Robert Banks Jenkinson Liverpool, 2d earl of

Liverpool, Robert Banks Jenkinson, 2d earl of, 1770–1828, English statesman. He was elected to Parliament as a Tory in 1790 and succeeded his father to the peerage in 1808. He served as foreign secretary (1801–3), home secretary (1804–6, 1807–9), and secretary for war and the colonies (1809–12) before becoming prime minister in 1812. His government presided over the end of the Napoleonic Wars, negotiated the peace settlement, and attempted to deal with the social and economic malaise that followed. His early domestic policy was typified by a strong conservatism in the face of changing social and economic conditions and by repressive legislation, including the periodic suspension of habeas corpus. His administration, initially thought of as weak, lasted for 15 years, in a large part due to his ability to work with colleagues more talented and ambitious than himself, allowing them broad responsibilities yet retaining the cohesion of the ministry. His cabinet included such disparate figures as Viscount Sidmouth, Lord Eldon, the duke of Wellington, Viscount Castlereagh, George Canning, and William Huskisson. During the 1820s government policy became increasingly liberal. The anti–trade union laws were repealed, and many trading restrictions were removed. In matters where Liverpool had had of necessity to remain politically equivocal, Catholic Emancipation and parliamentary reform, his administration gradually moved toward a more liberal position. He resigned because of ill health (1827).

See W. R. Brock, Lord Liverpool and Liberal Toryism, 1820–1827 (2d ed. 1967); N. Gash, Lord Liverpool (1985).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

See more Encyclopedia articles on: British and Irish History: Biographies