Lord Liverpool

Lord Liverpool

A Political Life

William Anthony Hay


Boydell Press



Shaped by eighteenth-century assumptions, Liverpool nonetheless laid the foundations for the nineteenth-century Britain that emerged from the Reform era.
Robert Banks Jenkinson (1770-1828), 2nd Earl of Liverpool, was Britain's longest serving prime minister since William Pitt the Younger. Liverpool's tenure in office oversaw a series of seismic events including the War of 1812 with the United States, the endgame of the Napoleonic Wars and the Congress of Vienna, the Corn Laws, the Peterloo Massacre, and escalating contention over the issue of Catholic Emancipation. However, Liverpool's overall standing within British political history has been overshadowed by contemporaries such as Castlereagh and Canning, and his reputation and achievements were downplayed by the Reform period that followed.
This new political biography explores Liverpool's career and puts his efforts at resisting change into context, bringing this period of transformation into sharp focus. It shows Liverpool as a defender of the eighteenth-century British constitution, documenting his efforts at adapting institutions to the challenges of war and then the very different post-1815 world. Shaped by eighteenth-century assumptions, Liverpool nonetheless laid the foundations for the nineteenth-century Britain that emerged from the Reform era. This book uses his career and outlook as a way of exploring the crucial transition from the Georgian to the Victorian era.

WILLIAM ANTHONY HAY is Associate Professor of history at Mississippi State University and a fellow of the Royal Historical Society.


17 black and white illustrations
365 pages
23.4x15.6 cm
Hardback, 9781783272822, April 2018
eBook, 9781787442078, April 2018
Boydell Press
BISAC HIS037050, HIS037060
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Table of Contents

Antecedents and Upbringing
Apprenticeship and Public Life
Politics and War
Political Broker
Pillar of State
Prime Minister and Peacemaking
The Challenges of Peace
Revolution Resisted
Reform and Stabilization
Conclusion: Weathering the Storm


[A] work of impeccable scholarship. LONDON MAGAZINE

Hay offers a brilliant guide to his subject and his period. He shows how careful scholarship can be made accessible to non-specialist readers of history. The clear, well-written narrative presents arguments effectively, along with the personalities and events behind them. Lord Liverpool captures the immediacy of decision-making and political action as they unfolded. THE NEW CRITERION

Restores Liverpool to his proper place in British political history . . . Mr. Hay, a professor of history at Mississippi State University, guides the reader engagingly through the political maze. WALL STREET JOURNAL

If there must be one criticism of this work, it is that it is too short. . . . Hay's book is an impressive addition to the scholarship and a welcome look at an unjustly neglected figure in the history of conservative thought and governance. NATIONAL REVIEW

A well-written and thoroughly researched piece of scholarship which would be especially useful for those seeking an account of the major issues of late eighteenth- and early nineteenth-century politics. CERCLES

A lively, full and engaging narrative. LITERARY REVIEW

[A] splendid new biography..Hay brings to the story a more biographical approach, which allows him to focus closely on Liverpool's personality, which is brilliantly evoked in a series of anecdotes and quotations from contemporary observers..Wonderful. NEW STATESMAN

A brilliant new biography. ANDREW ROBERTS, iNEWS