How successful were the Whigs in domestic politics. 1833-41?


The Whig Party

The Whigs formed a political party dominated by rich landowners. They had supported parliamentary reform between 1830 and 1832 in order to prevent revolution but were not radical social reformers.

Following the 1832 election, the Whigs had a large majority over the Tories. However, they had to fight general elections in 1835, 1837 and 1841. After the 1835 election, the Whigs had to rely on support from Daniel O'Connell's group of Irish MP's and radicals.

In 1839, the Whigs government resigned following a revolt in Jamaica, but the Conservative leader, Peel, refused to take office because of the Bedchamber crisis. 

Although the Whigs were reluctant reformers who ensured that participation in politics was limited to relatively few property owners, they made important administrative changes during their term of office from 1833-41.

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The Abolition of Slavery 1833.

The abolition of slavery in the British empire was largely the result of a long-running campaign led by William Wilberforce and the anti-slavery movement which happened to be passed during the Whig period in office. 

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The Factory Act 1833

Lord Althorps Factory Act was the result of a Royal Commission into factory conditions. 

It banned children under 9 years old from working, and those between 9 and 13 years had to recieve a minimum of 2 hours of education a day.

The lack of a system of birth registration until 1836 limited the effectiveness of the Act. 

In addition, only four inspectors were appointed for the whole country, with one inspector responsible for all of Northern England.

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The Whigs made the first government grant to education in 1833 and created the Education Department of Privy Council in 1839.

A sum of £20,000 per year was awarded to the Anglican National Society and to the Nonconformist British and Foreign Society for elementary education of children between 5-11 years.

This was significant because it eventually led to the creation of state education.

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The Poor Law Amendment Act 1834.

This Act, which was the outcome of a Royal Comission, transformed state provision for the unemployed, elderly and infirm by introducing a uniform and national system which lasted until 1929.

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Municipal Corporations Act 1835.

A local government version of the Great Reform Act of 1832, this Act introduced elected local government in towns. 

Voting was based on property ownership. It meant that new towns, such as Birmingham and Bradford, got town government for the first time. 

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Early census.

The compulsory registration of births, marriages and deaths in 1836 provided government departments with accurate statistics for the first time and facilitated more effective enforcement of legislation based on age limits, such as the 1833 Factory Act.

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Reform of the Anglican Church

The Anglican Church was the established or state church of England, Wales and Ireland. It recieved financial support from the government.

The 26 most senior Anglican bishops sat in the House of Lords. In 1833, the Irish Church Temporalities Act reduced the number of Anglican clergy in Ireland.

In 1836, the Established Church Act created new dioceses (an area of the Anglican of Catholic Church administered by a bishop) in Manchester and Ripon.

It also created the Ecclesiastical (Church) Commission to look into future change. The 1838 Pluralities Act prevented clergy working in more than one parish.

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Postal Service.

Introduction of the Penny Post in 1840 was mainly the work of Rowland Hill rather than the Whig government and meant that the cost of post was paid for by the sender and not the receiver of the post.

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Megan K


a good sort of cards which outline the names of acts and accurate consequences. One minor issue spotted is slide 8, where it comes across that The Whigs set up the Ecclesiastical Commission, but this was an action under Peel's '100 days' Government.

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