Sir William Harcourt (1827-1904)
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Sir William Harcourt (1827-1904)

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Harcourt was full to the brim of old Whig traditions and stories, many of the latter scandalous in the highest degree. He was an admirable and ready Constitutional lawyer; a good old-fashioned parliamentary bruiser.
Augustine Birrell.

(2) Sir William Harcourt (1827-1904)

(3) Sir William Harcourt (1827-1904)

(4) Sir William Harcourt (1827-1904)

(5) Sir William Harcourt (1827-1904)

Additional Information on
Sir William Harcourt (1827-1904)

William Harcourt trained as a lawyer, and briefly taught international law at Cambridge University before he was elected to the House of Commons in 1868 as a Liberal member. In 1873 he was appointed by the then Prime Minister, William Gladstone, as Solicitor-General, a position he held till the following year (he was also knighted in the same year). In 1880 he was made Home Secretary, and he held this post until 1886 when he became Chancellor of the Exchequer. Harcourt was a strong supporter of Gladstone's question of Home Rule for Ireland.

When Gladstone retired in 1894 it seemed that Harcourt would be the ideal candidate for the Prime Minister's role, but he lost to the Earl of Rosebery. Harcourt remained as Chancellor of the Exchequer under Rosebery, and in 1896 succeeded him as leader of the Liberal Party - and is said to have been one of the most effective leaders of the Liberal opposition. He is remembered for the reforms he brought about, particularly estate taxation and the creation of death duties in their present form, completely restructuring the existing system of taxation. However, Harcourt soon proved a somewhat unpopular choice and drifted away from the Liberals, resigning as leader in 1898. He remained in Parliament in a passive role until his death in 1904.


...The big salmon will always be sulking under his stone, and ready for occasional plunges which will not always be free from a sinister intention.
- Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman, Letter to H. Asquith, 1898. Advanced Category Search

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