Henry Peter Brougham, 1st Baron Brougham (1778-1868)
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Henry Peter Brougham, 1st Baron Brougham (1778-1868)

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He was a kind of prophet of knowledge. His voice was heard in the streets. He preached the gospel of the alphabet; he sang the praises of the primer all day long.
Walter Bagehot, Biographical Studies: 'Lord Brougham'

Additional Information on
Henry Peter Brougham, 1st Baron Brougham (1778-1868)

After graduating from the University of Edinburgh in the late 1790's, Henry Brougham was called to the Scottish Bar in 1800. In 1802 he founded The Edinburgh Review, and a year later published his first book - Colonial Policy of European Powers. In 1808 Brougham was called to the Bar in London, and soon became associated with the left wing members of the Whig Party. In 1810 he was elected to the House of Commons. His first major 'role' was as a legal adviser to Queen Caroline during her trial in 1820, and he and his partner successfully defended her.

In 1820 Brougham sponsored the Public Education Bill, and made several anti-slavery speeches. He is also noted to have been an advocate of parliamentary reform, and made a famous speech in 1828 which was to set the precedent for the reform of English Civil Law. During the 1820's Brougham was one of the founders of the University of London, and also the Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge - a body which aimed to improve education by selling books at lower prices so they were more accessible to the lower classes.

In the early 1830's he was created Baron Brougham, and was thus appointed to the cabinet as Lord Chancellor (1830-1834). Brougham held this position throughout the administration of Earl Grey and then of Lord Melbourne. Brougham is also credited with the creation and establishment of the Central Criminal Court in London, and for introducing the system of separate County Courts. He was one of the major forces behind the parliamentary Reform Act of 1832, and during the 1840's was particularly involved in the repeal of the Corn Laws.

Brougham was a Francophile, and although he was unsuccessful in securing French citizenship, he practically emigrated there, spending the majority of the last thirty years of his life settled in Cannes.

N.B. The 'brougham', the first four wheeled carriage drawn by a horse, was designed by Baron Brougham, and hence named after him


His eye is as fine an eye I ever saw. It is like a lion's, watching for his prey. It is a clear grey, the light vibrating at the bottom of the iris, and the cornea shining, silvery and tense. I never before had the opportunity of examining Brougham's face with the scrutiny of a painter, and I am astonished at that extraordinary eye.
- Benjamin Haydon, Autobiography.

He is at home in the crooked mazes of rotten boroughs, is not baffled by Scotch law, and can follow the meaning of one of Mr Canning's speeches.
- William Hazlitt, The Spirit of The Age.

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