The Move to Conservatism

  • J. T. Ward


On Queen Victoria’s accession the political situation somewhat altered. The Government, long declining, hoped for the sympathy or at least neutrality of the Crown; and both sides were prepared to use the young Monarch’s personal ‘appeal’ in election propaganda. ‘The object of the Whigs’, wrote Greville, ‘was to remain in office, to put down the Radicals and Radicalism and go on gradually and safely reforming’, though some had ‘more extensive and less moderate views’. Meanwhile, the Tories were ‘thirsting for office’ and their impatience was restrained ‘within moderate bounds’ only by ‘the prudent reserve of Peel (in which Stanley and Graham probably joined)’. An exciting election was at hand. And Graham knew that his contest in East Cumberland was virtually hopeless. The Chronicle urged electors to ‘leave him to the house of refuge of the Lowthers [for] a penitentiary would not reclaim such a big offender’. Graham’s defeat would give the Whigs ‘extreme satisfaction, for they hate him rancorously’, wrote Greville, who could understand their feelings about ‘political conduct … neither creditable nor consistent’. Durham claimed to have extremist letters from Graham over the Reform Bill; yet now Graham was a near-Tory, ‘a very high Churchman and one of the least liberal of the Conservative leaders’. If London Whigs held such views, local men could scarcely be expected to be silent. At a Carlisle meeting in June 1837, under Henry Howard, Graham was strongly condemned; and 2,590 of the 4,688 electors signed a requisition for Major Aglionby and James to contest the seat.


Conservative Party Great Party Neutral Ground Habeas Corpus Conservative Leader 
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  1. 1.
    C. C. F. Greville (ed. Henry Reeve), A Journal of the Reign of Queen Victoria from 1837 to 1852 (1885), i. 5–6, 9–10; Graham to Stanley, 7 July; Morning Chronicle, 3 July; Lonsdale, op. cit., ii. 143–53; Torrens, op. cit., ii. 114–17; Carlisle Patriot, Carlisle Journal, 7, 14 July 1837; Ferguson, op. cit., ii. 268.Google Scholar
  2. 3.
    Lonsdale, op. cit., ii. 153–60; Torrens, op. cit., ii. 117–25; Carlisle Patriot, 4, 12 Aug. 1837; Norman Gash, Politics in the Age of Peel (1953), 132, 142; Erickson, op. cit., 137–8. Graham described the ‘popular violence and intimidation’ to Peel (Parker, Peel, ii. 348–50).Google Scholar
  3. 4.
    Gash, Politics, 224, 201; Lonsdale, op. cit., ii. 162–5; Torrens, op. cit., ii. 123, 126–31; Lord G. Bentinck to Graham, 12 Jan. 1838; Aspinall, Press, 367–8; Philbin, op. cit., 263–5. Falmouth was expensive (see Gash, Politics, 449–52).Google Scholar
  4. 10.
    Stanley to Graham, 8, D. MacFarlane to Graham, J. F. Morier to Graham, 15, Graham to Morier, 16, to Stanley, 18 Nov. 1838. The Glasgow Herald, 16 Nov., gave 282 votes to 207.Google Scholar
  5. 17.
    Norman McCord, The Anti-Corn Law League, 1838–1846 (1958), ch. 1; Torrens, op. cit., ii. 149–56.Google Scholar
  6. 19.
    L. J. Jennings (ed.), The Croker Papers (1884), ii. 342–7, 356Google Scholar
  7. Sir H. Hardinge — Graham — Peel’ [Lord Esher, The Girlhood of Queen Victoria (1912), ii. 162]Google Scholar
  8. Graham suspected that the Whigs had a hand in the Queen’s decision (Graham to Peel, 9 May), but thought that Peel was entirely right in refusing to give way (letter to Peel, 13 May). On the 7th the Queen had ‘talked [to Melbourne] of her great dislike to some of these people —. In June she ‘liked Stanley … a little better [than Peel], but Graham not at all’ (ibid., 205). Her hostility to Graham apparently arose from his physical similarity to her mother’s unpleasant secretary, Sir John Conroy (Lady Longford, Victoria R.I. (1965 ed.), 110). See A. C. Benson and Lord Esher, The Letters of Queen Victoria (1908), i. 160–71.Google Scholar
  9. 20.
    For a succinct account of the controversy, see G. F. A. Best, ‘The Religious Difficulties of National Education in England, 1800–70’ (Cambridge Hist. Jour., xii. 2, 1956).Google Scholar
  10. 25.
    Lord Morley, The Life of W.E. Gladstone (1903), i. 177; Gladstone to Graham, 5, 7 Aug., Graham to Cawdor, 18 Sept.; Greville, Victoria, i. 235–6, 242; Stanley to Graham, 2, Graham to Stanley, 6 Oct. 1839.Google Scholar
  11. 28.
    On Stockdale v. Hansard, see Sir C. G. Robertson, Select Statutes, Cases and Documents (1949 ed.), 524–33, and on the Sheriff of Middlesex, ibid., 533–5; Graham to Arbuthnot, 26 Jan., to Stanley, 8 Feb. 1840.Google Scholar
  12. 30.
    Graham to Arbuthnot, 1, Arbuthnot to Graham, 10, 12, 13 June, 8 July; Ellenborough to Graham, 5, Graham to Arbuthnot, 9? 27, Arbuthnot to Graham, 12 July, 6, 7 Sept. 1840; Trevelyan, op. cit., 390–2. Dr. Kitson Clark (op. cit., 459) points out that Graham’s fears of a rift reflected ‘his lack of experience of Conservative affairs’. See Graham to Peel, 9, 14 June 1840 (Parker, Peel, ii. 438–46); cf. Macintyre, op. cit., 256–61.Google Scholar

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© J. T. Ward 1967

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  • J. T. Ward

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