Phase 2: Lord Liverpool (Liberal Tory): 1822-1827.

  • 'Liberal' reforms.
  • 'Liberal' foreign policy (Canning).
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Who were the Liberal Tories and what positions did

  • Lord Liverpool reshuffled the cabinet following the death of Castlereagh. 
  • They came from middle-class backgrounds compared to the majority of landowning Tories and were open to new ideas and prepared to introduce some reforms, making them more progressive than the previous cabinet. 
  • Liverpool hoped to improve social and economic reforms and to gain support of nationwide moderate reforms.
  • 1822: Canning - House of Commons leader & Foreign Secretary, aged 52.
  • 1822: Peel - Home Secretary, aged 33.
  • 1823: Robinson - Chancellor of Exchequer, aged 40.
  • 1823: Huskisson - President of the Board of Trade, aged 50.

Goodlad: 'Pragmatism rather than ideology guided actions of the Liberal Tories'.

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Why did Lord Liverpool bring them into the governm

  • Castlereagh's suicide made a major reshuffle necessary.
  • They were separately more progressive than previous cabinet members. 
  • By drafting them into the government, Liverpool hoped to gain the support of manufacturers and moderate reformers through economic and social reform.
  • By removing some of the causes of distress, he hoped to reduce the demand parliament reform, which he was completely against.
  • Law and order had been restored at this time so it did not look as though the government had been swayed by the risk of violence.
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What reforms did the 'liberal' Tories introduce be

Home office.

The Penal code: A list of punishments for various crimes. (Law & Order).

  • 1823 - The death penalty was abolished for over 180 offence and the rest were left for the judge to decide punishment, except for murder and treason.
  • Punishments for other offences were less severe.
  • The government stopped using spies to report of suspected trouble-makers.
  • 1826 - Codification of criminal law.
  • Law courts remained slow and awkward.
  • Reform of administration of justice.

Prisons. (Law & Order).

  • 1823 Gaols Act: This removed abuses and made imprisonment a major punishment. Jailers were paid and there were male and female jailers. It also provided education, doctors, chaplains, inspectors to prevent re-offending.

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Police. (Law & Order).

  • 1829: Metropolitan police act: Peel introduced London police force. 1000 (upto 3000) paid constables under the control of a commissioner with headquarters at Scotland Yard. Crime rate reduced. Many felt it was another form of repression, resented police. Respect for police increased.


  • (Trade) 1823: Reciprocity of Duties act: The government could make treaties with other countries for free trade. Removed trade restrictions with Britain's colonies.
  • (Trade) 1824: Reduction of trade duties: reduced duties: boost trade.
  • (Trade) 1824: Modification of Navigation laws: Previously restricted the use of foreign shipping for trade.  Modified to encourage trade again.
  • (Finance) 1826: Bank act: Try to decrease amount of bank notes issued. Greater confidence in banks increased investment.
  • (Trade) 1828: Modification of Corn laws: Sliding scale introduced (e.g. reducing duties as the domestic price of corn rose).
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  • 1824: Repeal of Combination acts: No longer illegal for workers to meet and demand shorter working days and more pay.
  • 1825: Legislation of Trade Unions: Meeting to bargain over wages and conditions became illegal following a series of strikes and protests.
  • 1828: Repeal of Test and Corporation acts: People who were not part of the Church of England were no longer excluded from holding important positions in the state and on town corporations. (still applied to Catholics).
  • 1829: Catholic Emancipation act: Very controversial and made Peel unpopular among the Tories, causing the party to disintegrate. Roman Catholics could now sit in parliament and hold all important offices except Lord Chancellor of England or Ireland and Lord Lieutenant of Ireland. 

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How liberal were the Liberal Tories?


  • The cabinet consisted of younger, newer and more progressive men.
  • They men were from either a commercial or middle class background.
  • More reforms were established than nay other previous period.
  • The division within Tory party between high Tories & reformers increased.
  • Real continuity in people and policies (1815-1827).

Not very liberal

  • Peel's reforms were unoriginal and not his own.
  • The reforms were only concerned with law & order and the economy.
  • All new appointments had previously served during the repressive period and had supported the repressive measures.
  • Reforms were not thorough compared with those of the Whigs in the 1830's.
  • The Catholic Emancipation act was forced upon the government.
  • It was possible to reform from a position of strength in the economy.
  • There was no attempt made to reform constitutional structure.
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To what extent was 1822 a turning point in British

Traditional ideas: A 'Liberal Tory' is a Tory who would work for the good of all society rather than just the conservative party.

Circumstances: Before 1822, the economic situation was poor leading to growth of Radicals. After 1822, economy improved, radicalism died down.

Needs: After 1822, government didn't need to be so reactionary, situation existed where government could concentrate on reforming society. Before 1822, government efforts had to focus on dealing with perceived reactionary threat.

Key Personnel: Remember Liverpool remained Prime Minister until 1827, but is seen as harsh & repressive. Peel, Wellington and Canning were all 'true' Tories.

External factors: After 1822, there was a period of economic prosperity in Britain, enabling Liverpool to reduce taxation and ease distress. The government cannot be totally blamed for the discontent of the early years. A series of bad harvests, a slump in the manufacturing industry, the aftermath of the war and the rapid urbanisation of many towns were all factors beyond government control.

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Canning: Foreign Secretary: 1822-1827

How did Canning show his support for liberal movements?

  • He supported liberal movements with diplomatic assistance.
  • He opposed intervention to crush the revolt in Spain.
  • He recognised independence of former Spanish colonies in South America.
  • He supported the liberal king of Portugal with 5,000 troops.
  • He supported the cause of Greek independence, working with Russia.
  • He ended the Congress System.

The Eastern Question

Aim: To prevent Russian expansion southwards towards the Mediterranean as this might threaten the security of the route to India. 

To achieve this, support was given to aid the Turkish empire. Turkey was weak and was at some point likely to collapse.

The Eastern Question was what would happen to Turkish possessions in Europe if or when the empire collapsed.

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Tom Hamblin


Very helpful! 

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