start of the age of mechanised transport; in the words of industrialist and former British Rail chairman Peter Parker, "the world is a branch line of the pioneering Liverpool–Manchester run".

Family and commemorations

On 6 April 1799, Huskisson married Emily Milbanke, the youngest daughter of Admiral Mark Milbanke, the commander-in-chief at Portsmouth. Emily Huskisson survived her husband and remained a widow until her death in April 1856. They had no children. In 1800 Huskisson bought Eartham House in West Sussex from his friend William Hayley, and is commemorated in the parish church by a long carved eulogy from Emily on the south wall.

The monument where his remains are buried is the centrepiece of St James Cemetery, Liverpool.[3] A marble statue of him was housed in a mausoleum there until 1968, when it was transferred to the Walker Art Gallery in Liverpool.[4]

Emily also commissioned a second marble statue for the Custom House in Liverpool. This statue now stands in Pimlico Gardens in London. A bronze casting of it was unveiled at the Custom House in 1847, and after several moves is now in Duke Street in Liverpool city centre.[4]

See also

References

  1. ^ The Death of William Huskisson
  2. ^ Derail: Why Trains Crash by Nicholas Faith, page 44, publ 2000 by Channel 4 books, ISBN 0-7522-7165-2
  3. ^ William Huskisson at HistoryHome.co.uk
  4. ^ a b Huskisson statue at National Museums website
  •  

Bibliography

  • Brady, Alexander, William Huskisson and liberal reform; an essay on the changes in economic policy in the twenties of the nineteenth century, Oxford, OUP, 1928. (2nd ed. London, Cass, 1967).
  • Fay, C. R., Huskisson and His Age. London : Longmans Green, 1951.
  • Garfield, Simon, The Last Journey of William Huskisson. London: Faber, 2002. ISBN 0-571-21048-1

External links

  • Hansard 1803–2005: contributions in Parliament by William Huskisson
  • William Huskisson page on the Peel Web.
  • Portraits of William Huskisson at the National Portrait Gallery, London
  • A Piece of Lowton History has information about Huskisson's death and memorial.
Parliament of Great Britain
Preceded by
Sir James Erskine, Bt
Viscount Morpeth
Member of Parliament for Morpeth
1796–1801
with Viscount Morpeth
Succeeded by
Parliament of the United Kingdom
Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Parliament of Great Britain
Member of Parliament for Morpeth
1801–1802
with Viscount Morpeth
Succeeded by
Viscount Morpeth
William Ord
Preceded by
Hon. John Eliot
Hon. William Eliot
Member of Parliament for Liskeard
1804–1807
with Hon. William Eliot
Succeeded by
William Eliot
Viscount Hamilton
Preceded by
John Hiley Addington
James Adams
Member of Parliament for Harwich
1807–1812
with John Hiley Addington
Succeeded by
John Hiley Addington
Nicholas Vansittart
Preceded by
George White-Thomas
James du Pre
Member of Parliament for Chichester
1812–1823
with The Earl of March 1812–1819
Lord John Lennox 1819–1823
Succeeded by
Lord John Lennox
William Stephen Poyntz
Preceded by
Isaac Gascoyne
George Canning
Member of Parliament for Liverpool
1823–1830
with Isaac Gascoyne
Succeeded by
Isaac Gascoyne
William Ewart
Political offices
Preceded by
Sir Evan Nepean, Bt
Under-Secretary of State for War
1795–1801
Succeeded by
John Sullivan
as Under-Secretary of State
for War and the Colonies
Preceded by
Nicholas Vansittart
Secretary to the Treasury
(senior)

1804–1806
Succeeded by
Nicholas Vansittart
Secretary to the Treasury
(senior)

1807–1809
Succeeded by
Richard Wharton
Preceded by
The Lord Glenbervie
First Commissioner of Woods and Forests
1814–1823
Succeeded by
Charles Arbuthnot
Preceded by
Hon. Frederick John Robinson
President of the Board of Trade
1823–1827
Succeeded by
Charles Grant
Treasurer of the Navy
1823–1827
Preceded by
The Viscount Goderich
Secretary of State for War and the Colonies
1827–1828
Succeeded by
Sir George Murray
Preceded by
George Canning
Leader of the House of Commons
1827–1828
Succeeded by
Robert Peel
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