Edward Cardwell, 1st Viscount Cardwell: Wikis


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The Right Honourable
 The Viscount Cardwell 
PC, PC (Ire), FRS

In office
9 December 1868 – 17 February 1874
Monarch Victoria
Prime Minister William Gladstone
Preceded by Sir John Pakington, Bt
Succeeded by Hon. Frederick Stanley

Born 24 July 1813 (1813-07-24)
Died 15 February 1886 (1886-02-16)
Torquay, Devon
Nationality British
Political party Tory
Spouse(s) Annie Parker (d. 1887)
Alma mater Balliol College, Oxford

Edward Cardwell, 1st Viscount Cardwell PC, PC (Ire), FRS (24 July 1813 – 15 February 1886) was a prominent British politician in the Peelite and Liberal parties during the middle of the 19th century. He is best remembered for his tenure as Secretary of State for War between 1868 and 1874 and the introduction of the Cardwell Reforms.


Background and education

Cardwell was the son of John Cardwell, Liverpool, a merchant, and Elizabeth, daughter of Richard Birley. He was educated at Winchester and Balliol College, Oxford, from where he took a degree in 1835. His early career was as a lawyer–he was called to the bar, Inner Temple, in 1838.[1]

Political career

Cardwell soon took an interest in politics, and became the MP for Clitheroe in Lancashire in 1842. In Parliament, Cardwell became a follower and confidante of Sir Robert Peel, the Prime Minister, and held his first office under him as Financial Secretary to the Treasury between 1845 and 1846. When Peel split the Conservative Party in 1846 over the issue of repealing the Corn Laws, Cardwell followed Peel, and became a member of the Peelite faction. When the Peelites came to power in 1852, Lord Aberdeen made Cardwell the President of the Board of Trade, a position he held until 1855. In 1854 he passed the Cardwell Railway Act which stopped the cut-throat competition between Railway Companies which was acting to their and the railusers' disadvantage.

During these years, Cardwell moved from seat to seat in Parliament. In 1847, he was elected as MP for Liverpool. In 1852, he lost elections for Liverpool and for Ayrshire, but won a seat at Oxford. In 1858, he was defeated for the Oxford seat, but a second election for the seat was held shortly after, which he won (beating William Makepeace Thackeray). The Peelite faction disintegrated in the late 1850s, and Cardwell officially became a Liberal in 1859, joining Palmerston's cabinet as Chief Secretary for Ireland. Unhappy in that position, he moved two years later to another cabinet post, Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster. A second move within the cabinet came in 1864, when Cardwell became the Secretary of State for the Colonies, a position he kept until the Liberals were turned out of office in 1866.

When the Liberals returned to power under Gladstone in the 1868 election, Cardwell reached the peak of his career, as Gladstone's Secretary of State for War. During his six years in the post, in what became known as "Cardwell reforms", Cardwell reorganized the British army, introduced professional standards for officers (including advancement by merit rather than purchase), and formed a home reserve force. After Gladstone's defeat in the 1874 election, Cardwell was raised to the peerage as Viscount Cardwell, of Ellerbeck in the County of Lancaster. His ennoblement ended his active political career.

Personal life

Lord Cardwell married Annie, daughter of Charles Stuart Parker, in 1838. They had no children. He died in Torquay, Devon, in February 1886, aged 72, when his title became extinct. Lady Cardwell only survived him by a year and died in February 1887.[2] The town of Cardwell in Queensland, Australia, was named after Lord Cardwell.


Portrait of Lord Cardwell by George Richmond, 1871
  • Lee, Sidney, ed. Dictionary of National Biography, vol. 3, "Cardwell, Edward". London : Smith Elder, 1909.
  • Jones, Wilbur Devereux and Arvel B. Erickson. The Peelites 1846-1857. Columbus, OH : Ohio State University, 1972.

External links

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Mathew Wilson
Member of Parliament for Clitheroe
1842 – 1847
Succeeded by
Mathew Wilson
Preceded by
Sir Howard Douglas, Bt
Viscount Sandon
Member of Parliament for Liverpool
With: Sir Thomas Birch, Bt
Succeeded by
Charles Turner
William Forbes Mackenzie
Preceded by
James Haughton Langston
William Wood
Member of Parliament for Oxford
With: James Haughton Langston 1852–1857, 1857–1863
Charles Neate 1857, 1863–1868
William Vernon-Harcourt 1868–1874
Succeeded by
Alexander William Hall
William Vernon-Harcourt
Political offices
Preceded by
Sir George Clerk, Bt
Financial Secretary to the Treasury
1845 – 1846
Succeeded by
John Parker
Preceded by
Joseph Warner Henley
President of the Board of Trade
1852 – 1855
Succeeded by
The Lord Stanley of Alderley
Preceded by
Lord Naas
Chief Secretary for Ireland
1859 – 1861
Succeeded by
Sir Robert Peel, Bt
Preceded by
Sir George Grey, Bt
Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster
1861 – 1864
Succeeded by
The Earl of Clarendon
Preceded by
The Duke of Newcastle
Secretary of State for the Colonies
1864 – 1866
Succeeded by
The Earl of Carnavon
Preceded by
Sir John Pakington, Bt
Secretary of State for War
1868 – 1874
Succeeded by
Gathorne Hardy
Peerage of the United Kingdom
New creation Viscount Cardwell
1874 – 1886


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