Robert Banks Jenkinson, 2nd Earl of Liverpool

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Robert Banks Jenkinson

Born 06/07/1770  London

Died 12/04/1828 Kingston-upon-Thames, Surrey

Major Acts:

Importation Act 1815 - Prohibits import of foreign wheat until domestic reached minimum price.



    Lord Liverpool - First Lord of the Treasury and Leader of the House of Lords

    Lord Eldon - Lord Chancellor

    Lord Harrowby - Lord President of the Council

    Lord Westmorland - Lord Privy Seal

    Lord Sidmouth - Secretary of State for the Home Department

    Lord Castlereagh (Lord Londonderry after 1821) - Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs and Leader of the House of Commons

    Lord Bathurst - Secretary of State for War and the Colonies

    Lord Melville - First Lord of the Admiralty

    Nicholas Vansittart - Chancellor of the Exchequer

    Lord Mulgrave - Master-General of the Ordnance

    Lord Buckinghamshire - President of the Board of Control

    Charles Bathurst - Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster

    Lord Camden - minister without portfolio


  1.     Late 1812 - Lord Camden leaves the Cabinet

  2.     September 1814 - William Wellesley-Pole (Lord Maryborough from 1821), the Master of the Mint, enters the Cabinet

  3.     February 1816 - George Canning succeeds Lord Buckinghamshire at the Board of Control

  4.     January 1818 - Frederick John Robinson, the President of the Board of Trade, enters the Cabinet

  5.     January 1819 - The Duke of Wellington succeeds Lord Mulgrave as Master-General of the Ordnance. Lord Mulgrave becomes minister without portfolio

  6.     1820 - Lord Mulgrave leaves the cabinet

  7.     January 1821 - Charles Bathurst succeeds Canning as President of the Board of Control, remaining also at the Duchy of Lancaster

  8.     January 1822 - Robert Peel succeeds Lord Sidmouth as Home Secretary

  9.     February 1822 - Charles Watkin Williams-Wynn succeeds Charles Bathurst at the Board of Control. Bathurst remains at the Duchy of Lancaster and in the Cabinet

  10.     September 1822 - Following the suicide of Lord Londonderry, George Canning becomes Foreign Secretary and Leader of the House of Commons

  11.     January 1823 - Vansittart, elevated to the peerage as Lord Bexley, succeeds Charles Bathurst as Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster. F.J. Robinson succeeds Vansittart as Chancellor of the Exchequer. He is succeeded at the Board of Trade by William Huskisson

  12.     1823 - Lord Maryborough, the Master of the Mint, leaves the Cabinet. His successor in the office is not a Cabinet member

A British politician and the longest-serving Prime Minister of the United Kingdom since the Union with Ireland in 1801. He was 42 years old when he became premier in 1812 which made him younger than all of his successors to date. During his time as Prime Minister from 1812 to 1827, Liverpool became known for repressive measures introduced to maintain order, but also for steering the country through the period of radicalism and unrest that followed the Napoleonic Wars.

Important events during his tenure as Prime Minister included the War of 1812, the Sixth and Seventh Coalitions against the French Empire, the conclusion of the Napoleonic Wars at the Congress of Vienna, the Corn Laws, the Peterloo Massacre, the Trinitarian Act 1812 and the emerging issue of Catholic Emancipation.

Early Life

Jenkinson was the son of George III's close adviser Charles Jenkinson, later the first Earl of Liverpool, and his first wife, Amelia Watts. Jenkinson was educated at Charterhouse School and Christ Church, Oxford and in May 1790 was created master of arts.

He won election to the House of Commons in 1790 for Rye, a seat he would hold until 1803; at the time, however, he was under the age of assent to Parliament, so he refrained from taking his seat and spent the following winter and early spring in an extended tour of the continent.

With the help of his father's influence and his political talent, he rose relatively fast in the Tory government. In February 1792, he gave the reply to Samuel Whitbread's critical motion on the government's Russian policy. Other speeches included one against the abolition of the slave trade, which reflected his father's strong opposition to William Wilberforce's campaign. Jenkinson served as a member of the Board of Control for India from 1793 to 1796.

Jenkinson, was one of the first of the ministers of the government to enlist in the militia when war came with Frnce. In 1794 he became a Colonel in the Cinque Ports fencibles. In 1796 his regiment was sent to Scotland. His father angrily opposed his projected marriage with Lady Louisa Hervey, daughter of the Earl of Bristol. After Pitt and the King had intervened on his behalf, the wedding finally took place March 1795. In May 1796, when his father was created Earl of Liverpool, he took the courtesy title of Lord Hawkesbury and remained in the Commons. He became Baron Hawkesbury in his own right and was elevated to the House of Lords in November 1803, as recognition of his work as Foreign Secretary. He also served as Master of the Mint (1799–1801).


Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs and Home Secretary

In Addington's government, he was Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, in which capacity he negotiated the Treaty of Amiens. His time as Foreign secretary was spent dealing with the nations of France and the United States. He served as Home Secretary in Pitt the Younger's second government. While Pitt was seriously ill, Liverpool was in charge of the cabinet and drew up the King's Speech for the official opening of Parliament. When Pitt died in 1806, the King asked Liverpool to accept the post of Prime Minister, but he refused, as he believed he lacked a governing majority. He was leader of the Opposition during Lord Grenville's ministry (the only time that Liverpool did not hold government office between 1793 and after his retirement). In 1807, he resumed office as Home Secretary in the Duke of Portland's ministry.

Secretary of State for War and the Colonies

Lord Liverpool accepted the position of Secretary of State for War and the Colonies in Perceval's government in 1809. Liverpool's first step was to elicit from the Duke of Wellington a strong enough statement of his ability to resist a French attack to persuade the cabinet to commit themselves to the maintenance of his small force in Portugal.

Prime Minister

When Perceval was assassinated in May 1812, Lord Liverpool succeeded him as Prime Minister. The cabinet proposed Liverpool as his successor with Lord Castlereagh as leader in the Commons. But after an adverse vote in the Lower House, they subsequently gave both their resignations. The Prince Regent, however, found it impossible to form a different coalition and confirmed Liverpool as prime minister on 8 June. Liverpool is considered a skilled politician, and held together the liberal and reactionary wings of the Tory party.

Napoleonic Wars and the Congress of Vienna

Liverpool's ministry was a long and eventful one. The War of 1812 with the United States and the final campaigns of the Napoleonic Wars were fought during Liverpool's premiership. Britain defeated France in the Napoleonic Wars, and Liverpool was awarded the Order of the Garter. At the peace negotiations that followed, Liverpool's main concern was to obtain a European settlement that would ensure the independence of the Netherlands, Spain and Portugal, and confine France inside her pre-war frontiers without damaging her national integrity. He gave Castlereagh a discretion at the Congress of Vienna, the next most important event of his ministry. At the congress, he gave prompt approval for Castlereagh's bold initiative in making the defensive alliance with Austria and France in January 1815. In the aftermath, many years of peace followed.

The Corn Laws and trouble at home

Agriculture remained a problem because good harvests between 1819 and 1822 had brought down prices and evoked a cry for greater protection. When the powerful agricultural lobby in Parliament demanded protection in the aftermath, Liverpool gave in to political necessity. Under governmental supervision the notorious Corn Laws of 1815 were passed prohibiting the import of foreign wheat until the domestic price reached a minimum accepted level. Liverpool had to accept the bill as a temporary measure to ease the transition to peacetime conditions.

His chief economic problem during his time as Prime Minister was that of the nation's finances. The interest on the national debt, massively swollen by the final war years, together with the war pensions, absorbed the greater part of normal government revenue. The refusal of the House of Commons in 1816 to continue the wartime income tax left ministers with no alternative but to go on with the system of borrowing to meet necessary annual expenditure. Liverpool eventually facilitated a return to the gold standard in 1819.

Inevitably taxes rose to compensate for borrowing and to pay off the debt, which led to widespread disturbance between 1812 and 1822. Around this time, the group known as Luddites began industrial action, by smashing industrial machines developed for use in the textile industries. Throughout the period 1811-16, there were a series of incidents of machine-breaking and many of those convicted faced execution.

The reports of the secret committees he obtained in 1817 pointed to the existence of an organised network of disaffected political societies, especially in the manufacturing areas.  Because of a largely perceived threat to the government, temporary legislation was introduced. He suspended Habeas Corpus in both Great Britain (1817) and Ireland (1822). Following the Peterloo Massacre in 1819, his government imposed the repressive Six Acts legislation which limited, among other things, free speech and the right to gather for peaceful demonstration. In 1820, as a result of these measures, Liverpool and other cabinet ministers were almost assassinated in the Cato Street Conspiracy.

Although Lord Liverpool argued for the abolition of the slave trade at the Congress of Vienna, he was generally opposed to reform at home, often embracing repressive measures to ensure the status quo. He did however support the repeal of the Combination Laws banning workers from combining into trade unions in 1824, although the powers of these unions were restricted in 1825 following strikes.

Catholic emancipation

During the 19th century, and, in particular, during Liverpool's time in office, Catholic emancipation was a source of great conflict. In 1805, Liverpool had argued that the special relationship of the monarch with the Church of England, and the refusal of Roman Catholics to take the oath of supremacy, justified their exclusion from political power. Throughout his career, he remained opposed to the idea of Catholic emancipation.

The decision of 1812 to remove the issue from collective cabinet policy, followed in 1813 by the defeat of Grattan's Roman Catholic Relief Bill, brought a period of calm. Liverpool supported marginal concessions such as the admittance of English Roman Catholics to the higher ranks of the armed forces, the magistracy, and the parliamentary franchise; but he remained opposed to their participation in parliament itself. In the 1820s, pressure from the liberal wing of the Commons and the rise of the Catholic Association in Ireland revived the controversy.

By the date of Sir Francis Burdett's Catholic Relief Bill in 1825, emancipation looked a likely success. Indeed, the success of the bill in the Commons in April, followed by Robert Peel's tender of resignation, finally persuaded Liverpool that he should retire. When Canning made a formal proposal that the cabinet should back the bill, Liverpool was convinced that his administration had come to its end. George Canning then succeeded him as Prime Minister. Catholic emancipation however was not fully implemented until the major changes of the Catholic Relief Act of 1829 under the leadership of the Duke of Wellington and Sir Robert Peel, and with the work of the Catholic Association established in 1823.

Final Years

Liverpool's first wife, Louisa, died at 54. He married again to Lady Mary Chester, a long-time friend of Louisa.  Liverpool retired on 9 April 1827, when, at Fife House (his riverside residence in Whitehall since 1810), he suffered a severe cerebral hemorrhage, and asked the King to seek a successor. There was another minor stroke in July, after which he lingered on at Coombe until a third and fatal attack on 4 December 1828 when he died.

Prime Minister                                                                                    Date Takes Office    Date Leaves Office

William Henry Cavendish-Bentinck, 3rd Duke of Portland     04/02/1783            12/19/1783

William Pitt the Younger                                                                 12/19/1783             03/14/1801

Henry Addington 1st Viscount Sidmouth                                   03/14/1801             05/10/1804

William Pitt the Younger                                                                 05/10/1804             01/23/1806

William Wyndham Grenville, 1st Baron Grenville                     02/11/1806            03/31/1807

William Henry Cavendish-Bentinck, 3rd Duke of Portland     03/31/1807            10/04/1809

Spencer Perceval                                                                             04/10/1809            05/11/1812

Robert Banks Jenkinson, 2nd Earl of Liverpool                        06/08/1812            04/09/1827

George Canning                                                                               04/10/1827            08/08/1827

Frederick John Robinson, 1st Viscount Goderich                    08/31/1827            01/21/1828

Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington                                   01/22/1828            11/16/1830

Charles Grey, 2nd Earl Grey                                                         11/22/1830            07/16/1834

William Lamb, 2nd Viscount Melbourne                                     07/16/1834            11/14/1834

Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington                                   11/14/1834            12/10/1834

Sir Robert Peel, 2nd Baronet                                                        12/10/1834            04/08/1835

William Lamb, 2nd Viscount Melbourne                                     04/18/1835            08/30/1841

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