William Ewart Gladstone
London was the backdrop to William Gladstone’s
extraordinary political career, which saw him becoming Prime Minister
no less than four times.
Born in 1809, he first entered the House of Commons in 1832 as
a Conservative MP; but eventually found a more natural home in the
Liberal party. On the 1861 London census he appears working as Chancellor
of the Exchequer for the Liberals whilst living in St-Martin-in-the-Fields
near Charing Cross with daughters Mary and Helen, 7 years before
he first became Prime Minister in 1868.
Despite his early opposition to reform, he became
a vigorous reformer in later life, and galvanized British politics:
extending the vote to the working class, implementing social reforms
in Ireland, changing the railway system; the list goes on. A principled
man both privately and professionally, he and his wife Catherine
famously walked the streets of London at night to try to persuade
prostitutes to change their lives.
He’s also known for introducing the red budget box to Parliament,
his intense mutual dislike of Queen Victoria, and for holding the
record for the longest Parliamentary speech ever: he spent a massive
four hours and 45 minutes delivering the budget in 1853.