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The Right Honourable
 The Lord Brougham and Vaux 

In office
22 November 1830 – 9 July 1834
Monarch William IV
Prime Minister The Earl Grey
Preceded by The Lord Lyndhurst
Succeeded by The Lord Lyndhurst

Born 19 September 1778 (1778-09-19)
Cowgate, Edinburgh
Died 7 May 1868 (1868-05-08)
Cannes, France
Nationality British
Political party Whig
Spouse(s) Mary Anne Eden
Alma mater University of Edinburgh

Henry Peter Brougham, 1st Baron Brougham and Vaux (1778 - 1868) ("Brougham" is pronounced Broom) was a British statesman who became Lord Chancellor of the United Kingdom.

As a young lawyer in Scotland Brougham helped to found the Edinburgh Review in 1802 and contributed many articles to it. He went to London, and was called to the English bar in 1808. In 1810 he entered the House of Commons as a Whig. Brougham took up the fight against the slave trade and opposed restrictions on trade with continental Europe. In 1820 he won popular renown as chief attorney to Queen Caroline, and in the next decade he became a liberal leader in the House. He not only proposed educational reforms in Parliament, but also was one of the founders of the Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge in 1825 and of University College London in 1828. As Lord Chancellor from 1830 to 1834 he effected many legal reforms to speed procedure and established the Central Criminal Court. In later years he spent much of his time in Cannes, which he established as a popular resort.


Early life and background

Brougham Hall in 1832.

Brougham was born and grew up in Edinburgh, the eldest son of Henry Brougham, of Brougham Hall in Westmorland, and Eleanora, daughter of Reverend James Syme. The Broughams had been an influential Cumberland family for centuries. Brougham was educated at the Royal High School and the University of Edinburgh, where he chiefly studied natural science and mathematics, but also law. He published several scientific papers through the Royal Society, notably on light and colours and on prisms, and at the age of only 25 was elected a Fellow. However, Brougham chose law as his profession, and was admitted to the Faculty of Advocates in 1800. He practised little in Scotland, and instead entered Lincoln's Inn in 1803. Five years later he was called to the Bar. Not a wealthy man, Brougham turned to journalism as a means of supporting himself financially through these years. He was one of the founders of the Edinburgh Review and quickly became known as its foremost contributor, with articles on everything from science, politics, colonial policy, literature, poetry, surgery, mathematics and the fine arts. In the early 1800s, Brougham, a follower of Newton, launched vicious anonymous attacks in the Edinburgh Review against Thomas Young's research that proved light was a wave phenomenon that exhibited interference and diffraction, attacks that slowed acceptance of the truth for a decade until François Arago and Augustin-Jean Fresnel championed Young's work.

Political career until 1830

The success of the Edinburgh Review made Brougham a man of mark from his first arrival in London. He quickly became a fixture in London society and gained the friendship of Lord Grey and other leading Whig politicians. In 1806 the Foreign Secretary, Charles James Fox, appointed him secretary to a diplomatic mission to Portugal, led by James St Clair-Erskine, 2nd Earl of Rosslyn and John Jervis, 1st Earl St Vincent. The aim of the mission was to counteract the anticipated French invasion of Portugal. During these years he became a close supporter of the movement for the abolition of slavery, a cause to which he was to be passionately devoted to for the rest of his life. Despite being a well-known and popular figure, Brougham had to wait before being offered a parliamentary seat to contest. However, in 1810 he was elected for Camelford, a rotten borough controlled by the Duke of Bedford. He quickly gained a reputation in the House of Commons, where he was one of the most frequent speakers, and was regarded by some as a potential future leader of the Whig Party. However, Brougham’s career was to take a downturn in 1812, when, standing as one of two Whig candidates for Liverpool, he was heavily defeated. He was to remain out of Parliament until 1816, when he was returned for Winchelsea. He quickly resumed his position as one of the most forceful members of the House of Commons, and worked especially in advocating a programme for the education of the poor and legal reform.

Defence of the Princess of Wales

The Lord Baron Brougham and Vaux (by W. H. Hall after Robert Richard Scanlan)

In 1812 Brougham had become one of the chief advisers to Caroline of Brunswick, the estranged wife of George, Prince of Wales, the Prince Regent and future George IV. This was to prove a key development in his life. In April 1820 Caroline, then living abroad, appointed Brougham her Attorney-General. Earlier that year George IV had succeeded to the throne on the death of his long incapacitated father George III. Caroline was brought back to Britain in June for appearances only, but the king immediately began divorce proceedings against her. The Pains and Penalties Bill, aimed at dissolving the marriage and stripping Caroline of her Royal title on the grounds of adultery, was brought before the House of Lords by the Tory government. However, Brougham led a legal team (which also included Thomas Denman) that eloquently defended the Princess. The bill passed, but by the narrow margin of only nine votes. Lord Liverpool, aware of the unpopularity over the bill and afraid that it might be overturned in the House of Commons then withdrew the bill. The British public had mainly been on the Princess’s side, and the outcome of the trial made Brougham one of the most famous men in the country. His legal practice on the Northern Circuit rose fivefold, although he had to wait until 1827 before being made a King's Counsel.

In 1826, Brougham, along with Wellington, was one of the clients and lovers named in the notorious Memoirs of Harriette Wilson. Before publication, Wilson and publisher John Joseph Stockdale wrote to all those named in the book offering them the opportunity to be excluded from the work in exchange for a cash payment. Brougham paid and secured his anonymity.[1][2]

Lord Chancellor

Brougham remained Member of Parliament for Winchelsea until February 1830 when he was returned for Knaresborough. However, he only represented Knaresborough until August the same year, when he became one of four representatives for Yorkshire. In November the Tory government led by the Duke of Wellington fell, and the Whigs came to power under Lord Grey. It was considered impossible to leave the popular Brougham out of the government, although his independent political standing was thought to be a possible impediment to the new administration. Grey initially offered him the post of Attorney General, which Brougham refused. He was then offered the Lord Chancellorship, which he accepted, and on 22 November he was raised to the peerage as Baron Brougham, of Brougham in the County of Westmorland. He was to remain in this post for exactly four years.

The highlights of Brougham's tenure was the passing of the 1832 Reform Act, of which he was a staunch supporter, and the Slavery Abolition Act of 1833, the cause to which he had been devoted to for so many years. However, he increasingly came into conflict with the rest of the government, mostly caused by his tendency to interfere with every department of state.

In 1834 the Lord Chancellor, Lord Brougham and Vaux, was asked "Do you consider that a compulsory education would be justified, either on principles of public utility or expediency?" to which he replied "I am decidedly of opinion that it is justifiable on neither; but, above all, I should regard anything of the kind as utterly destructive of the end it has in view. Suppose the people of England were taught to bear it, and to be forced to educate their children by means of penalties, education would be made absolutely hateful in their eyes, and would speedily cease to be endured. They who have argued in favour of such a scheme from the example of a military government like that of Prussia have betrayed, in my opinion, great ignorance of the nature of Englishmen." (Report of the Parliamentary Committee on the State of Education. 1834)

He nonetheless kept his post when the government was reconstructed in July 1834 under Lord Melbourne. The Melbourne administration was dismissed by the King in November the same year, and the Tories came to power under Sir Robert Peel. This government only lasted until April 1835, when Lord Melbourne was again summoned to form a government. However, Brougham was now so ill-regarded within his own party that he was not offered to resume the post of Lord Chancellor, which instead was put into commission. An even greater blow to him was when the post was eventually conferred on Charles Pepys, 1st Baron Cottenham, in January 1836.

Later life

The Lord Brougham and Vaux sitting as Lord High Chancellor of Great Britain

Brougham was never to hold office again. However, for more than thirty years after his fall he continued to take an active part in the judicial business of the House of Lords, and in its debates. He also devoted much of his time to writing. He had continued to contribute to the Edinburgh Review, and the best of his writings were published in the magazine entitled "Sketches of the Statesmen of the time of George III".

In 1837 Brougham presented a bill for public education, arguing that "it cannot be doubted that some legislative effort must at length be made to remove from this country the opprobrium of having done less for the education of the people than any of the more civilized nations on earth".[3]

In 1838, after news came up of British colonies where emancipation of the slaves was obstructed or where the ex-slaves were being badly treated and discriminated against, Lord Brougham stated in the House of Lords:

"The slave ... is as fit for his freedom as any English peasant, ay, or any Lord whom I now address. I demand his rights; I demand his liberty without stint... . I demand that your brother be no longer trampled upon as your slave!" [4]

Brougham also edited William Paley's Natural Theology and published a work on political philosophy and in 1838 he published an edition of his speeches in four volumes. The last of his works was his posthumous Autobiography. In 1860 Brougham was given a second peerage as Baron Brougham and Vaux, of Brougham in the County of Westmorland and of High Head Castle in the County of Cumberland, with remainder to his youngest brother William Brougham (died 1886). The patent stated that the second peerage was in honour of the great services he had rendered, especially in promoting the abolition of slavery.

In 1834, he was elected a foreign member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences.

Brougham had married Mary Spalding (d. 1865), daughter of Thomas Eden, in 1821. They had two daughters, both of whom predeceased their parents, the latter one dying in 1839. Lord Brougham and Vaux died in May 1868 in Cannes, France, aged 89, and was buried in the Cimetière du Grand Jas. The cemetery is up to the present dominated by Brougham's statue, and he is honoured for his major role in building the city of Cannes. His hatchment is in Ninekirks, which was then the parish church of Brougham.

The Barony of 1830 became extinct on his death, while he was succeeded in the Barony of 1860 according to the special remainder by his younger brother William Brougham.

Achievements and influences

Brougham was the designer of the brougham, a four-wheeled, horse-drawn style of carriage that bears his name.

Through Lord Brougham the renowned French seaside resort of Cannes became very popular. He had accidentally found the place in 1835, when it was little more than a fishing village on a picturesque coast, and bought there a tract of land and built on it. His choice and his example made it the sanatorium of Europe. The beach front promenade at Nice became known as the Promenade des anglais (literally, "The Promenade of the English").

A statue of him, inscribed "Lord Brougham," stands at the Cannes waterfront, across from the Palais des Festivals et des Congrès.

Holds the House of Commons record for non-stop speaking at six hours [5]

He was present at the trial of the World's first steam powered ship on 14 October 1788 at Dalswinton Loch near Auldgirth, Dumfries and Galloway. William Symington of Wanlockhead built the two-cylindered engine for Patrick Miller of Dalswinton.[6]


  1. ^ Stockdale, E. (1990). "The unnecessary crisis: The background to the Parliamentary Papers Act 1840". Public Law: 30–49.  p.36
  2. ^ Bourne (1975)
  3. ^ A. Green, Education and State Formation: The Rise of Education Systems in England, France and the USA, Macmillan, 1990
  4. ^ Quoted in the "Lawyers on the Edge" website
  5. ^ "Hansard, 8 May 1989, Column 581". HMSO. Retrieved 2008-10-14. 
  6. ^ Innes, Brian (1988). The Story of Scotland.. V. 3, Part 33. P. 905


  • This article incorporates public domain text from : Cousin, John William (1910). A Short Biographical Dictionary of English Literature. London, J. M. Dent & Sons; New York, E. P. Dutton.
  • Works by Henry Peter Brougham at Project Gutenberg
  • Bourne, K. (1975). The Blackmailing of the Chancellor. Lemon Tree Press. ISBN 0904291049. 
  • Henry Brougham Brougham and Vaux (1838). Speeches of Henry Lord Brougham, Upon Questions Relating to Public Rights, Duties, and Interests: With Historical Introductions, and a Critical Dissertation Upon the Eloquence of the Ancients, Edinburgh: Adam and Charles Black, 4 vol. (online: vol. 1, 2, 3, 4)
  • Chester W. New (1961).The life of Henry Brougham To 1830, Oxford at the Clarendon Press.
  • Ronald K. Huch (1993). Henry, Lord Brougham The Later Years 1830-1868. The Edwin Mellen Press. isbn=0-88946-460-X
Political offices
Preceded by
The Lord Lyndhurst
Lord Chancellor
Succeeded by
The Lord Lyndhurst
Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Lord Henry Petty and
Robert Adair
Member of Parliament for Camelford
With: Robert Adair
Succeeded by
William Leader and
Samuel Scott
Preceded by
William Powlett and
Calverley Bewicke
Member of Parliament for Winchelsea
With: Calverley Bewicke, until 1816
Viscount Barnard, 1816–1818
George Galway Mills, 1818–1820
Lucius Concannon, 1820–1823
William Leader, 1823–1826
Viscount Howick, from 1826
Succeeded by
John Williams and
Viscount Howick
Academic offices
Preceded by
James Mackintosh
Rector of the University of Glasgow
Succeeded by
Thomas Campbell
New office Chancellor of the University of Edinburgh
Succeeded by
Lord Glencorse
Peerage of the United Kingdom
New creation Baron Brougham and Vaux
(of Brougham)
Baron Brougham and Vaux
(of Brougham and High Head Castle)
Succeeded by
William Brougham


Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

Education makes a people easy to lead, but difficult to drive; easy to govern but impossible to enslave.

The Right Honourable Henry Brougham, 1st Baron Brougham and Vaux, PC (September 19, 1778May 7, 1868) was Lord High Chancellor of Great Britain.


  • What is valuable is not new, and what is new is not valuable.
    • From The Edinburgh Review, The Work of Thomas Young (c. 1802).
  • There have been periods when the country heard with dismay that "the soldier was abroad." That is not the case now. Let the soldier be abroad; in the present age he can do nothing. Let the soldier be abroad if he will, he can do nothing in this age. There is another personage,—a personage less imposing in the eyes of some, perhaps insignificant. The schoolmaster is abroad, and I trust to him, armed with his primer, against the soldier in full military array, for upholding and extending the liberties of his country.
    • Speech, Opening of Parliament (January 29, 1828).
  • Education makes a people easy to lead, but difficult to drive; easy to govern but impossible to enslave.
    • Speech to the House of Commons (January 29, 1828).
  • In my mind, he was guilty of no error he — was chargeable with no exaggeration — he was betrayed by his fancy into no metaphor, who once said that all we see about us, Kings, Lords, and Commons, the whole machinery of the State, all the apparatus of the system, and its varied workings, end in simply bringing twelve men into a box.
    • Present State of the Law (February 7, 1828).
  • Pursuit of Knowledge Under Difficulties
    • Title of book (published 1830).
  • Death was now armed with a new terror.
    • Reported in Bartlett's Familiar Quotations, 10th ed. (1919). Brougham delivered a very warm panegyric upon the ex-Chancellor, and expressed a hope that he would make a good end, although to an expiring Chancellor death was now armed with a new terror. Thomas Campbell, Lives of the Chancellors, vol. vii. p. 163. Lord St. Leonards attributes this phrase to Sir Charles Wetherell, who used it on the occasion referred to by Lord Campbell. It likely originates with the practice of Edmund Curll, who issued miserable catch-penny lives of every eminent person immediately after that person's decease. John Arbuthnot wittily styled him "one of the new terrors of death", Carruthers, Life of Pope (second edition), p. 149.


  • A lawyer is a learned gentleman who rescues your estate from your enemies and keeps it himself.
  • It is necessary that I should qualify the doctrine of its being not men, but measures, that I am determined to support. In a monarchy it is the duty of parliament to look at the men as well as at the measures.
  • The great unwashed.
  • Try to know everything of something and something of everything.
  • War is a crime which involves all other crimes.

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