Biography of Robert Peel

Portrait of Sir Robert Peel

Robert Peel was a nineteenth century statesman and Prime Minister known for starting the police in Britain.

When and Where was he Born?

5th February 1788, Chamber Hall, Bury, Lancashire, England.

Family Background:

Robert Peel was the son of Sir Robert Peel from whom he inherited a great fortune and Ellen Yates.


Harrow School. Christ Church College, Oxford.

Timeline of Robert Peel:

1804: Peel visits the Houses of Parliament for the first time with his father. He saw both William Pitt the Younger and Charles James Fox in action.

1805: Peel goes up to Oxford where he studies classics and philosophy.

1809: He becomes M.P. for the Irish town of Cashel City in Tipperary after his father asks Sir Arthur Wellesley (Duke of Wellington) to nominate him. There are only twenty-four voters in the borough and no electoral contest is held.

1810: Prime Minster Spencer Perceval appoints him Under Secretary for War and the Colonies at the tender age of 22.

1812: He moves seats to Chippenham which is another place with few voters.

1817: Peel becomes M.P. for Oxford University after his outspoken attack on Catholic emancipation.

1819: He is appointed as Chairman of the Parliamentary Committee on Finance.

1820: He marries Julia Floyd.

1822: He is appointed as Home Secretary.

1823: He reduces the number of crimes which carry the death sentence.

1827: George Canning becomes Prime Minister and Peel resigns because of his pro stance on catholic emancipation.

1828: With the Accession of the Duke of Wellington as Prime Minister Peel again becomes Home Secretary.

1829: He returns to parliament for another “Rotten Borough,” this time Westbury in Wiltshire. Passing of the Metropolitan Police Act.

1830: Death of Peel’s father and he becomes a baronet. At the General Election he is returned for Tamworth in Staffordshire, his father’s old seat. He resigns later in the year after the government is defeated on the issue of parliamentary reform.

1832: The Whigs are defeated on parliamentary reform but Peel refuses to serve in a Tory party that is dedicated to reform.

1834: The Whig Government of Earl Grey was dismissed by King William the Fourth, who appointed Peel as the new Prime Minister of a minority government and issues the Tamworth Manifesto which says that the Tories will accept partial reform.

Statue of Robert Peel, Manchester
Statue of Robert Peel in Piccadilly Gardens, Manchester (copyright Anthony Blagg)

1835: The Tories are defeated by a coalition of Whigs and Radicals.

1837: Peel increases support for the Tories at the General Election.

1841: The Whigs are finally defeated at the General Election and Peel becomes Prime Minster of a majority Government.

1842: Peel’s first budget paves the way for free trade. He introduces the Mines Act which forbade the employment of women and children underground.

1844: Peel threatens to resign over the Factory Act which reduced working hours for women and children. It is eventually passed.

1846: Repeal of the Corn Laws. Many Tories fail to back Peel on this issue. This Act was to help feed Ireland who were suffering from a potato famine. He then resigns his post after being defeated on the Coercion Bill for Ireland.

1847: The Whigs (Liberals) win the General Election.

1848: He supports the Chancellor of the Exchequer on the retention of Income Tax and higher spending on the armed forces.

1849: Peel refuses to take a post in the Liberal Government. Supports to repeal of the Navigation Act.

1850: His final act is to urge non intervention in the policies of other governments.

When and Where did he Die?

2nd July 1850, London after a riding accident.

Age at Death:



1820: To Julia Floyd.

Site of Grave:

St. Peter’s Church, Drayton Bassett, Staffordshire, England.

Places of Interest:


Metropolitan Police Museum, Room 1334, New Scotland Yard, SW1H 0BG.

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