Box icon Sir Robert Peel (1788-1850)

Reforming Prime Minister

Portrait of Robert Peel

Peel was twice British Prime Minister, responsible for many significant social reforms and the repeal of the Corn Laws. He was famous for his political speeches, which were often reprinted in newspapers, journals and books.

Peel entered Parliament as a Tory in 1809 when only 21. In 1822 he become Home Secretary and was responsible for many changes to criminal law, prison reform. He created the first modern police force – the Metropolitan Police.

In 1834, after a period in opposition, Peel was appointed by the King as Prime Minister. However, his Tory Party only had a minority in the House of Commons, so he resigned in 1835. By 1841 Peel and his Conservative administration were in power. His many social reforms included banning the employment of women and children in mines and factories.

The Corn Laws, which protected British agriculture from competition, were eventually repealed by Peel, to help Ireland, which was being ravaged by the potato famine. Long debates and arguments from many landowners and his Conservative colleagues meant that Peel needed the support of the Whigs and Radicals to get his repeal passed. Once the Corn Laws were repealed, Peel resigned and never held political office again.

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NRA Name: Peel, Sir Robert (1788-1850), 2nd Baronet, statesman.

The National Register of Archives (NRA) contains information on the nature and location of manuscripts and historical records that relate to British history in archival holdings in the UK and overseas. You can find more information on the National Register of Archives name authority catalogue.


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'No minister ever stood, or could stand, against public opinion'
– Sir Robert Peel's Address to the Electors of the Borough of Tamworth' in the 'Quarterly Review', Vol. 53, (1835).


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