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John Eldon Gorst: Wikis


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The Right Honourable
 Sir John Eldon Gorst 

In office
2 July 1885 – 28 January 1886
Monarch Victoria
Prime Minister The Marquess of Salisbury
Preceded by Sir Farrer Herschell
Succeeded by Sir Horace Davey

In office
4 August 1886 – 9 November 1891
Monarch Victoria
Prime Minister The Marquess of Salisbury
Preceded by Stafford Howard
Succeeded by Hon. George Curzon

In office
9 November 1891 – 11 August 1892
Monarch Victoria
Prime Minister The Marquess of Salisbury
Preceded by William Jackson
Succeeded by Sir J. T. Hibbert

In office
4 July 1895 – 8 August 1902
Monarch Victoria
Edward VII
Prime Minister The Marquess of Salisbury
Arthur Balfour
Preceded by Arthur Dyke Acland
Succeeded by The Duke of Devonshire

Born 24 May 1835 (1835-05-24)
Preston, Lancashire
Died 4 April 1916 (1916-04-05)
Nationality British
Political party Conservative
Spouse(s) Mary Elizabeth Moore
Alma mater St John's College, Cambridge

Sir John Eldon Gorst PC, QC (24 May 1835 – 4 April 1916) was British lawyer and politician. He served as Solicitor General for England and Wales from 1885 to 1886 and as Vice-President of the Committee on Education between 1895 and 1902.


Background and education

Gorst was born in Preston, Lancashire, the son of Edward Chaddock Gorst, who took the name of Lowndes on succeeding to the family estate in 1853.[1] He graduated third wrangler from St John's College, Cambridge, in 1857, and was admitted to a fellowship.[2]

New Zealand

After beginning to read for the bar in London, his father's illness and death led to his sailing to New Zealand. The Māori had at that time set up a king of their own in the Waikato district and Gorst, who had made friends with the chief Tamihana (William Thomson), acted as an intermediary between the Māori and the government. Sir George Grey made him inspector of schools, then resident magistrate, and eventually civil commissioner in Upper Waikato. Tamihana's influence secured his safety during the conflict between the Maori King Movement and the New Zealand government in the 1860s. In 1908 he published a volume of recollections, under the title of New Zealand Revisited: Recollections of the Days of my Youth.[1]

Political and legal career

Gorst then returned to England and was called to the Bar, Inner Temple, in 1865, becoming a Queen's Counsel in 1875. He stood unsuccessfully for Hastings as a Conservative in the 1865 general election,[1] but the next year he entered parliament as member for the Cambridge,[1][3] but was not re-elected at the 1868 general election. After the Conservative defeat of that year Benjamin Disraeli entrusted him with the reorganization of the party machinery, and in five years of hard work he paved the way for the Conservative success at the general election of 1874.[1]

At a by-election in 1875 Gorst reentered parliament as member for Chatham, which he continued to represent until 1892.[1][4] He joined Sir Henry Drummond-Wolff, Lord Randolph Churchill and Arthur Balfour in the Fourth Party as an advocate of Tory democracy. When the Conservatives came to power in 1885 under Lord Salisbury he was made Solicitor-General[1][5] and knighted. The government fell in January 1886 but on the Conservatives returned to office in July of the same year, he was appointed Under-Secretary of State for India by Salisbury.[1] He was sworn of the Privy Council in 1890[1][6] and the following year he became Financial Secretary to the Treasury, a post he held until 1892. Between 1888 and 1891 he also served as deputy chairman of committees in the House of Commons.[1]

At the general election of 1892 Gorst became member for Cambridge University.[1][3] On the formation of the third Salisbury administration in 1895 he became Vice-President of the Committee on Education,[1][7] which he remained until August 1902, when the post was re-named President of the Board of Education.[1] However, he was never a member of the cabinet.

Gorst remained committed to the principles of Tory democracy which he had advocated in the days of the Fourth Party, and continued take an active interest in the housing of the poor, the education and care of their children, and in social questions generally, both in parliament and in the press. However, he became exceedingly independent in his political action. He objected to Joseph Chamberlain's proposals for tariff reform, and lost his seat at Cambridge at the general election of 1906, standing as a Free Trader, to a tariff reformer. He then withdrew from the vice-chancellorship of the Primrose League, of which he had been one of the founders, on the ground that it no longer represented the policy of Benjamin Disraeli. In 1910 he contested Preston as a Liberal, but failed to secure election.[1]


Gorst married Mary Elizabeth Moore in New Zealand in 1860. Their elder son, Sir Eldon Gorst, became Consul-General in Egypt. Gorst died in London in April 1916, aged 80. An account of his connection with Lord Randolph Churchill will be found in the Fourth Party (1906), by his younger son, Harold E. Gorst.[1]



External links

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
George Elliott
Member of Parliament for Chatham
1875 – 1892
Succeeded by
Lewis Vivian Loyd
Preceded by
Sir George Stokes, Bt
Sir Richard Claverhouse Jebb
Member of Parliament for Cambridge University
With: Sir Richard Claverhouse Jebb
Succeeded by
John Frederick Peel Rawlinson
Samuel Henry Butcher
Legal offices
Preceded by
Sir Farrer Herschell
Solicitor General for England and Wales
1885 – 1886
Succeeded by
Sir Horace Davey
Political offices
Preceded by
Stafford Howard
Under-Secretary of State for India
1886 – 1891
Succeeded by
Hon. George Curzon
Preceded by
William Jackson
Financial Secretary to the Treasury
1891 – 1892
Succeeded by
Sir J. T. Hibbert
Preceded by
Arthur Dyke Acland
Vice-President of the Committee on Education
1895 – 1902
Succeeded by
The Duke of Devonshire
Academic offices
Preceded by
Arthur Balfour
Rector of the University of Glasgow
Succeeded by
Joseph Chamberlain


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